The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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davidg618's picture

Whole Wheat Sourdough: a new quest

After two years following the directions and/or advice of Dan DiMuzio, J. Hamelman, a bit of Reinhart, and a lot of TFLers, e.g., dmsnyder, SylviaH, Susan, Debra Wink, proth5, hansjoakim, ehanner, ananda, and a host of others, I'm comfortable that I can consistently bake satisfactory sourdough loaves, reminiscent of Vermont, Norwich, San Jouquin, etc., while at the same time, feel they are subtly my own.

Of late, flavor-wise, I've been leaning more and more into sourdoughs with modest, but noticeable, percentages (15% -- 50%) of Whole Wheat flour. I've been concentrating on developing flavors we like: intensely wheaty, and for me, a sour presence, not overpowering but distinct. My wife prefers those with the in-your-face wheatiness, but much milder tang.

From an enlightening discussion between proth5 and dmsynder, and proth5's replies to a question about holeyness, i.e., open crumb, my own and TFLer Syd's observation about sour development in preferments vis-a-vis bulk fermentation, and just baking and tasting I'm satisfied I'm getting the flavors we want manipulating the levain's building (precentage flour prefermented, build schedule, time, and temperature) and bulk fermentation (time and temperature).

I've also encountered subtle, and not so subtle, changes in the final dough's gluten development seemingly dependent primarily on time and temperature during bulk fermentation. Although the 100% hydrated levain has been 1/3 of the final dough in all cases--30% of the flour (so far, all Whole Wheat) prefermented in the levain builds--bulk fermentation appears to have the dominant influence on two factors: wheaty flavor, and the dough's extensibility. On the other hand, how I develop the levain, especially time between feedings  clearly controls the degree of sourness in the final loaves, irrespective of the time and/or temperature of the bulk fermentation. However, I've not found a noticeable difference in the dough's gluten development whereing three batches were bulk fermented for 3.5 to 4 hours, but the levains were built differently: 1) a single feeding, fermented twelve hours; 2) Three progressive 1:1:1 feedings over twenty four hours; and 3) three progressive 1:1:1 feedings at 8, 8, and 12 hours respectively. All were fermented at 76°F. Flavorwise, the 12 and 28 hour levains had distinct sourness, more in the 28 hour levain; the 24 hour levain was quite mild.

In one case, made with the 24 hour levain,  I retarded half the dough overnight at 55*F (~12 hrs.). The other half I fermented at 76°F for 3.5 hours, and final proofed for 3 hours. That dough was well behaved. yielded good flavor, and modestly open crumb. The retarded dough was extremely slack, and I had considereable difficulty shaping the loaf--shaping is not my strong suit. Final proof took four hours, and I may have still underproofed slightly. Slashed and in the oven, it's oven spring expended itself horizontally. The flavor was excellent with no noticable acidity; the crumb was closed but not dense.

Today I'm building a levain (28 hour schedule) timed to start mixing tomorrow morning at 8 AM. I've changed the levain build flour to a 50/50 KA AP/ KA whole wheat. This halves the whole wheat content in the final dough. Once again, I'm going to retard half of the dough. I'm specifically looking for, if not answers, at least guidance for answering two questions:

Does reducing the amount of Whole Wheat effect the acidity in the levain?

Does halving the amount of Whole Wheat seriously reduce the wheat flavor in the final loaves?

I'm expecting the retarded loaf to have less extensibility' i.e., stronger gluten, because the Whole Wheat content is reduced.

I'm also expecting that the loaves will be edible, even enjoyable, even if all I come away with is more questons.

David G




Emelye's picture

50% Spelt Bread

I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill spelt flour a number of weeks ago and let it sit in my cupboard for longer than I should have, mostly because of a lack of confidence but also because I couldn;t decide what kind of bread/roll/muffin I wanted to make with it.  I finally decided to try a 50% spelt/wheat flour loaf.

From reading the posts here about spelt I noted that it doesn't require as much kneading as regular AP or bread flour so I decided to use the white flour in a biga, to let it sit for a number of hours to allow it to develop some gluten over time, as in a no knead loaf.  Here's the formula:

• Bread Flour     8 oz    224 g   50.0%
• Water               8 oz    224 g   50.0%
• Inst Yeast 1/8 tsn
• Spelt Flour      8 oz    224 g   50.0%
•Milk                  2 oz      56 g     12.5%
• Salt            0.32 oz        9 g        2.0%
• Honey          1.5 oz      42 g        9.4%
• Inst Yeast 0.16 oz        4 g       1.0%
• Butter        0.24 oz        7 g        1.5%

Makes one 1½ lb. loaf

Mix the bread flour, water and 1/8 tsp instant yeast together. Allow to ferment at room temperature for about 8 hours, or for about 4 hours then refrigerating overnight. Let sit at room temp for at least an hour after removing it from the fridge before mixing the dough.

Put the biga into a 4 qt bowl and add the milk, honey, yeast salt and butter. Mix together, then add the spelt flour. Knead for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the spelt is fully incorporated and the dough is soft and pliable.

Let the dough ferment for about 90 minutes or until it's doubled. Shape into a loaf into a boule or bâtard and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap. Retard overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, remove the loaf from the fridge at least an hour before baking it. Prepare the oven for hearth baking and preheat 450ºF. Score the loaf just before sliding it into the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, spraying the oven walls with water at roughly 1½ to 2 minute intervals, then drop the oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for another ten minutes. Rotate the loaf and bake for another 15 minutes of so, or until the crust is a golden brown.

Here's what it looked like (I had to rush to get the pic before it was all gone).  Not the prettiest crumb but the flavor was exceptional!

50% Spelt Bread


fish4food1's picture

need a bit of help

I am new to this website and forum....and also new to making sourdough bread.   I am attempting to create my own starter using Peter Reinhart's pineapple juice recipe   from his " The Bread Bakers Apprentice".    I have followed the recipe to a "T" using weight rather than volume for the ingredients.  I am currently in day 5 of the process and the starter has lots of bubbles on top and the smell is sort of sour.   There are no foul smells coming from the starter.   My problem is  the starter has not risen.  I have had bubbles for three days,  but it refuses to rise.    The ambient room tempeture over the last five days has been 68-70 degrees.  I have kept the starter in a glass jar on the counter and have been replacing  ingredients every 24 hours according to the recipe.     I think the starter is still alive????   Can anyone help with some tips, suggestions , etc that would help it rise and form a good starter?   Any help would be appreciated!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I'm beginning to like soakers, a lot

I've been trying to improve my whole wheat loaves as a project for this year. The Italian breads I thought I'd master have been put on the shelf while I work with some home milled flour that I purchased from a local farm. My results with the 1-2-3 formula have been good but I wasn't satisfied in that I felt I could do more.

So I borrowed a copy of Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" from the Tonganoxie, KS Library through the NEKLS and cleaned my glasses before cracking open the book. So far, so good, I appreciate the added knowledge I gleaned from the pages. The concept of "epoxy breads" is interesting but I didn't want to get into that as much as I just had to figure out soakers for myself. It must have been all that talk about enzymes working over the starches that got me. It has turned out to be worthwhile.

That's what I call my first successful soaker loaf. I used 50g of whole wheat and 50g of WheatMontana's multi grain cereal, 100g water, 2g salt for the cold soaker . Some bread flour, a little more WW, water, 180g of starter, and 7g more salt ended up with very tender and flavorful crumb. I thought the crust tasted a little bit salty in the first slices but that hasn't been the case since. I have no explanation for that.

I've already got another loaf started for tomorrow's session with the flours. Since I don't have to bake for a living or for a schedule, I'm tweaking the procedures already. I'm sure that it will be edible outcome. If I can do this, everyone that is willing to try can do it too.


CoveredInFlour's picture

Question about a sweet dough recipe from my late mother in law


I luckily inherited my late mother in law's recipe box as none of her children wanted it (unbelievable!). In there is her recipe for sweet dough used to make her cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, tea rings and Chelsea buns. I'd like to use it to make my husband some sticky buns, but I'm having a problem scaling the recipe. I only want to make one batch, but the recipe itself makes "4 to 5 portions".

This is the recipe (as written by her):

Sweet Dough

3 pkgs yeast in 3/4 cups lukewarm water plus 1 tsp sugar.

1 1/2 C milk
3/4 C shortening
3/4 C white sugar

Cool to lukewarm.

Add yeast and 2 to 3 well beaten eggs.

Add 4 1/2 C of flour all at once and beat with beater till it bubbles. Add gradually the other 4 1/2 C flour or less. Knead and let rise once. Form into buns. Bake at 350F.

She then goes on to give directions for braids that says "divide above dough into 4 or 5 parts. Take one part and divide into 3 equal portions..."

The directions for tea rings and chealsea buns say "take one portion and roll it out.."

I'm not sure how to scale this recipe so I have enough for 1 batch of buns. Can anyone help with ratios?

Thanks so much!!


GSnyde's picture

Pan-demonium: Scones, Oatmeal Bread and Focaccia

I baked in pans this weekend.  No, there’s nothing wrong with my baking stone.  I just have freezers full of baguettes, miches and other hearth breads.   Also, I was (and am always) craving scones (using Breadsong’s technique).  My wife was urging me to make another whole grain-y sandwich bread.  And I wanted a good accompaniment for Pollo Cacciatore.  So, it was scones, Hamelman’s Oatmeal Bread and Reinhart’s BBA Focaccia.

Lemony-Cranberry Flaky Scones


Breadsong wrote about flaky scones a couple months ago (  I had done a couple variations before (  This time, I wanted to try a tart and fruity variation.  I looked at some lemon scone recipes to see different approaches to getting lemon flavor in scones.  Some use lemon zest, some use lemon juice, and some use lemon extract.  I used all three. 

I also added some dried cranberries, soaked in water overnight. I squeezed out the excess water in a sieve, but the dough was still too moist.  So I added some flour in the mix.  Next time I’ll reduce the other liquids.  The scones came out with the same wonderful texture as before, moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.  But they didn’t rise up quite as much.  And they could have had a stronger lemon flavor.  So next time I’ll use more lemon zest, or maybe candied lemon peel.

I followed Breadsong’s technique.  Here’s the formula I recommend, with the adjustments I mentioned above:

1 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp baking powder 

1/4 tsp kosher salt

scant 1/4 cup golden brown sugar

2 ½ Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (soaked overnight in water, excess water squeezed out)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Just less than 1 cup heavy cream (185 grams)

 2  Teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Half-and-half (for brushing)

But even though they could be improved, these scones were dang good.



Hamelman’s Oatmeal Bread


Having enjoyed making –and eating-- AW’s whole wheat bread last week, I decided to try another partially whole grain sandwich bread.   I chose the Oatmeal Bread from Hamelman’s Bread: with 25% whole wheat flour and 75% KAF Sir Lancelot.  Believe it or not, I made this bread exactly per the formula, with no variations.  Believe it?  Well, ok…I did substitute molasses for 1/3 of the honey, just because we love the dark, rich flavor.

The dough was fermented for one hour after mixing and kneading, stretched and folded, then refrigerated.  It almost tripled by morning.   Seriously gassy! 


 It proofed about 2 ½ hours since it had to get to the temperature the yeasties like.   The home-baking formula for this bread in Bread made enough for two loaves in 9 x 5 pans and six 3-ounce rolls.  The bread has a wonderful tenderness and a wholesome oatey-wheaty flavor.  It was excellent for a dinner of turkey and cole slaw sandwiches. This is a real good sandwich bread and I’ll bake it again.



BBA Focaccia


Monday night we are having dinner at home with a friend of a friend, who is a writer for the New York Times, and a serious foodie.  In fact, she wrote a wonderful book about the history of Chinese food in the U.S., called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.  I’ll be serving Pollo Cacciatore, my variation on an excellent recipe Brother David shared.  I think one needs Focaccia to sop up the delicious gravy.

Since we are traveling back to SF from our North Coast getaway on Monday, and since the Pollo Cacciatore is best re-heated the second day, I made both the chicken and a Rosemary-Garlic Focaccia Sunday.   Well, more accurately, the Focaccia dough was mixed, fermented, folded, shaped and slathered with garlic-rosemary oil Saturday evening, and retarded in the fridge overnight.

I looked at a lot of Focaccia recipes and the BBA formula seemed like a good place to start.  I figure, if I’ve got the book, I might as well use it.  This dough is a monster—sloppy and hard (but fun) to manage.  After the third fold and a one-hour rest, it was like a big jiggly pillow.  It easily expanded to fill the 17 x 12 sheet pan.  When it had warmed a couple hours the next morning, it had serious eruptions.


I’ve never seen bread bubbles quite so large.  Like volcanos.


The crumb is airy and tender and the flavor is outstanding with a strong, but not overpowering rosemary and garlic flavor.


We also made fresh pasta today to eat tomorrow with Pollo Cacciatore and re-heated Focaccia.  Gonna be good.



All in all, a good cooking and baking weekend.  We also got some good hikes in, and enjoyed the varied animal and bird life of the North Coast.  Including a rare sighting of a Flicker right on our meadow.


Happy Presidents’ Day to you all.



MickiColl's picture

Shaping Videos

I just posted about Shaping videos .. please ignore the one that starts with www. .. use only the http one. if all fails type in your own link using just

sorry ... MIcki


cranbo's picture

seeking flaky-crusted rolls

On my search for a specific type of sandwich roll. A good description of what I'm going for:

  1. chewy but light inside

  2. crust that is very thin, slightly crispy, shatters into big thin flakes then you bite in or tear off a piece, slightly leathery too with a little bit of tug

  3. crust finish is yellowish & golden.

Tried Norm's rolls sans onions, but didn't achieve the result I was looking for. The interior of the Norm's hard roll was too fluffy, too hamburger bun-esque, with insufficient chew. The crust was not bad: it had the right thin leatheriness, some of that tug, but did not have that shattering quality that I'd like to get. Will try to post photos in a bit. 

I think I might have to try the Kaiser Roll recipe. As far as crumb goes, I think I might have to try a preferment (sponge, etc) of some sort to help with the chew & flavor. Any other recommendation for recipes to try would be appreciated. 


CNTW82BAKE's picture

Looking for a Pan Sobao Recipe

Hello all,

I am looking for a recipe for Pan Sabao. It is a Puerto Rican lard bread. I have looked every where for the recipe and non have come close to the real thing. Hopefully someone out there can help.

  happy baking


Caro-lyn's picture

New girl looking for soups to go with my bread

Hi, all! I took up baking a few months ago and have been pleased with the bread I've made so far. I love this site, although I'm still exploring.


Also, slightly off-topic: my friends and I have been having weekly soup-and-stew nights since the fall, but we've started to run out of recipe ideas. Does anyone have a favorite vegetarian soup/stew recipe that they'd like to share?


Happy baking, everyone!