The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trying to make a generic Danni bread

Felila's picture

Trying to make a generic Danni bread

Third go-round on making bread with the Danni method, based on my struggles with:

Caramelized onion sourdough with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Italian herbs

I've made the recipe above twice and both times it was too wet. The first two times I was using a very very wet starter. The third time (still in progress) I used a 100% hydration starter (which seemed dry to me). I want to get this recipe down to something that is just plain KA flour (bread and ww), water, Greek yogurt, and starter. 

Basic method seems to be: sourdough only, no supplemental dried yeast, 3 hour+ autolyse before adding sourdough starter and yogurt, stretch and fold, let sit overnight, shape, retard, bake. 

Instead of 1000 g flour (which made too much bread) I tried 600 g flour at 70% hydration for the autolyse. That worked; the texture was right. 

But when I added yogurt and starter, it got too wet. Could not stretch and fold; had to fold in the bowl. It was almost right, but a little too gloppy. Could not form loaves; had to drop dough by handfuls into prepared pans (used homemade pan release). Now retarding; I do hope it turns out OK. 

I think I used 100 g yogurt (to make up for the caramelized onion I did not use) and about 300 g 100% starter. Obviously I need to cut down on the yogurt and starter, but I am going mad trying to figure the quantities needed to keep the dough at 70% hydration. Which is wet but could be handled. 

Perhaps make a 70% starter just for this recipe? (Will be stiff, stiff, stiff.) Balance the yogurt with some almond flour? (I don't think almond flour needs to be autolysed, but I could be wrong. I like the depth of flavor it adds to my usual pain au levain.) Skip the yogurt entirely? That might make the bread just a little TOO basic. Perhaps I could replace the water in the autolyse with whole milk and skip the yogurt?

Would appreciate some guidance from better bakers :)






Danni3ll3's picture

I posted this in another post at one time but I think most of this should answer your questions. I am playing with my procedure these days but the following worked well for me in the past.


Danni’s Sourdough Procedure 


You are right that there are a number of things that I follow and it seems to be working for me. Hopefully the rest of this isn't a book but I will try to go through what I do.

1. I use a base recipe that includes roughly 1100 g of flour. With the add-ins I ended up with three boules that are between 650 g and 750 g. Those sizes fit nicely in the bannetons I have and the 3 quart dutch ovens for baking. My break down is 550 g unbleached flour (our Canadian flour has the same percentage of protein as bread flour so take that into account if you aren't in Canada), 402 g of whole grain flour (I often combine different varieties taking care to not include too many low gluten flours) and the rest comes from my levain. The levain is an 80% roughly levain that I will explain later. I use 266 g of levain. I also use 50 g of freshly round flax,  22 g of salt, 30 g of yogurt from a local dairy farm, and anywhere from 150 g to 200 g of dry add-ins. Water is a bit of a guessing game with the add-ins but I aim for around 75% hydration. I look at previous recipes to figure out what might be the water amount and err on the side of less as I can always add more when I do the initial mix or at the final mix. So that is what I base my recipes on.

2. Ingredients:

Unbleached flour is Roger's Unbleached No additives flour. It is enriched with 3B Vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin) as well as Iron and Folic Acid as per the Canadian government guidelines but nothing else. Every other flour available to me has azodicarbonamide(ADA.) in it. I find I have better oven spring and crumb if I use 60% of white flour.

Whole grains: I buy them in bulk from Daybreak mills in Saskatchewan and I mill them using a Komo mill. I use freshly milled because the flavour is much better with fresh flour.

Flax: I buy it whole from Bulk Barn and grind it using a Bullet. The reason for using flax is that it allows me to put more water in the initial mixing making it easier to mix by hand. It soaks up a lot of water so when it is time to add in the yogurt, salt and levain, the dough is quite firm and I can add more water if needed at that time. I am not left with a goopy mess and it makes shaping so much easier.

Yogurt: I use Slate River Dairy farm's yogurt. It is a full fat yogurt. I use it to make a more tender crust. A lot of people that I gave my bread's to found the crust tough and this seem to do the trick.

Salt: I use sea salt. Regular salt in a pinch but I prefer sea salt.

Add-ins: I keep a stock of various add-ins in an extra fridge and check out my stash for inspiration. Most of them are bought at Bulk Barn except for some that I find much cheaper in stores like Sam's Club in the US. Sometimes, I soak the add-ins and drain them using the water for the dough, other times, I just reduce the soaking amount of water from the total amount. One class that I took suggested soaking the add-ins and squeezing the water out before adding to the dough. The instructor said that it affected the dough less but I find that some things like oats release tons of water back to the dough once mixed in. I rather go light on the water and then add later if needed but then again, I don't want the dough to be so stiff that I can't mix it initially by hand.

3. The levain is Dabrownman's "No Fuss No Muss" starter. I make it very thick (it used to be 66% but now I don't measure) and keep it in the fridge. I use whole grain rye flour to feed it. The sources for this starter was JamieO from Newfoundland, MichaelLily from Duluth (Duluth's Best Bread Bakery) and one that I started myself. I mixed all three together and kept the qualities of each individual one.  I keep it in the fridge. When I want to make bread. 3 nights before the morning I want to bake (Thursday night), I take out 5 g and feed it 5 g of rye flour and 5 g of filtered water. The next morning (Friday), I feed it 10 g of rye flour and 10 g of water. That same night, I do 20 g of rye flour and 20 g of water. The day I make the dough (Saturday), I feed it 105 g of water, 105 g of unbleached flour and 26 g of rye flour. It usually triples in four hours.

4. On the Friday night, in addition to feeding my starter, I also mill all the flours, grind the flax in a Bullet, and soak or toast the add-ins. The toasting is done in a dry frying pan. I find that a lot quicker and more energy efficient than using the oven.

5. Saturday, I do my final feeding of the levain and let it rise till triple. This usually takes 4 hours. 2 hours after the initial mixing of the levain, I mix up my dough to autolyse it. It is not a true autolyse since I include all the add-ins, the flour, the flax, and the water.  The reason for putting in the add-ins at this stage is for ease of mixing. I found it a huge pain to mix in the add-ins at the first or second fold. I used to add the yogurt at this stage as well but I read recently that fat can interfere with the absorption of the water so I add it later.

6. Once the levain has tripled, I sprinkle the salt on the dough, add the yogurt and the levain. I mix it all in by hand by pinching and folding till everything is well mixed and I can see some gluten development. This takes a few minutes.

7. I then put the dough in the oven with the door cracked open and the light on. The temperature is about 82 F. I do 3 to 4 sets of folds 30 to 45 minutes apart and then leave it alone until it doubles. This takes about 5 hours. One the dough has doubled, I dump it out on a very well floured surface. I haven't mastered the technique of using just a sprinkling of flour. I divide the dough into three portions and weigh them to be sure they are the same... roughly. I do a preshape by pulling all around the dough and folding in the middle, then flip the ball over for a rest of 10-15 minutes if I am that patient. I flip it again and then do a final shaping using the same technique but giving it a really good pull all around to make it nice and tight. I pull the ball seam side down and pull it towards me to tighten it up more. Then it goes into a rice floured banneton seam side down.

8. I cover the bannetons with a plastic bowl cover and then put into the fridge (37F) for 10 to 12 hours. Baking happens as described in my other posts: Heat up oven and dutch ovens to 475F, put rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the dutch ovens, turn out the loaves on a cornmeal sprinkled countertop and place them seam side up in the pots, cover the pots, place back into the oven and drop the temperature to 450 F. Bake 25 minutes, remove lids and bake another 22 minutes at 425 F. Lazy Loafer gave me those times and temperatures and they work like a charm.

9. I cool my breads on a rack for about 4-5 hours and then slip them in plastic ziplock bags once they are completely cool to end up with a softer crust which everyone seems to prefer. I like the harder crust but since I do sell some of these to friends, I aim to please.

So that's about it. I hope you find something that helps your baking. I am always learning something from this site and I often integrate it in my baking. By the way, I haven't been baking bread very long. I started this artisan bread thing in November of 2015 so I haven't been at it for even 2 years yet, unlike many of the other posters here who have done it for years and years. Bread was one of those things like pie crust that I just couldn't get the hang of it so I stuck to a bread machine recipe. I happened to see a no knead recipe and tried it. Then I found Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish and baked my way through the book. Then I bought Tartine  3 and although I could bake his basic Country loaf, I was really struggling with the recipes with all the add-ins. I got help here and then started creating my own recipes based on some of the formulas from FWSY. 


Hope this helps!

Danni3ll3's picture

I need to address a few of your comments in your post.

1. "Basic method seems to be: sourdough only, no supplemental dried yeast, 3 hour+ autolyse before adding sourdough starter and yogurt, stretch and fold, let sit overnight, shape, retard, bake. "

a. Autolyse is anywhere from 1 to 3 hours... usually 1 hour though.

b. after the stretches and folds, I got straight to dividing, doing a pre-shape, let rest for 25 minutes on the counter and then do the final shape before placing in the bannetons. Not sure where you got the idea that I let it sit overnight.

2. "But when I added yogurt and starter, it got too wet. Could not stretch and fold; had to fold in the bowl. It was almost right, but a little too gloppy. Could not form loaves; had to drop dough by handfuls into prepared pans (used homemade pan release). Now retarding; I do hope it turns out OK. "

I add in 50 g of ground flax to help soak up some of the water during the autolyse phase. And err on the dry side of things when doing the autolyse. Mix in just enough water to get the flour wet. With my thirsty flour, this is at about 68 - 70% hydration but this needs to be based on your flour and your experience. I also need to note that is the part that I really hate. It seems like it takes forever to get all the flour wet but keep at it and it will mix in. The dough should be on the dry side but have no spots of dry flour.

3. "I think I used 100 g yogurt (to make up for the caramelized onion I did not use) and about 300 g 100% starter. Obviously I need to cut down on the yogurt and starter, but I am going mad trying to figure the quantities needed to keep the dough at 70% hydration. Which is wet but could be handled. "

a. Huh, that would explain why your dough was way too wet. I use only 30 g of yogurt, sometimes, 40 g but my standard is 30 g. The onions add nothing to the dough in term of hydration. 

b. My starter is at 80%. By using 300 g of 100% starter, you added 32 g of extra water. Oh and I just had another though, was this for 600 g of flour??? No wonder you had soup!

c. Stop trying to calculate the hydration. Add in the water at the autolyse state until you have a well mixed but fairly firm dough. Then at the mixing stage, add the yogurt, the salt and the starter at 80% hydration. Then if the dough still feels too stiff, add more water, but only 10 g at a time. Today, I added 30 g to my dough at the mixing stage because it felt way too stiff. Keep track of the water used and after you are all done, then calculate your hydration. You will soon get an idea of what hydration level you prefer. Mine with the flour I use is around 74%. Today it ended up being 75% if I remember right. I have gone as high as 80% depending on the add-ins.

I think you wanted a basic recipe and I think I provided that in my above post. If you can't figure it out, let me know. As well let me know how much flour you want to use and I will recalculate everything for you but you will need to take into account how much water your flour will absorb.

Keep me updated. 😊


Felila's picture

Danni, I am old, disabled, and poor. My oven is broken; it will not go above 360 F. It is so old it cannot be fixed, and I do not have the money for a new oven. I do not have a flour mill or bannetons. I have a coffee grinder; I hate to use it for grinding other things, but perhaps having to clean it up after grinding flax seeds will be worth it if I can get the hydration right. I cannot afford all sorts of other specialty ingredients, depending as I do on food stamps. It is a bit of a stretch to buy KA flour, but the increase in flavor is worth skimping a bit on other things. 

I am trying to make a soft tasty sourdough with the equipment I have, which means experimenting. 

I do think that I have the first bit, the autolyse, right. It's just figuring out how much starter and yogurt to add. Or skipping the yogurt and using milk for the autolyse. I don't think that would be dangerous, as I make sourdough pancake batter with milk and leave it out overnight. 

Danni3ll3's picture

I didn’t start with the “fancy” equipment. I used what I had around the house. Same with the flour. I used the flour I had in the cupboard. Over time, I was fortunate enough to either buy or be gifted things to enhance my bead baking. 

Now back to you! Why don’t you make a 1-2-3 Sourdough. This is one part starter, two parts water and 3 parts flour with 2% salt. So a recipe would look like this:

150 g starter

300 g water

450 g of flour (use just plain white flour at first)

11 g salt. 

Autolyse flour and water one hour. Mix in salt and starter. Do 3 sets of folds 30-45 minutes apart and let rise till double. Do s preshape, let rest for a bit and then shape into a boule. Take a tea towel, flour it well and place it in a colander. Put the dough in the towel and place the whole thing in a plastic bag. Put in the fridge to proof. Let rise about a third to half. 

Bake it in a pot with a lid that will go in the oven. If you have parchment paper, use that under the loaf. Since your oven only goes to 360, you will just have to bake the loaf longer. Keep it covered for about half the time. 

Hopefully this gives you a base where to start then you can start adding things like a bit of milk or yogurt or seeds, etc. 


Felila's picture

This is just what I needed to make a basic loaf by the Danni method (I have been using Reinhart's pain au levain). I may even be able to afford a banneton soon; I just finished editing a 300 page agricultural report :)

Danni3ll3's picture

that you have something to start from. One thing I didn’t mention is that to get the characteristic look of my loaves, be sure to proof seam side down and then at baking time,  flip the loaf and bake seam side up. 

leslieruf's picture

I learnt a bit as well. I think we all develop our own little tricks as we go along, so many thanks for sharing with us all. 😊


albacore's picture

Bannetons, like quite a lot of other baking equipment, can be improvised. You can use a mixing bowl or a colander of the right size and shape. Just line it with a floured tea towel or something similar to stop the dough sticking.


Felila's picture

I made the mistake of adding the chopped walnuts and craisins after the dough had risen all night. I let it rise again (retarding) in the fridge, but I had alreay degassed it. It did not rise far and it baked as dense as fruitcake. Also, I was so flustered by hydration calculations that I forgot the salt. 

This was failure squared. I tried it with butter, lemon curd, marmalade, and cream cheese (one at a time) and in no mode was it anything other than meh. I will slice it and freeze it. 

It will be my bread of last resort.

Danni3ll3's picture

Slice it super thin, lay it out on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 F until dry and golden. Heavy bread like that makes awesome crackers. 

Back to your bread, just make a loaf as outlined above. Do not add anything to it. Just make a plain Jane loaf so you have an idea what the dough should look and feel like at the different stages. Once you got that down, then you can play with adding things.