The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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OldWoodenSpoon's picture

How do you control temperatures

for fermentation, resting and proofing? Or, do you...

I am trying to learn so I read a lot about building bread, but one (well, one at a time) thing I keep seeing, I don't get.  For example, I was just reading about making Scali on SteveB's web site at Bread Cetera. Thank you Steve, that is a great site, and the breads are gorgeous. There are multiple references to rising and resting at different and very specific temperatures for a specified time.  I see resting the biga overnight at 70F.  I see the ferment at 76F for 1 hour and 15 minutes, and I see proofing at 74F for 1 1/2 hours.  I see all this, and I understand it, but how do you do it?

How do you manage to control your temperatures so precisely in order to follow those instructions?  My house has variable and not all that well controlled temperatures.  They rarely, and never predictably, match the requirements of any given recipe at any particular time.  Is it as simple (not to say easy) as learning to vary the times to compensate for the temperatures?  Cooler takes longer, and warmer takes less time?  Those variations have to have an impact on the results though.  Can you compensate for that as well, or do you just take what comes of it?  I need help getting my brain around this so I can start trying to practice it.


ericjs's picture

Pugliese followup

Here's loaf number two which after shaping went into the fridge, came out 24 hours later and proofed for an hour before baking. Pretty similar to the last one.

(Apologies for the terrible picture...I only managed a couple of attempts before my batteries died and I was stuck with trying to adjust an over-exposed flash shot.)

That extra bit in the front is the last bit of yesterday's loaf...I'd forgotten there was still a piece in my bag which I'd brough back from work.

(P.S. I've just color-corrected the image to show the yellowish crumb (yes the color of the stone it's on is yellowish also)

LouisDeMa's picture

Anyone have a recipe for Italian Pepper Biscuits?

Hi all - I'm new at this but I am looking for a recipe for Italian Pepper Biscuits - I used to live in Astoria NY where there was this great Italian Bread shop and they always had them - I have retired to the Philippines and as you can imagine - I can't find anything like them here.  This is more like a twice baked bread - done in the style of a biscotti - baked once then cut into slices and baked again - not sweet and does not have anylthing but lots of cracked black pepper!  I have been searching (on the net) for days now and can not find anything that sounds close.  Anyone out there know what I am talking about and have a recipe?  Thanks in advance, Louis


davidg618's picture

Dough Handling?

The photo's below are from a recent bake, but I've seen the same phenomena on multiple previous bakes. The first photo shows the bread's crumb at the very center of the boule. One can see it's relatively closed. The second photo shows the crumb nearer the edge of the same loaf. The crumb appears much more open, to me. I'm not certain the photos illustrate it as much as my eye perceives the difference.

I think the difference is attributible to the way I preshape, and shape the boules, but I'm not certain. I shape boules following the instructions I've learned from watching multiple videos, and recently at KA Baking Center. On every boule I recall shaping the center of the loaves have been more closed than the periphery. Any comments re alternative causes, and, more importantly, how I might achieve a more homogeneous crumb will be appreciated.

Thanks, in advance.

David G.

davidg618's picture

Vermont SD and DiMuzio Pain au levain twained

I recently made Hamelman's Vermont sourdough, and especially liked the flavor layer contributed by the ten-percent whole rye flour. However, my favorite bread in this genre remains Dan DiMuzio's Pain au levain formula. I think the stiff levain and the ten-percent whole wheat flour create a more complex flavor profile. So I took what I like from both, and baked a couple of loaves yesterday.

The formula:

480g ripe starter (67% Hydration)

Final dough weight: 1700g

Hydration: 67%

KA Bread Flour: 90% (we like a chewy crumb and crust)

Hodgson Mill Whole Rye Flour 10%

H2O: 67%

Salt: 2%

I ripened the starter, using my usual 3-build method, over the 24 hours before making the dough: 4 minutes, speed 1; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; 3 minutes speed 2 (Kitchenaid stand mixer)

Bulk proof: 2 hours and 15 minutes with S&F at 45 and 90 minutes.

Pre-shaped two boules, 750g and 925g--I have two different size brotforms--rested 15 minutes, final shaped.

Final proof: large boule, 1 hour 45 minutes, small boule 2 hours 15 minutes--I baked them serially; I need a bigger baking stone:-(

Initial temperatute. 500°F; 10 minutes with steam, lowered temperature at 5 minutes to 450*F; at 10 minutes vented oven, baked 18 minutes and 15 minutes more respectively.

I also used dmsynder's before and after steaming procedure see Sourdough bread: Good results with a new tweak of my steaming method

The results: We like it! The difference between this and a pain au levain true to DiMuzio's formula is subtle, a slightly more accented note from the rye flour than whole wheat flour, and the stiffer levain lends its more complex flavor profile.

and the crumb...

David G

Shiao-Ping's picture

Olive & Rosemary Oregano Sourdough

We made olive bread at Artisan II course, SFBI, using double hydration method (see this post for a description of double hydration).  At the time I felt the bread came out a bit dense because, with the double hydration method, you actually end up mixing the dough for quite a long time.  The method is supposed to help build up the dough strength before any add-ins are incorporated into the dough. 

With this Olive & Rosemary Oregano Sourdough, I wanted to experiment if I could first build up the dough strength with stretch & folds by hand, then incorporate the olives and herbs.  What I did was after the usual autolyse of 30 minutes, I did the first set of stretch & folds, waited 3o minutes, then mixed in the add-ins by way of the 2nd set of stretch & folds.  Perhaps because this dough was lower hydration than my usual dough (which is well over 70%), I found that some strength and good elasticity had already developed towards the end of the first set of stretch and folds.  So, I was happy to incorporate the olives and herbs at the 2nd set of stretch and folds.  

My kids are on school holiday this week; it's a week day today but felt like a Sunday for us.  Here is the sourdough we enjoyed at today's lunch table.     





My Formula

  • 704 g starter @75% hydration

  • 412 g water

  • 60 ml or 4 tbsp of olive oil (note: 4 tablespoonfuls of olive oil is 60 ml but not 60 grams; it is about 40 to 44 grams in weight. The SFBI formula that we worked on at the Artisan course does not use olive oil.)

  • 704 g bread flour

  • 17 g salt (I used only 1.5% of total flour because there is also salt in olives.)

  • 280 g pitted kalamata olives, rinsed in water and drained (I used 25% of total flour)

  • Chopped rosemary (I used only a sprig of 20 cm in length; this turned out to be on the light side, you could easily have 2 to 3 times amount of what I used).

  • Chopped oregano (I used only 3 sprigs; this also turned out to be too little, you could at least triple the amount I used. Also note the SFBI formula uses Thyme, not rosemary or oregano.)

  • Extra Whole Wheat flour to coat the olives (just before olives are to be incorporated into the dough); this is said to prevent the olives from being meshed during mixing, but I don't find it necessary.

Total dough weight 2.16kg (to be divided into two pieces); total dough hydration 70% (note: SFBI formula is 66% hydration) 



  1. Mix all ingredients (except the olives and the herbs) by hand

  2. Autolyse 30 minutes

  3. Do the first set of stretch and folds of 30 - 40 strokes

  4. After 30 minutes, incorporate all the olives and herbs at the 2nd set of stretch and folds

  5. After another 40 minutes, perform the 3rd set of stretch & folds

  6. After another 40 minutes, divide the dough to two pieces and pre-shape to tight balls

  7. Rest for 20 minutes

  8. Shape to tight balls

  9. Proof for 2 hours then place in refrigerator to retard (I did 18 hours)

  10. Bake next morning with steam at 230 C for 20 minutes and 220 C for another 20 minutes







Some thoughts on this bake:

(1) The dough was slightly over-fermented as there was not very much oven spring.  From the time the dough was mixed to the time it went into the fridge, it was 5 hours.  Adding the 18 hours retardation, total fermentation was 23 hours.  This normally would not be too much, but I wonder if my active starter has meant that I should shorten the proofing time before the dough gets into the refrigerator.

(2) 5% olive oil increases the keeping quality of the sourdough; the bread stays fresh longer and toasts beautifully.  The oil gives the crumb a very light texture.



SylviaH's picture

Jeffrey Hamelman's Golden Raisin Loaf

This is a delicious tasting bread, even with all my mess up's making it...I forgot to put in my was sitting under my arm and I kept ignoring it..until all was mixed.  Then I added it .....  Yikes!  Well, it seemed to be okay.  I could have just started over with a fresh batch of ingredients.  I will have to lower my oven came out a little dark and about 5 or 10 minutes longer in a lower temperature oven..I Think..might have been better...Anyway, Im going to blame it all on the ill feeling I have been having all day since we ate out last night!!  We won't be going back to that resturant!  The best thing and only thing I have had all day is the cantelope and a slice of this still slightly warm bread.  I love the oatmeal in this formula and I used KA organic white wheat.  The levain definately adds a lovely tone!  I can just imagine how good this bread will be next time around!  :) 


chouette22's picture

Two breads, two very different kneading approaches

Inspiration from these boards

On Saturday I baked two breads that have been on my list for quite a while. Hans Joakim has posted on one of his favorite breads several times in recent months (here, here, here, and here) and I really wanted to give that Pain au levain with whole wheat a try (Hamelman, “Bread” p. 160). And as you know, when Hans Joakim presents something, it always looks so very enticing.

We really love it! The taste is excellent, the crust strong and the crumb wonderfully open.

Amazing that the kneading time is only about 2 minutes, and then just two folds at 50 and 100 minutes! That’s it!

I will definitely make this again!


I couldn’t have chosen a more different bread to be its partner: the Buttermilk-Whole-Wheat-Bread that JMonkey (here's the recipe from Laurels Kitchen Bread Book - I used the biga approach) and Salome have posted on (here and here). This dough, in stark contrast to the above Pain au levain, needs to be kneaded for a very l--o--n--g time. It  turned out very well, even though I over-proofed it (when I scored it, it made pouf, and the loaves sank somewhat; I think I should have skipped the slash altogether).
The problem is always the timing. To make Saturday’s loaves (4 of them), it took about 8 hours, and to always be around when the next fold or shaping, etc.,  is due, is very difficult. Despite my careful calculations, when my son’s soccer game went into over time (i.e. got delayed), my schedule was pouf, gone as well, and my proofing went into over time too… (by about an hour!).  Also, I have basically never baked bread in pans, but for the school sandwiches, I guess that is a good shape.

My changes to the recipe above:
I used 100% white whole-wheat flour (from Trader Joe, first time I bought this) and cut the honey in half. I also added two Tbsp of ripe starter, as Salome suggested she might do in a further test.
The taste was excellent.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Sourdough baguette experiment -- Success!

Usually when I get it in my head to cobble together a formula based on two or three things I've seen mentioned on this forum, two more in my head, and a bit of whimsy, the results are not pretty.  Especially when it comes to baguettes.  The last two or three times I've tried to make baguettes, they've come out flat, with closed crumb and, with the sourdough versions, crust that provides a thorough jaw workout.

But not this time, oh no!  This time I tasted victory.  Victory, and some very yummy bread.

Here's what I was trying for:

  • 100% Sourdough baguettes

  • All white flour

  • Two preferments (saw this mentioned a couple places and it sounded good).

  • Roughly 65% final hydration (also based on some other posts at thefreshloaf)

To this I arbitrarily decided that 50% flour weight would be prefermented, of which about half and half from a 50% hydration pate fermente and a 100% hydration wet starter.  Because, y'know, why not?  I decided on 700g total flour and worked out the math to get:

  • 340g wet starter (170g flour, 170g water)

  • 273g pate (180g flour, 90g water, 3g salt)

  • 350g final flour

  • 200g final water

Got to set up a bakers math calculator for myself.  Anyway, the formula ended up being thus:

Liquid Levain

  • 32g active starter (I'd converted part of my firm starter to 100% hydration the day before, but I doubt it matters much)

  • 150g Stone-Buhr bread flour

  • 150g water, room temperature

Sourdough Pate Fermente

  • 45g active starter (50% firm starter, in this case)

  • 150g Stone-buhr bread flour

  • 75g water 

  • 3g salt

Mixed starters at about 9:30pm the day before baking and let them sit overnight.  My firm starter had been in the fridge since that morning, so I used warm water for the pate. Began the next stage at 7:30 the next morning.

Final Dough

  • 350g Stone-buhr bread flour

  • 200g water, room temperature 

  • 11g salt

  • Liquid Levain (all)

  • Sourdough Pate (all)

Mixed Flour, water, and liquid levain until a shaggy mess, then covered and left to autolyze for 45 minutes.  Held off on adding the pate partly because it seemed like The Proper Thing To Do(TM), leaving out the salt and all that...but mostly because the pate looked pretty sluggish and needed at least another 45 minutes to ripen.

Added pate and salt and kneeded for a couple minutes.  The stiff pate really didn't want to incorporate, so I gave it a 5 minute rest then kneaded a little more until the lumps were more or less dispersed.  Then it was into a bowl to rise.

I gave the dough 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula after 30 minutes of fermentation, then again after 2 hours.  Total time for the first rise was 5 hours (I meant for it to be 4, but got confused, and anyway it wasn't rising hugely).

Preshaped the dough into 4 ~10oz pieces (yeah, yeah, switched measuring systems midway), and let rest for 10 minutes.  Then final shaping, and rising on my well-floured couche-tablecloth for 2 hours.

Baked at about 475 (my oven's temperature sensor is wacky) with steam for 22 minutes, opening the oven a crack after 10.  Then left the oven cracked and turned off for another 5 minutes before removing the baguettes from the oven.

The results:

Sourdough Baguettes, Exterior:


Another Angle

More Baguettes

Crumb Shot

Yummy crumb!

 I was incredibly pleased with the results here.  The scoring is easily the best I've ever done, though there's clearly room for improvement.  The mere fact that the things didn't turn out flat was a huge improvement of my last attempt at a sourdough baguette.  The crumb turned out well.  The flavor was wonderfully complex, moderately sour, with a thin, crisp crust that was just slightly chewy (hey it's sourdough, after all).

Princeton's picture