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San Joaquin Sourdough

dmsnyder's picture


While I enjoy a variety of breads, the San Joaquin Sourdough remains my “go to” bread. It's easy to fit into a busy schedule. It uses few ingredients. It always tastes delicious. It's wonderful freshly baked but also makes great toast, French toast, garlic bread and croutons for salads or onion soup. It is almost as good after being frozen as fresh. What's not to like?

I first developed this formula about 3 years ago. Since then, I've tweaked the formula and methods in many ways. I know many TFL members have made this bread and enjoyed it. So, I thought an update on my current recipe might be of interest.

To summarize the changes I've made in the past 6 months:

  1. I substituted 25 g of whole wheat flour for an equal amount of the rye flour in the original formula. The difference in flavor is subtle, but I like it better.

  2. I adopted the oven steaming method for home ovens we were taught in the SFBI Artisan I and II workshops. 


556 g Bâtards
SourceMy own recipe.
Prep time6 hours
Cooking time30 minutes
Total time6 hours, 30 minutes


450 g
all-purpose unbleached flour
25 g
Medium rye flour
360 g
10 g
100 g
Liquid levain (100% hydration)




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 20-60 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Using a plastic scraper or silicon spatula, stretch and fold the dough 30 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 3 times more at 30 minute intervals.


After the last 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.) Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes with a stretch and fold after 45 and 90 minutes, then return the dough to the container and place it in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours. 

Dividing and Shaping

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

To pre-shape for a bâtard, I now form a ball rather than a log. Place each piece of dough smooth side down. Pat into a rough circle, degassing the dough gently in the process. Bring the far edge to the middle and seal the seam. Then go around the dough, bringing about 1/5 of the dough to the middle and sealing it. Repeat until you have brought the entire circumference of the piece to the middle. Turn the piece over, and shape as a boule. Turn each ball seam side up onto a lightly floured part of your board.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 60 minutes. (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, I now favor the method portrayed in the King Arthur Flour instructional video. I encourage you to watch the video, but here is a verbal description of the method:

  1. For each piece of dough, place it in front of you on an un-floured board.

  2. Hold down the near side and stretch the far side of the piece into a rough rectangle about 8 inches front to back.

  3. Now, fold the far end two thirds of the way to the near end and seal the seam with the heel of your hand.

  4. Take each of the far corners of the piece and fold them to the middle of the near side of your first fold. Seal the seams.

  5. Now, the far end of the dough piece should be roughly triangular with the apex pointing away from you. Grasp the apex of the triangle and bring it all the way to the near edge of the dough piece. Seal the resulting seam along the entire width of the loaf.

  6. Turn the loaf seam side up and pinch the seam closed, if there are any gaps.

  7. Turn the loaf seam side down. 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

One hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack and put your steaming apparatus of choice in place. (I currently use a 7 inch cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks.) Heat the oven to 500F.


After shaping the loaves, transfer them to a linen couche, seam side up. Cover the loaves with a fold of the linen. Proof until the loaves have expanded to about 1-1/2 times their original size. (30-45 minutes) Test readiness for baking using “the poke test.” Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!


Pre-steam the oven, if desired.

Transfer the loaves to a peel. (Remember you proofed them seam side up. If using a transfer peel, turn the loaves over on the couch before rolling them onto the transfer peel. That way, the loaves will be seam side down on the peel.) Score the loaves. (For a bâtard, hold the blade at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf. Make one swift end-to-end cut, about 1/2 inch deep.)

Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. Steam the oven. (I place a perforated pie tin with about 12 ice cubes in it on top of the pre-heated lava rocks.) Turn the oven down to 460F.

After 12-15 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is browning unevenly. Close the oven door. (If you have a convection oven, switch to convection bake, and turn the temperature down to 435ºF.)

Bake for another 12-15 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.

When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the baking stone with the oven door ajar for another 7 minutes to dry the crust.


Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.


wally's picture

Christmas Breads

My tradition of Christmas bread baking began by accident back in 1975, when, considerably younger and poorer, I discovered a recipe for cheese bread in Joy of Cooking that yielded a pretty tasty product.  So I decided that Christmas that family and friends would receive a loaf, something I could afford and that was personal.

To my surprise, I started receiving inquiries the following holiday season to the effect of, "So, I'm looking forward to another loaf of that fabulous bread."  So began a tradition (curse in my weaker moments) of baking cheese bread at Christmas time.  This year, that amounted to 30 loaves, baked over two weekends.  A busman's holiday for me I reckon.

I've tweaked the recipe over the years, but the central ingredients remain extra sharp cheddar cheese, butter and milk.  The combination makes for a rich, dense loaf of bread with excellent keeping qualities and a simple set of instructions I send with each loaf: "Cheese Bread - For best results, slice, toast, butter, and enjoy!"  The recipe below is for 5 loaves which is my standard at-a-time bake these days.

While this is an easy, straightforward straight-dough bread, I've found that to achieve a really good loaf requires a fair amount of hand labor.  I hand grate the cheese - about a quarter pound per loaf - because my experience with KA mixer grater attachments is that they produce too coarse a grate, and I then gently rub the cheese into the flour, a bit at a time, to both coat the individual gratings and to gently warm the flour and cheese which makes for better incorporation.   Beyond that, because I mix 9 lbs at a time, there is no way short of using a commercial mixer to do this except by hand.

It's actually a kind of sensual experience, gently rubbing flour and cheese between my palms until the flour itself begins to take on an orange hue.

The second taxing part is that because this is a stiff dough, it requires kneading.  Not so much for the gluten development I think as for the final effect of warm hands on dough in 'melting' the cheese so that it's really incorporated.  After 7 minutes or so of kneading, you are rewarded with a dough that is silky smooth and now very orange-hued.

The milk, butter, salt and sugar are heated in a pan to a scalding temperature to denature the enzymes in the milk, and then cold water is added to reach DDT.  Instant dry yeast is added to the flour and cheese, the liquid is poured in, and then hand mixed until fully kneaded.  Bulk fermentation is 1 - 1 1/2 hours depending on temperature, and then the dough is divided, allowed to rest for 20 minutes, and then shaped and placed in bread pans and covered. 

I braided one up as a challah, and thinking about it, the formulas aren't that far removed excepting the cheese.

Final proof is a short 1 hour, and then the bread is baked, steamed, in a 375° F oven for 45 minutes.

After removing them to racks to cool, they are brushed lightly with melted butter to achieve a soft crust (no hearth bread, this!).



I've frozen this for several months in frost-free refrigerators after cater-wrapping them in plastic, and they still turn out wonderfully.

Other baking I've done includes some stollen.  I like to marinade my fruit in rum for about 8 weeks prior to making my dough.  Pics are below - sorry no crumb shots as these are all presents.


I wish everyone at TFL the best of our Holiday season!


dmsnyder's picture

Shaping a boule: a tutorial in pictures.

I have read so many bread baking books and viewed so many videos on shaping boules, but I didn't really "get it" until I saw our instructor, Miyuki, do it in the SFBI Artisan I workshop I attended a couple weeks ago.

I will attempt to show what I learned in still photos with descriptions. I hope that viewing these and then reviewing some of the excellent videos available might help others who are struggling with this technique.

Mis en place

You will need:

1. a batch of fully-fermented dough

2. a lightly floured "board" on which to work.

3. a scale, if you are dividing the dough.

4. a bench knife or other cutting implement, if you are dividing the dough

5. prepared bannetons or a couche on which to rest the formed boules for proofing





1. Weigh your dough

2. Divide it into equal pieces.

3. Pre-shape each piece gently, incorporating any small pieces of dough on the inside. 

4. Rest the pre-shaped pieces, seam side down and covered with plastic or a towel  on the board for 20-30 minutes.

5. Prepare your bannetons or couche for receiving the shaped boules.


6. After the pre-shaped pieces have rested, shape each as follows:

* Pick up the piece and turn it smooth side down.

* Gently fold the long ends together under the piece.

* Rotate the piece 90º in your hands, and fold the other two sides together.

* Place the piece on an un-floured board, smooth side up.



* Cup your hands around the piece, and gently drag it 3 inches or so towards you in such a way that the edge closest to you sticks to the board and is dragged under the dough, thus stretching the top of the piece into a tight sheath containing the dough.


Note the position of the markers before stretching

After the stretching, the marker at the apex of the boule is unmoved, but the one that was at about 40º North, is now about at the equator.

* Rotate the dough 90º and repeat. Do this 3-4 times until the bottom of the boule is relatively smooth and the whole boule has an unbroken, smooth sheath.

Note that there are no visible seams on what will be the bottom of the boule, after the procedure described.


* Place the boules in bannetons, smooth side down, spray with oil and place each banneton in a food-grade plastic bag to proof. (Alternatively, place the boules seam side down on a couch and cover with a fold of the couche, plasti-crap or a towel.)



Well, there it is. For me, being able to visualize the stretching of the "skin" of the boule between a fixed North Pole and a point on the side, using the board to "grab" the bottom of the boule as I dragged it towards me was the "aha moment." I hope it makes sense to others.

The goal (to form a tight gluten sheath) in forming other shapes is fundamentally the same, but the method is entirely different.

Comments and questions are welcome.

Happy baking!







teketeke's picture

This is how I finally have open crumbs and ears using high heat (500F)

Updated 9/29/2010

Updated: 9/15/2010 I want to introduce Edwin's recipe( pipo1000) that is absolutely phenomenal.

 Next time, I want to try dragon trail pattern for my baguette. That is fantastic!


 I will thank you all of TFLERS who gave me great comments to me. I hope my recipe will help you out or give you some good ideas to have a nice baguette that you desire!   And I applogize what I often edit my recipes  that cause trouble to you have gotten bunch of e-mail of my recipes  that is very annnoying.  I am sorry.(bow)

Hello, Everyone. I introduce myself a little bit. I am a foreigner (Japanese)  who can't speak or write English very well.  My husband who is American said " My wife barely speaks English!"  Well, It is true, I am not a big fan of talking to people.Thats why my Enlgish hasn't improved yet.   I will appreciate if you correct my English when you find.  And I love dogs!!! :) I have 2 dogs who are both of two half Chihuahua and half poodle a brother (2 year old) Chi-chi, and his sister (1year old) Cookie although their mothers are different.  I have lived in Newyork with my husband and 2 children my son (12years old) and my daugher ( 4 years old) for 6 years.

Back to the topic, For several month,I have been into baking french bread as much as my family call me " FRENCH BREAD HEAD".:) But I broke the inner glass of the oven once which means " NO MORE POURING WATER IN THE OVEN". then next time I broke its element twice so that I can't preheat 500F anymore. I had had no luck to bake nice baguettes that have nice ears and glooms. 

Thanks to RobynNZ who gave me some information to make steam without pouring water, even though I couldn't try it because it costs too much for me, and I finally figure it out on my way. Cover 2 blocks with foil and place them on the second lowest rack.  That is it. It is very easy and keep the tempareture stable.


This is how I bake baguettes.

80% hydartion


And, This is my recipe: 1 baguette ( Approximately 40cm long)

Preferment (Day 1)

Yeast         1/4tsp    (0.8g)

cold water   76g

 All purpose flour   95g 


 Final dough (Day 2)

Yeast                  1/4tsp (0.8g)

 cold water          76g

 All purpose flour   95g

Salt                          3g

*Barley malt powder         1g ( you need it when your flour doesn't contain barley malted flour)


Tools: A baguette pan, 2 blocks covered with foil for lower oven,

              Parchment paper

I strongly recommend to read this link before you make this baguette or any baguettes or any bread!  I got these important information from Vogel who is one of TFLERS. I really apprecicate your help. Thank you, Vogel.

I start to shape when my test-dough rises about 1.1 times in bulk and I prepare to score my baguette when the test-dough rises 1.3 times in bulk.




1 Mix the preferment  and sit for 1 -2  hours at room temperature ( When you see 2 big holes in the surface, it is ready to put it in a refirgerator. You don't have to wait until 1.5 times in bulk )

 2 hours later 

→Mix again, Refrigerator for over night.( about 12 hours in total)


2 Next morning:  Add the final dough: yeast and cold water into the preferment→ Mix→ Put the rest of ingredient: flour and salt


3 Put the dough in a food processor to run for 5 second until combine.

 Take the dough out of the FP


 4 Let's knead: Stretch and fold!

 and turn the dough angle 90 degree, and repeat and repeat.... (around 1-2 minutes) You will feel the dough has gluten development. Don't do too much!  * I think that you can stroke it too.


5. Put the dough in a greased bowl and covere it with a plastic wrap.

6.  Strech and fold -3hours fementation.

  0:45 ---2 folds in a bowl

  1:30----2 folds  in a bowl.

 2:15 ---- 2 folds  in a bowl.


 ---There are 2 fold above-----

 7. 3:00 ( 3 hours later) shape: Take the dough out of the container , degas lightly ( patting the dough 2 or 3 times)


  Pull the both sides from the center very gently.


 Using a dough cutter, lift the edge on your side( bottom) and...


bring it to the center.


 Next, Lift the edge on your over side ( top)

bringing it to your side ( bottom ) and pinch very lightly

 take the seam line onto the center..

 Take the dough on your over side (top) toward the dough on your side ( bottom) and pinch very well.


   Roll the dough using a dough cutter.

 Place the dough onto a parchment paper.

9. Proof for 20-30 minutes.  Please read this to get the right time for proofing.( 26-28℃ or 79-82F)

10. Scoring and spray water to the pan, the back of the pan, and the parchmentpaper is not on dough: I don't spray the dough, I am avoiding to spary water to the dough now.

 Prepare Flour, Greased razor with shortening, Spray water bottle, and the ziplock is shortening inside( I was squeezing into the cuts after scoring to have ears and glooms. )


11. Bake for 7 minutes at 470F → Decrease 450F bake for 3  minutes→ Take out  the pan and the parchment paper  →Decrease 450F and bake 10 more minutes →Shut off the oven and open the door for a few second and leave the baguette for 5 minutes. 




 ----- Let's make a pan for baguette at home--------

You need---

 a) Cardboard after using wrapping paper.

 b) Foil

 c) Stapler

Let's make it----

1) Get a cardboard after using wrapping paper.

2) Cut the cardboard in a half and cut more ajust to fit for your bagutte dough. Do the same thing for another one.

3) Cover the cardboard with foil. Do the same thing for another one.

4) Staple onto the foiled cardboards both ends and the middle.

 You can slide it into the oven!!

 !! The side which you slide it in must be really smooth and flat like this picture.!!

Now (9/27/2010) I upgraded the homemade pan:

 I made a lot of holes for the dough to breath when you place the dough onto the canvas or cloth.



Even High hydration dough will keep the shape until you slide it into the oven. Don't forget to score very close to straight in the center that is for withour using a stored bagutte pan that you can put it in the oven.( keep the dough round! When you draw the line diagonally a lot, it will spread over the side and the dough will be flatten. Be careful! * Note* When you use a stored pan, you better score diagonally slightly.



  When you use a cloth for such high hydration dough, I suggest you to have some nice supports for the dough like these pictures above)

Result : 0.4% yeast ( Poolish 1/8tsp, final dough 1/8tsp)

Result 0.8% yeast ( poolish 1/4tsp, final dough 1/4tsp )





 I recommend these recipes below.  Thank you, dmsnyder and Shiao-Ping and Tyarmer. by dmsnyder by Shiao-Ping by Tyarmer

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

Jim Lahey's Pizza Patate from "My Bread"

One of the challenges for a home baker is to try and figure out how to make a great bread once you've tasted it. Like encountering the Platonic ideal, you recognize it, reach for it and try and duplicate it -- and then you fail miserably and often give up.

Jim Lahey, the founder of Sullivan Street Bakery, was like a culinary Plato for me. Every bread he turned out was amazing and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find a way to make the airy, light, wonderfully tasteful bread at home. To learn more, I actually visited his bakery in New York several years ago and did a story on him. And while he gave me a few generous tips in an interview (and critiqued the sample I had in my backpack), it wasn't enough. I had to learn on my own and like most bread, I later realized success was less about the recipe than the technique.

Lahey, of course, later caused a storm on the Internet with his no-knead bread recipe, courtesy of Mark Bittman. Then, he spun those recipes into My Bread published this past fall, which ranks as a perfect starting point for an aspiring baker.

Less known than his bread, however, are his terrific pizzas, which he also includes in the book. These aren't the round pizzas he serves up at his New York restaurant, Company, but rectangular sheets of exceedingly thin-crust pizza, topped with onions, mushrooms or just tomato sauce. They are sold by the slice in his bakery.

The big secret about these crispy gems? Like no-knead bread they are dead easy and fast to make. For the effort, you get great results. 

In fact, the pizza recipe was so easy that I was skeptical it would be worth it. You mix the dough quickly, let it rise for a couple of hours, flatten it out in a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, spread the topping and bake it. The recipe was also quite different from another here, because no mixer is necessary. 

You can dispense with a baking stone, too. And finally, watch your impulse on toppings! The biggest error pizza novices make is to pile on so much stuff the pie turns into a soggy, gloppy mess. As Jim told me many years ago, when it comes to pizza, "less is more." He's right. Like many Italian concoctions, he also avoids cheese on these rectangular pies and the result, in my opinion, is superior. But if you insist, go ahead and add a bit of cheese.

Here's his basic dough recipe and the stellar pizza patate (potato pizza).

Basic Pizza Dough 

Yield: enough dough for two pies baked in 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheets

3 3/4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) instant or active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon plus pinch (3 grams) sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) water
Extra Virgin olive oil for pan

In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water, and using a spoon, your hand, or a baker's plastic bench scraper, mix together until blended -- about a minute (Jim says 30 seconds but mine took a bit longer). You don't want to mix or knead this dough too much, or else the gluten will develop and you won't be able to shape it in the pan. But you want to mix in all the lumps of flour. In the end, you'll arrive at a stiff dough.

Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. (If your room is cold, put it in the oven with a pilot light to warm up a bit, or in a closed cabinet).

Dump out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Use both pieces, or save one in the refrigerator (I use a zip lock bag) for up to 1 day. Oil a 13x18 inch rimmed baking sheet liberally with good extra virgin olive oil (yes, pour it on). Then gently plop the dough on the pan and stretch and press it out to the edges. If it springs back (that's the gluten working) wait five minutes and then proceed. I found the gluten weak enough to spread it fully over the pan. The dough is very thin. If it tears, piece it back together.

Lahey has a few basic toppings in his book, such as pizza pomodoro (tomato sauce), pizza funghi (mushroom), and pizza cavolfiore (cauliflower), but I zoomed in on his pizza patate (potato). This might sound like a carbo-loading dream, but remember the crust is thin, so you're not stuffing yourself with dough.

Pizza Patate

As Jim writes, "Potato pizza is another Italian classic you don't see very often in the United States. While my rendition is pretty traditional, I soak the potatoes in salted water first, which actually extracts about 20 percent of their moisture. That causes them to cook more quickly and makes them firmer. It's a little trick I learned from cooking potato pancakes."

YIELD: One 13-by-18-inch pie; 8 slices 

EQUIPMENT: A mandoline

1 quart (800 grams) lukewarm water 
4 teaspoons (24 grams) table salt 
6 to 8 (1 kilo) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled 
1 cup (100 grams) diced yellow onion 
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) freshly ground black pepper 
About 1⁄2 cup (80 grams) extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 recipe (400 grams) Basic Pizza Dough 
About 1 tablespoon (2 grams) fresh rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C) with a rack in the middle

In a medium bowl, combine the water and salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Use a knife or mandoline to slice the peeled potatoes very thin (1/16th inch thick), and put the slices directly into the salted water so they don’t oxidize and turn brown. Let soak in the brine for 1-1/2 hour (or refrigerate and soak for up to 12 hours), until the slices are wilted and no longer crisp. (Note: I cut the soaking time to 30 minutes and the results were still good.)

Drain the potatoes in a colander and use your hands to press out as much water as possible, then pat dry. In a medium bowl, toss together the potato slices, onion, pepper, and olive oil.

Spread the potato mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges of the pan; put a bit more of the topping around the edges of the pie, as the outside tends to cook more quickly. Sprinkle evenly with the rosemary. (Note: I left it out in the version pictured above, but feel it's better with it). 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is starting to turn golden brown and the crust is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Serve the pizza hot or at room temperature.

Variation • Pizza Batata (Sweet Potato Pizza)

Substitute 2 sweet potatoes (800 grams), peeled, for the Yukon Gold potatoes, and use about 4 cups (about 900 grams) water and 24 grams (4 teaspoons) salt for the soaking liquid. Omit the rosemary in the topping.

(I originally posted this on ChewsWise)

Shiao-Ping's picture

Chocolate Sourdough - Chad Robertson's way

Chad Roberson's Tartine Bakery doesn't do chocolate sourdough (if they do, I haven't had the fortune of tasting it).  We did Pane Cioccolata (chocolate bread) at Artisan III, SFBI, and it was very good.  Everybody loved it but at the time I was thinking to myself if I were to make it at home I would make some changes for the following reasons: 

First of all, I feel really uneasy about "double hydration" method, which is supposed to be good whenever you have any "add-ins" for your dough, be it dried fruits, nuts, seeds or soakers, or in this case, chocolate chips.  The procedure is: you mix your dough with only 80 - 85%% of the recipe water in the first and 2nd speed as usual until a slightly stronger than normal gluten development has achieved, then turn the mixer back to first speed, slowly incorporate the reserved water and finish off on 2nd speed, then, add the seeds and nuts (or whatever add-ins you have) in the first speed initially for incorporation, and finish off, again, in 2nd speed.  The reasoning for this method is it is easier to develop dough strength with a stiffer dough than a wet dough and so the purpose is to build up the strength before you incorporate any add-ins.  Because of the longer mixing time, the temperature of water you use with this method is lower than for other doughs. 

I remember we mixed the dough for nearly 20 minutes in the spiral mixer.  I am not confident that I could do such a long mixing time with the mixer I have at home.  I always feel "traumatized," looking at the dried fruits or nuts being beaten up and chopped up while they try to be mixed in to the dough after the latter's gluten structure has already been formed; it really takes time to break the gluten bond.

Secondly, after the dough was bulk fermented, it was scored then proofed. One other type of bread where we scored first then proofed was rye bread.  It was said that because of the delicate gluten structure in both of these cases, if you were to score after the dough is proofed, you may destroy the gases that were produced.  While this makes sense to me, I don't care for the look when it's baked.

Thirdly, the Pane Cioccolata formula we used at Artisan III has only 20% levain (in baker's percentages) and therefore it also has a small percentage of dry instant yeast (DIY).  If I increase levain to 100% I wouldn't have to have DIY!  Also, chocolate chips used were only 12% of total flour, I know my son would just LOVE more chocolate chips. 

So here is my Chocolate Sourdough inspired by Chad Robertson's method all by hand (timeline as described in Daniel Wing and Alan Scott's The Bread Builder) in my previous post.







Formula for My Chocolate Sourdough 

Two nights before bake day - first stage of levain build-up

  • 61 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 121 g bread flour (i.e. two times starter amount for me; I do not know what ratio Chad Robertson uses.)

  • 91 g water

Mix and ferment for 6 - 8 hours at 18C / 65 F (depending on your room temperature, you may need shorter or longer fermentation time for your starter to mature)

The morning before bake day - second (and final) stage of levain expansion

  • 273 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)

  • 273 g bread flour (I use one time starter amount in flour but I do not know what amount Chad Robertson uses)

  • 204 g water

Mix and ferment for two hours only

Formula for final dough

  • 750 g starter (all from above)

  • 650 g bread flour

  • 100 g cocoa powder (8.5% of total flours*verses 5% in SFBI recipe)

  • 86 g honey (7% of total flours verses 15% in SFBI recipe)

  • 250 g chocolate chips (21% of total flour verses 12.6% in SBFI recipe)

  • 433 g water (note: with every 12 g extra water, your total dough hydration will increase by 1%. If you wish, you can increase up to 5% more hydration. See step 10 below.)

  • 1 to 2 vanilla pods (optional but really worth it)

  • 20 g salt

Total dough weight 2.3 kg and total dough hydration 73%

*Total flour calculation takes into account the flour in starter. 

  1. In a big bowl, first put in water then put in the starter.  Break up the starter thoroughly in the water with your hands.

  2. Then put in honey; scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods and put it in, and stir to combine

  3. Put in all the remaining ingredients except choc. chips

  4. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine for 1 - 2 minutes. (Take down the time when this is done, this will be your start time.  Starting from this time, your dough is fermenting.  From this start time to the time when the dough is divided and shaped, it will be 4 hours; i.e., bulk fermentation is 4 hours.  The preferred room temperature is 18 - 21C / 65 - 70F.  You may need to adjust your dough temperature by using cooler or warmer water.)

  5. Autolyse 20 - 30 minutes

  6. Sprinkle half of the choc. chips on a work surface (spreading about 30 cm by 30 cm) and stretch or pad the sticky dough thinly to cover the choc. chips.  Then sprinkle the other half of choc. chips over it; press the choc. chips into the dough so they stick.

  7. Gather the dough from the edges to the centre and place the choc. chip dough back into the mixing bowl.

  8. Start the first set of stretch and folds in the bowl by pinching the edges of the dough and fold onto itself to the centre (10 - 20 times).  Rotate the bowl as you go.  As the dough is quite stiff, you may need both hands for the folding.  The hand folding serves as mixing.  I used my left hand to press down the centre, so my right hand can pinch an edge of the dough and fold it to the centre.  As you stretch and fold, try not to tear the dough; only stretch as far as it can go.

  9. After 45 minutes, do a second set of stretch and folds.  At the end of this stage, the dough will already feel silky and smooth.  As the dough is quite stiff, its strength develops very fast.  Be mindful that the bottom of the dough is the right side of the dough; and the right side of the dough always remain at the bottom in the bowl.

  10. After another 45 minutes, do a final set of stretch and folds.  As the dough feels quite strong, no more folding is necessary (unless you choose to increase total dough hydration, in which case, you may need one more set of stretch and folds).

  11. At the end of the 4 hour bulk fermentation, divide the dough to 3 - 4 pieces as you wish.  Be mindful that the bottom of the dough is the right side; sprinkle some flour on your work bench, and place the pieces right side down.

  12. Shape the pieces - gather the edges to the centre, flip it over (so the right side is now up) and shape it to a tight ball with both hands.  (As I find the dough is quite strong, I did not think pre-shaping is necessary.)

  13. Place the shaped boules in dusted baskets or couche, right side down and seam side up to encourage volume expansion.  Cover.

  14. Proof for 2 hours in room temperature of 18 - 21C / 65 - 70F.

  15. Into the refrigerator for retardation at the end of the 2 hour proofing (minimum 8 hours; I did 18 hours).


Bake Day

  1. Bake the boules cold for best result (ie, straight out of refrigerator).  Just before baking, sift flour on the dough and score it.  Bake at 190C / 380F (not higher due to honey) for 40 minutes.  Once the dough is loaded onto the baking stone, steam the oven with no more than 1 cup of boiling hot water.

  2. Note: I find better result when baked cold.  One boule was left at room temp while others were being baked, and it became quite puffy so when I scored, it deflated quite a lot and there was no noticeable oven spring with this bake.          



I sliced one of the boules and went down to the back yard to water the plants.  When I came back up, my son said to me, Mum, the chocolate sourdough was epic.  How I love his choice of words.  Well, you know how to please a growing boy - make a chocolate sourdough!

This is the first time that I made a chocolate sourdough - it is not sour at all because of the chocolate and honey, but it is very chewy.  And the crust!  Very crispy.  The crumb?  Very more-ish.

I don't imagine you find chocolate sourdough made this way in the shops - they would go bankrupt if they do - too much work (but absolutely worth the trouble for home bakers)!


Shiao-Ping's picture

Dan Lepard's Barm Bread (100% sourdough)

My husband text me from China and said his boss told him over pre-dinner drinks that he is a sucker of sourdough!   Immediately I was thinking what would I bake if he ever makes a trip to Australia, not that I've been forewarned of any near-term possibility, but I was just entertaining hypothetical visits.  Somehow, I know it's not MacGuire's that I've been making lately even with all those lovely big holey crumbs that I've been getting.  The flavors of all those MacGuire breads/sourdoughs are not the best of all breads/sourdoughs that I've made.   Indulge me with this explanation: the flavors of all those super-hydrated (and the resulting super-holey) crumbs are not deeply alluring for me to want to come back and have another slice once chewing is done.

I was out doing a bit of gardening and enjoying the gorgeous sunshine of Australian winter.   It hit me that my husband left a bottle of Irish ale in our bar fridge.  There is a Dan Lepard's recipe that uses ale (as one would expect) in his "The Handmade Loaf" that I've been wanting to try.  It's called "Barm bread."  For most of you out there there will be no difficulty guessing what a barm bread might be, but I've never heard of this word, barm.  My Wiktionary says it is an old English term referring to the foam rising upon beer or other malt liquors, when fermenting, and used as leaven in making bread (and in brewing).  So, that's it - a barm bread is like a sourdough bread.


To make a quick barm

250 g ale (or bottle-conditioned beer)

50 g white bread flour

4 tsp white leaven (Dan's starter is 80% hydration; as the amount used is so little, it would not matter if your is not 80%.)  

Heat up the ale or beer in a saucepan to 70C (158F), then remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the flour.  Transfer to a bowl, leave to cool down to 20C (68F), then stir in the leaven.  Cover with a plastic wrap and leave overnight to ferment.  (My barm took 36 hours to be bubbly.)  Use as you would a leaven (but adjust your recipe water as the barm is quite liquid).    


          the ale and the barm freshly made up                              the barm is ready

Dan Lepard says this is a perfect replica of the complex barm of olden times for the home bakers.

Now, the above formula is really curious to me.  Recently a TFL user Bruce (Frrogg1son) asked me about a Chinese "65C soupy dough" and when I Googled it a whole string of Hongkonese and Taiwanese bread recipes ran up; many of these breads are on the sweet side with milk powder, butter and sugar, almost like French brioche breads.  I see these type of sweet white breads in Japan a lot too.  

The curious thing is that the ratio of water to flour in this "65C soupy dough" is the same as Dan's ale to flour ratio; ie, 5 to 1, and it is heated up to 65 C, closed to Dan's 70 C.  Bruce told me that the science behind this soupy dough is that "when the flour particles reach about 65C, they burst, releasing starch molecules, which have the capacity to absorb very large amounts of water.  It is like gelatinization."  What this does to a dough is that it improves the moistness of the crumb and keeping quality of the bread.   He first discovered it on the internet as a natural way to extend the moistness of some doughs.   How interesting.  I imagined what this does is similar to what potato does for some sourdoughs - very most crumbs and good keeping quality.

That said, I felt a sense of auspicious foreboding coming for this barm bread.  Dan's book (page 41) says the Barm bread is the traditional wheaten bread of England.  Wow.


The formula

150 g barm from above (the rest can keep in the fridge for a week)

250 g water (adjust your water temp to achieve a dough temp of around 21C / 70F)

500 g strong white flour (or a flour mix of rye and wholewheat, or even soaked grains, but I used white flour only)

10 g salt (or 1& 1/2 tsp)

*  Note: This is a 68% hydration dough; but I added 20 g extra water to bring it to 72%. 

Schedule in hours and minutes 

0 :00    In a large bowl, whisk the barm with the water.  Add the flour and salt, and stir until you have a sticky mass.  Cover.  Autolyse. The dough temp should be about 21C (70F).

0 :10    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 - 15 seconds.  Return the dough to the bowl.  Cover.  (I gave the dough 7 - 8 folds inside the bowl, which  lasted 15 seconds, much the same way as dough is folded in James MacGuire's pain de tradition here that I recently posted.) 

0 :20    Knead again as above.  (I folded the dough again in the bowl.)  The room temp should be about 20C (68F), if not, you may need to place your dough in the fridge for part of the time to keep the dough temp down.

0 :30    Knead again as above.  (I folded again.) 

1 :00    Knead again as above.  (I folded again.)

2 :00    Knead again as above.  (I folded again.)

3 :00    Knead again as above.  (I folded again.)

5 :00    Turn the dough out and divide it into two pieces of 450 g each (I left mine as whole).  Pre-shape each into a ball.  Cover.

5 :15    Shape dough into boule and place into floured linen-lined baskets or bowls.  Cover.   Leave at room temp of around 20C (68F) for a bit longer than 4 hours or until dough almost doubled.

8 :30    Turn on your oven to 220C/425F (if it takes one hour to pre-heat).

9 :30    Bake with steam for 50 - 70 minutes.


Phew!  This schedule may look like a bread making marathon to you but in truth my dough was not ready until after 12 hours!  I started mixing my dough at 7am yesterday, and it was only ready to bake at 8 pm!  Possible reasons are that my room temp was only around 18C (64F) and/or my barm was very slow.   And this is it:



   Dan Lepard's Barm Bread 



What a beautiful barm bread; the taste is most amazing, richly flavored from the ale-based barm, which has a slight bitterness and sweetness from the ale.  I am most impressed by Dan's formula.  The crumb is sweetly fragrant.  It has a very deep aroma, and allure.  Now, this is something that I would come back to have more.   






It's been years since I ate past 8pm but last night I literally had 1/3 of the loaf on my own!  Any of you ladies out there, don't do what I do. 

I have not recommended any breads to people up until now because most of my breads are frivolous experiments and for my eyes only, but I do commend this one.   Whether your guests are experienced connoisseurs or no foodies at all, there would be no qualms about this superb sourdough.  (I am blowing my own trumpet.)

Thank you, Dan. 

It's time Polly our dog go out for a rumple-trot in our yard; I sang out her name and she stirred from behind my couch.  Out she went through the hallway door to enjoy the green and the afternoon sun.   And me?  I am having my afternoon tea with this bread!






dmsnyder's picture

March 3 should be a TFL holiday!

Norm's onion rolls and kaiser rolls

Norm's Onion Rolls and Kaiser Rolls

March 3 should be a TFL holiday. That's the day in 2008 that Stan (elagins) asked Norm (nbicomputers) if he had a recipe for New York style onion rolls.  Norm did, and he posted the recipe the same day

I just know there are some here who have yet to bake these. No one's perfect. It's not the end of the world. On the other hand, it would be a terrible thing for the end of the world to happen, and you haven't gotten around to baking these rolls. You shouldn't be depriving yourself. You never know ...

It should be noted that the same dough that is used for onion rolls is also used for kaiser rolls (aka "hard rolls," "Vienna rolls," "bulkies"). The only differences are in the make up (how the rolls are formed), the proofing and the topping. Well, there is also a slight difference in the recommendation for steaming the oven.

I am posting Norm's recipe together with tips he contributed in response to various questions and problems others posted.

So, without further ado ...

 The Dough

(Makes nine 3-oz rolls)

  • High Gluten Flour 16 oz

  • Water                  8 oz

  • Yeast                  0.3 oz Fresh or 0.1 oz Instant

  • Salt                     0.25 oz

  • Sugar                  0.75 oz

  • Malt                    0.25 oz (diastatic malt powder or malt syrup. If you don't have either, just add an additional 0.25 oz of sugar.)

  • Eggs                   0.75 oz (a little less than 2 Tablespoons)

  • Oil                      0.75 oz (a little less than 2 Tablespoons 

  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar (And malt, if using malt powder. And crumbled fresh yeast, if using fresh yeast.)

  2. Pour water in a bowl. (Add instant yeast, if using it, and mix. Add malt syrup, if using, and mix it.)

  3. Mix egg and oil together.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, preferably the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the flour mixture. Add the egg and oil mixture and combine. Last, add the water mixture and combine.

  5. Using the dough hook, knead on Speed 2 (for a KitchenAid mixer) or equivalent for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is very smooth and silky. (This is a very stiff dough, so your mixer may "walk." Keep an eye on it!) Depending on your flour, you may have to add a bit more water, but the dough should be rather dry. Not sticky or even tacky. It should clean the bowl sides and not adhere to the bowl bottom.

  6. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover tightly. Let it ferment until doubled in volume. (About 90 minutes, depending on the room temperature.)

  7. Turn the dough onto a dry, un-floured work surface. Divide it into 2 to 4 oz pieces, depending on the size rolls you want to end up with. (For reference, a 3 oz piece will result in a 4 inch onion roll or a 3 inch kaiser roll.)

  8. Pre-shape each piece into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and/or a towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. (This is to relax the gluten, not to rise.)

  9. If making onion rolls, spread the topping on your work surface, a cookie sheet, a pie tin or whatever.

  10. Flatten each piece using a rolling pin and/or the palm of you hand. They should be 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

  11. Press each flattened piece firmly into the topping mixture, then place it topping side up on a baking pan lined with parchment paper which has been sprinkled with coarse cornmeal (polenta).

  12. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to fully proof. This may take 60-90 minutes. (Failure to allow the rolls to fully proof will result in more oven spring than is desirable. These rolls should not end up spherical, but rather flat, like a discus.)

  13. Pre-heat your oven to 450F and prepare to steam it using your method of choice.

  14. When the rolls are fully proofed, press a finger deeply into the center of each roll.

  15. Bake them for 5 minutes with steam. Then remove the steam source and continue baking until the rolls are well-browned - 10 to 15 minutes longer. (The tops may remain white if the onions were too wet or you had too much steam in your oven.) If desired, you can bake a bit longer to crisp up the tops.

  16. Remove the rolls from the oven and cool on a rack.

The Topping for Onion Rolls

(Makes enough for a double recipe)

  • Dehydrated onion flakes ¼ cup

  • Poppy seeds                  1 T

  • Salt                              ¼ tsp

  • Oil                                1 T

  1. Put the onion flakes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.

  2. When the onion flakes are fully re-hydrated, pour off the excess water but save it for use in the dough or in your rye sour or other good use.

  3. Mix in the other ingredients and put aside.

If anyone has additional tips, please submit them. Collectively, we have quite a bit of experience with this recipe. I'm hoping to collect it all in one place.




Section I: Introduction

There are few things that smell quite as good as a loaf of bread baking in the oven. But there are other benefits beyond just that lovely smell of baking your own bread. It’s cheaper, tastier, and, more often than not, healthier than buying it from the store.

Our goal with this e-book is to help amateur bakers produce the kind of bread that they would most like to pull from their ovens. We hope that it helps you.

Floydm's picture

Norm's Onion Rolls

Norm, AKA nbicomputers, is a retired professional baker from New York City. He has been sharing his recipes and his baking wisdom with us for close to a year now.

Norm's NY Style Onion Rolls have become a favorite on The Fresh Loaf. Below are the list of posts I could find that contains pictures, tips, and comments about this recipe.

Thank you, Norm.