The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

YW Sweet levain boule, Forkish style

Skibum's picture

YW Sweet levain boule, Forkish style

My first YW bake had amazing spring and crumb but was a little bland flavour wise, so I borrowed Josh's idea of using half YW levain and half of my sweet levain. I really like the flavour of my sweet levain and have sunk into a comfortable groove with it. I keep 75g sweet levain and every day or 2 use 50g to bake and refresh @ 1:1:1. I am going on 2 weeks now with a healthy fizzing yeast water culture and after another week after another refresh tomorrow and I can begin refrigerating it, I will try another 100% YW bake.

I proofed this in a SS wire mesh collander lined with 2 layers of well used linen, dusted with rice flour. I didn't score this time as it looked like the seams would open.

I try very hard in my shaping to ensure I get a tight seam and pinch my seams tight. I also try and get a tight skin on the loaf, gently shaping with my hands ans pulling the loaf across the counter while rotating with my little fingers. Richard Bertinet has an excellent youtube video demonstrating this. Despite my best efforts the seams were already coming apart after proofing.

And despite my best shaping and dough handling efforts I still have the 'hole where the baker sleeps.'

Total flour 300 grams

Total water 231 grams 77% hydration

YW levain 25 grams

Sweet levain 25 grams

Coarse sea salt 8 grams, 1 tsp

Thirty minutes autolyse with 90 degree water, filtered and absolutely de-chloriated. Mix in Levains @ a dough temperature of 78 - 80 degrees F. Rest 20 minutes, with salt on top. Mix well, rest 5, then mix again and rest 20 minutes. Four sets of S&F's with 10-15 minutes rest and a final fold after another 30 minutes. I retarded in the fridge immediately and let it finish bulk proofing for about 6 hours the next day after removing from the fridge, pre-shaped, rested for 10 then shaped, proofed as described above for 40 minutes and baked @ 500F in hot Lodge cast iron combo cooker.

I had a real 'skibum' moment yesterday. Two days ago, I had mixed a sweet levain dough enriched with all milk, egg and lots of butter. My plan was to bake off pull apart dinner rolls. Anyhow, yesterday when it came time to pre shape and shape I had my 'skibum' moment. I had forgoten thta I was making dinner rolls and shaped up another Forkish style boule.. The enriched dough baked too hot and too fast and despite being nearly blackened on the outside, not cooked on the inside and of course I didn't bother to check the internal temperature. Definitely a skibum moment. Some would say senior moment . . . So now, rather than just writing out a list of ingredients I am adding SHAPING AND BAKING INSTRUCTIONS DUMB SKIBUM! This is the prettiest loaf I have ever had to throw straight into the trash! :-(


wassisname's picture

Great photos, skibum!  This is some of the most amazing seams-up artistry I've seen.  Beautifully chaotic!  The crumb looks great, too - even bakers have to sleep somewhere.  My condolences on the other loaf, I think we can all sympathize with that one!


Skibum's picture

I think beautifully chaotic describes it beautifully. The biggest difference in my baking came, when I began to bake Forkish style in a covered cast iron dutch oven. the only thing I don't like about the DO, is you can't watch 'oven TV' on the first part of the bake. It sure has been exciting to see the results when I pull the lid off after 12 minutes though -- EVERY bake done in this style. I invert the proofed loaf onto a piece of parchment on a peel, slide it onto the lid and cover with the deep pan. This was pretty cheap t Bass Pro's.

In addition to the great looks, the sweet levain adds the flavour I love and the yeast water levain is simply amazing at improving crumb, rise and volume. It also makes a perfect sandwich loaf I am barely able to slice with my 8" bread knife!

Ken Forkish also has produced a number of youtube videos, to go with his book and have found all of them most helpful. Other than the DO, my shaping skills are improving. I find it helps to watch  the Forkish shaping video, just before I go to work and try to visualize his hand motion. Here is my Lodge Combo Cooker:

Best regards and happy baking, Brian

wassisname's picture

Thanks for info, Brian.  I'm still on the fence as far as the DO baking.  The results look great, but so far I've been too lazy to go out and buy one, and then to have to find a place in my kitchen to keep it... that's a tough one.  I'm sure it will happen eventually when my curiousity gets the better of me.

I know what you mean about "oven TV".  My wife thinks I'm a nut everytime she sees me with my face pressed against the oven door - it might be worth getting a DO just for that! 


Skibum's picture

. . . the best money I have ever spent! in his book Ken Forkish opines the a hot cast DO is the only way to replicate a professional deck oven with steam injection. I am liking the DO and the results. Cheapm cheep:


Casey_Powers's picture

Again, this shape just appeals to me.  This is almost like a fire ball. I am working my way toward yeast water.  It opened beautifully.  I have taken to scoring all my boules.  This one burst forth splendidly!  

Warm Regards,


Skibum's picture

You will enjoy working with the yeast water! Another big SHOUT OUT to dabrownman for sharing his methods, advice and coaching!!!!! :-D

Ken F's methods have also kicked my results up: 95 - 100F water for the autolyse and 78 - 80F doug temperature when you add the levain.

Easy peasy actually!

Happy baking and good luck with your YW! Brian

isand66's picture

Amazing looking bread Brian.  I love the look of your un-scored loaf like it's on Fire!

I'm not sure why you are having trouble with your shaping but with enough practice you will figure that out.  You may not be forming a tight enough ball and skin on the dough.  It helps to kind of rock the boule back and forth on your surface to form some additional tension.

Anyway, great looking bread.


dabrownman's picture

at the seams Ski!  Very well done.  Love the blisters and the glossy crumb.  I can't explain the senior moment with the other loaf but I might be able to help with the shaping.  First off make sure that you gently press out the loaf into a rectangle getting rid of the large air bubbles.  Then pull the top two corners that are away from you int the middle and fold over the top to the middle pressing the seam side down flat,  Then turn the once rectangle 180 degrees and do the same thing again only after folding the corners in then fold over the top seam all the way to the bottom and seal well with the palm.  Then fold the two longer ends to the middle and tun over making a tight ball or boule with two hands dragging it across the counter to make a tight skinned boule.  The pre-shape is done!  Cover and wait 10 minutes and do the whole thing over again.  Roll it on its top and check to make sure the bottom seams are closed and pick them together if they aren't  roll back on the bottom and pull tight one more time and the shaping is done.

The explosive spring of YW will still be there but you should not have any more places for mice or bakers to hang out.  This might stop your nice blooming top too so you might not want to flip it over and check that your seams are closed:-)  I used to have big old holes when i skipped the pre-shape or didn't press out the large air bubbles worrying that they wouldn't come back - no worries they do!

Glad you like messing around with YW and SD combo levains.  For folks that just like a little sour then that is the way to go or they want to improve the keeping qualities of yeast only breads by adding SD.  The bread has to taste great and it is a good thing there is no flavor at all in those big holes!

Happy baking Ski/


Skibum's picture

"I used to have big old holes when i skipped the pre-shape or didn't press out the large air bubbles worrying that they wouldn't come back - no worries they do!" You nailed it there dab! Also when I thought back to my shaping I didn't finish the folds properly. Anyhow I have an identical batch waiting to begin and will pay close attention to my shaping for tomorrows bake.

Regards, Brian