The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spring changes

PiPs's picture

Spring changes

I have baked and baked. Through a long winter I baked. Early mornings in my cold dark kitchen I baked. Every weekend I baked. For my friends I baked. For my family I baked … it was the same bread that I baked.

The fresh smell of spring surrounds us and the star jasmine hanging on our back fence is about to flower and flood our senses further. On our small porch a tomato plant has been busily producing a steady supply of tasty treats. Bruschetta nights have never tasted better. Bushfires colour the air.

With the coming of spring has also come change—unplanned change and unpleasant change—change I must learn to embrace. Our graphic design studio within a government agency has been affected by workplace change and my work colleagues and I have become surplus to requirements. This uncertainty has been ongoing for the past few months and it now seems we finally have some resolution and closure—just in time for the fresh beginnings of spring.

Baking has been a constant throughout this stressful process. Every weekend I would mix large batches of ‘Pain au Levain’ using Gerard Rubaud’s method to share with friends and family. I might perhaps adjust the amount of the freshly milled wholegrain flours in the levain or final dough but I never strayed from the path of consistency.

But consistency requires change. Spring means temperatures have risen (good grief, it is 31°C today). My levain expands quicker and the doughs proof faster—I have to change to adapt.

Spring Levain (4 x 900g batards)





Total dough weight



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Pre-fermented flour






Levain – 5-6hrs 25°C



Previous levain build



Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled sifted wheat, 9% fresh milled sifted spelt and 3% fresh milled sifted rye)












Final dough. DDT=25°C






Laucke Wallaby bakers flour



Freshly milled spelt flour











  1. Mix levain and leave to ferment for 5-6 hours at 25°C
  2. Mill spelt flour and combine with bakers flour.  Mix with water holding back 100 grams of water.
  3. Autolyse for 5-6 hours.
  4. Add levain to autolyse then knead (french fold) for three mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 100 grams of water. Squeeze the salt and water through the dough to incorporate (the dough will separate then come back together smoothly). Remove from the bowl and knead a further three mins.
  5. Bulk ferment for four hours untouched—no stretch-and-folds!
  6. Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape into batards and proof in bannetons seam side up.
  7. Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C before being placed in the fridge for 12hrs.
  8. Bring dough to room temperature for an hour while oven is preheating. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then reduce temperature to 200°C for a further 30 mins.

It makes beautifully simple bread. Unfussy but elegant with a crust that shatters and sings—a silken crumb within.

So I continue to bake—and soon, who knows, maybe I will be baking even more that I could ever imagine :)

This post is dedicated to my amazing Miss Nat who watched over me and carried me through …  thank you XX


PiPs's picture

Hi vtsteve,

Yes, I believe the Wallaby flour is unmalted ... the protein level is around 11.9% - it stands up to the long wet time really well. I have played around with diastatic malt in the past but not any more now that I am adding freshly milled grains. I am getting loads of flavour and plenty of colour in the crust.

Phil's picture

I've been traveling w/o internet for a few weeks and wanted to follow up a bit late on this point regarding malted flour and autolyse length.  News to me.  Can you elaborate?  Were Phil's flour malted, the long autolyse wouldn't have been advisable?  Why not?




PiPs's picture

Hi Tom,

No the flours I am using are not malted ... I have never had the opportunity to use malted flours ... but I have added diastatic malt to flour on occasions when using only white flour. I think some of the Australian flours are deficient in enzymes so it's quite common for bakers here to add diastatic malt to batches or preferments. All of the breads I bake use freshly milled grains in some form, so this well and truly makes up for any deficiencies ...

I am not sure if I can comment with much knowledge on extended autolyse with malted flours ...


lumos's picture

I haven't been around on the forum very much lately, now I really know what I've been missing!

What a great crumb you got there! You know that's the kind of 'THE ideal crumb' for me.  And the crust and the grigne....Everything is so beautiful!  (So are the photos, too.)  I love adding tiny amount of spelt (usually only up to 5%) to my dough for extra depth in flavour but been contemplating to make a loaf with more spelt.  Your formula of 15% spelt (bar levain) sounds ideal for me and long autolyse for 5 -6 hrs sounds great, too. I might steal borrow your idea try it next time.  Thanks for the incentive. :)

...and sorry to hear what happened to your personal front.   Hope the change will bring you even brighter future in the end and it comes soon. 

kindest regards


PiPs's picture

Hi Lumos,

Great to hear from you. You may 'steal' the 15% from me ... but it was never really mine to begin with.

Nothing new under the sun :)

The spelt grain mills into a really pretty flour ... speckles the final dough.



lumos's picture

I fed S/D and mixed flour & water early morning, so I'm hoping to be able to mix them in a few hrs time.  Unlike where you are, we're approaching the colder season (it feels like we've alreay in the midst of it last few days!). With the temperature just below 20 degrees C, I'm expecting it'll take longer than when you made those beautiful loaves. 

I don't have the luxury of access to freshly-milled flour, so I don't think it'll taste as good as yours, but I'll let you know how it turned out.

Thanks for the inspiration. :)

kind regard, lumos

Farzana's picture

The bread looks as yummy as you do !


PiPs's picture

Thanks Farzana :)


Carla 4's picture
Carla 4

Hi Phil,

You are inspiring me this very minute and for the last week since I discovered this thread.


Carla in Brussels.

PiPs's picture

That's great Carla!

... happy baking ...


jarkkolaine's picture

And your bread looks even more delicious than ever! I love the idea of baking and baking (and baking) the same bread again and again. It sounds pretty much like there will be a bakery opening somewhere in the future... ;) 

PiPs's picture

Thanks Jarkko,

It's good to be back!

I have some ideas ... we will see ;)


Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Hi Phil,

Can you tell me some detailed info about your starter?

What is your feeding schedule?

How much do you keep?

What temperature do you keep it at?

How many hours after you feed it do you use it?

And anything else that might help me understand starters......................

This is the most beautiful bread I have ever seen!!  


PiPs's picture

Hi Bread head,

There is so much information regarding starters on the freshloaf ... it's almost dizzying.

I learnt a lot from reading the articles about Gerard Rubaud and how he manages his levain ... now Gerard is pretty obsessive about his levain and maintaining it, but you can learn a lot from reading the articles. You don't need to manage your starter to this extent.

My starter gets fed a lot of fresh milled flour ... it is kept anywhere between 50%-65% hydration ... If I am baking a lot I will keep it on the bench and feed it twice a day, if not, it lives in the fridge during the week.

I can use it after feeding anywhere from 3hrs to 5hrs depending on what flour it has been feed and the ratio of the feed.

I have a whole-wheat desem starter that lives in the fridge for most of its life as well.

I am sorry if I am being a bit vague ... but the way I maintain my starter may not work for everybody ... it is just what I am used to and what I like.

How are you currently maintaining your starter?


frajasago's picture

...But I took the numbers and I can't get my head around them...specifically the overview. What is the "Pre-fermented flour" you talk about? Also, why do you put salt in the levain? If I remove the salt from the levain, I get 323g in total, the same amount that shows in the final dough. The only explanation I can find is that there are 49g of flour in the Previous levain build...sorry but I'm an engineer and this is driving me nuts.