The Fresh Loaf

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Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Russian Rye and Really Simple Sourdough (from A. Whitley's Bread Matters) - now with pictures


For the harvest festival at my son's school I revisited Andrew Whitley's formula for Russian Rye, an inspired by Varda and JanetCook I used some of the surplus starter to make two variations of his "Really Simple Sourdough", both from his book"Bread Matters".

Both formulas call for baking in tins.

Here the results, from left to right: Wholegrain Spelt, Shipton's Swiss Dark Flour (high extraction), Russian Rye ...

And the crumb, in the same order:

The Starter is a 200% hydration starter wich I had going for over a year  now. I keep it in the fridge; for baking I essentially follow Andrew Whitley's instructions - I make a "production sourdough" with 100% wholegrain rye, 200% water and 25% starter from the fridge (The book recommends 100% starter). My kitchen was about 22C, and I left it ferment for ca. 16 hours. (At the end it was a bit frothy with a slightly sour taste)

I prepared the starter to bake the Russian Rye on Tuesday evening so that the bread would have time to set and develop character until Friday, the day of the festival. I put thje surplus starter into the fridge on Tuesday afternoon after mixing the Russian Rye,

The "Really Simple Sourdoughs" (RSSD) were mixed on Saturday evening (9pm) with the starter coming right out of the fridge - this formula calls for just 40g starter for a 500g loaf. They proved overnight in their tins at about 17C and were  baked on Sunday morning at 10am.

The Russian rye has been slightly underbaked and tasted watery at first, but fr Sunday's supper it was excellent with chicken liver pathe. The spelt variant of the RSSD tasted a bit bitter after the bake, with a distinct nutty note. On Sunday evening the bitter note had disappeared.

The RSSD with Swiss Dark Flour became an instant favourite of my wife - the crumb is springy, the taste is wheaty, but not nominating.

I'll keep this in my repertoire (I hadn't made RSSD since joining The Fresh Loaf, I think)

** UPDATE: The Formulas **

Both breads are shaped with wet hands right after mixing and proofed in tins.

Russian Rye for 2 hours to 8 hours at 24C or more,

Really Simple Sourdough for up to 12 hours at 20C

Russian Rye

Production Sourdough (Dough Temperature 30C)

Wholegrain Rye flour 31%

Water 62%

Yield 92%

Final Dough (DT ideally 28C)

Wholegrain Rye flour 69%

Water 42%

Salt 1%

Production Sourdough 92%

Yield 205%


Really Simple Sourdough

Rye Starter (can be taken from fridge if not too starved)

Wholegrain Rye flour 5%

Water 10%

Yield 15%

Final Dough (DT 20C)

Wholegrain flour (Wheat, Spelt) 95%

Water 66%

Salt 1.5%

Rye Starter 15%

Yield 178%

That's it.




Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

How do you cover your doughs during bulk fermentation?

Watching this clip on the LA Times website ["Nancy Silverton Explains How to Make Focaccia"], I noticed that Silverton loosely covers with plastic wrap during bulk fermentation (and secures it with another piece of plastic tied around the bowl and knotted).

I've always used one piece of plastic wrap tightly stretched over the bowl such that, as the dough ferments, the plastic wrap inflates into a dome. (The domed plastic wrap never explodes, but I'll admit to worrying that it might!)

Have I been doing it "wrong" all along?

How do you cover your doughs during bulk fermentation? Tightly? Loosely? Other?

Mebake's picture

Andy's Rye sourdough w/sunflower soaker

I've always admired Andy's (ananda)recipes, and earlier printed and baked one of his. The blog can be found HERE. He describes the bread as being one of the tastiest imaginable.

I, however, regretfully, did not remain true to the recipe, and deviated, mostly out of necessity and scheduling. Firstly, i didn't have any pumpkin seeds, so i used only sunflower seeds. Secondly i reserved no seeds for the garnish (blame it on my forgetful mind!). Thirdly, i prepared and used 20% more rye levain than called for in Andy's recipe, as i wanted a faster ferment and consequently baking the same day i mix. Fourthly, and most importantly, i ended up retarding in bulk the dough, as even the additional Levain took a while, and i couldn't afford to stay up late for baking. The last factor, did increase the tanginess/ sourness of this bread, although within tolerable limits ( in a nice way).

Baked in a deep Pullman look alike.

Soft, and Very, Very aromatic!

Speckeled with sunflower seeds.

I'am not in a position, therefore, to be able to verify the claim Andy made to the flavor of this bread, but judging from the flavor of my version, Andy's un-retarded version should be more subtle in sourness, and would allow the seeds to show presence better. The sunflower liquor has some solid presence as it permeates throughout the loaf. Pumpkin seeds were all that was missing from the combination.

Thank you andy for the wonderful recipe!


txfarmer's picture

Yet more variations on 36 hour sourdough baguette

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

Still making baguettes every weekend, with random "what's in the cupboard/fridge variations".

1) With semolina flour

AP Flour, 350g

Semolina Flour, 75g

ice water, 320g

salt, 10g

starter (100%) 150g

-Mix flour, ice water and autolyse for 12 hours.

-Mix in salt, starte, then follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here.

My semolina flour absorbs quite a bit of water, so I kept the dough fairly wet. Nice crumb, with gold color and good chew.

2. With prosciutto, yum!

Sticky proscioutto does affect the crumb negatively, but for the awesome taste, it's worthwhile.

AP Flour, 425g

ce water, 320g

salt, 10g

rye starter (100%) 150g

proscioutto, 100g, diced

-Mix flour, ice water and autolyse for 12 hours.

-Mix in salt, rye starter, and proscioutto pieces, then follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here.

3. With caramelized onion

AP Flour, 425g

ce water, 315g

salt, 10g

rye starter (100%) 150g

caramelized onion, 80g, diced

-Mix flour, ice water and autolyse for 12 hours.

-Mix in salt, rye starter, and caramelized onion, then follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here.

Onion pieces are peeking out, these baguettes are full of the frangrant flavor and smell of caramelized onion.

Szanter5339's picture

Flower-patterned bread.

Szanter5339's picture

Amateur Artists Exhibition. Hungary.

Salilah's picture

Jan Hedh book released - but no weight measurements!

I've just received my long-awaited copy of Jan Hedh's Artisan Breads book (just re-released) and, as pointed out by Virtus in the Book Review forum, although Hedh repeatedly tells us to use scales for accurate measurement, the (American?) editors have decided to give all ingredients lists in cups and tablespoons!

Virtus reckons that actually they have made a worse mistake, as they have assumed that 100g = 1 cup (which I believe is not very accurate!?) - I wondered if anyone out there who has an older copy of the Jan Hedh book could possibly spare a few minutes to give some ingredients lists?

I'll start with the first one I'd be interested in trying - in the new book, it is called Le Pain de Lodeve, in the wholemeal section.
For 4 loaves, the ingredients listed are:
5 cups + 1/2 tbsp strong wheat flour
5 cups + 1/2 tbsp wholemeal dinkel flour
28 oz levain
3 cups + 1 1/2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp salt

If this recipe is in the older book, could someone please possibly let me know the gram or oz weights for these?


(PS I've emailed Peters Yard Bakery, and also the publishers, but in the meantime just would like to check if Virtus' deduction works out!)

Floydm's picture

Rainbow Cookies

Reprinted with permission from Stanley Ginsberg's and Norman Berg's Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking.

Rainbow Cookies

Rainbow Cookies

Makes 4-5 dozen

Volume Ingredient Ounces Grams Baker's Percentage
1 cup Almond paste, at room temp 8 227 100%
1 cup Egg, beaten 8 227 100%
½ cup Shortening 4 113 50%
½ cup Unsalted butter, at room temp 4 113 50%
1 tsp Table salt 0.25 7 3%
1¾ - 2 cups Cake flour, unsifted 8 227 100%
1½ tsp Vanilla extract 0.25 7 3%
1½ tsp Bitter almond oil or almond extract 0.25 7 3%
15-20 drops Red food coloring 0.001 0.1
15-20 drops Yellow food coloring 0.001 0.1
15-20 drops Green food coloring 0.001 0.1
¼ cup Apricot or raspberry jam, melted 2.8 79 350%

Simple Chocolate Icing

(Note: You can also use melted chocolate to cover)

Volume Ingredient Ounces Grams
2¼ cups Powdered sugar 10 284
¼ cup Water 2 57
½ tsp Light corn syrup or honey 0.13 4
½ tsp Vanilla extract 0.07 2
2 tbs Unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F/204° C with your baking surface in the middle. In a mixing bowl, mash the almond paste using a fork. Using the whisk at medium (KA 6) speed, blend the almond paste and ¼ cup/2oz/57g of the beaten egg until smooth and lump-free, 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, shortening, salt and remaining egg and beat until soft and light in color, 7-8 minutes.
  3. Add the flour ½ cup at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Continue creaming until the batter is evenly mixed, with a very light texture.
  4. Divide the batter into 3 equal portions of about 10oz/284g each, and put each into a separate bowl. Add a different food coloring to each and whisk until thoroughly blended.
  5. Pour the contents of each bowl into three separate well-greased 8" x 8"/20cm x 20cm square cake pans and bake until a tester comes out dry, 10-12 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool thoroughly. (If necessary, you can bake the batters in several stages: simply remove the cake from the pan, rinse and dry, re-grease and bake the next color.)
  6. Melt the jam in the top of a double boiler or on very low heat to avoid burning. Brush as thin a layer of jam as possible on top of the green layer and immediately put the yellow layer on top. Repeat for the red layer, so that you end up with a multicolored block, with the jam as the glue.
  7. Wrap the block in plastic and return into one of the baking pans. Use a second pan on top to compress the layers. Add 2-3lb/1.5-2.0kg of weight and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  8. Make the simple icing by heating the water and corn syrup to boiling, then stirring in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract until well blended and lump-free. Take off the heat and let cool: the icing will be at optimal spreading temperature when it feels neither hot nor cool on your lips.
  9. Remove the cookie block from the refrigerator and cut into four 8" x 2" x 2"/20cm x 5cm x 5cm bricks. Using a metal spatula, apply a thin coating of icing to the top and long sides of each brick in a single smooth stroke, if possible.
  10. Let cool until the icing has almost hardened and use a sharp knife to cut the bricks crosswise into ½"/1.25cm slices. These freeze very well.

Inside the Jewish Bakery will be released October 15th and can be purchased on the Inside The Jewish Bakery website, on or, or at your local bookseller.

bemonkey's picture

I want to see your favorite bread picture


I love baking, cooking, cake decorating and than taking pictures of my work. It is rewording to take a look at your creation after so much time spent in the kitchen. Even if it was not you who baked it, post a picture of brads that left you in wow. I am looking forward to see all the beautiful pictures of our common interest; bread.

I also have a FB page where I would love to see you post the picture so people who visit my page can see what amazing bread you can bake. I am sure people will enjoy it tremendously. For those of you who want to do that please go to:!/pages/Bread-Pastry-Cake-and-Cookie/253290271359757




aakoh's picture

Baking A Baguette with High Protein Flour


I am learning to bake artisan bread, beginning with the humble french baguette. Recently I chanced upon some very well priced Allinson's Very Strong Bread Flour. Being a novice and not having done my research thoroughly, I bought up 15 kg of the flour, thinking that better and stronger flour would result in a better baguette. After some reading up, I realised that many bakers use  all purpose flour instead of strong bread flours. The protein content of the flour that I bought is very high - 13.9g per 100g or 13.9%. I read that many people have been successful with KAF's AP flour which has a protein content of closer to 11.5%.

Has anyone had any success baking artisan breads using flour with such high protein content? Any suggestions or recipes would be greatly appreciated.