The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Franko's picture

Working on my list

Like many members of this forum I have a lengthy to do list of breads and pastries that I intend to make at some point in time. Making a focused effort at baguettes has been on this list for far too long and I decided late last year it was time to finally do something about it. Baguettes aren't my first choice for a daily bread because they stale so quickly, but they are great to serve just a few hours out of the oven when we have friends or family over for dinner. I've never been truly satisfied with the results of the baguettes I've made in the past, primarily because of the poor crumb, but shaping and slashing were factors that needed attention as well .

Off more than on over the last few months, this project has taken longer than expected for a number of reasons, work, vacation, etc, but over the last few weeks I've managed to get back on track with it and make what I feel is some progress. The formula I was using was based on Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette from his book “Bread”, (pg 101) the one minor change to it initially being my addition of a small percentage, (6%) of either light rye or whole grain spelt to add a bit more overall flavour. After two mixes following JH's procedure the crumb was slightly better than any previous result I'd had but nothing close to what I'd hoped for.

 JH's procedure doesn't include an autolyse in it and I wondered if that might help loosen things up a bit. The next mix was given a 60 minute autolyse which did help open the crumb, showing a few more holes of various sizes, still not as many as I wanted, but better. The white flour I use is from a company here in B.C. , Anita's Organics which is milled from spring wheat and has a protein content of 13.3% with a fairly strong gluten level. I felt this was the most likely suspect for the crumb/hole problem I was having and my suspicion was confirmed after reading Hamelman's section on wheat, specifically paragraph 2-page 36 of “Bread” where he says (paraphrase) that high gluten flours (from spring wheats) in general do not support the long fermentation associated with hearth breads. For better or worse this is the type of flour I had and somehow I needed to find a way to make it work as best as I could. Thinking back to some breads I've made using this flour that had a wide open crumb I remembered that they'd either had a long retarded ferment or high levels of preferment included in the mix. The bread that came to mind first was Hamelman's Pain Rustique, a bread that uses 50% of it's flour in prefermented form and has a crumb with lots of random sized holes and excellent flavour. Since I wanted to avoid an overnight fermentation if I could, I decided for the next mix that I'd increase the poolish from the 33% I'd been using till now, up to 50% and see if that helped in generating more holes. It was one of those classic Aha! moments when I took a slice off the top of a loaf from this new mix and found holes...lots of nice holes! This is better I thought, but just to be sure I did another bake later that week using the same formula and procedure as the last one.

The crumb result was basically the same but neither of these loaves or the ones from the previous bake (top 2 photos) had the right look to them, which I chalked up to not having developed the dough enough during mixing and through bulk fermentation. I'd been doing just light stretch and folds in the bowl during bulk fermentation thinking it would be enough but clearly a better workup was what the dough needed. 

For this latest bake (pictured in the photos below) the dough was kneaded on the counter till smooth and slightly springy before going into a 75 minute bulk fermentation with 2 full stretch & folds on the counter at 30 & 60 minutes. This made things a little easier for molding, and allowing me to get a slightly tighter skin on the shaped dough making for cleaner slashes than on the previous loaves.

 The crumb turned out nicely, creamy, soft, and porous, and it tastes great. Lots of the toasty, nutty wheat flavour that people crave in a baguette, and highlighted by the small percentage of whole spelt included in the mix. The crust has good colour, splinters when sliced and crackles loudly when eaten. I can't ask for more than that.

Ham Hock Terrine with fresh baguette, grainy mustard and cornichons.

Recipe for the terrine from Raymond Blanc's recipe site 

This project is now at the point I can say I'd be happy to serve this loaf to my family and friends, but know that when it comes to bread making these projects are seldom ever finished for me. I'd like to try gradually increasing the level of preferment over a series of bakes to see if I can find the sweet spot, assuming it exists, that will yield a slightly more porous crumb than the one above and with enough dough strength left for proper molding. For the immediate future though I'm planning on making something completely different. As enjoyable and interesting as this project has been, I desperately need to get back to eating bread that has something more substantial to it than flour, water, salt and air. 

Below is copy of the formula that was used, as well as a link to a scalable version of it, and one more link to a detailed description of the procedure for making the baguettes.

Cheers to all,


Link to scalable version of the formula HERE

Link to procedure for Baguettes with Poolish and 6% Spelt HERE

Baguettes with Poolish & 6% Spelt   
Bread Flour100.00%201
ripen 12-16hrs @ 70F  
Final Dough  
Bread Flour90.00%181
Spelt Flour-One Degree Organics12.50%25
Sea Salt4.10%8
DDT- 76F Scale at 340 gr.
Total Formula  
Total Flour100.00%407
Bread Flour93.82%382
Spelt Flour-One Degree Organics6.18%25
Sea Salt2.03%8
Total % and Weight176.78%720
Prefermented Flour 49.36%


linder's picture

Homemade Brie Cheese

I've been making baguettes, practicing my technique and thought I should put together some homemade Brie to have with them.  Yesterday was my first attempt at Brie cheese and so far they look pretty good - the little cheeses could stand to be  thicker, that will happen when we add more holes to the small brie molds so they drain better and can handle more curds.  The large wheel is 7 inches in diameter and is looking pretty good to me.  It will take about 2 weeks for the white 'skin' to develop on the cheeses while they rest at about 55F in my make shift 'cheese cave' (dorm sized fridge with temperature regulator) for 2 weeks, turning the cheeses 2 time a day for even drying.  After that it will be another couple of weeks in the regular fridge before they are ready to be eaten.

bread basket's picture
bread basket

Hammelmann's formula Vermont SD

By helping a friend starting her SD baking I myself got the courage to experiment. My friend likes the flavour of San Francisco SD so we experimented with fermentation. My starter is 2 years old, fed with rye and very healthy. I gave some to my freind and she has  changed it to a wheat starter.  She then added some whole wheat flour to the final dough.We fermented one of her breads for final fermentation 3 days in the fridge. When she took it out it collapsed but it rose again nicely in the oven. flavour: not much different from the one we did a regular bulk and final fermentation. Not at all what she is looking for.

then I did my own: used my rye starter, did 2 feedings with BF, added to the final dough some rye flour and did a 48 hour bulk fermentation in the fridge. I let the dough wake up 1 1/2 hour before shaping and did a final fermentation of about 2 hours. Oven was preheated to 450F, I baked @375F 20 min with steam and 25 min @350F. As you see I baked in the bread pan and with low heat in order to accommodate my husband's and friend's view of " real "bread :) .

I have to say I am very pleased with the outcome: still not so sour like my friend is looking for but it has a nice soft tang (enough for me) and a very nice texture. Even my hubby likes it (I think square helps lol)!) I was very unsure about bulk fermentation in the fridge and how to handle the dough next but after this experiment I am pretty confident.

Thanks to the member here who posted about his bulk fermentation in the fridge.(Sorry, I read so much, I don't know anymore who it was)



linder's picture

Brod and Taylor Proofer- Another Use

Just discovered another use for the Brod and Taylor proofbox - it makes the perfect environment for incubating brie cheese, where the cheese needs to be held at 68F-77F for the first 24 hours.  My house temperature in the winter can be around 65F so the proofer is just what I need.  It is big enough to hold 4 4-inch brie cheeses on cheese mats in a draining tray, with the wire rack on top of them to hold a 7 inch wheel of brie on top.


Smokin_Buns's picture

New Baking Opportunities Raising Questions

Hi everyone -

I've been reading this site for months, and now I've finally stumbled on a question!

I am a one woman, one mixer, and one oven baking opperation, and I have just received an opportunity for more sales with the owner of a large antique mall wanting to sell my breads and things in his concession stand and also the offer of having my own booth. The thing is, I'm used to baking per order, not in advance for future sales. I want to make sure that everything I sell is as fresh as possible, but I have but one oven. Things like bagels I can make daily, but what I'm worried about is baguettes, loaves and rounds, ect. 


How can I keep things at their freshest and still be able to bake in advance? I have a FooodSaver and a freezer, but I don't know if doing that and thawing will compromise my crust and/or crumb. 

Any advice is very welcome!!


Thanks - Mandy

Michaelw's picture

Polenta Bread recipe


I was in London last week and had lunch in an Italian restaurant. One of the breads from the bread selection was a polenta (?) based bread with olive oil and sea salt.

It was about the consistency of a sponge very soft, springy and very yellow which is why I think it was polenta. It had lots of olive oil and crunchy sea salt.

I thought I would look it up when I got home but no luck on the internet. Lots of savoury cornbread but I am not seeing anything labelled Italian Olive Oil Bread with Sea Salt and none of my recipe books has anything either.

So has anyone got an authentic Italian bread recipe that might be what I am looking for?

Any help much appreciated.

Mamatomany's picture

Electrolux mixer-- used 450 watt or new 600 watt?

My older kitchenaid pro 500 is dying (big surprise) and since I'm baking (make that was baking) large batches of bread, pretzels, pizza dough, etc on a regular basis to feed my own darling teeming horde I've been looking to replace it with something that will last me until they've all left home.  I'm pretty decided on the electrolux (correct me please if this is a bad idea).  

My question is this:  I can buy a lightly used, older 450 watt model for about $400.  I can buy a new, 600 watt model for $600.  What, if any, are the advantages of a higher wattage model?  Is it worth the extra $200 to get a new model with the accompanying several year warranty?  

I welcome any and all advice as I dive into your world!


Breadhead's picture

Favorite additions to Hamelman's Bread edition 2?

Skimmed through a couple of older threads and didn't find too much so I thought I'd make a new thread to ask about the most worthwhile additions content wise and  recipe wise to the new edition of Bread. Is the book similar to the older version? Are there new techniques or is there updated science? How many new recipes are there? How are they? I'm curious! 

DennaAnn's picture

The Perfect Sandwich Bread?

Hi. I'm new to this forum, and I want to learn to make the perfect sandwich bread. I completed lessons 1 & 2, and the crusts came out very crunchy and thick. I didn't use a loaf pan.

My husband's problem with homemade sandwich bread is that it is usually too dry the next day, and I would like to make some that doesn't fall apart, but is soft and flexible, like storebought. (I know, but you have to admit, they've got that part figured out) Also, how do I keep the crust soft? I hate all the weird ingredients in storebought, and would prefer to make my own but these things hold me back. Any suggestions?

hungryscholar's picture

American Pumpernickel with Coffee and Fennel

This is so far my favorite of all the pumpernickels I have made. While I am now aware that there is another kind of pumpernickel bread that I have yet to bake, this my version of the kind of bread that I liked to have for my sandwiches growing up. I called it American pumpernickel in hopes of mollifying any pumpernickel purists. It's not quite as dark as I imagine I could get it with caramel color, but I can't quite bring myself to do that, even though I've added food coloring to plenty of deserts before. So I used two of the other often suggested options, cocoa powder and coffee. The coffee really seems to go well with the rye and fennel seeds which I also added. I used brewed coffee because I figured the rule about only cooking with wine you'd drink ought to apply to coffee. Or... there was enough coffee left over in the pot the next morning.

Ingredients350 g all-purpose flour150 g pumpernickel rye350 g coffee (brewed)1 T cocoa powder1 T fennel seeds100 g stiff levain (~50% hydration)10 g salt
As for method, I doubt I would do it the same way the next time, but this time it started out in my bread machine on the dough cycle, because lately I've been using it to knead the dough for my daughter's weekly sandwich loaf. So, I put everything into my bread machine but the salt(because I forgot about it). Once I remembered I paused the machine for about 20 min., added the salt and restarted it. I also paused it and did some S&F every 30-45 minutes through the machine's cycle, because I was afraid I was going to end up with glop instead of dough. When the dough cycle was done I let the dough proof in my oven with the light on at around 85 F for about 90 min to bring the total time from the start of mixing up to about 3 hours.
Then I took it out of the pan, preshaped as a boule and let it rest for 15 min. and then did a final shape and let it rise in a floured brotform for about 3 hours before slashing and baking on a stone with a bowl on top. I preheated the oven to 450 F or so and dropped the temperature to 400 F once the bread was in the oven. I left the bowl on for 20 min and then baked for an additional 20 after removing the bowl. This is about when I realized it was a lot harder to judge crust browning when it's already so brown at the start of the bake, so I decided to take it out after 40-45 min total.

Submitted to YeastSpotting