The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


JMonkey's picture


I don't think I've every baked this much in a weekend, and, to be honest, I didn't intend to. All I aimed to do was bake for

  • The family that bought two loaves from me at the church fund-raiser service auction in November
  • The annual church dinner and talent show
  • My family's weekly bread

Er ... ok, I guess I did intend to bake that much. I just didn't realize it.

The loaf above is about to be delivered by my daughter Iris and I to a family a few blocks away. It's a loaf of Hammelman's 40% Caraway Rye (yes, I used white flour), though I made it a bit bigger (about 2 lbs instead of 1.5) and didn't bother with baker's yeast. I just let the rye sourdough do its work.

Alas, no pictures of the crumb -- that would have been rude.

The next loaf on the agenda was white sourdough.

I used the NY Times / Sullivan St. Bakery method, though I used sourdough starter instead of yeast, mixed it at about 72% hydration instead of 80% (if I go that wet, it always sticks like Elmer's), let it sit for just 12 hours before folding, and then went the extra step of shaping it into a boule. As always, it turned out well.

Again, my apologies for the lack of a crumb photo -- I snapped this shot at the church dinner, and a friend who saw me shooting it said, with a look usually reserved for that crazy old guy at the corner who screams about bugs and scratches himself: "Er, you take photos of your bread?"

I stammered something about it being for a bread message board, but I don't think that made me sound any less crazy. Cutting into the loaf and lovingly photographing the interior was too humiliating to contemplate at that point, much less actually perform, so I put the camera away. The crumb wasn't as open as the masterpieces that Mountaindog regularly pulls out of her oven, but it was light and open enough.

This morning was the big day. I had some rye starter left over, so I thought I'd bake a couple loaves of whole wheat 40% rye sandwich bread, in addition to my usual whole wheat sourdough sandwich loaves. Plus, I still had to deliver a loaf of whole wheat cinnamon walnut raisin bread to the auction family and, if you're going to make one loaf, why not make two?

Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning, I felt like someone had stuffed my head with very thick mayonaise. I courageously made the sourdough blueberry muffins my daughter had requested, but after breakfast my wife said, "We're skipping church, I'm taking Iris to her friend's birthday party and you're going back to bed." So I did. I slept until 1pm.

When I awoke, I felt much better (thank you, Mucinex!). Good enough to knead up three batches of dough.

The night before, however, I'd taken a sourdough pizza doughball out of the freezer and put it it the fridge to thaw, so, just before Iris and I left to go to the playground around 4pm, I turned on the oven. Iris ran - literally - all the way there (about half a mile - pretty good for 3 years old), and we made raspberry-raspberry jam muffins (there are no other ingredients, or so I'm told).

When we got back, I made this "heart-shaped" pizza for my wife. Aren't I sweet?

You didn't buy that line, did you? Actually, I fumbled a bit with the peel. A happy fumble, all the same.

After dinner, I popped the cinammon raisin loaves in the oven. Near the end of their bake, I started making a shaping tutorial video and got interrupted by the oven telling me to get those loaves outta there!

Here's Iris and I sprinkling cinnamon-sugar over the buttered loaves.

A couple of hours later, the rye was ready to pop in the oven (no photo -- I put them in the freezer before realizing I'd not taken a photo) and, shortly afterwards, the sourdough sandwich loaves, which rose very nicely.

Next weekend, I think I'll just stick to something simple like just one loaf. Of course, if you're making one loaf, it's not much more trouble to make two. Also, if I'm feeding my rye, I may as well use it somehow -- hate to throw some away ....


Paddyscake's picture

wonderful!I love the line about the pizza, actually I thought you meant it since she was so nice to send you back to bed! Iris is a doll!

chuppy's picture

Now that's a pizza! Great work Jmonkey. I love baking with my kids. They are usualy in the kitcken with me on the weekends. During the week I go solo until weeee..... hours trying my new recipes. Thank you for sharring your pics. The rye came out beautiful.


andrew_l's picture

Those look really good! I love the pizza - could you post your recipe for the dough you use? (And method!)ThanksAndrew

JMonkey's picture

Sorry, Andrew, that it's taken me forever to reply. Been very busy at work and home.

It's essentially the sourdough pizza recipe in Reinhart's American Pie, except I make it so that each dough ball is roughly 12 ounces instead of 10 ounces, because I like a bigger pie, and I used about 30 percent whole wheat flour, with a mix of KA AP and Bread flour for the rest.

And I converted it to metric, since it's easier for me to plug metric into the sourdough and baking spreadsheets I use. Anyway, here's what I did for the crust:

  • Whole-wheat starter at 100% hydration: 240 grams
  • AP flour: 140 grams
  • Bread flour: 140 grams
  • Water: 150 grams
  • Olive oil: 2 tablespoons or about 27 grams
  • Salt: 8 grams or about 1.25 tsp

The night before, I kneaded it up for about 5-10 minutes, after which I formed it into a ball and let it ferment for four hours at room temp (roughly 68 degrees F), folding it once or twice (I can't remember now how many times I did it for this pizza). After it was risen, I divided it in half and put each doughball in a plastic sandwich bag. One went into the fridge and the other went into the freezer.

With a frozen doughball, just transfer it to the fridge the night before. Otherwise, I took the doughball out of the fridge 2 hours before making the pie and covered it with an upturned bowl on the counter. If you don't let it warm up, it's a real pain in the neck to shape.

The pizza above was from a frozen doughball, so freezing works really well.
caryn's picture

I have a question.  I made up a batch of Peter Reinhart's sourdough pizza a couple of days ago, but my book's recipe included honey or sugar.  Did you just decide to omit it? 

Also, after I allowed the dough to rise (and it did not rise as much as my sourdough usually does), I shaped the dough into balls, but by the time I allowed them to rise and place in the refrigerator, they had flattened into pancakes.  Did you observe any of this?  I plan to try to bake this tonight, but I am worried that I may not get very good results!!

JMonkey's picture

Yes, I omitted the honey. I like my pizza crust on the savory side. I do add the olive oil, though, because it makes the dough much easier to handle when shaping.

Hmmm, as for the dough balls flattening out, I usually stick mine in the fridge immediately after shaping, so I've not seen that happen. When I take it out of the fridge and let it warm up for a couple of hours, they do flatten a bit, but I wouldn't describe them as pancakes.

But, heck, it's just pizza, and you're not looking for a huge rise, anyway. So long as the dough is strong enough so that it doesn't rip while shaping, you should be fine! Hope it goes well!

caryn's picture

Thank you, JMonkey for responding so quickly.  My pizza worked fine.  The dough was interesting, but I could not detect a sourdough flavor.  The pizza sauce from Reinhart's pizza book was wonderful- so simple, but so good.  I made it with fresh garlic and basil, and was astonished how good an uncooked pizza sauce could be.  I also used a tip from Cook's Illustrated to use a particular brand and type of canned crushed tomatoes:  Tuttoroso- the regular and not the "New World" style. (I am probably misspelliig the brand name.)

I am inspired to make more pizzas!!

mountaindog's picture

What a great write-up an shaping video! I've been offline for a spell so am trying to catch up on all the great new content here at the Fresh Loaf!

Those WW SD sandwich loaves are to die for - what oven spring. I really am not very good at WW sandwich loaves so I will give yours a try - the last (yeasted) ones I made were dense and bitter. I know you must have that recipe on another post so I will look for it. Hysterical comments on your bread photography too, I can relate!

tattooedtonka's picture

Pictures like these are what inspires alot of us to keep getting better.  I cannot believe how bad the bug has got me, and I find myself flying through flour at an amazing rate.  Especially since I just have a family of four.  These are wonderful photos you have, and as for the picture taking part, some of my family gave me some pretty good ribbing themselves when they saw me trying to pose my ciabatta on Saturday.  Take care..

Tattooed Tonka