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GSnyde's picture

Second Weekend of Bread Baking – Better Doughs, Fewer d’Ohs

The Quest for Great Buns

Friday morning I mixed the Biga for Italian Sourdough, per David’s recipe ( The goal: perfect buns.

Friday afternoon, once the Biga had doubled, I massaged it with a dough scraper and decided it was too stiff and gummy/sticky to mix into the dough by hand.   I have no stand mixer, but I staved off panic.  I talked my little KA hand mixer into giving it a go.  Following David’s instructions, I cut the Biga into the dry ingredients.  This  took several comical minutes with a kitchen shears and spatula (think Lucille Ball trying to divide a one pound wad of bubble gum).  It might have worked better with a mini-chain saw (except for the Biga splotches on the ceiling).  Once the Biga was cut up, the hand mixer worked pretty well, and after about 10 minutes with the mixer and 20 or so S&Fs, I had something fairly uniform.

After the primary fermentation with periodic S&Fs, the dough doubled on schedule, and I had a nice silky mound of bread-to-be, the nicest dough I’ve worked in all my (10) days of baking.


Making a split batch of rolls and a batard gave me a chance to try (and maybe even improve) my shaping skills.  Of the 5 rolls, 3 are pretty much the shape I was going for.  I should have re-shaped the other two, but I was tired and didn’t want to break every last bubble.


The loaves proofed faster than expected and they had to go into the oven before the stone had preheated enough.  So I didn’t get great oven spring (see  Though they were fully baked, the bottoms are blond.  I also forgot to rotate the loaves and my oven heat is apparently pretty uneven.  That said, they looked pretty good on top, and the crumb is nice.




The texture of both crust and crumb is pretty close to what I remember (and like) from David’s previous bakes of this bread, though not quite as airy.  I am happy with the outcome, and happy to have learned the lessons—start pre-heating the oven before you think you need to, and don’t forget to rotate the loaves.

Because the Italian Sourdough got done start-to-finish on Friday, we were able to get to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market Saturday morning.  Made quite a haul of stone fruit, strawberries, corn and very photogenic vegetables.


For dinner Saturday, the buns were excellent brushed with garlic-rosemary-infused EVOO and grilled for sandwiches of Teriyaki-marinated local King Salmon, heirloom tomatoes and lemon mayonnaise.  I guess, with the Teriyaki and the Italian bread, we should call these “Orientalian Salmon Sandwiches”.


And the Batard made great toast Sunday morning, accompanying “Spanish” omelet.


The main Sunday event, of course, was the lamburgers that started my quest for great buns (hold the snickers).  (See  Using an ancient Greek lamburger recipe I made up—ground lamb leg mixed a day ahead with minced onion, flat leaf parsley and garlic, and oregano, salt and pepper—I charcoal grilled the burgers and the buns (brushed with the same rosemary and garlic-infused EVOO) and layered with feta, heirloom tomatos and lettuce, with a dab of the lemon mayonnaise.   They were even more delicious than they look.



The quest was worthwhile and the buns were excellent, but I think these are a bit dense for burger buns.  Good thing lots of bun recipes came to light.

Other Weekend Bakes

In addition to the Italian Sourdough, on Saturday I mixed the dough for, and Sunday I baked, Susan’s Ultimate Sourdough for the third time…and with the best results yet.  Even with less proofing and a very well pre-heated oven, I still didn’t get great oven spring. 



The Bread Professor (DMS) thinks maybe my oven vents too much, or I don’t have enough thermal mass to keep the steam going.   He suggests lava rocks, but didn’t say what I should do with them [smileyface].

But I’m happy with the progress.  The texture and flavor are delightful.  My chief bread enthusiast loves the chewiness and the flavor.

And Saturday night I mixed up the liquid levain for Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough; and I mixed the dough Sunday morning and baked two batards Sunday night.  I made sure they were proofed right, and in addition to the usual cast iron skillet for steam, I spritzed them with water after about 10 minutes. 

My shaping skills have improved some (I keep watching Floyd’s great batard-shaping video).  And I got better, if not really good, oven spring.


Still, not a real open crumb.  But mighty tasty.


To top the weekend, this morning we had the famous Salmon Hash with a toast medley.


Since the learning experience for a novice baker is enjoyable in itself, the (mostly) good bread is just a bonus.  I had the chance in one weekend to try three different sourdoughs, one with a Biga and one with a liquid levain, and different formulas, and different flavors.   I got better at shaping batards, and at reading the dough’s signals.  I do need to figure out how to get better oven spring; I’d love to get a more open crumb.

Some time this week, I’ll have to make Sourdough Pizza dough, for a Greek Pizza with the leftover lamburger and Feta.

Thanks to TFL (especially David) for all the great tips, and the fun.



hydestone's picture

Wet Starter v. Firm Starter and Hydration Percentages

For the past month I've been working on a new sourdough starter and it is doing well.  I used the rye flour and pineapple juice method described in the handbook.  I've been mixing 1/4 cup starter, 1/4 cut of flour and 2 T of water each day for the past week or so.  I am going to make the San Francisco stlye sourdough in the lessons section.  It requires 300 g of starter and I don;t have that much.

I read in the starter maintenance section of the handbook to use 1/4 c starter, 1/2 c flour and 4 T water.  I wanted to make sure I had some left over to keep growing so today I mixed 1/2 c starter (everything I had) 1 c flour and 8 T of water.

I changed the ratio from 1/4 c starter:1/4 flour:2 T which I used to grow the starter.  Now I have 1/2c starter:1 c flour: 8 T water.

I am trying to figure out:

What ratios do I use when I want to produce larger quantities of starter to bake with?

How does % hydration work?  I thought 100 g flour with 50 g water = 50% hydration.  I am not sure how it works with a starter.

How can I take a wet starter and make a starter with 66% hydration?

I am going back to using a scale to bake and getting away from cups and T for a bit more accuracy.



GSnyde's picture

Baking and Time

The name of this thread is not the title of a long lost manuscript of Heidegger's, though ...who knows.

I've been planning my weekend around baking, and find that time is sometimes fairly inflexible (nowhere near extensible enough to make into pizza crust, for instance).  I'm trying to map out sufficient blocks of time for (in priority order): 1. sleep, 2. baking, 3. cooking, 4. outdoor exercise.  I have two baking projects in mind, and no fresh bread in the house, so I guess my first bake will have to be the one that takes less elapsed time, and can be done in time for dinner Saturday (that would be the Italian Sourdough).  Since the Italian Sourdough is intended to be accompanied by tuna salad and fresh tomatoes, I guess that means I have to find time Saturday to get to the farmer's market.  But that would be the time I planned to mix the dough.  So, if I go to the market for tomatoes, the bread might not be done in time for dinner.  If we have dinner too late Saturday, I won't have time before sleep time to mix the dough for my third attempt at Susan's Ultimate Sourdough (which I planned to mix Saturnight and bulk ferment in a cool place til Sunday morn).

I guess I need more time to figure this out.  And no, I'm not giving up sleep to meet a baking schedule.

I bet all you bakers have these problems.  Anyone found a way to conform time to your schedule?  

Thanks for any tips.  Heckling is also welcome.


dvuong's picture

Another Stretch and Fold Technique post

I decided to try PR's Pain a l'ancienne recipe from ABED last night.  I noticed in this book that he introduced the S&F technique (I'm not sure if it was introduced in any of his other books).  From reading the forums, many of you suggest S&F at least 20 minute intervals but in PR's book, he suggests 10 minute intervals.  Is there any logic behind this?  It would be great if I could S&F all doughs at 10 minutes since it would save a lot of time.

I apologize if this question has been asked before - I am very new to bread baking!  I've searched the forum and couldn't find an exact answer to my question.  Also, would S&F work on all types of doughs or would hand kneading be a superior method for some?  In the past, I kneaded in my mixer but have now switched to hand manipulating my doughs.  I find it much more satisfying and therapeutic!


JoPi's picture

Bread from 1918

Here you will find a Government issued Bread book from October 1918  titled "Victory Breads".  It's just a few pages with some WWI info in there.



GSnyde's picture

ISO Easy and Great Recipe for Hamburger Buns

It being a holiday weekend, and hoping for decent weather (even in San Francisco), I'm considering barbecuing lamburgers.  And, of course, I want to make my own buns.  I'm a novice (only baked twice so far), so I want a recipe that's pretty easy. I like a bun with some substance, not so heavy-crusted as a sourdough roll, but maybe the texture of a Kaiser Roll.

I found ejm's recipe ( and it looks yummy and seems like I could handle it.  Same with Paddyscake's recounting of the BBA recipe here ( and Cake Diva's here (

I wonder if Brother David's Greek Bread recipe would make good buns.  Seems right to have lamburgers on Greek buns.

Any thoughts?





breadbakingbassplayer's picture

8/30/10 - 2 Stage Liquid Levain Sourdough Boules

8/30/10 - 2 Stage Liquid Levain Sourdough Boules

So this is an interesting bread for me.  It's the first full sourdough bread of my official baking season.  It's still quite hot here in NYC, around 90F, so my kitchen is in the 80's...  I wasn't sure what to bake, but my sourdough starter needed feeding, so I figured what the heck.  So the starter was fed at 7:00pm, and it doubled in 2 hours.  I took out 200g of the refreshed starter, and fed it again as below, and it doubled in a little over 2 hours to my surprise...  So I made my dough as below, and fridged it, not expecting much...  In the morning when I woke up, it had doubled in the plastic containger (4L).  I gave it a turn, put it back into the fridge and went to work...  When I came home at 6:30pm it had hit the top of the container, and by 7pm, it had popped the top...  Now time to prepare to bake before a dough explosion happens...  Usually when I do these levain only breads, I'm sitting around waiting for it to do it's thing...  This time, I had to bake when it was ready...  Now!  Enjoy the pics...


Liquid Levain Stage 1

200g Storage starter @ 100% hydration

20g Organic wheat berries (freshly ground)

20g Organic spelt berries (freshly ground)

20g Stone ground rye flour (organic/fresh ground if possible)

40g Bread flour (Gold Medal)

100g Water

400g Total


7:00pm - Mix all, cover and let rest for 2-3 hours, or until doubled.


Liquid Levain Stage 2

200g Bread Flour

200g Water

200g Liquid levain stage 1

600g Total


9:00pm - Mix all, cover and let rest for 2-3 hours, or until doubled.



Final Dough

800g Bread flour (Gold Medal)

100g WW flour

100g Rye Flour

675g Water

24g Kosher Salt

600g Liquid levain stage 2

2299g Total dough yield


12:15am - Mix all into shaggy dough, cover let autolyse for 30 minutes.  Prepare oiled plastic tub.

12:45am - Turn dough using French fold method with wet hands and dough scraper in bowl  until dough smoothes out and tightens up.  Stop when gluten starts to tear (turn not more than 8-10 times).  Transfer to oiled tub, place in refrigerator at 40-45F.

1:25am - Turn dough, return to fridge.  Go to bed.

8:35am - Turn dough, return to fridge.  Go to work.

7:20pm - Take dough out of fridge, divide into 4 equal pieces, preshape... (576g approx)

7:30pm - Final shape into boule, place in banneton for proofing, cover with plastic.

8:30pm - Place baking stones in oven on 2 levels along with steam pan, preheat 550F with convection...

9:30pm - Turn convection off.  Turn boules out onto peel, slash as desired, place in oven directly on stone.  When all boules are in, pour 1 cup of water into the steam pan, close door, turn oven down to 450F.  Bake 45 minutes, rotating loaves between stones and positions halfway through bake.  Boules are done when internal temp reaches 205F or more.  Let cool completely before cutting (overnight).

Out of the oven, the boules weighed about 470g, which is about an 18% water loss, which is good.

I'll post a crumbshot tomorrow...

9/1/10 - Crackly crust

Crumb shot!


Mebake's picture

Steaming Success! consistent results with a gas oven achieved.

This is the most successful Wholewheat multigrain i have baked so far. The Steaming technique this time was different. I drilled a whole through the roaster Lid and purchased a steamer cleaner to push steam through the hole. This was adapted from The baker steamer set that was marketed in TFL years back, but with much cheaper components.

The result was spectacular: the loaf gained color so fast, and the crust was crispy out of the oven. Oven spring was very good too. I left the loaf in the roaster for 20 minutes (should have been less: the bottom got charred).

If it wasn't for the charred bottom, i'd say , this is the one best tasting / looking bread i have ever tasted in my life.


mcs's picture

Two Years and Running

Hey there Freshloafers,
I thought I'd poke my head out of the dough and cloud of flour to update you on the bakery's progress.

A few weeks ago I noticed that we had our two year bakery anniversary.  I think it went like this:
Me:  "Last week was two years for the bakery."
Sharon:  "Really?  When?"
Me:  "I don't know, some time last week, I think."

It wasn't exactly a 'stop the mixers and break out the champagne' type of celebration, but it was pretty cool to think of the progress we've made in such a short time.  Rather than summarizing the last two years, I thought I'd let you know what's happened in the past 12 months or so.  (Here's the post I did on our opening day two years ago; This is the post I did on our first year strategy)

During the slow months last year (November through April), I continued the baking for my wholesale accounts while working to finish the construction on the upstairs of our house.  Sharon had been patiently looking at sheetrock screw heads for the past couple of years.


the loft

I also put in a new floor downstairs, which I completed just hours before our first farmers' market in the spring.

bamboo floor

The other goal during the off-season was to take my first days-off with the wife in two years.  If you missed that post, here's the link to my entry about our trip to Vancouver Island.

As far as the Baking Business goes, I continued the first year plan while making a few adjustments like:
1.  Cutting back on wholesale deliveries.  Thursdays is now my prep day which comes in awful handy now that the busy season is here.  It's now my laminating day since the place stays nice and cool without the ovens on.
2.  More special orders and special deliveries.  Last winter I used Friday as my 'home delivery' day to extend my farmers' market season a little bit longer.  I'll continue it this winter as I offer everything that I do at the market for home or workplace delivery ($10 minimum).  The new customers are very excited about this deal.
3.  DVD sales.  Last winter I started selling some baking technique DVDs, and that's definitely helped to supplement the long and slow winter.  Here's my post on them.  The next one will be on croissants.

Other than that, it seems that it's mostly business as usual.  There have been a lot of improvements as far as efficiency goes which have added up to 'a little less work making a little more product'.  I sleep in an hour later each day, but mornings are absolutely filled with baking and/or pastry prep for the busier days.  This leaves my afternoons a little more relaxed.  Funny thing, but the difference between waking up 1 hour later each day and sleeping in on Sundays is a big deal.  Ask any of the interns if they could've used an extra hour of sleep each day!  Plus sometimes we even get to eat dinner before 7.  Hey, not all the time, but every once in a while.

Anyway, that's about it.  I'll leave you with a few pictures of some of the special orders that I've worked on this past summer and spring.

Happy Baking.


mini croissants

mini croissants baked

hot cross buns

burger buns



JoPi's picture

Cookbook from 1895

I came across this cookbook which has some very interesting 'ways' from 1895.


The name of the book is "Smiley's Cookbook and Universal Household Guide: A Comprehensive Collection.

Take a look at the section on bread which starts on page 256 (you can move ahead in the book by typing the page number in the little box on the top of the page on the right).  

There is info on how to test the oven for the right temp. and something called 'steaming' for several hours and then baking for an hour???

My favorite was the section on page 261 titled "Eating Hot Bread".