The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Theresse's picture

What's the least and most amount of time required for a sponge (or starter)?

Hi -

New to this of course.  A youtube video by Dave of Dave's Killer Bread showed that he let his sponge or starter (can't remember which he called it and don't know if there's a difference) sit on his counter for about an hour before continuing to add flour and mix more/knead.

Some googling (haven't yet read my bread books!) showed lots of comments about people letting their starters sit for several hours.

Last week I made Dave's recipe and let it sit for only an hour and it came out fine.  Tonight I'm doing a different version (an imitation recipe I found online of his more seedy breads which he doesn't share recipe-wise) and I'm making 4 loaves instead of 2.  Any reason I should let it sit for longer than an hour before continuing to mix and adding the rest of the flour, etc?


mkress's picture

White Breads: Var 1 The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Too Yeasty

I made White Breads: Variation 1 from The Bread Baker's Apprentice and I made knot rolls and they turned out very yeasty.  I put in .22 ounce (1%) of Fleshman's IDY as was called for.  I tried to follow the recipe as exact as I could and everything seemed to go well.  Should i halve the yeast and go for a longer rise in the future?  Is there something else that can contribute to it tasting too yeasty?

Floydm's picture

Three pizzas

The first was with chanterelle mushrooms on a white sauce.  My wife's all time favourite.

The second BBQ chicken with red onion and cilantro. The kids got to it before I got my camera out.

The third chicken, red onion, and pesto.

All came out well.  I was playing with Reinhart's American style pizza dough.  It is good too and makes a thicker, stiffer slice than his neo-Neapolitan dough does, one that is easier to pick up with your fingers rather than eat with a fork and knife.  It is a good option to consider for a setting where you want people to be able to grab a slice and wander off. 

isand66's picture

Multi-grain Sourdough with Soaker

Today it's snowing.  Not enough to bring out the snow-blower but enough to enjoy a nice cup of soup with a sandwich made with my hearty multi-grain bread.  I've made similar breads before and I followed the basic procedure but I varied the soaker/scald ingredients and the combination of flours in the main dough.

I used some Vermont maple syrup infused with vanilla to add a touch of sweetness to offset some of the bitterness from all the whole grains used in the recipe.

I cooked the whole grains with 290 grams of water on my stove top and let it come to a boil for about 5 minutes.  I then transferred the scald to a bowl and let it sit overnight covered.  The scald absorbed all of the water so I adjusted my final water amount accordingly.  I still ended up with a very moist dough but one that was manageable.

I really like the way the crust and crumb came out on this bake.  A nice dark thick crust with a chewy interior, perfect for the cold days and nights ahead.

I have to say I've bought multi-grain breads from the supermarket in the past and there is just no comparison to this healthy and tasty bread.




Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours with the water and honey in your mixer or by hand for 1 minute leaving 50 grams of water to add later.   Let the dough autolyse for 20 minutes to an hour in your bowl and make sure to cover it.  Next add in the salt, olive oil and the soaker and mix for 2 minutes.  Add the balance of the water as needed and mix for an additional 4 minutes.  The dough should have come together in a ball and be tacky but not too sticky.

Next take the dough out of the bowl and place it on your work surface or a clean dough rising bucket sprayed with cooking spray.  Do a stretch and fold and rest the dough uncovered for 10 minutes.  After the rest do another stretch and fold and cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Do one more stretch and fold and put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and let it sit at room temperature covered for 2 hours.  After 2 hours you can put the dough into the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 2 days before baking.  Feel free to do some additional S & F's if you feel it is necessary.  I baked the bread about 24 hours later.

The next day (or when ready to bake) let the dough sit out at room temperature for 1.5 - 2  hours.


Next, form the dough into your desired shape and put them in floured bannetons, bowls or on a baking sheet and let them rise covered for 2 hours or until they pass the poke test.  Score the loaves as desired and prepare your oven for baking with steam.  I made one large miche for this bake.  I also added some organic oat bran to the bottom of the basket which adds a nice texture to the outside of the bread.


Set your oven for 525 degrees F. at least 30 minutes before ready to bake.  When ready to bake place the loaves into your on  your oven stone with steam and let it bake for about 5 minutes.  Next lower the temperature to 500 degrees for about 2 minutes and then lower to 450 degrees.   Since I baked this as a miche I then lowered the temperature to 425 degrees about half way through the bake until it was finished.  When you have a nice dark crust and the internal temperature reaches at least 210 degrees you can take it out of the oven and place it on a cooling rack.

Let the loaves cool down for at least an 6 hours or so before eating as desired.




trailrunner's picture

Spelt/rye with RYW and SD

Latest attempt at a spelt bread was more what I was after. I still let it proof for one hour before retarding. Since reading Josh's post after I had made this I will move the shaped loaves into the fridge posthaste and not give them any bench time and see what happens. As you can see this has a lovely open crumb and I even got ears :) I attribute this to gentle handling. I incorporated John's sealing during shaping and then proofing the shaped loaf with the sealed side down and then scoring over the sealed area. Pictures show the result. Taste is creamy and crumb is tender.Raisin yeast water at work. Stored overnight in a brown paper bag and the crust is still amazing this AM. Made great toast and I am about to make an aged cheddar grilled cheese. 






just out of fridge : spelt and rye with RYW photo IMG_6707_zps6fdaef10.jpg crust :  photo IMG_6711_zpse8795872.jpg crumb shots: Spelt and rye crumb photo IMG_6712_zps717d048d.jpg  photo IMG_6713_zpsefd0a49e.jpg  photo IMG_6715_zpsac35a1db.jpg

ichadwick's picture

Whole wheat-unbleached flour ratios and bread rising

I made a modest little pan loaf yesterday (no-knead) using 1 1/4 cup unbleached flour and 1 cup nine-grain (whole wheat) flour. Tasty, but it didn't rise as much as expected, so was a bit denser than optimal.

Is the ratio of wholewheat to white too high to get a good rise? If so, what should it be?

Could I get a better rise with:

1. Longer cold fermenting?(it sat 3 days in the fridge after the initial rise)

2. Longer rise time after shaping? (it had about 1 -1.5 hours before baking)

3. Less salt (had about 1/2 tblsp) or more yeast (used about 1 tsp)

4. Cooking time/temperature change (cooked at 450 for 35 mins)

Whole wheat loaf

ichadwick's picture

Sourdough cuts gluten?

There was a story on CBC's Ontario Morning today that goes hand in had with this story:

Sourdough breadmaking cuts gluten content in baked goods

It says:

A team of Italian scientists led by Luigi Greco at the University of Naples authored a 2010 study that showed significantly lower levels of gluten in sourdough made according to old methods.
The difference was so stark that celiacs in the study were able to consume the sourdough with no ill effects.

How can sourdough reduce gluten? Anyone know? Fermentation works on sugars - how doe it reduce a protein?

ichadwick's picture

Which of these books do you recommend?

I have several books stored in my Amazon cart, but don't want to buy them all at once, or get past my still-basic baking level. Which one or ones (up to three) do you recommend I get right away:

  • The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking - French Culinary Institute; 
  • Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers - Peter Reinhart; 
  • Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook - Ed Wood; 
  • My Bread - Jim Lahey; 
  • Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza - Ken Forkish;
  • Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads 
  • How to Make Bread - Emmanuel Hadjiandreou; 
  • Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes - Jeffrey Hamelman;
  • 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads: No-Knead, One Bowl - Judith Fertig;

 FYI I already have the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.

I have seen most of them in store, and my own favourites were the Lahey and Hadjiandreou books, because they lay things out in easy steps with lots of photos.

Skibum's picture

Another blooming boule, Forkish style again

Total flour 300 grams, strong bread flour

Total water 231 grams

Sweet levain @ 100% hydration 25 grams

Yeast water levain @ 100% hydration 25 grams

Salt, 1 tsp or about 7 - 8 grams, should have spent the extra five bucks on the digi scale that gives me the decimal. .  I once again took extra care when pre-folding and folding the boule, making sure the full length of the fold was tucked in nicely.

the dough was proofed seam side down and baked seam side up.

I scored a crescent across the seam I thought most likely to bloom.

The crumb.

So I refreshed my yeast water yesterday and as bake s per dabrownman's directions and made some YW pancakes today with the 'spent' YW,  I also refreshed my sweet levain at the same time and left it on the counter also. 

YW pancakes

100 grams spent YW

100 grams bread flour

I left it on the counter overnight for yesterdays's mix and today's bake and had a massive amount of bubbling dough! This morning I added 1 egg beaten and mixed with 2 Tbs maple syrup adn 2 Tbs melted butter, 1/4 tsp baking powder and mixed it with the flour and YW. The mix took some doing, but when done I mixed in some fresh blueberries, fried it up in the same pan that fried my hone cured/ smoked bacon and YOWSER, some fine breakfast to celebrate myu first day skiing at Lake Louise!

Ahhh, topped with melted butter and real maple syrup.

I discarded the fruit this time. Next tie I will do something with the spent fruit

Floydm's picture

Mixer musings

I baked for many years without using a mixer or any special gear. I really enjoy mixing and kneading by hand, and think it is a great way to get to know about dough.

But after a while it became clear a mixer would be helpful.  Not so much because there were things I couldn't do without a mixer, but because I could do much more of it with the help of a mixer.  Three or four batches of bread in an afternoon barehanded is exhausting; with a decent mixer it just becomes challenging to schedule everything so that it is ready to go into the oven at the right time.  A good mixer is a tremendous labour saver.

My first mixer was an entry level KitchenAid, something like this.  I found it on super duper sale and was very pleased with it.  I've put a lot of mileage on it and never had a breakdown, though there definitely were times I had to divide a batch or take a break from mixing because I could tell I was putting too much strain on it.

Last spring I decided it was time for an upgrade.  I think it was the Milk Bread with Tangzhong that finally did it: that dough was so sticky it would climb up the hook and get into the head of the mixer in a matter of seconds.  For every second spent mixing, I think I spent five scraping down the dough.  I'd had it.

After much research, including reading many of your threads here, I set my sights on an Ankarsrum Original mixer (aka Assistent, DLX, Electrolux, Verona, or Magic Mill).  It is a pricy machine, but given the amount of time and energy I spend baking, it seemed like a worthy investment that would pay off over the years. 

I've been using this mixer since September and really enjoying it.  Super sturdy build with a much larger capacity.   My KitchenAid used to walk all over the counter when it was mixing and I always had to stop it and scrape the dough back down into the bowl, whereas this thing barely moves and rarely does the dough get stuck on hook. This is the most I've ever seen it budge:

The mixer on the countertop

So while it has a bigger footprint than my KitchenAid, I don't have to give it as much clearance since it isn't whipping all over the place and bumping around like my old machine was. 

I'm still getting adjusted to using a spiral mixer -- meaning the bowl spins and the hook stays still -- rather than a planetary mixer where the hook moves and the bowl is stationary.  My preliminary impression is that while it takes a bit longer to knead the doughs in the spiral mixer with the dough hook, it does a better job, something much more akin to a hand kneading than the serious beating that my dough would get in the KitchenAid.  

Also, it may be completely irrational but I've always been scared of getting injured by a planetary mixer. I saw a colleague of mine get his hand caught in a large planetary mixer the first week I worked at a bakery.  That was a much more powerful and dangerous machine than my little countertop mixer, for certain.  But I like that my new mixer has a large, open bowl that makes it easy to watch the dough develop or poke it while the mixer is running (which I'm certain the instructions tell you never to do) without fear of having the hook swing around and catch a finger. Make of that what you will.

What else?  Yes, I actually feel like I am learning a lot more about dough development since it so easy to watch it now.  That's a pretty big deal, actually. 

The two attachments I use a lot are this heavy beater thing for getting ingredients incorporated:

Mixing a dough

And then the dough hook once my dough is together:

Mixing a dough

There also is a plastic bowl and attachments that allow you to use this as a standard mixer/beater, which we've used to beat eggs, make whipping cream and cake with.   See?

The beater mix-y thingie

My favourite accessory that comes with it?  Very silly, but the plastic lid that fits the bowl just so.  For things like autolyze it is so handy to have.  I'm sure you can buy something similar for a KitchenAid, but I never did.

I've been in touch with both the US Ankarsrum distributor and the Canadian Ankarsrum distributor. They seem like good folks who thoroughly believe in the quality of these mixers.  

This mixer is a huge step forward for me.  I think is both going to make baking easier (and less frustrating) for me and, ultimately, make me a better baker, which is a very good thing!  :)

I know some other folks have been considering getting one and asking questions about them.  Let me know if there are any questions I can answer or particular features you want me to demo.  I should note though that I've never used the Bosch mixer or a higher end KitchenAid so I don't think I can offer a meaningful comparison.