The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Koji Bread

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BurntMyFingers's picture

Koji Bread

I had a wonderful dinner at Bar Tartine in San Francisco last week. I knew they were doing things with koji and tried a steak tartare served on koji toast but there were so many flavors going on I couldn’t really focus on the koji.

Luckily there’s a recipe for koji bread in the new Tartine 3 cookebook which, says chef Cortney Burns, is the same recipe they use in the restaurant. This is one of Chad Robertson’s new “porridge breads” in which adds a porridge made with a grain at 50% of flour volume; that porridge is typically 2 parts water and 1 part grain, simmered about 15 minutes till the liquid is absorbed and the grain becomes tender. It's cooled, then folded in after the second stretch-and-fold.

Koji is rice that has been inoculated with aspergillus oryzae, a fermentation agent that turns the grains a snowy white. It is the base ingredient in making sake and amakazi as well as shio-koji, a salt marinade. Cold Mountain brand koji is readily available at Japanese markets for around $7 for 20 ounces. I followed the porridge prep in a prerelease recipe from Tartine 3 and cooked 125g koji with 250g of water for what would eventually be 2 1k loaves; there’s a bit of magical math as Chad wants you to accept that 250 g water + 125 g grain is going to produce 250 g porridge. I got more like 360 g (allowing for some evaporation) and adjusted the other components accordingly.

The rest of the prep is sort of like the famous Tartine country bread, which I’ve made many times. For this loaf Chad specified a blend of hi-x and “strong white flour”; I used KAF Sir Lancelot. It’s baked at a slightly lower temperature than a regular loaf because of the sugar contributed by the koji.

The results are shown here. The loaves didn’t rise as much as I wanted due to the high moisture content, but I was happy with the crumb. You can almost see some rice grains if you look closely. The bread has a slightly sweet umami taste that’s very subtle, but pleasing.


breadforfun's picture

Hi Burnt,

I see you posted this a few weeks ago and I missed it the first time around.  It's a beautiful looking loaf you got there.  Is the thickness of the crust typical for you or is it thicker due to the sugars from the koji rice? My crusts are not quite that thick when I make the Tartine country bread..

I haven't seen the newest Tartine book yet, but I'm not sure I get the proportions of the porridge that you describe.  If it calls for 250 gm porridge to make 2 kg of dough, which I am presuming is around 1000 gm of flour (perhaps wrongly, but based on the first book), is there some other ingredient that brings it to 50% for the porridge?



BurntMyFingers's picture

Brad, I do get a good crust on my Tartine loaves in general. I think the key is, if you're using the recommended dutch oven, take the lid off after 20 minutes or so and let it finish with a good strong bake for another 20-25 minutes, or a couple of minutes past the point where you think it's done.

The sugar in the koji definitely contributed to the crust on this loaf, however. As mentioned, I baked it about 15 degrees lower than my normal loaves to compensate for that.

As to the formula for porridge vs flour, I didn't use a full 1000 g for this first bake. I made the porridge first, then weighed it, then measured out twice that weight in flour. So the porridge is at 50%, and the grain:water ration in that porridge is 1:2, equivalent to 17% grain and 33% water by baker's percentages. Does that make sense?

Mebake's picture

This is one attractive bread, BMF! I'm interested in Chad's new approach in baking.


BurntMyFingers's picture

I now have the actual book so more "porridge bread" experiments will follow. One interesting thing is that the bread has amazing keeping qualities. I've got my original loaf in my refrigerator and 3 weeks after baking I am still slicing and making toast with it! Otis

BurntMyFingers's picture

I think the difference was that I used KAF AP rather than Sir Launcelot; didn't develop the gluten to hold up this very slack dough.