The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Spent Fuel Boule

Baking from his book this winter, I've come to appreciate Ken Forkish's practice of growing higher volume levain refreshments and builds than had previously been my habit.  I like to feel the warmth generated by, and smell the sweetness of, fermentation in these larger levains, raising them in plastic vessels chosen to minimize the culture's surface-to-volume ratio when it enters log phase.  I'm a believer in The Mass Effect and the proof is in the baking: The loaves raised with these levains have been unfailingly delicious.

But like many, I don't relish composting so much 'spent fuel'.  This week I  tested a alternative I'd been anxious to try:  Building a dough using all the leftover levain from a bake's refreshments and final build, plus some fresh flour, water and salt.  The result was surprisingly satisfying -- a thoroughly delectable loaf that rivaled in flavor and texture that of the 'main bake' from which its levain was merely the remains of the day.

I try to refresh my 80% starter twice before the final build -- something I learned from David Snyder.  Makes it sweet and active.  Each of these refreshments' volume is 200 gr, with the final levain build being 400 gr for my standard weekly 2kg bake.   So no, I only bought into Ken F's levain volume excess hook and line -- but not sinker -- sensibly short of his one kg levain builds when only ~240 gr are needed.   These three successive cultures, grown over the 36 hr prior to mixing the final dough, leave 180, 160 and 160 gr behind, respectively, a total of 500 gr of 'spent fuel' destined for compost.  However, retaining 20 gr from the final build to seed next week's bake's first refreshment, I am left with 480 gr of recently matured levain to rescue and raise a Spent Fuel Boule.   

For the Spent Fuel Boule, I designed an 800 gr bake based on that prodigous amount of leftover levain, 480 gr.  I chose only 55#-sieved durum semolina as the fresh flour, for a few reasons.  This organic product, enjoying a recent return engagement in my local food coop's bulk bins, yields a nice flour through the sieve (and the retained fraction, a good peel lubricant), and I've wanted to support the co-op's move by purchasing some.  But more importantly, I hoped the durum's sweetness might balance the expected tang of a loaf raised with such a high proportion of cold-stored starter. From zolablue's seminal Sourdough Semolina formula, I went with 70% hydration (click on formula below for functional GoogleDoc spreadsheet).

One convenience of this exercise was how quick and simple it was.  Using such a high proportion of preferment is like time-traveling forward in a normal bake, leap-toading in after bench rest.  The Spent Fuel Boule could barely be expected to sustain even the short fermentation time of a commercial yeast bake: an hour plus of both bulk and proof, give or take.  The resulting loaf was a surprising joy -- the mildest of tangs, a nice soft, if durum-predictably close but light crumb.  I do all my levain building with Gerard Rubaud's flour mix (thank you, MC), so from that, this loaf had some whole wheat, spelt and a dash of rye from the levain.

I look forward to making this or something very much like it part of my routine for all future weekly bakes. My compost will have to satisfy its carb lust elsewhere.

Happy Baking!


eddieh70301's picture

Forkish- White Bread w/80% Biga

I just received Ken Forkish's FWSY this past week. Started skimming through it and thought I would try this bread to pair with spaghetti. I only did 1/2 of the recipe as two loaves would be too much.

I followed the recipe except I used my KA mixer to incorporate all of the dough. The biga was made on Sat night at 6pm and sat in my oven until 815 this morning. I will say that the finished dough was very wet, more than I expected. I never worked with a 75% hydration dough and it was fairly easy to work. The recipe calls for two -three folds but I ended up doing 4 as the dough was still pretty wet after the 3rd fold. Probably could have done another one just to tighted it up a bit. I also do not have any proofing baskets to I had to improvise. Need to pick up a couple of round wicker baskets and use those in place of proofing baskets.

Granted I am still a newbie and I've made breads from Reinhart's book and AB in five and this one from Forkish was the best tasting and best looking yet. The crumb was great as was the color. The only fault is the bottom crust was too crispy as I had a little difficulty cutting through the bottom. Probably could have pulled it a bit sooner but overall I am very satisfied. This recipe is a definite do again.

Here's a couple of pictures. Go easy on me.


ibor's picture

5 Strand Beta Braid

5 Strand Beta Braid

From "The Art of Braiding Bread"

Formula1's picture

Ed Wood Sourdoughs

On a whim I decided to purchased an Italian sourdough starter for Delivery was quick, great packaging & got it activated pretty quickly given the wordy instructions that came with it. I already have a starter I've been using for years that I made from scratch, but wanted to try something different. Figured getting a starter that's supposed to originate from across the pond should give me a different flavor profile & maybe that great Italian bread taste I fell in love with while in Italy last year. But then I realized, if I feed this starter with the same flour I've been using here, this " imported" starter will eventually just end up tasting like old faithful I've been using from my fridge. Am I wrong in assuming this? Will a starter that's supposed to be from another part of the world loose it's distinct local mojo unless it's feed the same flour it was cultivated from?  Will the Polish or Gaza starter eventually just end up tasting the same as the one I already have because feed flour  is local to my region?  Is it worth trying different ones, or once activated & feed local flour over time it will just all behave & taste the same anyways?

Has anyone tried different ones & actually noticed any difference? Thanks...

burg5657's picture

Need tips to make whole wheat bread less dense like Hillbilly Bread in the store!

Hi all,

I just recently purchased a Panasonic Bread Machine and I've made some pretty successful breads from their recipe samples. The problem I'm having is that my husband likes dense bread and I've made some good ones for him, but me and the kids prefer a lighter, airy, less dense bread. I regularly buy Hillbilly Whole Wheat at the store and that's my aim for my own bread. I read that you can add Vital Gluten to the recipe to make it fluffier so I tried that. It did make the bread SOFTER, but didn't do much for the density at all. My goal is to make and freeze bread for my family for sandwiches to cut cost around here. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thank you!!



craighodgeo's picture

Packaging lots of different size sandwiches and cakes.

I have 10-15 products, all different shapes and sizes. I supply my sandwiches, cakes etc to shops and i wrap all these on a L sealer. It takes a long time and the seal is not air tight? Is there a small step up from a l sealing? There are flow wrappers but they are a big step up. I found one machine called a flexwrap from which can handle all my products but its still a type of flow wrapper and its to big for me at this time. Help me please! Any proffesional bakers know of any cheap flexible machines out there??

Thanks!!   Craig


baybakin's picture

Earl Grey Sticky Buns

I walked into my specialty foods market, and there they were,  staring back at me.  Sitting next to the key limes and tangelos,  the yellow-orange skinned globes begged me to stick a nose in the display.  Bergmont orange season, short lived as it is, had arrived.  Almost without thinking, I tossed a few into my basket.

Bergmont orange zest is the major flavor component in earl grey tea, and as I was enjoying a nice cup of earl grey, inspiration took hold; Earl Grey Sticky Buns!  The sweet dough is based on Richard Bertinet's, and the basic idea is based off of "Orange Sticky buns" from an issue of Saveur.  The dough is given a cold-retard at least overnight in the fridge to develop flavor, in lieu of a pre-ferment.

Sweet Dough (Make the day previous to bake day):
510g Bread Flour
225g Strong Brewed Black Tea (cool)
100g (2) Egg
56g Unsalted Butter
37g Sugar (I use evaporated cane)
20g Dry Milk
10g Salt
4g Instant Yeast

Mix until shaggy dough is formed. Rest for 20 mins. Kneed until gluten is well formed. Retard overnight (or longer).

112g Unsalted butter, soft (1 stick)
zest of 2 bergmont oranges (chopped fine)
zest of 1 small meyer lemon (if more zest is wanted, optional)
125g raw sugar (brown sugar if you can't find raw)

Roll dough into a large rectangle, spread filling evenly across dough.  Roll up dough into cylinder, cut into 12 pieces and place into a buttered baking dish (mine is 9"x12").  Bake untill cooked though at 325F.  Frost if desired.

doublelift08's picture

Beautiful baking video

Found this beautiful (albeit a bit long) video on YouTube. I've not seen it discussed in this forum before so I thought I'd post it. Im not really sure how to direct it right onto the "Videos" section of the site, so if someone could please tell me how for the future I'd really appreciate it. For now I guess i'll just dump it into the General area.


Happy baking y'all

Wingnut's picture

My 1st Attempt at Marble Rye

Ok so she is just out of the oven so I can not show the crumb yet but I will edit later to include crumb.

the two doughs

rolled out and ready to create "one loaf to rule them all!" Sorry geeked out there for second....

Time for her to sleep.....

Arise sweet one

Edit: the crumb



ok one more picture.......

Greg D's picture
Greg D

Looks Like Wonder Bread??

One of my family members absolutely refuses to eat bread that does not look and feel exactly like the bread that the majority of his 2nd grade buddies eat at at lunch every day.  In his words, "I don't want that seedy stuff like you make, I just want real bread."  I just purchased a pullman loaf pan and lid in the hope of baking some sort of basic white bread that can pass his rigid requirements.  Disregarding the political and "healthy lifestyle teaching moment" issues, can anybody direct me to a good formula for basic white sandwich bread that bakes well in a pullman loaf pan and which looks as much as possible like the store-bought cotton wool stuff his classmates eat?

Happy Baking!