The Fresh Loaf

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hazimtug's picture

Local Flour

Hi Everyone,

I keep on baking even though I have been away from TFL for a while. My bakes are mostly the high hydration, crusty, burnished sourdough loaves, and I am really liking the flavors and textures I can get using pre-soaked whole wheat type flours. I am mostly following the Chad Robertson method, which has been working really well, and I just strive for that perfect loaf everytime I bake. For flour, I have been using Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat flour and the Central Milling AP flour. Great performance and taste... however, I want to switch over to using local grains/flours.

I recently obtained the local Westwind flours as I reside in Southeast Michigan. These flours are freshly stone milled and you can either go to the mill to get them or purchase them at some of the local stores, such as WF... the latter, more of a recent development if I am not wrong. In any case... for my bakes last weekend, I tried making two loaves for comparison purposes.

  • One loaf using 90% Westwind unbleached organic bread flour (was milled in late May 2013) and 10% BRM organic WW flour @ about 95% hydration. I was told that the Westwind bread flour is about 17% protein.
  • One loaf using 90% BRM organic WW flour and 10% BRM organic spelt flour @ 100% hydration. As I have been doing, the BRM flour was off the shelf from a local store.

Now, I know that this is not comparing apples to apples, but I would think that I could get very good results with the local Westwind flour that would be comparable to the great loaves that I have been making using the BRM flours.

Other than the flours listed above, I kept all variables the same. I used 2% salt, 20% levain, 4-hr bulk fermentation with approximate 0.5-hr folds, and kept the dough temperature at the 78 - 80 degree range. After a 30-hr bench rest and structural shaping, I retarted both loaves in the fridge for about 10 hours before baking them in combo dutch ovens pre-heated to 500 degrees and then dropped to 450 degrees when I loaded the loaves. I removed the lid of the combo ovens after 0.5 hr to get the crust going. One thing I did differently was that I had a single central slash on the BRM loaf as opposed to 3 slashes on the Westwind loaf.

During the bulk fermentation, the BRM felt like it was developing really well, getting silky and smooth. The Westwind was more sticky and harder to handle but still showed OK signs of fermentation and gluten development. During the initial shaping and final shaping though, I had a really hard time handling the Westwind dough.

Ok, enough said... the results are in the photos. The loaf with the better oven spring (the front loaf) is the BRM loaf. The aromas were distinctly different from the two loaves... the Westwind loaf smelled sweeter, almost like a cinnamon-like aroma. When I cut into it after letting the loaves cool for a few hoursThe loavesBRM crumbWestwind Crumb, I got a really sticky crumb, with mostly little holes and a few big ugly holes (my apologies for the ugly photo of the cut loaf over the burner). The BRM crumb and flavor were great, which wasn't surprising to me. You can see the big crumbs in that loaf (the photos with the natural lighting).

I really want to be able to get great loaves using this local flour. I remember having a similar experience when I gave this local flour a shot a couple of years ago and I didn't try any further. This time I don't want to give up, but I feel like I need the wisdom, knowledge and experience of a sourdough master to troubleshoot and adjust accordingly to get that near perfect loaf.

I would very much appreciate any opinions, ideas, suggestions... Thank you!


msova's picture

Saf-Instant not refrigerated

When I bought my Saf instant in the vacuum pack package I just put it in the cupboard. I realized later that I had bought it from the refrigerated section. Do you think it's okay ? It's been in my cupboard now for several weeks unopened. 

devineharris's picture

Dough elastic but never silky and smooth

This is my first post ever so forgive my poor use of the jargon!

I'm posting this in the general section because this is an issue I've had with all of my yeast doughs. The pictures I'm including are for one of my first sourdough loaves, if this has any relevance, but I digress. I can never get my dough to become "smooth" and elastic - the elasticity of my dough always develops well, but when I knead the dough tends to tear and look like the surface of the moon, or wrinkly. It doesn't acquire the silky look and feel that I have seen pictured. I knead by hand (though I do have a stand mixer which I rarely use).

I've looked this up before and tried numerous fixes. I let the dough rest ten minutes before I knead it, and let it rest periodically between turns. I understand that the dough will tear if the gluten is not relaxed, but even giving it numerous opportunities to rest it always looks wrinkly, not silky. I also knead for a considerable time. In total I probably kneaded this dough for about 30-40 minutes, and it is two medium loaves worth. I followed the recipe at Sourdough Bread | Annie's Eats. This is 3 cups all purpose flour and 2 cups bread flour (I was a little scant in my original mixture but the amount that was kneaded into it makes it about 2 cups or a little more). This is also my first really legitimate sourdough starter but that's irrelevant to my issue with the kneading, because I've encountered it pretty much universally.

^ About ten minutes in

^ Ten minutes later

^ And thirty minutes in

^ After 40 minutes I couldn't get it better than this (it would tear even with rests!) so I resigned myself to this. The wrinkly texture bothers me! It looks smooth but it wrinkles when i handle the dough.

I've tried different methods of only using the bare minimum flour on the counter, and contrarily using more so it moved more easily. I really am at a loss. I wonder whether the dough sticking to my hands contributes to the tearing, and I've tried dipping the heel of my palm into a pile of flour every three or four kneads to ensure it won't be sticking, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I really don't know what I am doing wrong because I cannot achieve the silkiness that I would love to see in my dough! 

It is absolutely elastic, but the silkiness is hard to achieve. The dough I made before this batch I kneaded for at least 90 minutes, with breaks to allow to gluten to relax, but still it would tear and look wrinkly/dimply. Anyone else have this issue or any tips for me? I just dumped my boyfriend so I need baking to fulfill my soul! ;)

neobliss's picture

New to starters

Hi... I am new to starters and bread making in general. I have made bread every now and again but have really gotten into it as of late. I started a small 300g 100% starter and have been facing problems with hooch. I started it four days ago and waited 48 hours for the first feeding because I was not seeing any activity in the first 24. By 48 hours, it was nearly overflowing and I was quite happy to see this. On the following day, I went to check it and feed it and I found that it had quite a bit of hooch and was inactive. I mixed it up and fed it but has been quite wet for the past two days. What do I need to do to fix this? 

Also, I hate to waste so I use the 50% discards to make bread. I just deduct the water and flour from my recipe and use active dry yeast as stated in my recipes. Is this ok to do? Can't hurt it any but does it do anything for texture? Just wondering.

I am quite a newbie at this so any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!


UPDATE: After reading some of the forum topics, I decided to add another 75g of flour and it has thickened back up? Am I doing this correctly? This is now not 100% though... confused!

Baker Frank's picture
Baker Frank

Cast Iron / stoneware bakeware

Hello All

I have had much better success with the boule and ovals I bake using cast iron dutch ovens resulting in a more pronounced oven spring and a crispier crust.

I dream of making a better baguette but so far the results have been modest. Has anyone had experience using either or both cast iron or stoneware bakeware to bake baguettes? If so, I would very much like to hear about your results.

Thank you,


bcsverige's picture

how to create more flavor in a pizza dough

Hello fellow Loafers!

I run 4 pizza restaurants and am trying to get more complex flavor in our dough. Our pizza a a thin crust baked in a gas/electric oven at 525 degrees.

we use a same day dough with some of the previous days dough added.

the ingredients are the following


fresh yeast


vitamin C


previous days dough.

thanks everyone!!!

snapper4you's picture

Sourdough ... intensity of sourness

I have just cooked my second sourdough loaf. The first was only minimally sour and also heavy. This second loaf did all of the right things.The culture doubled in size before using. The resultant dough also doubled in size and it held its shape when I transferred it to the oven.It bloomed well in the oven and was picture perfect when cooked. However, it was so sour as to be inedible. Help!


CAphyl's picture

Sicilian lemon orange sweet bread

When I was in the UK lfor a wedding around Easter time, I made this Paul Hollywood traditional Sicilian lemon orange sweet bread for my husband's family at Easter.  I didn't do the best job as I never made it before, but it tasted great and everyone liked it.  My husband requested it for his birthday yesterday, so I made it.  It turned out well.

When I made it earlier, it didn't rise very much and was more like cake.  This time, it got huge!  Live and learn.  I've attached a link to the recipe below:


JOHN01473's picture

Wheat Berries in a soaker?

i am hoping for some guidance on using Wheat Berries in a soaker for a multi-grain loaf.


has anyone had experience of using Wheat Berries in such a way?


i wondered if they would have to be cooked rather than soaked?


are these the same items that people use to sprout and add to dough?


Warm Regards to all

John - The Baking Bear.

Lauraclimbs's picture

RYE Questions

Help! I have so many rye bread questions! I have been baking high-hydration whole grain sourdoughs for 2 years now, but just ventured into baking with rye (and other atypical/non gluten flours, like buckwheat). My last couple of attempts at baking rye sourdoughs weren't very promising. My first try I kneaded the dough for EVER (15-20min) in fear that it wouldn't be developed enough, and was surprised when it came out as a tough, close crumbed, dry brick. My second attempt, I kneaded the dough significantly less (~10min total) as I heard that overkneading can incorporate so much air into a loaf that it dries it out, but the end result was the same.

My most recent bake was with Tartine's Country Rye recipe. This high hydration formula calls for only stretch and folds, no kneading. I must say that the bread tastes incredible! I was so surprised! However, there are still many other problems. First of all...

Despite slashing the dough, the cuts did not allow any relief for the expanding loaf as it still burst out of the side. This happened with my last batch of rye as well, but has never happened with my wheat loaves. Does anyone have any advice/information on this issue?

Lastly, both the loaf pictured below and the loaves I baked last time had GIANT holes just in very center of the loaf. What is the meaning of this? My last loaf had only one air hole: a giant tunnel through the very center. Again, I have not had this problem baking with wheat. I do not use oil when shaping or in any of the dough handling phases.


When monitoring dough development when using rye flour, how do your evaluations differ from those that you do for wheat flour? Obviously the dough is stickier. When kneading, I noticed that the dough had a strong window pane and was cohesive after just a few (5 or so) minutes-yet I kept kneading because I thought intensive kneading was crucial for rye dough.


Anyway, I LOVE rye and want to be able to consistently produce great loaves, so any valuable information you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks