The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Forkish Overnight Country Brown's picture

Forkish Overnight Country Brown

Santa gave me Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.  I had studied it in a bookstore, having been alerted by Breadsong's nice post about his overnight 75% WW.  On my Christmas list it went.  No regrets: I've very much enjoyed learning Mr. Forkish's story and approach and watching his laid-back online videos.  He lands somewhere at the intersection of Chad Robertson and Jim Lahey:  Liquid(y) levains with a fairly low percentage of total flour and long full fermentations.  I strongly recommend the book (over Tartine) to any novice eager to learn to make true artisan-style breads.  Narrower in scope than JH's BREAD, but decidedly for the home baker only.  Very nice photography by Alan Weiner: Every bread pictured in the book looks delicious

I made his Overnight Country Brown as a 1.8 kg miche over the weekend (above) and it is spectacular in every respect.  Fabulous flavor.  30% WW flour, 78% hydration, 80% starter (12% of total flour) and a total of 18 hours of 70˚F fermentation (13 overnight bulk + 5 morning proof).  I wouldn't have thought a dough would have a nanogram of spring left after such a workout (before [left] and after [right] bulk, below),

but was so pleased with the outcome and workflow that this (or something close, with this approach) is likely to bump JH's Pain au Levain as the basis for our table breads.  What a deliciously crave-able loaf of bread.  Perfect with stew from (freshly pick-axe dug!) carrots and parsnips last night.

Mr. Forkish's pitch is his personal mix of "fundamental" (the book's subtitle) and "professional", at least equipment-wise.  He suggests the home baker buy small (for levain) and large (for doughs) Cambro buckets -- hardly mass market consumer products (only restaurant suppliers sell them).  Then somewhat disappointingly (at least for novices, imho) he writes all the processes to climax with baking in 5+ qt DOs.  With so many perfectly effective ways to steam the home oven, and the dangers and loaf limitations of baking in DOs, I was sorry to see this.  The one non-DO bake he describes involves soaking a second pizza stone in water and putting it into a hot oven, under the baking stone, to steam the oven.  In my all too personal experience, that's a very good way to break the stone.

But the book's positives far outweigh those negatives.  Mr. Forkish describes all the familiar essentials to this style of baking, plus some nice detail regarding acetic versus lactic flavors and how to achieve/avoid, as well as other informative sidebars.  The baking timelines are long, often including overnight room temperature fermentation and/or cold retardation.  But he stresses flexibility and experimentation, giving attractive sample timelines for each bake.  I can't wait to try some more, especially those with levain + CY -- an approach I've not explored as much as I've wanted to.  Finally, I'm pleased to say that Mr. Forkish succeeded where others have not, in convincing this stingy toad to maintain levain in a volume large enough to start a bake directly from the refreshed stock and not from a separate, to-the-formula measured volume seeded by a separate (jelly-jar) 'mother' living on the fridge door.  Volume matters.

Great book.  Happy Baking!



linder's picture


That bread is beautiful in every aspect.  I like the crumb and crust, both.  The bread will surely sop up all the good juices of the stew and be a great addition to the meal. 

I agree re: not soaking a bread baking stone.  I'd be afraid the water expansion in the stone would crack or explode the stone.

Linda's picture

I cracked an admittedly uber-cheapo pizza stone (from TJ's or HomeGoods - one or the other, not that they aren't the same anyway) that I had just washed, patted dry and shoved in the oven.  Like I said, lots of effective alternative methods.

Thanks for your kind words.  Credit goes to Mr. Forkish:  anyone who can write a formula that I can turn into a product like that, first time around, deserves 99% of the credit!



dabrownman's picture

up Tom.  Not sure I agree with the large volume of starter but, like you and me being stingy, I don't mind it if none is thrown away.  The results speak for themselves.  Very nice bread in every respect!

Way to start off 2013!'s picture

That's what Ken F calls it as he dumps levain into the trash in one of his videos.

Thanks dab.  Happy New Year to you!


gmabaking's picture

Have really enjoyed baking breads from this book. The Overnight Country Blonde has a flavor that is my favorite of all the breads I've baked so far. I agree with all your comments about the book. I also would recommend this over the Tartine book, especially for one just starting out. Although there is something to be said about just jumping right in and trying to make whatever appeals to you.

Read that about putting an extra stone in the oven and had the same reaction. For the all-levain breads, I keep a small amount in the refrigerator and restore with a smaller amount. 50 grams of stored levain, 25 grams whole wheat flour, 100 grams white flour and 100 grams water.  Probably shouldn't admit this, but it seems to work fine when I've used regular sourdough starter in place of the stored levain.  Next build is 100 grams levain, 100 grams whole wheat flour, 400 grams white flour and 400 grams water. Next time I will reduce this second amount since it still seems like an awful lot to discard. (It does make some great onion rings though)

Your bread is beautiful and I'm looking forward to seeing what you bake next-

Barbra's picture

...on Overnight Blonde (such a naughty name for a bread) was one of the few I found when searching to see if anyone had commented on any of Forkish's formulae, when trying to pick one to try.  I rarely bake such a white bread but if doing so is my worst sin of the week, well then it will have been one hell of a good week.  So yes, the blonde is on deck for sure.  There's a goodly stretch of subtle bread space between the 5% ww/5% rye (is it?) of the Blonde and the 30%ww of the Brown to explore too.  Good times ahead.

Yes, I admit I may be jumping the gun on abandoning jelly jar starter stocks.  I've periodically heard whispers that volume matters in fermentations.  One loud echo has been a footnote (I think) in one of MC's (Farine) posts of Gerard Rubaud's 70:18:9:3 mix, saying something to the effect that "this won't work unless prepared in large volume".  I've always looked the other way.  But this Country Brown was so good and different, I'm not ready to abandon the mass of starter that booted it as one of the prime suspects.  We'll see.

Thanks for your comment and kind words.


Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

This is my current project, fermenting as I type.  If I get some decent photos I'll post them.

Barbara's picture

I've found that one less robust than I'd expected, but hopefully the bake I posted won't turn out to be the rare exception:  Overnight bulk fermentation has to be controlled.  It can easily get away from you (me, twice now) and result in a bubbly over-fermented mess by morning.  Still bake-able but with less spring and more crumb moisture than ideal.  I'm trying to work up a "36 hour" version now, manipulating bulk temp and flour blend for more predictable outcomes to accommodate a workingperson's schedule.

Good luck!


dabrownman's picture

but I don't understand the 'spent fuel' comment.  He takes a small piece of the levain he carefully makes at the top of it's game and performance potential to make bread with and calls the rest of it spent fuel?   How is it spent when the part he uses is gold?

Just seems like a waste and he should at least donate it to the starter-less needy :-)

Happy baking!

varda's picture

for Forkish's books.   I watched his videos recently after a recommendation from Ars. Pist.   Somehow even though people have been posting about his stuff, it didn't register.   With your post it is officially registering.    Your bread looks absolutely terrific.   -Varda

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

I've been waiting for some members to bake out of his book, one of the best out there at the moment.  Ironically, I was never very impressed with the quality of his wares from his bakery and pizzeria, but the book is a great addition to any home-baker's bookshelf.  Very well done!'s picture

Sorry - replying out of order here.  So you've been to his bakery in Portland?  Granted, nothing (I've had at least) is as good as what you can bake at home.  But still -- I'd think Ken's Artisan Bakery would be purveying some mighty fine loaves.  Maybe he took his eye off the baking ball to write (our tour) the book at the time you stopped in.

Thanks for your comment and kind words.  I've enjoyed your thoughtful posts.

Tom's picture

Probably not revolutionary for you seasoned bakers, but most of the timelines he lays out stray signficantly from my Robertsonian & Hamelmanian experience.  LONG fermentations -- maybe more a la Lahey (i.e., overnight).  Forkish admits to pushing each process to and beyond the flour + yeasts' limits, then dialing them back to just the right pointe.  I also appreciate that he doesn't take Chad Robertson's approach of, "I developed a vision for this bread, went into the forest (Savoie) for 40 days and 40 nights and came out with this, voila My Country Boule."  Forkish offers a very diverse array, much like Hamelman but fewer under each category, of straight doughs, pre-ferments with CY, CY+levain, pure levain and then "advanced" levain (multiple builds).  Plus the requisite pizza chapter.

I'm not trying to advertise it.  But I am excited by it.  I get off on these solo flights (e.g. milling and sifting for past few months) and it's great to latch back onto a new mentor for a few turns.

Thanks for commenting, Varda.  Be well.


PiPs's picture

Nice baking Tom ... what a great result!

I would have to agree with you that I was a bit disappointed seeing only round loaves baked in a pot ... but hey, if they look like that who's complaining? :)


sunnspot9's picture

This looks great! I went right to amazon to put the book in my cart, but sadly, Out Of Stock!'s picture

I'm happy for Ken Forkish, but disappointed for you.  I suppose it's every author's dream to have his book "Out of Stock" (well, briefly at least) at Amazon.  I hope it's because Ten-Speed Press/Random House was blindsided by the demand and not because Amazon is off its game.  There certainly are still a few other places to buy books besides Amazon.  Mine came from the only real (non-used) bookstore left in our town:  Barnes & Noble.  May they survive and prosper.  Never thought I'd pray for the longevity of a franchise store or restuarant.  But this old Toad prefers books on paper, not pixels.

Enjoy it when you can get it.  The book that is.



sunnspot9's picture

After disappointment at Amazon I remembered seeing the book at the little bookstore in a nearby town at Christmas time, so I went there today, and guess what? Santa got it first! :) The curator told me the entire printing is sold out and I will have to wait for a second printing.  I am like you, I prefer paper! (My eyes prefer paper too) So, I wait.


gmabaking's picture

looked on eBay and found that Barnes and Noble has it listed (on their site it is cheaper than eBay too) so from their site with shipping it is around $26. Can't recall what I paid from Amazon but that seems close. Kindle version is $18 I think but as you said, I like paper.

Good luck finding the book, I think you will enjoy your prize !'s picture

As much as DO baking does work, I have no desire to go back there.  Too many memories of burns, wet doughs hanging up on the sides of the DO and Lahey bakes with shelf-lives measured in hours.  My former baking DO now gets heated up with boiling water (sans lid handle -- hole lets steam out) and shoved in our (gas) range oven to make it a warm proofing oven during these cold winter days.  I hope your down under flip-side weather brings some relief.  I could use a day of sweltering heat at this point, but a weekend in St Barts isn't exactly within our reach.

Hope things have been going well for you.  Looking forward to seeing some nice pictures of equally nice bakes in this lucky new year.


carefreebaker's picture

What method and recipe do you prefer over the DO?'s picture

The non-DO method that I, many TFLoafers and all professional bakers prefer is to bake loaves open in the oven on a pre-heated surface - metal or stone tile in pro deck ovens and stone in the home oven.  My stone is an Emil Henry ($50) but there are many on the market.   Thicker is better and I'm not sure I'd recommend the E Henry.  Somewhat thinner and likes to burn loaf bottoms but that could be more my technique (lack of) than the stone.  Don't buy a cheapo from TJMax or HomeGoods or other discount outlet unless you have money to burn and a use for a broken stone (additional heat sinks for oven = my shards).  Quality matters.

Biggest challenge with non-DO bread baking is steaming the oven.  Good news is there are dozens of solutions to be found by searching TFL for "oven steam" or "steaming".  My Steam Curtain method is a bit different from most (or all?!), but works spectacularly well in my small wall oven.  Another very popular and effective method (that inspired mine) can be found here.

Any "recipe" developed for a DO will work for baking on a stone (he says confidently -- but I can't think why not).  The one I posted about here is from Ken Forkish's book and, if you're looking for a light, flavorful fully fermented 'country' loaf (needn't be a big miche), this is a very good one.  I didn't and won't post the entire formula and process because I don't want to undermine Ken Forkish's book sales.  So I gave the essential outlines above.

Happy baking!


bakingbadly's picture

Absolutely beautiful, Tom. The bold amber colours of the crust is stunning.

Also, your brief review of Ken's book has piqued my interest and I may purchase a copy for myself.

Thank you for posting!

Zita's picture

"Bold amber colors".  You make it sound as though I have Snyder-like control over the process.  Well, I don't.  But I'm trying and sometimes Photoshop isn't necessary :-).  I admit to being fairly addicted to boldly baked crusts.  Alas, I bought a loaf of "Sourdough" from our local food coop's new bakery section last week, just to support it and see how they're doing.  The color of the crust was lighter than that of the crumb.  Gosh, come to think of it, maybe it was par-baked and I should have put it in the oven.  Maybe I still will!  Either that, or it's going into the Cuisinart for crumbs.  Awful.  Tragic really.

Bake boldly, bakingbadly.  Thanks again for your kind words.



FlourChild's picture

Tom, what a gorgous miche!  It looks just like one of the photos in the book- same crumb, crust, etc.  I'm also baking from Forkish's book right now, and share many of your opinions- will try to pull together a post on my Forkish bakes in a few days, after I bake one more pizza recipe.   

I haven't come across a thorough explanation of the science behind the benefits of using large quantities of starter and dough, though I would love to understand more about it.'s picture

Pizzas!  Now that's one neighborhood in the book I'm unlikely to frequent.   We just don't do pizzas around here.  But then again, my wife and I are conjuring up this plan to build a greenhouse that would draw heat from a WFO.  Fantasies are cheap, eh?  But you can't have a WFO and not make pizzas for friends and neighbors.  It could happen.  It's that greenhouse-dreamin' time o' year.

The only physical basis for keeping large quantities of starter that I can think of is a heat mass effect.  The heat by-product of fermentation will certainly be better retained within the mass of a 0.5 kg starter in a 6 qt Cambro bucket than a 0.07 kg one in a jelly jar.  And as Forkish counsels, warmer levains are sweeter (->more lactic) levains.  So if that's your objective (and I'm definitely of the lactic persuasion), then the greater the levain volume you're willing to maintain, the more satisfied you'll be with the resulting acidity of your bakes.  I've been concentrating on other aspects of my baking skills since taking up the craft and am only now exploring flavor subtleties.  So the time's right for my upping the levain volume ante.

That said, I find it odd that Forkish provides levain maintenance guidelines that are as bi-modal as the 60%/100% levain hydrations that he eschews.  He describes means to maintain levain with daily refreshment or long term, stored in the fridge in a plastic bag resurrection.  What's up with that?  Am I missing something?  How about the majority of us who bake once, maybe twice if we're lucky, a week?  The adjustment is fairly obvious from his description, but that's an odd omission.  Well, that along with never specifying the bulk time/temp within his recipe narratives themselves.  That drove me bonkers at first.  Had to root around to find at least his suggestion of a bulk time/temp for the bake above.  What I came up with worked fine in the end.

Thanks for your comment and kind words.  I look forward to your report.


FlourChild's picture

@Tom- Pizza, WFO and a greenhouse, what a wonderful dream- love the synergies!

Thanks so much for your thoughts on the larger levains producing sweeter/more lactic flavors through warmer temps- that's just the kind of explanation I was hoping the book would have.  It's a big leap of faith to ask home bakers to throw away 700-800g of levain every time they bake bread and not explain why.

I'm with you on the bulk ferment temperatures- the book spends a lot of time and attention on water and target dough temperatures, but then doesn't discuss the proofing environment at all, other than to say that his kitchen hovers around 68-70F during the day and cools off to 65F at night. 

I'll try to work up a post, I have a few pictures to add of some of the other breads :)'s picture

Let's be clear here:  I'm definitely not ready to throw away 700-800 gr of levain with every baking cycle.  However, what I am willing (and now eager) to do, having read Forkish's pitch and happily learned his "weigh out your 80% levain into a bowl with a finger's depth of water" trick, is grow up rather more levain than a formula calls for, knowing that more is always going to be better (= sweeter).  Even if I had a source of good free flour, I don't think I could bring myself to jettisoning as much 'spent fuel' as would make the very lactic-ist levain possible.  It's a compromise low-volume home baker's have to accept and, as in all things, find the balance that suits.

Looking forward to seeing your pix!



David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Isn't it easier to put the bucket on the scale, zero it out and then remove enough until it reads -266 or whatever it is you need?  Saves a bucket, saves getting the levain wet...'s picture

Yep, that would work fine David.  Good idea.  And thanks for giving me an opportunity to travel back to where I was baking a year and a half ago.  I've since dialed back my levain building to pre-Forkish volumes without regret or significant compromise in flavor.  One of a few practices I've retained from my Forkish period is the handy versatility of 80% hydration starter stock.  Maintained on a 40% whole grain Rubaud-ish mix, my starter has been marvelous. 



gmabaking's picture

Hope you are trying/or tried the Overnight Pizza Dough with Poolish, it is amazing. Slightly different taste from the one with levain, which is really good also. I had some dough balls left in the refrigerator and the next day they were even better.

These two are responsible for dinner at Grandma's turning into Pizza at Grandma's. The first time I made the thin crust with the poofy soft edges, my grandson said "Well there is good news and bad news about this--the good news is that it is the best pizza I've ever tasted and the bad news is that the pizza place will never get another order from me." Ah, flattery may not get you everywhere but it does get you more pizza.'s picture

Having been lured back to this old thread by DavidEsq's comment today, I notice I never responded to your comment.  YES!  We enjoy a couple of pizze almost every week based on Forkish's Overnight Pizza Dough with Poolish, although, like so many other bakes chez nous, we make it 40% wholegrain (=sprouted wheat flour).

A bulletproof pizza dough if there ever was one!


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I am going to make that dough this weekend and will use 40% milled wheat.  Not sprouted but healthier than 100% AP.

breadsong's picture

Hi Tom,
Glad you're enjoying the book, and can't wait to see what you make next...
You've made such a beautiful miche - worth every minute of waiting for, I'm sure!
:^) breadsong's picture you  :^) breadsong!  For your kind comment and of course for turning me on to this nice and timely book via you inspiring post on the 75%WW.  I'm sure I wouldn't have gone looking for it on the bookstore shelf, much less asked Santa for it, were it not for that post.  If only it had come out, and gotten TFL PR, a year earlier, I might have been saved from a Dark Winter of Tartine Fails last year.  But all is well.  Very well.



Thaichef's picture

Hello Tom:

  Your bread picture looks amazing!  Oh,Wow. It is perfect in every aspect.  Thanks also for a nice review of the book. I have never heard of Mr Forkish nor his book but now will look for it in the book store. Thank you very much for sharing. 

mantana's picture

Hardly that perfect, but close enough that any bake llike it will be very satisfactory.  Credit the book, less so the baker.  Forkish is onto something.  Probably nothing new to seasoned vets, but plenty to learn for me.

I appreciate your kind words.


gmabaking's picture

First time to leave the Forkish dough neglected past its prime. It was left to ferment in a cool kitchen for ten hours for the overnight bulk fermentation.The dough tripled plus the extra inch or so of leeway in the 6 quart bucket. The lid of the bucket was curved up and it looked like it might explode, the lid was sealed on so tight it took lots of pressure to pull off. It came off with a loud pop and collapsed the dough to the 3 quart mark! I scraped what was on the sides gently down into the mass and headed for the computer to ask TFLoivians for advice. Interesting, just yesterday I was whining about having so much starter on hand and today it looks like that reserve may be a good thing. Thanks in advance for your help.


gmagmabaking2's picture

Barb wanted me to post her pictures to show that even when things go wrong they often turn out alright.

  With the extra large rise this bread has a little more tang. No one would have to ask if it is sourdough. So, this is what happens when Blondes go WILD!

 Good looking crumb too. Great job, despite the panic.

Thank you everyone for helping my sister get through this crisis-less crisis. LOL

Diane's picture

I'm hardly a seasoned enough vet here to offer much more than sympathy and commonsense (not my forte) advice:  Shape and 'proof' asap.  Your dough has pretty much raced into, but hopefully not through, the final proof, bypassing bench rest and shaping.  You can't very well add any more fuel for the yeast at this point.  So I'd gently shape and 'proof' very minimally, hoping to preserve what little oomph may be left in the dough for oven spring.  Only alternative is to have one heck of a lot of mother starter for your next bake.  I'd give it a shot, banking on experience that bread baking can surprise you just when it needs to, about how forgiving it can be.  Nothing to lose.

Curious to hear what others say.

Good luck!


gmabaking's picture

I will do that, only thing I could think of was to try to add flour laced with a little bit of instant yeast. I agree with you though that it has reached it's proofing limits. In the hour or so since the lid's been off it has bubbles on the sides of the bucket and looks like bulk fermenting in the early stages. So I will gently gently try to shape it into some approximation of rounds and bake, maybe wait until it passes the finger poke test? Thanks for responding so quickly

Barbra's picture

One thing about dough fermentation is that it's self-limiting.  That is, the yeast produce enough CO2 to suffocate themselves somewhat.  That's the point of old-fashioned 'punching down' doughs, to remove the CO2 that is inhibiting further fermentaiton.  So when you think it's gone as far as it can possibly go, it will always have at least some amount of fermentable carbs left for a final lift-off.  In theory at least.

Fingers crossed for a successful rescue!


gmabaking's picture

Let them sit in the baskets for about an hour and a half. Since they were already overproofed I thought less time would be better than more. Slashed deeply because I remember reading somewhere to do that if you think dough is overproofed. One tried to cling to the banneton so it collapsed by about half, the other went into the hot DO just fine and it has more oven spring. Not to say that was much though. I think you are very correct in saying that dough fermentation is self-limiting. If I had never baked from this recipe before I would probably think they looked great...however I know how tall they really can be.

I came close to throwing the whole dough out but I'm glad now that I didn't. I'm sending a picture to my sister so you can see the( albeit) small, redemption in not giving up. The crumb is a little more moist than usual (I'm hoping that isn't a nice way of saying gummy). Will be able to tell more when it is really cooled.

Thanks for the help and the good luck wishes, they worked!

breadforfun's picture

Hi Tom, that bread looks great.  Your photos could have been from the book.

I haven't seen the book yet, but I was wondering with a ferment as long as 18 hours, does Mr. Forkish technique come from the no-knead school?

-Brad's picture

Yes, like all bread book authors who tell the story of their Baker's Journey, Ken Forkish is very generous in acknowledging his mentors and influences, Jim Lahey (Mr. No-Knead) among them.  However, he is by no means a no-knead guy.  He folds and provides a very lucid depiction of its hows and whys, in the book and in his KensArtisan YouTubes.  Each long bulk ferment begins with a few folds.

One caveat about his approach:  Forkish admits to a predeliction for nudging processes to and beyond limits, then dialing back to an expectation of reliability.  Depositing his reader/baker thus, near the cliff's edge, carries some risk: This past weekend, I pushed the OCB dough a bit past its time x temp bulk ferment limit, losing some spring and gaining some sour and wetness.  Still bloody good bread though.

Happy baking,


breadforfun's picture

Thanks for your insights, Tom.

Your before BF photo seemed to show that you had already achieved quite a bit of gluten development.  I am very curious to get hold of the book now.


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

That dark brown crust is as good as it gets in my books.  Great job!


Ghobz's picture

What a great looking bread. Buying this book is very tempting.

Regarding the baking methods, I I agree there are better and more simple ways to bake artisan breads. And a pizza stone soaked in water and put in a hot oven WILL break. Anything stone needs to be put in cold oven and only then the oven needs to be tarted to preheat. Even when taking this precaution, I've broke a pizza stone when I slid a pita bread on it, oven was preheated at 500F and the shock of the room temperature pita bread against the highly heated pizza stone caused it to break.

About DOs, I find the enamailed ones get ruined after few baking sessions because as they heat while empty in the oven and then a room temp loaf is thrown in them the enamail slowly breaks in tiny, minuscule cracks. They are not meant to be used as bread baking devices. It's too bad to ruin them, given their high price and the fact that when used properly, the way they were intended to be used, they can last few lifetimes.

I find that cast iron pans are ok, if the oven has a good distribution of heat (mine doesn't), otherwise they'll get the bread burnt underneath or I have to "play" with the temperature and duration of the bake until I get the hang of the perfect combination of oven/pan/temp/recipe to get a nice result. I find it diffucult to balance the "caramelisation" of the crust with a done crumb. More often than not the crumb is too wet or not done yet when the crust is dark brown and done when the crust is almost black.

My favorite method, the one that works the best for me, is a cast iron pan (in the oven before I start it to preheat) in which I throw more or less water depending on how long I want steam in the oven and a *dry* pizza stone that too goes in the oven before I start it. With few pizza stone broken with use overtime, I noticed when a pizza stone is new and pale, the bread too stays a bit pale underneath when overall done, but when it's seasonned and blackened with use, that problem disapears.

I need to invest in a good quality baking stone when my budget will allow.


mminasian's picture

A quick comment on DO backing.

I was having problems with my bottom crust being overly done.  Burned before the rest was how I wanted it.

I cut a circle of parchment the size of the bottom of the DO.  After preheating the DO with the oven, I take the DO out, add in baking beans (used for pastry making) and then put the parchment on top of those (to create an insulation between the bottom of the DO and the bread.  (I also lightly oil the parchment).  So far it has worked fairly well, and I haven't had problems with underdone crust, if anything it's the opposite.  Something I may consider trying in the future is using that method, but then at the end during final browning (the stage when forkish has you remove the DO lid), taking the bread out and putting it on a stone (which would be in the oven the whole time).

Overall I like the DO method, as I never had much success with various ice cube tricks and other things, and I'm not willing to put soaked towels in the oven.

Made my Levain last weekend, and will be doing my first bake this weekend (country blonde).  I've never used levain or starter but I've had success with Forkish's book (specifically his poolish dough is my favorite non-levain bread).

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I am curious about the recommendation of this book over Tartine.

You state: "I strongly recommend the book (over Tartine) to any novice eager to learn to make true artisan-style breads.  Narrower in scope than JH's BREAD, but decidedly for the home baker only."

and then "I also appreciate that he doesn't take Chad Robertson's approach of, "I developed a vision for this bread, went into the forest (Savoie) for 40 days and 40 nights and came out with this, voila My Country Boule."

gmabaking says: "I also would recommend this over the Tartine book, especially for one just starting out. Although there is something to be said about just jumping right in and trying to make whatever appeals to you."

You obviously have both books so you have a basis for comparing, so I would like to know more about how the books differ since I only have Tartine.

I have been baking the Tartine Basic Country Loaf quite a bit and really do love that it makes excellent bread as well as excellent pizza.  I have not yet made anything more from the book, however (other than one whole wheat loaf using white whole wheat flour), and will likely want to bake more from it before adding to my library.

As for discard/waste, I have maintained my starter for months in a 1/2 pint mason jar with about 2 ounces of starter.  I take out a tablespoon of the stuff (maybe 18 grams) and build a levain, and I feed it 18 grams of flour and 18 grams of water, stir and return to fridge until next week's bake).  So far it has worked very well for me.'s picture

As a total bread baking novice, I struggled with Robertson's teaching.  Something about how he presented his basic process that I just couldn't grok.  Now I can bake his formulae with great results.  But if you don't know how dough behaves as you mix, work, rest, fold and ferment it, he doesn't throw you much rope. Of course, I can't say what it would have been like, as a novice, being led through the forest by Ken Forkish.  By the time I got to him, my baking had been straightened out by working right through Hammelman's BREAD

So in the end, it's not a fair comparison.  Yet I can't help feeling that Forkish's approach might not have been as infuriating as Tartine was at the start.  Others with better innate baking instincts than mine have not had problem with Robertson as a beginning teacher. 

No two journeys follow the same path.