The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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cgcrago's picture

Pain Bordelais

pain bordelais

This bread is often referred to as a pain de campagne or a pain au levain and it is certainly both of these things, though more specifically in the tradition of the Bordeaux region. So far, this is one of my favorite breads that I have made and I eat it literally every day. I finally made it today with a culture that I have been growing for a few weeks and I am extremely pleased with the result. It grew huge and crusty, and the score split nicely to form two strong grignes.

Stay with me here, as I have never tried to transition a commercial recipe (this one was for 12,000 grams of dough) for home use before, so this might be a bit on the rough side. The only thing that would complicate making this bread at home is that it requires a liquid levain, which requires a sourdough culture, which not too many non-breadheads keep around the house. If you happen to keep a culture around, I will explain (all the way at the bottom) how to build it so that it is ready for baking this recipe the next day. I will give the bakers' percentages first, with measurements in grams for a hand-mix batch listed thereafter. I recalculated the recipe to produce 1500 grams of dough, which makes two nicely sized batards or boules.

Levain Build
Flour: 100%
Water: 125%
Sourdough (levain) Culture: 10%

Final Dough
Bread or AP Flour: 90% (667 g)
Rye Flour (course if possible): 8% (59 g)
Whole Wheat Flour: 2% (14.8 g)
Water: 60% (444.6 g)
Salt: 2.4% (17.8 g)
Liquid Levain: 40% (296.4 g)
Fresh Yeast (a spike): .1%: (5 g)

First, assemble your mise en place. Scale out the water and the liquid levain in the same container (save the dishes!). They should both be somewhere in the neighborhood of room temperature. Scale out the flours and put them in a fairly large mixing bowl. Scale out the salt and the yeast and set them aside.

Form a small well in the flour and pour in about half of the liquids. Mix slowly using a wet hand or a bowl scraper. When those liquids are reasonably well incorporated, add the rest of the liquids and continue to mix until the dough is a fairly consistent texture.

Flip the dough out onto the counter. Form two little wells in the dough and place the salt and yeast in each one, respectively. Flip the bowl over to cover the dough and let it sit for about 15-30 minutes. This, friends, is your autolyse and it will save you a lot of kneading later on. Put the salt and yeast on top so you don't forget them, spill them, or add them to the wrong thing. This is not as much of a problem in a home kitchen. Just don't forget them.

When that time has elapsed, start with your bench knife, moving around the edges and bringing the dough up over the salt and yeast. Continue to use the bench knife to bring the edges over the top as much as possible. One note of caution is that, in general, what started as the bottom should be the bottom when you're finished. Throughout the process, it forms a sort of skin the protects the gluten network that you're working so hard to develop.

When the dough has become more smooth, we're going to start kneading. If you do this in a mixer, be careful not to overmix, which will create a more dense final product. On the counter, this doesn't take a ton of flour, but it's sticky stuff so you'll definitely need some. Less is always best. Remember, fold the dough toward you and use the heel of your hand to push down and away from your body. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. And repeat until the dough is much stronger and smoother. You can try to make a window at the edge of the dough, though it's pretty hard to over-knead this by hand. I would say about eight minutes of solid kneading should do it.

Grease up your bowl, put the dough back in it, and cover it with plastic wrap. Now we're in bulk fermentation, which takes about two hours for this dough if the temperature of the dough is around 75 degrees. After one hour, fold the dough. Folding is the clever man's version of punching down. Fold the top two-thirds of the way down, repeat with the bottom, and then repeat with the sides. Flip the lump of dough over, cover, and continue with fermentation. Folding has multiple purposes: it strengthens the dough's structure, stabilizes the temperature of the dough, and redistributes the yeast and what it eats.

Divide the dough evenly in half. If you measured correctly, each half should weigh 750 grams. No preform is necessary for this dough, though if it's something you want to do, preform it to round and let it relax for about twenty minutes. The final shape is a batard approximately 10 inches long, and it should proof in a banneton/brotform if you have one available. As an alternative, it could proof on a couche or on a very-well-floured towel. Proof the dough until an indentation made with the finger springs back about 50%.

The oven should be set to about 470 degrees and a pizza stone is recommended though not ultimately necessary. Gently steam the oven, score the bread down the middle with a lame or a knife, and insert the bread into the oven. Steam the oven again after 30 seconds and again after 3o more seconds. Cook the bread until it is deep brown, almost burgundy, a color brought about by the non-white grains.

I have never made this in a home oven, but the cooking time should be in the neighborhood of 35-50 minutes. When you think it's done, crack the oven door to release any remaining steam and leave the bread in for five to ten more minutes. Remove the bread and cool completely.

On scoring: This bread takes a single long slash from end to end. When scoring, the knife or lame should never be vertical. Try slicing with the blade at a 45 degree angle to the top of the bread (__/__). This will get you a better grigne in the end.

On Levain: The recipe requires approximately 300 grams of developed levain. If you have a culture at home, this should be quite easy to build. You must feed your culture 24 hours before you plan to bake so that the yeast in the culture has time to develop and eat lots of sugars. The bakers' percentages are as follows:

Flour: 100%
Water: 125%
Culture: 10%
Total: 235%

So, to achieve 300 grams of levain, we need to calculate what one percent is. To do so, take the desired amount of product and divide it by the total percentages in the recipe. For the levain, we divide 300 by 235 to get 1.27. At this point, we multiply this number by the percentages of each ingredient. So, calculated out, the levain recipe is as follows:

Flour: 100% x 1.27 = 127.7 g
Cold Water: 125% x 1.27 = 158.75 g
Culture: 10% x 1.27 = 10.27 g

We can check our math by adding the calculated weights of each ingredient in the recipe and comparing that number to the amount we wanted to make. (127.7 + 158.75 + 10.27 = 296.72, which is close enough) So, with that done, mix these things together in a container and let them sit room temperature for 24 hours before you plan to bake. Don't forget to feed your culture so you can do this again. The best idea would be to build the levain in a separate container.

chouette22's picture

Mexican ‘Pan de los muertos’, two ‘straight’ breads and a fruit tart

After many months, I have baked loaves from straight dough again, besides my pretty regular Zopf. I had refreshed my starters on Friday, but then the weekend presented itself in a way that I just couldn't keep up with a lengthy sourdough schedule, so in the fridge they went again, unused.

Yesterday, on Sunday, I made a "Pan de los muertos," a sweet and enriched bread traditionally baked on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico. One of our neighbors is from Mexico, but nor he nor his wife (who is American) have ever tried to bake this bread, thus to say thank you for so many little neighborly services, I made them a loaf (and one for ourselves). My yeast wasn't behaving properly and during fermentation, the dough hardly rose (I wasn't entirely sure if it was the yeast or the heavy buttery and eggy dough). However, it still turned out pretty well, and the taste was fabulous. The recipe called for orange blossom water and since I didn't have that, I added a little bit of rose syrup (something my Indian husband cannot live without). Result: the dough turned slightly red-orange (really pretty) and the flavor, also from the zest of a lemon, was simply amazing.

The top represents a skull and the sides are bones...

Today, while working from home, I looked through "Bread" in search of straight recipes and ended up trying the Semolina Bread with a Soaker (without the fennel seeds, p. 244) and the Five-Grain Bread (p. 238). I halved both recipes, thus producing only one loaf of each. My only changes to the recipes: I added 100g of discard sourdough starter to each (plus a little extra salt, since I increased the dough amount), thinking if nothing else, it might add some flavor.

For the durum flour called for in the recipe I used chapati flour (also called atta flour) that we still have from my mother-in-law's visit this past summer. It is a type of whole wheat flour made from durum wheat, high in protein, yellow in color. I just don't know if this is the same as what is used in semolina breads (despite researching it); anyhow it turned out pretty well and is very tasty.

Five-grain bread

Both of them were easy to make while grading online speaking assignments and papers.

Last week I needed to use up some plums (the very last of the season) and baked this rustic tart. I just love these fruit tarts, so quickly made and so tasty, not too sweet, just wonderful. Now I always add 1/3 to ½ cup of corn flour to my dough (pâte brisée), recommended by my French friend Sophie - I really like the extra crunch this produces.

subfuscpersona's picture

Commercial Flour Milling

Simplified Milling Process Diagram, courtesy of



alabubba's picture

Wanted: Thin, Crispy, Cracker like crust.

We do pizza about once a week at my house, I usually use a crust that is really tasty and comes out quite nice, slightly crisp and chewy.

However, a couple weeks ago my daughter said she wanted hers thinner, crisp and crunchy, Cracker like.

I have tried rolling/stretching the dough, Pre-baking, oiling. These didn't do it, so in my never ending quest to win father of the century I am turning to my friends and peers here in TFL for help.


I need a recipe for the ultimate crispy, crunchy, cracker like pizza crust.


carrtje's picture

Need help with par baking

I've been recruited to bake for our church Thanksgiving feast.  They asked me to bake a loaf for each table, which will only end up being 10 or 12.  I thought I'd use my dutch ovens to do the baking, as I'm very comfortable with this way of doing it (15 min covered, 20 min uncovered basic white)

I was thinking I could do this over a couple of days by par baking the loaves and freezing them. Then, on the day of the dinner, put them all on baking sheets and finish them off.  I have, of course my home oven to work with.  Then, at the church I have two ovens.  Am I right in this thinking?

So, how would you suggest I go about doing it?  I was thinking of taking them out after the 15 minute covered bake.  Then when I go to rebake them, bringing them all to room temperature first and spritzing them with a little salt water.  Then toss them into a preheated 500 degree oven.

What are your thoughts?

judyinnm's picture

Vinegar Rolls

When I was a child, my mother would make vinegar rolls for special (breakfast) occasions.  Over the years, I and at least one of my sisters have carried on the tradition.  But, whenever I have mentioned "vinegar rolls" to anyone outside our family, the concept is greeted with "yuck" (or some similar disgusted sounding response).  Is my family the only people who have tasted this lovely version of cinnamon rolls?  Here is a "recipe", in case anyone would like to try this fairly delicious concoction (I have never written a recipe before, and seldom follow one, so this is my best effort):


1 Can of biscuits (or, better yet, one batch of homemade biscuits, yeast rolls or similar bread dough)

1/4 LB. Butter at room temperature (homemade is best)

Mixture of cinnamon and sugar

A few tablespoons of flour

1 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar for each roll

Boiling hot wter

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Generously smear the butter all over the dough rectangle, and (again, generously) sprinlke the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the butter.  Starting at one end of the rectangle, roll the dough up, into a log.  Slice the log into pinwheel sections about 11/2 to 2 inches wide, and set the pinwheels in a cake pan that has been sprayed with oil - leave a bit of room between them, to allow them to rise and spread a bit.  atop each roll, place a dab of butter, and follow with the teaspoon of vinegar.  Mix the flour together with some cinnamon/sugar mixture, and sprinkle over and between the rolls. Follow with the hot water (over and between the rolls), stirring as well as you can, considering there's not much room between the rolls - this is going to.  The water and flour-cinnamon-sugar mixture are going to form a thick syrup in the bottom of the pan.  Bake the rolls in a 350 degree oven until browned.  Loosen the rolls from the sides, and turn the pan of rolls upside down onto a plate, so the "syrup" coats the rolls.  Serve hot.

The vinegar will have evaporated, leaving only a hint of tartness to the syrup.


txfarmer's picture

BBA Poolish Baguette - with much modification

I make baguettes often, including the Anis recipe from this forum, and some other recipes from other books. I found BBA tends to overknead for lean breads such as baguette, ciabatta, etc. For this poolish recipe, he instructs to knead until pass the windowpane test, sure way to get ride of holes and taste! I changed kneading procedure to: autolyse for 20 minues, knead in my KA for 2 minutes just to kick off the gluten developement, S&F 3 times during the first of 2 bulk fermentations. I am happy with the open crumb in the final breads.

The Interesting thing about this recipe is that there are 2 bulk fermentations, each 2 hours. I've been doing the BBA challenge, other than overkneading, I notice BBA tends to over fermentate/proof too. For this recipe, the first fermentation for me was indeed 2 hours, but that's only because I didn't knead much and did S&F, for a well kneaded dough, I don't think 2 hours would be necessary. For the 2nd fermentation (after punching down, which I translated to "gently pat down"), it was only 90 minutes for me, even that was a bit too long IMO. The extra fermentation helps with the volume of the bread, but not much else.

I am not too happy with my scoring on this one, I think I overproofed a bit. Again the recipe says to proof for 50 to 60 minutes, I did 45, 30 to 40 would've been enough, and the scoring would have opened up more with better blooming.

Now, here's the biggest "modification" I made to this recipe: I used my 100% sourdough starter in place of the poolish. With my understanding, wild yeast starter fermentates a little slower than his poolish, which means if I had used the poolish, the fermentation/proofing should have been even shorter! I love BBA, but for some lean breads, it's tendency of too much yeast, too long of fermentation/proof, too much kneading must be adjusted for me. I like sourdough breads, so I like my starter baguette better than the usual light straight baguette. The flavor is more complex (my white starter is not that sour though), and the crust is a bit more substantial.

A delicious bread, and I am always happy to practice making baguettes, I do recommend Hamelman's poolish baguette formula over this one though.

rayel's picture

Durum wheat

Does anyone know if fine durum wheat flour becomes less yellow when ground really fine? Or can the Durum flour I have purchased have come from a less yellow variety? Also, if Semolina refers to a grind, then what is the difference between finely ground semolina, and finely ground Durum?  I have read that in the U.S. Semolina comes from Durum wheat. Does that mean in other countries Semolina might not come from Durum? I have not used my Durum flour yet, and I am wondering if I can substitute, in recipes calling for fine semolina.Thanks.


turosdolci's picture

A recipe from Gargano; Calzone con Cipolla

Sometime ago I took a cooking course in Gargano and Chef Marco gave me a delicious family recipe that I is perfect for a luncheon with friends.


KenK's picture

Hamburger Buns

I just started trying to bake yeast bread a few weeks ago.  So far, my couple of trys at baguettes have been huge failures.  I'm pretty sure it was the flour I was using, soft wheat biscuit flour. 

I got some King Arthur flour and have using that to make sandwich rolls and they are coming out pretty well.  I made these rolls this afternoon and mixed up a batch of starter to try the baguettes again in the morning.

The rolls have been flattening out on the baking sheet, these did not.  I assume it was because I used the parchment paper?  The dough seemed the same, it kind of makes sense to me that the dough can get more traction on the paper.

The only reason I used it was because my wife complained about having to clean the sticky oil off the baking sheet.


12 3/4 ounces all purpose flour

2 tablespoons dry milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

8 ounces warm water

2 tablespoons melted butter

Makes eight big buns or one 4.5 x 8 loaf.

Mix all together and knead by hand for 10 minutes.  Let rise in oiled bowl for an hour (mine rose way over double) form into eight rolls and place on sheet pan.  Cover and let rise for an hour.  Bake at 375.

I formed them the way I saw someone doing Kaiser rolls.  Press ball of dough out into a circle about the size of the finished buns and then fold the edge over to the center and press it down. Repeat 5-6 times around the edge. flip over and press back down with the palm of hand.  Bake with that pleated side down.