The Fresh Loaf

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alfanso's picture

My version of Ken's Country Blonde batard

In this edition of what the heck can I do with a tub of dough, I decided to tackle the fabulous batard known as Ken’s Artisan Country Blonde.  In the first attempt early this week, I mixed 1000 grams of dough and came up with two ~500g batards.  As an aside, I am a believer in couche rather than banneton proofing whenever possible.  I was pretty happy with the results for a first time out, as evidenced by the first photos.  

But I decided to up the ante AND sneak in some more baguettes, as improbable as that last part is to believe ;-) .  Upping the ante also meant trying to get a batard in the same weight range as what Ken sells, which is in the 750g vicinity.  So I made 1500g of dough, carved out ~750g or so for the batard and then divided the remainder into the two baguettes.  

A 4 hour bulk fermentation, refrigerated for the last hour, followed by divide and shape, and then a 12 hour couched and shaped retard.  Then directly into the 470F oven for a bake.  12 minutes of steam.  The baguettes baked for a surprisingly long 30 minutes total, and the batard for a mere few minutes more.  Even after removing the steaming tray and venting the oven while rotating the breads, there was still steam coming out of the vent from the residual hydration in the dough.  I would have liked to bake the baguettes to the next darker shade, but after 30 minutes I felt the desire to pull them before they might have burned.

Both the batard and the baguettes are oversized behemoths, although it might not be evident in those last two pictures.

Here is a picture of Ken's Country Brown, his whole wheat version.  It was the closest that I could find to a good picture of the Country Blonde.  From his FWSY book: 

Here is my first attempt at the Country Blonde at ~500g apiece:


And the blisters and crumb:

Today's haul.  Ken scores his Brown twice and his Blonde three times, and so I tried to keep mine consistent with his.  Baguettes took my standard 4 scores.  Need to get a better score on the batard, but the baguettes opened up just dandy!  Batard at ~750g, baguettes at ~375g each:

I better watch myself or I might just get hooked on batards and kiss my baguette phase goodbye.  Naaahh, on second thought, I guess they can play nice and coexist!


fupjack's picture

Lots of eggs, lots of butter

Here's two dairy questions I thought of recently:

1: I'm looking at some recipes I was given from someone whose father ran a bakery for many years.  A lot of the recipes call for eggs by the quart.  That's a lot of egg breaking to do.  Is there some alternative way to generate a large volume of eggs for baking - powdered eggs reconstituted, or similar

2: I noticed I keep buying more and more butter to bake with.  (several pounds, every trip to the store)  I'd like to get something better than the stuff on the supermarket shelf, but the specialty butters cost 3x as much, from what I've seen, and buying it in bulk doesn't help the price much.  How do you get butter - assuming you use it as fast as I do? 

Christopher Hoffman's picture
Christopher Hoffman

Tartine Bread

Just got the book day before yesterday. It is still too hot to cut but It is looking like success to me. Very exciting for me!!!!  I already learned some simple tricks from the book that are really helpful: 1: dropping a bit of levain in water to make sure it's ready. 2: My combo cookers won't arrive for a week so I put a large, heavy, super heated stainless pan upside down over the loaf for half the bake to steam. 3: Used the 'young' leavain as Robertson calls it. Awesome book, worth every penny!!!

breadforfun's picture

A Trip to Altamura Revisited

About a month ago I wrote about my attempts to reproduce a Pane di Altamura that I tasted on a visit to Italy.  For the past few weeks I have been working on the formula and on my technique, and I’m happy to post my most recent results, which are much closer to the original look I was after.  I researched the techniques a bit more and found some information I had missed the first time around.  The key one was that I had not achieved sufficient gluten development.  A post on TFL (with much thanks to nicodvb) described a 30+ minute knead to fully develop the dough, which was contrary to much of what I had read about gentle kneading requirements of durum.  I had been doing S&Fs every 30 minutes previously and although the strength felt right, it was apparently insufficient.  A couple of other important changes came from the D.O.P. document which said that the preferment should be 20% PFF (I was using 17.5% based on other recipes), and mixing the dough with cold (~55-60˚F) water.  (While I perform these experiments I am keeping a 100% durum starter as well as my normal wheat starter.)

My two last bakes shown in the photos below differed primarily in the overall hydration.  Most of the formulas available indicate hydration around 65% for Pane di Altamura, which I stuck with at first.  The dough was easy to work with, but it was quite stiff, and the resulting crumb was very closed and tight.  The aroma was lovely and taste was mild and somewhat sweet.  The sourdough flavors were mostly undetectable.  My shaping technique is still not perfect, although it is improving. The finished loaf is pictured at the top of the post and the crumb is shown here.

On the most recent bake I increased the hydration to 72%, more like the minimum I would use for a wheat-based sourdough.  Keeping with 20% preferment, I split the batch into 2 loaves and shaped them into boules.  One loaf was proofed for 2½ hours and baked as a boule.  The second was retarded overnight, then shaped in the traditional folded loaf and baked the next morning.  No steam was used during the bake and the oven was propped slightly open during the first 15 minutes of bake.

     Active starter after 12 hour fermentation


     Boule and crumb with 72% hydration dough.

     Folded loaf and crumb


I plan to work with this general formula a bit more, making adjustments as the mood strikes:

17% prefermented flour using 110% hydration durum levain. This was based on a misreading of the regulations that the levain is 20% of the overall dough; it should actually be 20% prefermented flour. The levain was fermented for 12 hours at 75˚F with the ratio of seed:water:flour of 1:3.5:3
72% overall hydration (the calculation includes the levain)
100% patent durum extra fancy flour (fine grind, or Italian rimacinata)
1.9% salt
Final dough weight ~1300 grams (this large because it makes it easier for me to accomplish all the folding needed to shape the loaves) kneaded for at least 20 minutes, plus 4x S&F for the first 2 hours.
Bulk ferment 3 hrs @ RT, final proof 2½ hrs or retarded overnight.
Baked in a falling oven for 1 hour, starting at 460˚F and finishing at 400˚F, dropping the temperature in 2 steps, without steam.

They both had chewy crusts and the crumb less so, but had a bit of resistance.  The folded loaf had noticeably more flavor and a more pronounced but not overpowering sour tang and came out really tasty. Another major difference was that the crumb of the boule that was scored was drier than the boule shaped in the folded loaf form, which was quite moist.  They were baked with roughly the same temperatures and times but clearly the scores allowed more water to evaporate.  They both had thick crusts reminiscent of the authentic loaf.  I plan to extend the baking time and lower the temperature more quickly for the next folded loaf to dry it out a bit more.


ciabatta's picture

Sourdough Ciabatta

ok. i've been making ciabatta using instant yeast for some time with great success. this is my first attempt at making a sourdough version.  i order some sourdough starter culture (dried) from breadtopia and have been growing the starter for about 4 days. I looks lively and just about ready to use.  i want to check on here for my formula to see if i you guys think my dough is going to be too sour.

my regular ciabatta recipe is straight forward : 24 oz poolish 100% hydration ap flour with a pinch of SAF red yeast, overnight in fridge, take out next morning to come to room temp.  then 12 oz ap flour with 2 tsp SAF red and 2 tsp salt and ~6 oz water (75% hydration in total). mix, rest, 3x stretch and fold at 30 min intervals in plastic tub coated with olive oil. divide, shape and roll in flour to coat. tapped down and stretched then into grill top stone oven (BakerStone) for about 8 mins each at ~650F.  squirt bottle water sprays on the top and side stones before going in and again right after for steam.  comes out beautiful.

so for my sourdough version... can i just replace the entire 24 oz poolish with the sourdough starter? or is that too much?  i was also going to do it as a hybrid version, keeping the 2 tsp SAF red in the final dough.  i'm using the same ap flour for my sourdough starter.  no whole grains in this round.

the sourdough starter looks similar in consistency and 'bubbliness' as my regular poolish. has a good strong acid smell.

Thanks in advance.  Any comments, suggestions welcomed.


oskar270's picture

Lemon Curd Filling

The other day I copied from Internet this Lemon Curd Filling recipe

 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup cornstarch
1/4 TSP Salt
1 1/2 Cups Cold Water
6 Egg Yolks, slightly beaten
2 TSP Finely Grated Lemon Peel (optional)
1/2 Cup Juice from 2-3 Lemons
3 TBS Unsalted Butter

 We like this recipe but the next day the top of the filling became like a rubber

 Anyone knows why and what I have to do to avoid this problem?


PetraR's picture

SD hybrid rolls with caraway seeds and SD bread :)

Today we are to lazy to cook so we shall have bread with butter and different spreads.

I made my everyday SD bread as per usual and also SD hybrid rolls.

They are so good.

They will be soft on the top but crisp on the bottom and light and fluffy on the inside.

Due to the crips bottom the rolls, that is light as a feather can carry a good weight of all kind of topping, from sweet to savoury.

The bread was made with

150g 80% hydration starter

400g warm water

400g wheat flour

200g wholewheat flour

    2Tbsp olive oil

   13g Salt

Kneaded in the mixer for approx. 7 minutes and kneaded by hand for a further 7 minutes.

Formed into a ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for 4 hours, shaped, put in banneton and put in the fridge 12 hours.

Baked straight from the fridge in preheated oven and dutch oven on 250 C for 30 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes at 200 C with the lid off.



The rolls

100g 80% hydration starter fed or unfed , whatever you have at hand.

   14g fast acting dry yeast

450g warm water

400g wheat flour

200g wholemeal  flour

  15g Salt

    1Tbsp dark treacle

    1 Tbsp caraway seeds * optional *

    2 Tbsp olive oil

Have 120g of wheat flour and 20g of wholewheat flour at hand in case you need to add some more if the dough is to sticky.

Knead in your stand mixer for approx. 10 minutes, form into a ball and let rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 1 1/2 hours.

Turn out on the working surface and weigh and divide into your individual rolls. 

Place your rolls on a baking tray/s lined with parchment paper, put in large plastic bags and let rise for 45 minutes.

While they rise preheat your oven to 250 C.

Brush your rolls with a mixture of 1 egg and 1Tbsp of water.

Bake the rolls for 5 minutes on 250C , turn down the heat and bake for a further 20-25 minutes on 200C.

Let them cool * if  you can * and enjoy.

The treacle gives those rolls the special malted and sweet/ish flavour and of course , a nice colour.

My Son had 2 rolls with butter and scrambled egg. * drooling *



JessicaT's picture

What happened to my loaf?

I just tried to make the Tartine sourdough again, and this resulted. Some things to note, I only did two stretch and folds during the bulk fermentation and promptly stuck it in the fridge. I pulled it out of the fridge this morning after about 13 hours, did a couple stretch and folds as it did not feel *quite* firm enough, pre-shaped during the bench rest, and then let it final proof for about 2.5 hours before baking it in my hot dutch oven.

Is there a way to save this loaf, or should I just chuck it and try again some other day?

Elagins's picture

North German 80% rye

Ammerland Black Bread/Ammerländer Schwarzbrot, a dense North German 80% rye meal 20% cracked wheat bread that showcases the sweetness of the grains. A single 9"x4"x4" loaf weighs nearly 2 kg. Magnificent with strong cheeses, smoked salmon and dry-cured meats. Look for it in my upcoming rye breads book.

kitchen_monkey's picture

Autolyse with milk?

Is it possible to autolyse with milk? Will I still get the benefits of autolyse if I use milk instead of water including the development of protease enzyme which improves dough extensibility? Does milk promote the development of protease enzyme like water does?