The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ehanner's picture

Shiao-Ping's Pain de Tradition Method

I was interested in this one day bread that is reported to be a flavorful and beautiful direct ferment dough. I followed Shiao-Ping's formula precisely, even to the point of obtaining a bag of King Arthur flour. I figured if she can spring for it in Brisbane, I'll dig deep here where it's only 3 times the cost of my usual bread flour.

I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the dough felt as it proceeded through the folding stages. It was a thing of beauty by the last stage. All of the times and temps were right on. I planned for a 72F dough temp and it stayed there all through the ferment. At 4-1/2 hours I shaped and let it rest on the counter as advised. I wanted to skip the banneton, the gluten was well developed and I think it would have stayed in shape for 45 minutes. Surprising for an 80% hydration dough.

Anyway I watched the proofing progress as advised and at 40 minutes it was right according to my floured digit. After a sloppy pineapple slash into the oven it went. Yes, a scant 1/4 Cup of water in the steam pan.

I have never baked a white flour loaf for an hour and was hoping it would look right. I read Shiao-Ping's note about how the author suggested up to 70 minutes but I wasn't that brave. 60 minutes of oven time, the last 50 being at 350F was my plan.

You can see the crust is nicely browned and not overly thick all around. I got a nice oven spring and the shape is about what I would expect. The crumb is reasonably open and has a nice chew.

For a short 4.5 hours of floor time this is a nice bread. It isn't the best direct bread I have eaten but it's very good considering the time it took to make it. I did think the crust was more chewy than crispy. Perhaps the additional 10 minutes in the oven would fix that.

I plan to make this again or rather the Sourdough/yeast  version tomorrow. I'll probably add a little rye in the flour mix just to try to maximize the flavors. If the dough feels as good as it did today, I'll do a free style bake and proof in a couch cloth. I might split the dough and make a baguette also.

We are going to a dinner party Sunday with some friends who like to think they are well traveled. I want to take some baguettes that will make them beg for the source and then tease them with the name of a fictitious new bakery. It will drive them nuts for a while trying to find it. Lol I was planning on doing the Anis method but this is in the running.

So that's it. Thank you Shaio-Ping for your inspiration to try this formula and method.


Salome's picture

Hamelman's 5-grain levain in Couronne shape

I could withstand the Leader's "Alpine Baguettes" and decided to give Hamelman's "5-grain levain" a try. I thought that there can't be anything wrong with a bread that Hamelman himself describes as "one of the most delectable breads".

It's made of whole-wheat flour, bread and high gluten flour, and it includes a soaker (sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chopped rye and oats.) In my case it includes as well some sesame seeds as I was running low on sunflower seeds and had to substitute some of them trough sesame. The fermentation process is speeded up by a little addition of yeast. I can't get high-gluten flour here in Switzerland, therefore I added 12 grams of Vital Wheat Gluten to the flour.

While I was letting the dough ferment for the first time, I was thinking about how I should shape this batch of bread. I felt a little bit bored by my "standard shape", the round loaf baked in the iron pot. I remembered the special Couronne shaping that I discovered a long time ago on and that I had on my to-do-list for a long time. So I gave it a try. Thank you Susan, You're a great inspiration to me and your directions are clear and easy to follow, thanks for that!

Well, my Couronne doesn't exactly look as perfect as Susan's. It's a little bit out of shape because my "proofing banneton" was probably a little to big, so the balls didn't form a tight unit and moved around when I slided them into the oven.

That's the way I constructed my "banneton", inspired by Susan's description. I used the lid of my scouting cooking pot and a newspaper-ball. (I'm sorry for the bad image quality, all the good cameras are out today and I had to use my old camera, bought in 2002.) I covered this "banneton" with a well floured towel to prevent dough from sticking.

I had about 1.1 kg of dough alltogether, so I used 750 grams as recommended for the Couronne and made a small boule out of the rest.

To shape a couronne like the one above, divide the 750 grams of dough into six pieces of 100 and one piece of 150 grams. Shape the pieces into balls and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Roll the 150 gram - ball into a flat disk, about 15 cm wide. Place it over the newspaper ball, then arrange the other six balls seamside up around it. Then you have to cut a "star" into the flat doughpiece in the mittle with a sharp knife (look below or read Susan's instructions) and fold the "star-edges" over the balls.

Then let it proof as usual (cover it with a towel while proofing) and bake as you'd bake your recipe normally, maybe slightly shorter, because this shape is not as compact as a normal boule or batard.

I just tried two slices of the small boule - I planned on giving the couronne away, but now the person who was supposed to receive it isn't at home, therefore I put it into the freeze and I'll have it another time when more people are around. Right now, I'm not able to eat 750 grams of bread on my ownin a reasonable time. (as I said, everybody's gone, like the cameras . . .) I'm better off with 300 grams . . .

The flavor of the 5-grain levain is very good, as far as I can say right now. The bread is still somewhat warm. Nearly every bread tastes great while it's still warm. But I'm optimistic that the bread will taste great tomorrow for breakfast, as well.

I'm planning on baking this one again. Not only because it seems to be a tasty bread, but because I've got the feeling that I could simply do better. It was a hot day today, so the fermenting and proofing was difficult to get right, especially because the dough turned out to warm as well.

I'm sure that I'll shape Couronnes again. But then I'll probably scale the "banneton" a little bit down. The newspaperball more like 9 and the "pot lid" around 23 cm in diameter.

kranieri's picture

100% whole wheat sourdough, missing the brick oven...

since returning from a month of wood-fired oven apprenticeship,

(a little example of the bread i was helping bake...)


i have been trying to recreate the magic in my little electric oven. lately i've failed mostly by over-proofing and being forgetful or impatient. in summary : really all over the place and not documenting anything. but in coming to this weeks bread i decided to be a slave to the bread and keep track of all its little movements and stayed true to the method i had previously been taught.

here's the outcome. CRITICISMS?  WELCOME.

the process:

Monday 9:30 am -- feed starter (kept at room temp after feeding til..)

            1:30 pm -- popped it in the fridge so i could get out of the house

Tuesday 11:00 am -- made up the bread, kneaded etc, let it hang at room temp

             5:30 pm rounded, rest, shape, back into the fridge for the night

Wednesday 10:30 am -- out of the fridge to come up to fully proofed

                  12:30 pm -- into the oven.

the recipe is as basic as it gets. flour, water, starter, sea salt.





caviar's picture

mixer speeds DLX

Does anyone know what kind of mixer The DLX is i.e. Spiral ; planetary; Oblique or stand . I've assumed it is a stand mixer ( you know what they say about assuming)Also I would like to know what speed range is represented by the lines on the speed indicator.

Does anyone know this info or where to get it? I have not been able to find it so far.


althetrainer's picture

Yipee, I have a question for ya

My husband and son love the water roux white sandwich toast that I make for them from time to time.  I notice the crust tends to brown very quickly, in less than 10 minutes.  I try to avoid opening the oven door in the first 10 minutes so to reduce chances of shrinking or collapsing. 

We came home from a trip today and we had no bread at home so instead of making my regular sourdough I decided to make the water roux bread.  I waited for 12 minute before putting the tin foil over the loaf but once again the crust was already too brown!  I will try to remember using a lower rack for baking next time. 

Do you know if the bread browns so quickly is a result of higher sugar contents, or the water roux starter?  Do you have the same experience?  I am just curious.

thebreadfairy's picture

Review: Cadco Countertop Convection Oven - XAF-113

I just purchased a new Cadco convection oven and to say I am thrilled would be an understatement. After using a 20-year old Whirlpool oven with a Hearthkit Oven insert while I learned to bake bread during the past six months, and producing very satisfactory results, I have found this new oven to be big step up in ease of use and evenness of baking. Since there are virtually no reviews of this oven on the web, I wanted to share my experiences with this group that has provided me with so much useful information.

DETAILS: After having semi-lusted for this oven since seeing it in operation a few months ago, I used the occasion of a malfunction of my regular oven to to treat myself to the Cadco even though I had never used a convection oven before.
The model I chose, the XAF-113 is the largest countertop convection oven they make that can operate on 120 volt current, so no special electrical hookup is needed. It is an approximately 24" stainless steel cube with a huge glass front window and door which provides a clear bright view of everything going on in the oven. No more peering through a small, darkened window or cracking open the door to see how the bread is doing. It has a capacity of 3 half-sized (16 x 12 inch) sheet pans.

This unit also has a very simple manual as opposed to digital control panel. (Digital, programmable panels are available on more expensive models). There are basically only two control knobs, time and temperature. Temperature range is 175°-500° F. Just recently, Cadco introduced  a manual "steam" button on this model and my unit is equipped with it. It is not a true steam injector but seems to work well anyway. What it is is a built-in small electric pump which draws water thru an inlet hose which has its outside end inserted in a water container. This water is then sprayed on the ventilator fan and heating element and dispersed throughout the baking compartment. Although I could see some water droplets being scattered around the inside, no drops appeared to mark the bread crust, and my final crusts seemed to be as good as I was getting using hot water thrown on lava rocks in a skillet. And, this is so much easier. The skin on my hands and arms has already started celebrating the end of daily steam burns.

I have also equipped my oven with a 1/4" metal plate that Cadco sells as an accessory to use instead of a baking stone. They claim that this heats up much more quickly than a stone yet retains heat as well as a stone. After baking two loaves I am inclined to agree with them. The metal plate has protrusions coming from the bottom surface which seem to markedly increase the exposed surface area and allow it recover quickly.

EXPERIENCE: I have only used it to bake two loaves so far since I just installed it yesterday. What I immediately noticed was that the oven heats up much quicker than my conventional oven and stone. Normally, it takes my oven 1 hour plus to reach 500°. With the Cadco, it took about 25 minutes!

The first loaf I baked was variation of Eric Kayser's Baguette Monge. I have been playing around with this formula a lot recently trying to work out a successful cold retardation process. I have baked probably 20 loaves recently so I am well aware of the whole gamut of final loaf possibilities. I was extremely pleased when the oven turned out the best loaf of this bread that I have so far been able to bake. I adapted the baking temps by reducing the pre-heat temp from 500° to 450°. Normally, the temp on loading is set to 425° and I reduced it to 400°. Usual baking time has been 25 minutes and with the Cadco I used 20 minutes. What I got was great oven rise and grigne, lovely browning and the most open and moist crumb of any loaf so far. In addition, the overall browning of the loaf appeared to be quite uniform. Although I did rotate the loaves out of habit, I never saw any unevenness in the browning of the crust and rotating is probably not necessary. Here are some photos:

The second loaf was Hamelman's Golden Raisin and Walnut bread. I had never made this before and figured this would be a good test of whether just following simple guidelines for conversion to convection would be sufficient to produce a good loaf. Well, I was more than satisfied with the loaf. It had a wonderful crispy, chewy crust and a beautiful, semi-open and very moist crumb. I had no problems with over-browning of the crust with just reducing baking temps by 25-30 degrees.
Here's some more photos:

In trying to be "fair and balanced", these are some of the negatives:

-Pretty noisy although I have gotten used to it.
-No audible signal when oven has reached operating temperature
-Not supposed to be built-in. Need 4-5" clearance on all sides.
-Manual cleaning, not self-cleaning.

SUMMARY: In sum, I am extremely happy with this product. Although my experience with the oven is brief, it appears to be an extremely valuable tool for baking hearth-type breads. And the fact that this may provide a satisfactory solution to the ever-present "steaming" problem is a real plus for me.

As far as price goes, the unit lists for $1850 but I have seen it on the web for $1200-$1300 dollars. If you order one, make sure that it has the new manual "Humidity" button. Both the old and new units have the same model number so that alone is not enough to know what unit you are buying.

I hope that this will help those members who have been leery of convection ovens, just as I was, to consider it as a possibility. I have never used another convection oven, so this review is not meant to say that the Cadco is better than any other brand. I just know that it works, works well, and appears to be very solidly built. YMMV.


Salome's picture

a folded dough: how to check whether it's doubled?

I'm on my quest for the perfect bread with nice holes, as many are here... =)

Therefore I've got a question. I just baked the Vermont Sourdough again yesterday. I wrote here about it, pictures are there as well. I loved the bread, but I would have hoped for bigger holes because I tried so hard. . .However, David reccomended me to make sure that the dough rises 100 % during the first fermentation. I was somehow puzzled because I knew that there was something making this checking difficult, but in this second I didn't remember. Well, now, having another dough rising in the kitchen, I do. Folding the dough makes it very hard for me to judge wheter it's doubled or not. 

Any ideas how to make that easier? Just check by poking it? Is a folded dough supposed to double at all?

Thanks for your time.


Shiao-Ping's picture

Molasses & Light Rye Crusty Sourdough

Back in April, my son asked if I could make hot cross buns for Easter.  I Googled the recipe and a whole new world opened up to me.  Up until then, I hardly used internet recipes (I am one of those Asians who believe in "brand names.")  The first hot cross bun recipe that I came across  was that of Dan Lepard's!  Then, came the following excerpt from Dan's website:

"Good bread comes from an understanding of its nature... a good baker recognises that the doughs he makes are living things with individual identities, that they ultimately create themselves. The baker's skill is to encourage natural developments ...."

These few words touched me so much that I have since moved away from pastry that I love so much to a completely new frontier; I began researching day and night, right after Easter, for a period of perhaps 6 weeks non-stop.  Ever heard of a housewife staying up all night until 2 or 3 am every night studying (and still getting up at 6 to make the family breakfast)?  Before Easter, I had never heard of the word "sourdough." I have been making pastries for years because I have an enormous sweet tooth and I have made yeasted breads using bread machine every now and then, but strangely I had never heard of "sourdough" up until that point. 

I was trying to explain to my sisters back in Taiwan about this curious dough.  And, of course, I had to translate the word into Mandarin to make myself understood; I said it is a "sour - dough," or "suan-mientuan" in Mandarin, although I was not happy with that translation. Soon after that, I started to use "tse-ren-fa-hsiao-mientuan" meaning naturally-leavened dough in Chinese to describe it and I am much happier with that.

Well, I've had leftover molasses mixed in water that I am saving from the last Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel that I made.  I have a special feeling for molasses because, for me, molasses (or treacle) is an old English thing.  The last time I used molasses was in a gorgeous Spelt Christmas Fruit Cake after Easter and it was a Dan Lepard recipe too. (Yes, I know, April is far from Christmas, but that's me. I love sweet things.)  To me, molasses is Dan Lepard!  Isn't it funny to say that.  I am sure somebody is going to protest.  I don't know him at all.  But I know he is also the one who puts all that ale and red wine into sourdough breads!

Now, you probably know where this is going. I've got a molasses starter ready to be put into action, but before I jump into any venture and do a Dan Lepard style of sourdough, I need to satisfy myself that there are indeed at least a few sourdough breads in his books that use this ingredient. First of all, the two books by him that I own turn out to be the same book with different titles (silly me). Secondly, there is but one recipe that uses molasses! There are more formulae in his book that use rye flour and ale (of course). I get the feeling that he is quite a pastry chef as he often uses ingredients (eg ricotta cheese) that are not normally seen in breads.

This cross-disciplinary approach to a century old tradition is what I find interesting. I see many young French boulanger (eg Frederic Lalos, Basile Kamir, and Eric Kayser) are bold in trying new ingredients. And certainly in Japan, as in France, there are a lot of these new age sourdough breads; many of them are a meal on its own.

This Molasses & Light Rye Crusty Sourdough is my tribute to Dan Lepard. I thank him for opening up a brave new world of sourdough to me. If such simple thing can make me happy in life, what more do I ask.



               Molasses & Light Rye Crusty Sourdough


My formula

196 g molasses starter @ 100% hydration (note: I used one part molasses to 9 parts water and 10 parts flour)

160 g rye starter @ 100% hydration

278 g KAF Sir Lancelot high gluten flour

121 g molasses water (again, one part molasses to 9 parts water)

22 g olive oil

9 g salt

(final dough weight 786 g, dough hydration 70%) 

The dough was bulk fermented for 4 hours and during that time it received 3 folds. Shaped, then into the fridge for cold retardation for 10 hours. Proofed at room temp for 2 & 1/2 hours this morning before baking.

I have found something quite useful for new sourdough baker like myself and that is, NOT to over steam the oven. I know many at TFL gave clear instruction to steam the oven with only one cup of water, but I, for one, rarely follow instruction strictly. With too much steam, the scores seal up very quickly in the oven and seldom give nice grigne.  As many at TFL have found, I am learning more is not better.

We had this sourdough for brunch today and it was really lovely. My son said he could smell a pleasant sourness.  He had it with peanut paste (how typical for a growing boy). My daughter had a slice with grilled capsicum medley, like an open sandwich; my husband had it with a thick layer of butter, and I had it as is.  AND, Polly our dog got a slice too.


                                                                               As the loaf is being sliced ...


      Polly awaits anxiously ... to get her share.



photojess's picture

will you help me with some bakers math please?

I don't know why this is giving me so much trouble....I finally understand converting to 67% hydration.....but if I want to convert my 100% white bf starter to 63% hydration, I don't seem to be able to figure out how much flour to add.

I need 71 gms of whole wheat starter, but the book says I can use white, but it should be fairly stiff at about 63%. 

ex:  if I were using 100gms of starter, it's 50 gms each of flour and water.  (at 63%, that would be 63 gms of flour and 37 gms of water)  Please help from mind is confusing itself.  Esp if I only need 71 or 75gms to make it easier.

*****Do I use 37 gms of my 100% starter (because that is equal to the water) and add 27 gms of flour to it to equal the 63?  Then how do I maintain it? 

drfugawe's picture

Biga vs Poolish in Ciabatta


I have been doing a sourdough ciabatta for awhile now, and liking it very much - but I have begun to think about the process, and wondering why it needed a firm biga - it calls for a 50% hydration biga, and I don't like using my stand mixer for something that firm - so I've been doing it by hand, which isn't a breeze!  Then, the next day, you have to slowly incorporate pieces of the biga into your final dough - not difficult, but more time consuming than if you had just used a 100% poolish instead.  What is the benefit of using a firm biga in ciabatta?  Why not just make it easier and use the 100% poolish?

I raise this question so I might better understand the process of breadmaking - and I suspect that there are bakers hereabouts who have this knowledge.

TIA for your response.