The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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breadforfun's picture

Tartine Whole Wheat miche & boule

What can I say, I like big loaves.  I have made the Tartine Country bread a number of times in all sizes, from 500 gm to 2 kg, and am always happy with the results.  I refreshed my starter when I returned from a week away with the intention of trying the whole wheat loaf as well.  On my last visit to Central Milling I picked up a 5# bag of Acme Organic Whole Wheat flour, so what better bread to test it on.  I pretty much followed the method in the book, with a small deviation because I forgot to hold back the required 50 gm of water to add with the salt after the autolyse, so I had to add some extra water.  The formula was supposed to be 80% hydration, and the extra water took it up to 83%.  The formula is quite basic:

Levain          200 gm    20%

Water           830 gm    83%

WW flour    700 gm     70%

AP flour       300 gm     30%

Salt                  20 gm      2%

I made a double batch and shaped them into 1 miche at 1950 gm and three smaller boules at around 700 gm each.  The bulk ferment was about 4 hours at a controlled 74˚F with S&F at 30, 60, 90, 120 and 180 min.  After shaping, I retarded the miche and one smaller loaf overnight (about 16 hours), and continued proofing two of the smaller loaves for 3 hours.  Baking was on a stone heated to 500˚F which was reduced to 460˚ when the boules were peeled into the oven.  Steam for 15 min. then turn on the convection to 425˚ for 20 min. more, rotating as necessary.  For the miche, the convection temperature was 415˚ and the convection bake time was 35 min. 

The loaves showed lovely bloom and grigne.  I have been playing with different scoring lately, and I like the effect using two interlocking half-circles.  A bit cumbersome to do on the large loaf, but it's a nice look.  I think the bake times could have been a bit longer.  Though the loaves registered over 205˚ and were left in a cooling oven with the door cracked open for 10 min., I didn't get the nice singing and crackling crust like I do on the Country Loaf, which I suppose is due to the higher hydration dough and not being baked out completely. 

The crumb on this bread is sublime - airy and with a fairly soft chew.  The flavor is nutty and wheaty with a distinct tang on the retarded loaves (I didn't get to try the others).  Curiously, the 2% salt seemed a little on the light side.  This photo is the crumb of the smaller loaf - I'll post the miche once I cut it.  The final size of the miche was about 10 inch diameter and 4 inch tall at the dome.


varda's picture

Rye Class at King Arthur - Pictures Added

This weekend,  I and three other TFLers took a rye class at King Arthur with Jeffrey Hamelman.    Larry - aka Wally -  Faith in Virginia, and Otis - aka burntmyfingers - were there each driving from a different corner of the region.   It was fantastic to meet them for once, knowing them only from their bread and words up to now.  The class had 11 students (one didn't show up!)   ranging in age and experience, with the one from furthest away hailing from Malibu, CA.  

If I had any hopes in advance for the class, it would have been to gain a bit more skill in particular areas like mixing, shaping, slashing.   I can safely say that I did not make even an inch of progress in any of these areas.    That does not mean however, that I didn't learn anything.   Here are the lessons I learned in the order that I think of them. 

The most tangible lesson to come out of this class for me  is that my rye starter needs work.   The smell of the Hamelmanian rye starter is like nothing I've ever smelled before.   Since of course we were dealing with large enough quantities of starter to make 25 large loaves of bread for each of the 4 formulas we made over the weekend the mass was much larger than anything I'd ever worked with.    The smell was completely overpowering, and I had to move back a pace or two just to keep from keeling over.   My rye starter, even with my nose right up to it, just cannot compare.    This carried through all the way to the taste of the breads.

Chef Hamelman gave us a disquisition on the benefits of taking good care of our starters, explaining that extended refrigeration without feeding  (mea culpa) leads to an acid buildup that in turn begins killing off the yeast and beneficial bacteria.    While the King Arthur bakery feeds their wheat and rye starters twice a day, every day, he understood that might be tough for those of us who only bake once or twice a week, but he nevertheless suggested that we up our feeding schedule to at least a few meals per week.   While I have been skeptical of this in the past, I am not anymore.   In fact, if I could get the flavor in my breads that came out of the King Arthur classroom ovens yesterday, I would gladly feed twice a day no matter how much I had to throw out.    Consider me converted at least in theory.   We'll see what happens in practice.  

Home bakers are at a disadvantage when it comes to equipment.    Our loaves came out of the ovens with a sheen that I have never been able to achieve with my gas oven and various steaming techniques.    One press of a button and the deck ovens filled magically with steam which was then vented at just the right moment.     The spiral mixer just mixed the heck out of all the doughs while we all stood around with not much to do.   What can we do about this?   Be jealous.   That's it.

Chef Hamelman spent a lot of time testing us on when things were done.   Is the dough mixed enough?   Proofed enough?   Baked enough?   He kept a poker face throughout, there were always divergent opinions, and most of us were wrong as often as right.     What I did learn is that you can't just knock the bottom of a loaf to see if baking is done.   He recommended squeezing, looking, etc.   He did not pull out a probe thermometer and check.    Glad of that as I fried mine awhile ago and haven't replaced it.  

Peels with 8 or 9 loaves of bread on them are really heavy and getting them into the hot  oven was too scary for me.   I finally took a stab at removing a load, and that was bad enough.   Chef Hamelman's assistant was a quite thin and small young woman who was originally a baker in the KA bakery, so some are made of sterner stuff than I.    Other than that, the professional baking environment seemed much more manageable to me than I had imagined (see lesson about equipment above.)

Steam matters.   I already knew this, but we had a great accidental demonstration.   In addition to the 100 or so loaves that got made over the course of the two days, we also made a batch of salt sticks,  and a batch of deli rye rolls.   These were baked in the same oven as some 80% rye panned loaves - not a deck oven.    They came out looking very inedible, as it turned out the steam wasn't hooked up to that oven much to Chef Hamelman's surprise.   The loaves made of the same dough that were baked in the deck ovens were burnished and plump as could be.    The 80% rye did fine however, as it was very wet, and had the protection of the pans.  

Loaves made were a deli rye (best I've ever tasted) the 80% rye pan loaves, a flax seed rye, and a quark rye.    We each came home with two of everything but the pan loaves and I immediately wrapped most of it up and froze.   My husband who has always expressed an aversion to rye, has been chowing down on the flax seed loaf, and says it is the best loaf I've ever made.    Well I didn't really make it in any sense other than shaping it.    As my son put it,  I paid a lot of money to find out just how much I have yet to learn (and he didn't say it quite as nicely as that.)  

Final lesson:   if you are going to depend on your phone for picture taking, you have to remember to take the charger.   

Hope other participants will post themselves or add to this.

I sign off tired but happy.


Update:   Rod, a student in the class, kindly sent in his excellent pictures and descriptions for posting:

Jeffrey put whole rye flour on the top surface of the sourdough as much to pay homage to his German mentor and less for environmental control.  In pursuit of tradition.  This sourdough was developed after 16 hour at room temperature with a plastic wrap cover over the container.

From the French word  gémir, to groan.  The backbreaking work of the third year apprentice.

So few caraway seeds in the deli rye dough but the flavor was pronounced.

Never far from the mixer.

Applying flour to the outer edge for an artistic flare.   It was recommended to perform this task while the dough was still moist and consider using niger seed for a more dramatic effect.

Here is a shot of the quark loaves.   Remember how hot they were when we were attempting to determine if they were done.   It was easier to compare the color in the loaves in the oven.

Fruits of our labor.'s picture

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