The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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SourdoLady's picture

My Favorite Basic Sourdough Loaf

I bake a lot of sourdough bread. Over the past several months I have been trying a lot of new techniques and trying to perfect the quality of my loaves. The recipe below is how I am currently making my white bread. Next year I may have a whole different approach, as I am constantly learning and trying new things.

Deluxe Sourdough Bread

1 1/4 cups proofed starter
1 cup water
3 T. dry powdered milk
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 cup instant potato flakes
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 T. sugar
3 T. butter or margarine
2 tsp. salt

Combine the first 5 ingredients. Mix in the flour just until the mixture is a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Add sugar, butter, and salt and mix until all is incorporated. Knead dough until it is smooth and satiny.

Cover and let dough rest for 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Pat each dough portion out into a large, flat circle. Gently stretch and fold the left side over the middle, then the right side over the middle (like folding a letter). Pat down with the palms of hands and repeat the folding with the remaining two unfolded ends. Shape loaves, always keeping the folded side as the bottom. I do free-form oval loaves and place them on parchment paper.

Spray the loaves with Pam and cover with plastic. Place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, take loaves out and let them finish rising at room temperature. They should be very light. Do not rush it or your bread will be dense.

While bread is rising, preheat oven and stone to 400� F. I also place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack for steam.

When bread is fully risen, slash top and slide onto hot stone. If you don't have a stone, just bake on a baking sheet. After 10 minutes, turn the oven heat down to 375� F. When loaves start to show color, water pan can be removed. Bake until loaves are a nice golden brown. Time will vary according to the shape and size of loaf.

Cool on a wire rack. You can brush crust with butter while still hot if you like a soft crust.

The small addtion of white whole wheat flour that I use in this bread gives it an interesting depth of flavor that I like. It does not change the color of the bread. I don't know if white whole wheat flour is easily available just anywhere. I am fortunate to live in an area where wheat is grown and milled so I have easy access to various flours.

JMonkey's picture

Desem -- I take it all back

Laurel Robertson, I owe you an apology. I pulled a loaf of Desem bread out of my oven about an hour ago, and, unable to wait any longer, just cut a slice to eat. Without doubt, it is the most delectable, fully flavored whole wheat loaf I have ever eaten. Why it took me this long to get it right, I don't know. But I'm glad I did. When I'm making dinner bread from now on, I'll be making this.

First of all, folks should know that I didn't use a starter made according to the methods described in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which requires 10 lbs of freshly ground flour. I'm sure you can make it that way, but there's an easier method. I just took some of my regular whole wheat sourdough starter, created a dough ball at about 60% hydration when I fed it, and left it in my chilly (55 degrees F) basement to ripen. I fed it once a day for three days, building it up each time, until I had about 200 grams or roughly 7 ounces of dough. On the final build, I increased its size by a factor of 3, and let it ripen for about 16 hours at 55 degrees, more out of convenience and necessity than calculation. If you don't have a whole wheat starter, it's simple to convert. Just take some of your regular ripe starter, and feed it in the following weight ratio of 1:4:4 -- starter: water: whole wheat flour. Refresh it two or three times like this, and you'll have your 99.99% whole wheat starter. (I won't tell anyone if you don't that it's not absolutely pure).

I screwed up my math in preparing the dough, so I ended up with about 38% of the flour as starter rather than the 30% I'd hoped for, but I'm not sure it would make that much difference. You do want a fairly large amount of starter, if I'm reading Laurel's recipe right -- somewhere in the range of about 30%. I also went for the customary 2% salt and aimed at a hydration of 75%.

Here's my formula:

  • Whole wheat flour: 100%
  • Water: 75%
  • Salt: 2%
  • 30% of the flour was pre-fermented at 60% hydration.
That worked out to roughly:
  • 220 grams starter
  • 260 grams water
  • 320 grams flour
  • 8 grams salt
I mixed it up and kneaded for about 300-400 strokes, until I could stretch a small piece of it into a translucent film (i.e. the "windowpane" test). As for consistency, I was aiming for dough that felt very tacky, but not exactly sticky. Then I formed it into a ball and let it ferment for four hours at about 64 degrees F (the temperature of my kitchen). It more than doubled in size and when I poked a wet finger into the dough, it didn't readily spring back.

Next, I gave the dough a stretch and fold, let it rest 15 minutes, and then shaped it into a ball. I placed it in a banneton (well-floured) and then used my makeshift proof-box to keep it at roughly 85 degrees for 2.5 hours. At that point, the dough had inreased about 75% in size -- perhaps it even doubled. In any case, I slashed it and put it into my cloche, which had been warming in a preheated, 500 degree F oven for about an hour. I had a slight mishap getting it into the cloche (I was a bit too forceful with the peel, and slammed the loaf into the side of the cloche, turning it over on its side. It mushed it a bit, but nothing serious -- the bake took care of it, mostly. You can see the dent on the bottom right of the loaf above.). I repositioned the bread and covered it. The bake was 30 minutes covered at 500, then 15-17 minutes uncovered at 450. I let it cool for one hour.

As you can see, the crumb does not have the huge holes one expects in white bread (I'm just about convinced that any "whole wheat bread" that has sports huge holes probably consists of at least 50% white flour), but, even so, the bread is not at all heavy or dense. The crumb is light and chewy, with a wonderful crispy crust. The flavor? It's tangy, but not overpoweringly so. There's a buttery undertone, maybe? The flavor lingers long in the mouth after eating. Really, the flavor is tough to describe aside from being complex and delicious.

Like I said, when I have company in the future, this is the bread I'll serve. Utterly delicious.

Well done, Laurel Robertson. And thank you.

Sweet Corn Raisin Bread

corn raisin artisan breadLast week I posted a basic cornbread recipe. I suspect some folks reaction was "ho-hum". So this week I'm showing that you can, indeed, do more with corn meal than just make cornbread.

How about a yeasted bread with corn meal? How about a sweet raisin yeasted bread with corn meal in it? Sound good? It did to me.

The recipe and a lot more photos are below.

I based this one on a recipe from a little Betty Bossi baking book that my father-in-law brought back from France (Betty Bossi is, I gather, like a Swiss equivalent of Betty Crocker). My French is fair, as is my metric system, but thanks to my scale, which can toggle from metric to imperial, I was able to pull something together pretty quickly.

I'm going to print the recipe with the original metric measurements. Next to each I'll include my imperial approximation, which also include my substitutions. My translations and measurements aren't exact, so if you are a stickler you can use the metric measurements or do the math yourself!

Sweet Corn Raisin Bread

Original Metric Measurements Imperial Approximation and Substitutions
150 grams corn flour
1 deciliter water
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup water
350 grams white flour
1/2 cube (approx. 20g yeast)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 deciliters milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pinch saffron
50 grams butter
2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
saffron I'm too cheap!
2 tablespoons butter
75 grams raisins 1 cup raisins
1 egg yoke
1 teaspoon water
1 pinch salt
2 pinches sugar
1 egg yoke
1 teaspoon water
1 pinch salt
2 pinches sugar

Mix the corn meal and the water together in a small bowl and allow to soak for half an hour.

Pour two cups of the flour in a bowl and combine with the yeast, sugar, salt, and saffron. Make a well in the middle and pour in the corn meal soaker, remaining milk, and butter. Stir until well blended.

Stir in the raisin and then add additional flour by the handful until the proper consistency is reached (tacky to the touch but not sticky, and clearing the sides of the bowl when mixed).

Pull the ball of dough out of the mixing bowl and place it onto a clean work surface. Knead the dough for 10 to 12 minutes, until it begins to feel smooth and satiny. Place the dough back into a clean, oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, roughly 90 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and gently degas it, then shape into the desired shape. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a moist towel and allow it to rise until doubled in size again, roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour.

sweet corn raisin bread rising

While it is rising again, preheat the oven (and baking stone, if you are using one) to 425.

sweet corn raisin bread being glazed

When it has doubled in size, glaze the loaf with egg wash made from the egg yoke, water, salt, and sugar. Score the loaf so that it doesn't tear in the oven, and then place it into the preheated oven.

sweet corn raisin bread glazed and scored

After 5 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. After 15 minutes rotate the loaf so that it bakes evenly, and then bake it until it is done. You'll know it is done when it is nice and brown, sounds hollow when tapped on, and reaches an internal temperature of at least 185 degrees. In my oven this took around 40 to 45 minutes.

Allow the loaf to cool for at least half an hour before slicing.

sweet corn raisin bread complete

Further Exploration

I was very pleased with this loaf, but I have some ideas I'd like to try to make this bread even better. One idea is instead of using 1 cup of medium grind corn meal, use a mixture of finely ground corn flour and coarsely ground polenta. Something along the lines of 3/4 cup corn flour and 1/4 cup presoaked polenta ought to lend the loaf a smooth, creamy crumb with a few crunchy bursts of polenta here and there.

The other idea I have is to substitute honey for sugar, and maybe increase the amount of sweetener just a tad. The thought is that I might be able to get a flavor something along the lines of cornbread with honey butter baked right into the loaf. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds good.

Olive oil instead of butter might be good too.

So many options... and never enough time to bake!

Have any ideas for other ways to modify this loaf? Or questions about it? Please comment!

a_warming_trend's picture

A Weekend Roundup (And One Simple Formula)

Phew. I've baked for a number of friends over the last few days! Many of them just wanted or needed a very generalized designation of "bread" for events, so I was able to experiment a bit with sourdough baking.

Disclaimer: All ciabatte described are "pre-dabrownman-flip-recommendation," so don't judge me too harshly...I still haven't acquired a second pastry scraper, so all ciabatta experiments are on a temporary hold...

Saturday, I baked some whole wheat ciabatte and a few small simple batards.

also, a small parmesan-encrusted boule, and a small sesame-encrusted batard.


Then on Sunday, a few more ciabatte -- this time with cream cheese and chive. 


And then just this morning, Monday, before work: A simple 80% hydration batard with 5% levain. Still working on my shaping. Still striving for those ears. 

Because my friend just emailed me saying that this was her favorite bread I've given her, I'll post a very basic formula:


425 g AP flour

50 g whole wheat flour

375 g water 

5 g wheat germ

11 g salt

10 g sugar (in place of 5 g malt)

50 g 100% hydration white starter 


1) Mix flour and water, and autolyse at room temperature for 6-12 hours. 

2) Incorporate all other ingredients using the pincer method. This should take about 4 minutes. You'll notice that because the dough was already so wet, incorporating that small amount of 100% hydration levain, salt, sugar, and wheat germ is a surprisingly smooth process. 

3) Stretch and fold vigorously every 30 minutes for 3 hours. The number of turns depends on how the dough feels! Anywhere from 1-4 turns (4-16 folds), each session, performing the turns until the whole mass of dough wants to lift from the container.  

4) Rest on the counter for 8-12 hours, until dough has increased 80% - 100%, but no more.

5) Retard for 2-24 hours.

6) Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough in the container, and allow the flour to coat the edges as you gently release it. Pour onto a floured surface and rest for 10 minutes.

7) Shape and place seam-side up in a a brotform of some kind, cover with plastic, and proof at room temperature for 1.5 hours. 

8) Place  the brotform in the freezer for 15 minutes (I really like this freezer trick for high-hydration doughs proofed at room temperature...I genuinely think it helps with ovenspring!).

9) Score and bake at 460 for 20 minutes with steam, 25 minutes without.

The recipient has confirmed the appropriateness of the loaf for egg-dipping. 

More soon!


dmsnyder's picture

My sourdough starter routine: a FAQ

My Sourdough Starter Routine: FAQ

December 30, 2014


I get questions about how I manage my sourdough starter frequently enough that I decided to put the information in a single blog entry to which I can refer in the future. What follows applies to a sourdough starter/levain containing mostly white wheat flour. Mostly rye and mostly whole wheat starters are different beasts.

Please understand that this is my routine. It has worked well for me for a number of years. I am not presenting it as the only way to manage sourdough starters. It may not be the best way at all for some one else. But, as I said, it works for me, and here it is:

My starter was originally was purchased from KAF in about 2008. (See: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter - 1 oz.).

Taking care of mother

I keep my "mother starter" in the refrigerator. It is fed at a ratio of 1:2:4 (Starter:Water:Flour). When feeding the mother, I mix 50 g starter, 100 g water and 200 g flour to make 350 g total. This is refrigerated imediately after mixing. I refresh the mother every 2 to 3 weeks. The flour feeding is a mix of 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Medium or whole rye.

Getting active

When preparing to make bread, I generally refresh the starter as a liquid starter at a ratio of 20:50:50 (Mother starter:Water:Flour) using the same flour mix described above. This is fermented to peak activity at room temperature (generally about 12 hours). 

This refreshed liquid starter is then fed again according to the specific formula I am following. In other words, the degree of hydration, the flour mix, the ratio of levain:water:starter and the fermentation time and temperature are variable.  When posting a formula, I specify these variables. This may involve converting the refreshed liquid starter to a firm starter.


How long it takes to ferment a starter before it is ready to feed again or mix in a final dough depends on four variables (at least those are the ones I can think of at the moment):

  1. What flours you put in the starter. For example, flours with whole grains ripen faster because of their mineral content.

  2. The ratio of seed starter:flour:water. If you introduce relatively more seed starter, it has a “head start” and will ripen faster. All other things being equal, a more liquid starter will ripen faster than a more firm starter.

  3. The ambient temperature. A warmer temperature speeds up metabolic processes, including fermentation, at least within the usual range of kitchen temperatures. (The Temperature/Metabolism curves for fermentation and acid production are beyond the scope of this FAQ.) This effect can be rather dramatic. As a consequence, any instruction for how long to ferment a levain without specifying the ambient temperature should be taken with a grain of salt. (In fact, adding salt to the levain is one way of slowing fermentation down, but that's another topic for another day.)

  4. The flavor profile you want for the bread you are making. A “younger” levain will generally be less sour. A more “mature” levain will have more acid and make bread that is more sour. (Assuming the formula for the bread is otherwise the same.)

 How can you tell how ripe a levain is?

There is a lot of confusion about the criteria to use in judging the ripeness of a levain. The most common criterion I see is how much it has expanded, and “doubled in volume” is most often the specific criterion. The problem with this is twofold. First, unless you are fermenting your levain in a graduated container or have marked your container yourself, doubling is hard to measure accurately. Second, I don't think doubling carries the same meaning for liquid as for firm levains. And, at no extra charge, here is a thirdfold: Depending on the flavor profile you want, doubling (even if you could measure it accurately) may be too much or not enough.

So, as implied, I use somewhat different criteria depending on the levain's hydration, and I do use a container that is graduated, and I do use a semi-transparent container, so I can view the internal structure of the levain, not just its surface. My container is also tall relative to its diameter and has relatively straight sides. It is more like a cylinder than a bowl. This provides support to the ripening levain that permits greater expansion.

My Sourdough Starter Fermentation Container

Ripeness criteria for a firm levain

A firm levain is one with a hydration level of around 50%. That is, it contains half as much water, by weight, as flour. A firm levain can expand in volume a lot more than a liquid levain. So, volume expansion is actually a useful criterion for ripeness. A doubling in volume is generally associated with enough yeast activity to raise your dough well, but it may not be ripe enough to have fully developed flavor. I usually let my levain triple or quadruple in volume before I mix it in the final dough. In addition to volume expansion though, I look for an extensive network of large and small bubbles throughout the levain. I can see these through the walls of the container. I look for a well-domed top of the levain. And, last but not least, I look for any signs that the levain has had a decrease in volume, which indicates excessive ripeness. This is indicated by a concave surface, rather than a dome.

There is a lot of wiggle room between “ripe enough to raise dough” and “peak of fermentation, just short of collapse.” A less ripe (“young”) levain will make a sweeter bread, one with more creamy flavor from lactic acid formation. A riper (“mature”) levain will have relatively more vinegar-like, acetic acid sourness. Besides the criteria already mentioned, the aroma of the levain tells you the relative prominence of lactic versus acetic acid. You could use your sense of smell alone to judge when your levain is at the point of maturity you desire, in order to achieve the flavor profile you want for your bread.


Firm Levain, just fed

Firm Levain, 10 hours after feeding. Note: Approximately doubled in volume. Full of bubbles. Domed surface. I regard this as a still "young" levain.


Firm Levain, after 10 hours. Note: Domed surface. Some bubbles on surface.

Ripeness criteria for a liquid levain

A liquid levain is one with a hydration level of around 100%. That is, it contains equal weights of water and flour. A liquid levain cannot expand as much as a firm levain. Quite simply, all those water molecules get in the way of connections between folds of the long gluten molecules that provide structure to a firm levain and a bread dough. Now, a liquid levain does expand as fermentation produces CO2 gas, but this forms bubbles that rise to the levain surface and pop rather than getting trapped in a gluten web and causing levain expansion. If you use a glass container or a semi-transparent plastic one to ferment your liquid levain, as it ripens you can see the internal structure of the levain become full of tiny bubbles – almost like a mousse.  On the surface, you see bubbles forming, faster and faster as the levain gets riper, until they actually form a froth on the levain's surface. The surface of the ripe levain often has a "wrinkled" appearance.

As with a firm starter, one can choose to use the liquid starter “young” or more “mature.” With a liquid starter, as with a firm starter, levain recession or collapse indicates that you have let your levain over-ferment.


Liquid Levain, just fed.


Liquid Levain, just fed.


Liquid Levain after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbly interior.


Liquid Levain surface after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbles forming. Surface just beginning to wrinkle. This would still be "young."

The consequences of levain over-fermentation

Over-fermentation implies any combination of several bad things. The yeast may have fermented all the free sugars they can get at. Reproduction and fermentation will both slow down. The levain may not be as potent in raising the dough to which it is added. The levain may also contain excessive amounts of metabolic byproducts, especially organic acids. A little acid is good for both flavor and gluten strength. Too much acid is bad for yeast growth. An optimally ripened levain has positive effects on gluten structure, but, over time, protease activity increases, and those enzymes will degrade gluten. (That's why a very over-ripe sourdough starter that hasn't been fed new flour for a long time gets more and more liquified.)

What's missing?

There is another important variable in my routine for sourdough starter feeding and use, and that is the manipulation of fermentation temperature. Temperature effects the rate of yeast and bacterial growth and metabolism dramatically. Different metabolic processes are favored by different temperature ranges. Temperature changes can change the flavor of your bread. However, that is an advanced topic which is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

 The one temperature manipulation I will discuss is cold retardation. I often refrigerate my levain, usually at the point that it is nearly fully mature. I do this for two reasons, primarily. The first is, quite simply, my convenience. If I have to go out (or go to bed) at the point that a levain is going to be optimally ripe and ready to mix into a dough, I will stick the levain in the refrigerator, maybe for a few hours, maybe for a day or even two. The other reason I refrigerate a levain is to make it more sour. Especially a firm levain will generate more acetic acid in a cooler environment.

If I have refrigerated my levain, before mixing it into the final dough, I will usually let it come to room temperature. Sometimes, I will let it ferment further at a warm temperature, for example 86 dF in a proofing box. It is appears almost over-ripe already when it comes out of the refrigerator, I usually use warmer water when I mix the dough, so the over-all dough temperature is no excessively lowered by cold levain.

 I believe I have addressed the questions I get asked most often about my sourdough starter care and feeding. As indicated, there are additional more advanced topics I have not addressed in this FAQ. Maybe I will another day. 

I hope this helps.

Happy baking!


gothicgirl's picture

Flour Tortillas

When I was growing up in South Texas we had this neighbor who would, on Saturday afternoons, make her tortillas for the week.  Believe me, I made friends with her children so I could make myself available for tortilla day.  I think she enjoyed my enthusiasm and always had a few extra tortillas for me to take home. 

They were sublime!  My family would fight over them, and no matter how many she sent home with me they were always gone before dinner.  My mom asked for the recipe, yet no matter how my mother pleaded, or bartered with her own secret recipes, she refused to give up her recipe.

Eventually we moved to North Texas and that ended my weekly tortilla gorge.  It seemed I was destined to eat rubbery store-bought substitutes for the rest of my life.  I survived on them until a few years ago when I was reminded, quite by accident at a local Tex-Mex place, of our neighbor and her delicious tortillas.   I watched as the woman behind the counter rolled and cooked beautiful tortillas and I thought, why couldn't I do that too?

I had quite a bit of culinary know-how, and I had the internet which would surely hold the key to delicious tortillas, right?

You would be surprised!

I tested a number of recipes for tortillas with all manner of ingredients.  Some had vegetable oil, others butter, and some had vegetable shortening.  They used a variety of flours from regular all-purpose to bread flour to even cake flour.  Some used milk, others water.  None of them turned out the way I wanted. 

I discovered pretty early that all-purpose was the flour to use.  It developed a moderate amount of gluten so the tortillas were chewy but not tough.  The liquid I had the most success with was milk.  Water works fine, but the cooked tortillas are not as soft as when you use milk.  As for fat, that was more tricky.  Butter burned too easily and the vegetable oil gave the tortillas an odd texture.  Vegetable shortening left the tortillas with an almost fishy smell, which happens when the shortening gets too hot.

I despaired that I would never find what I was looking for when, while looking at the shortening shelf at the grocery store, I remembered one thing from the Saturday's at my neighbors.  Manteca!!  That is lard to be specific.  So, with my tub of lard in hand, I went back to the kitchen and tried one of the more successful recipes with the lard and ... EUREKA!  I had it.

Now, this is the point where I am supposed to be sorry that I like lard, that I know it is supposed to be evil, and gross, and made from animals.  I'm not.  No, I am PROUD to say I cook with lard.  Using lard I can make tortillas that make people beg.   Some have offered me cash to make them a batch.  I'm not kidding.  Lard adds a depth of flavor with out any funky aftertaste.  It has a high smoke point so it does not scorch, and it lasts for a really long time in the pantry.  It is also versatile.   I use it combined with butter in my pie crusts.  But that is an entry for another day.   

Flour Tortillas   Makes 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup lard, or vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup warm milk, or water

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the lard and mix until it is well combined and the mixture looks grainy.

Add the warm milk and mix until a smooth ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll the pieces into balls. 

Cover and let rest 30 minutes.

Once rested, roll the balls of dough into 6″ to 7″ tortillas. 

Cook on a griddle, or in a heavy pan, over medium heat until golden brown and puffy.

Transfer to a plate and cover with a towel while the rest cook.

Enjoy!  Or, allow them to cool and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.  They last for five days ... if you can keep from eating them hot off the griddle.

Posted on - 2/18/2009

dmsnyder's picture

Pain de Campagne







The formula for this bâtard is derived from that for Anis Bouabsa's baguettes, as shared with TFL by Janedo. Jane prompted me to add some sourdough starter, and this resulted in a big improvement, to my taste. We had also discussed adding some rye flour to the dough. Jane said she and her family really liked the result. The addition of rye and sourdough makes this more like a pain de campagne, which is traditionally shaped as a boule or  bâtard. The result of my mental meandering follows:



Active starter ........................100 gms

KAF French Style Flour.......450 gms

Guisto's Rye Flour..................50 gms

Water......................................370 gms

Instant yeast............................1/4 tsp

Salt............................................10 gms



In a large bowl, mix the active starter with the water to dissolve it. Add the flours and stir to form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the yeast over the dough and mix with a plastic scraper. Then sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix.

Using the plastic scraper, stretch and fold the dough 20 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 20 minutes later and, again, after another 20 minutes.



After the third series of stretches and folds, scape the dough into a lightly oiled 2 quart/2 liter container and cover tightly. (I use a 2 quart glass measuring pitcher with a tightly fitting plastic lid manufactured by Anchor Glass.) Immediately place in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours. (In this time, my dough doubles in volume and is full of bubbles. YMMV.)


Dividing and Shaping

(I chose to make one very large bâtard, but you could divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces and make smaller bâtards, boules or baguettes. Or, you could just cut the dough and not shape it further to make pains rustiques.)

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. To pre-shape for  a bâtard, fold the near edge up just past the center of the dough and seal the edge by gently pressing the two layers together with the ulnar (little finger) edge of your hand or the heel of your hand, whichever works best for you. Then, bring the far edge of the dough gently just over the sealed edge and seal the new seam as described.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30-60 minutes, with the seams facing up. (The time will depend on ambient temperature and how active your starter is. The dough should have risen slightly, but not much.)

To shape a bâtard, fold the near edge of the dough and seal the edge, as before. Now, take the far edge of the dough and bring it towards you all the way to the work surface and seal the seam with the heel of your hand. Rotate the loaf gently toward you 1/4 turn so the last seam you formed is against the work surface and roll the loaf back and forth, with minimal downward pressure, to further seal the seam. Then, with the palms of both hands resting softly on the loaf, roll it back and forth to shape a bâtard. Start with both hands in the middle of the loaf and move them outward as you roll the loaf, slightly increasing the pressure as you move outward, so the bâtard ends up with the middle highest and the ends pointed .


Preheating the oven

Place a baking stone on the middle rack and both a cast iron skillet and a metal loaf pan (or equivalent receptacles of your choosing) on the bottom shelf.  Heat the oven to 500F. (I like to pre-heat the baking stone for an hour. I think I get better oven spring. Since I expected a 30 minute rest after pre-shaping and a 45 minute proofing, I turned on the oven 15 minutes after I had pre-shaped the loaf.) I put a kettle of water to boil 10 minutes before baking.



After shaping the loaf, transfer it to parchment paper liberally dusted with semolina. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel. Proof until the loaf has expanded to about 1-1/2 times it's original size. (This turned out to be 30 minutes for me.) Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!



Put about a cup full of ice cubes in the loaf pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and close the door.

Slip a peel or cookie sheet under the parchment paper holding the loaf. Uncover the loaf. Score it. (The bâtard was scored with a serrated tomato knife. The knife was held with its blade at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf. One swift end-to-end cut was made, about 1/2 inch deep.)

Transfer the loaf and parchment paper to the baking stone, pour one cup of boiling water into the skillet, and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 460F.

After 15 minutes, remove the loaf pan and the skillet from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is browning unevenly. Close the oven door.

Bake for another 15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Check for doneness. (Nice crust color. Internal temperature of at least 205F. Hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.) If necessary, return to loaf to the oven to bake longer.



Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.



I got very good oven spring and bloom. This loaf has an ear by which you could carry it around. It sang to me while cooling. The crust is nice and crunchy. The crumb is well aerated and almost "fluffy" in texture, but with tender chewiness. The taste is just plain good. It is minimally sour. Based on my half-vast experience, I'd say it is fairly representative of a French Pain de Campagne, the major difference being that it is less dense than the ones I recall. 

 This is, for me, not merely a good "novelty" bread. It could join San Francisco Sourdough and Jewish Sour Rye as an "everyday" bread I would enjoy having all the time.  The method is good for those of us who work outside the home. It can be mixed in the evening and baked in time for a late dinner the next night. 




zainaba22's picture

Pita Bread

I post this recipe before for JMonkey, you can see it here.


1 Tablespoon yeast.
1 Tablespoon honey or sugar .
2 1\2 cup warm water.
3 cups white flour.
1 1\2 cups whole wheat flour.
2 teaspoon salt.
2 Tablespoons olive oil.

1)Preheat the oven to 550 degrees.

2)Combine yeast,honey and 1\2 cup water in bowl,cover,stand in warm place about 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.

3)place all ingredients + yeast mixture in the bowl of mixer ,beat 10 minutes to make a soft dough.

4)Divide dough into 12 pieces.

5)Shape each piece into a ball .cover,let rise in warm place until doubled in size ,about 1 hour.

6)Roll each to a 16 cm round.

7)The old method i bake Pita Bread on hot baking surface for 1 minute per side.

8)The new method I bake pita bread on wire rack over baking pan for 2-3 can see it here.



bwraith's picture

Whole Grain Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Whole Grain Sourdough Sandwich Bread Loaves

This bread is an attempt to improve on the results from a previous blog entry. This one also has a spelt levain, but it was designed to rise overnight with only a small quantity of 90% hydration white flour starter added. The levain was added to the dough when it was not very ripe, before it had peaked and dipped. The percentage of fermented flour is about 32%, but the less ripe starter results in flavor and dough handling more like what you would expect if you used a lower percentage of fermented flour. The whole spelt flour contributes a characteristic nutty, slightly sweet flavor to the bread. I was very happy with the flavor resulting from this combination of flours and plan to use it more often for this bread and for my favorite mixed grain miche recipe. The hydration is about 83%, which for a whole grain bread is not enough to make it very wet or difficult to handle. However, it is a slightly slack and sticky dough. It should spread out only a little bit after sitting on the counter, not like a very wet ciabatta dough that might spread out more quickly and more or less pour out of the bowl until it has been folded more.

Whole Grain Sourdough Sandwich Bread Crumb

I have posted some photos, videos of my version of doing a "French Fold" and of periodic "Folding" during bulk fermentation, and also a spreadsheet with some further information such as baker's percentages, fermented flour percentages, and hydration.


Firm Levain:

  • 90% hydration storage starter 11g (0.4 oz) (use any healthy active sourdough starter here, ideally contributing the same amount of fermented flour, e.g. use more like 9 grams of 60% hydration firm starter)

  • whole spelt flour 298g (10.5 oz)

  • water 184g (6.5 oz)

Overnight Soak Ingredients:

  • malt syrup 40g (1.4 oz)

  • diastatic malt powder 5g (.16 oz)

  • whole red wheat flour 397g (14 oz)

  • whole white wheat flour 170g (6 oz)

  • KA rye blend 57g (2 oz)

  • water 581g (20.5 oz)

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • overnight soak from above

  • firm levain from above

  • salt 17g (.6 oz)

  • olive oil 28g (1 oz)


Mix levain ingredients the night before you plan to bake. The levain is designed to rise by about double in 10 hours at a temperature of 75F. Adjust accordingly if you have different temperatures. It is not a problem if the levain rises by more than double or peaks and dips. However, if it is allowed to ripen too much, you may experience a sluggish rise or other symptoms similar to overproofing sourdough, since the amount of fermented flour contributed by this recipe is fairly high. I added this levain when it had a little more than doubled, but it was clearly not at its peak yet.

Overnight Soak

Mix all the flour and other dry ingredients for the overnight soak together well, so they are fully integrated and uniformly distributed. Mix the malt syrup and water so that the malt syrup is fully dissolved and well distributed in the water. Pour the water into the bowl and use a dough scraper to work around the bowl and mix the flour and water well enough to fully and uniformly hydrate the flour. This should be very easy and take only a couple of minutes of mixing. You can also use a mixer, but use very slow settings and do not overdo it. The idea is to just mix the ingredients. Cover and put in the refrigerator.

Mix Final Dough (next morning)

Chop up the levain into small pieces about the size of marshmallows. Wet your hands and rub the counter with water. Pour the dough from the overnight soak out onto the counter and spread it out like a pizza. Distribute the pieces of levain evenly across the dough. Press them in with the heel of you hand. Roll up the dough in one direction, then the other. Allow it to rest for a few minutes. Again wet your hands and the counter if it needs it. Spread out the dough again like a pizza. Evenly spread the salt and the oil over the surface of the dough and press it into the dough again with the heel of your hand. Roll up the dough in one direction, then the other. Let it rest a few minutes. Spread it out one more time like a pizza. Work across the dough pressing the heels of your hands deep into the dough to integrate any oil and salt that may not have already been well integrated into the dough. Roll up the dough in one direction, then the other.

Let rest for 15 minutes.

Do two or three "French Folds", as shown in the video. Note that this is a good technique for developing the gluten in a wet dough that may not respond well to conventional kneading. Also, note, when I say two or three, I mean literally about 10 seconds, like two repetitions of the motion, as shown in the video. That is all the "kneading" that was done to make this bread. Place the dough in a covered bucket or bowl to rise.

Bulk Fermentation and Periodic Folding

The dough should rise by double in about 4 hours at 75F, but the folding will degas the dough somewhat, so lean toward less than double, depending on how much you are degassing the dough while folding. Also, adjust accordingly if your temperature is different or your starter is faster or slower. Try not to let this dough ferment too long. The high percentage of fermented flour in the dough and the spelt flour will conspire against you if you allow the dough to rise for too long. If in doubt, stop the bulk fermentation and go on to shaping, even if the dough doesn't rise by double.

Fold the dough about three times approximately on the hour, as shown in the "Folding" video. If the dough appears to be wet enough to relax significantly before one hour, then fold sooner. If the dough appears to be fairly stiff and holding its shape or is hard to stretch when you fold it, then fold less often or fewer times.


Create sandwich loaves using a typical batard technique or whatever method you prefer. Place loaves in typical loaf pans that are about 9 inches long by 4.5 inches wide. I sprayed the pans lightly with oil beforehand to avoid any sticking.

Final Proof

Allow loaves to rise by roughly double in about 2.5 hours at 75F. Again, adjust your proofing time as necessary for different temperatures or different starter. Once again, avoid overproofing, which is easier to do inadvertently with less tolerant spelt flour and the higher percentage of fermented flour in this recipe.


I slashed the loaves and baked them from a cold start for 1 hour and 5 minutes at 400F after proofing for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Although the dough is not as wet as some, it still should be thoroughly baked. Otherwise the crumb will be overly moist and the crust will become soggy.


When the loaves are done, remove them from the pans and allow them to cool on a rack. Do not cut into them, if you can resist, at least until they are no longer warm to the touch.


I was very pleased with the flavor of this bread. The sourdough flavor from the spelt starter is delicious, there is no bitter flavor of whole wheat that I can detect, and the spelt adds a unique and mild flavor. The bread toasts very well and carries any type of topping, since the crumb is open and light but not so irregular that honey or other wet ingredients fall right through it.

Floydm's picture

Crepes of Wrath

crepe muncher

We've been reading a ton of Petzi books to our son. All of the drawings of Petzi eating crepes forced me to make crepes this weekend (yes, forced me... my life is so tough).

These were good in the morning, but the best part has been having extras in the fridge. I pull one out, spread on some Nutella, and zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds and they are as good as new.

I've used a few different recipes in the past, but I really like this one from Beth Hensberger's Bread Bible. It is extremely simple.


Makes 15 to 20 crepes

3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup water or light beer
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons melted butter (add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter)

Mix everything together with a blender, hand mixer, or whisk until it is smooth and the consistency of cream. Cover with plastic and refrigerate.

Lightly grease a skillet or crepe pan and heat over medium heat. Pour a scoop of batter onto the pan and tilt the pan to spread the batter around (or use a plastic scraper to do so). After a minute or so flip the crepe over and bake until the other side is slightly browned, 30 seconds or so.

Serve with whatever filling you like. We did Nutella and black current jam. Both were excellent.

As I mentioned, leftover crepes can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for a good long while. We actually didn't have any left over, but I made a second batch the next morning because we enjoyed them so much. It is almost time for me to make a third batch!