The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Developing bread recipe for restaurant (need help)

Taylor F.'s picture
Taylor F.

Developing bread recipe for restaurant (need help)

Hey all,

I just helped open a restaurant in NYC and we've been developing a bread recipe since day one. We worked with a talented baker to get the original recipe going but since then its been all on us. Ive personally taken the responsibility of improving our technique and recipe to get the desired loaf. I'll start by saying the bread we've been baking is great. Each day is different as you can imagine (some better/some average). Everyone loves it but as I dig deeper and deeper into my own knowledge of bread baking I know it can be way better. 

General information: Our oven is a deck oven that we run at 518F/518F ( top heat/bottom heat). We do a three day process (each batch makes three loaves). Day one: make the poolish (250g King Arthur's Sir Galahad flour/250g Organic Whole Wheat/7.5g yeast) and once it begins to rise we leave it in the fridge overnight. Day two: mix the poolish in with our flour/water/salt (632g King Arthurs/158g Organic Spelt/672g poolish/514g water/22g salt). I mix in the water(500g)/poolish/flour and mix. Autolyse for 30 minutes. Add in 14g of water/salt and finish mixing. I shoot for a final mixing temperature of 71 degrees. I typically mix for about 12-15 minutes (no higher than setting 3) and that includes brief pauses to let the dough sink back down to the bottom (I find that helps pick it up off the bottom of the bowl later on). I place the dough into a oiled container and leave out on the counter for 45 minutes and then do a fold. Then the mixture goes in the fridge overnight typically with a fold at the end of service that same night. Day three: I do a very light touched pre-shape and rest for 1 hour. Then I shape. I dampen the outside skin of the loaves and then cover with black and white sesame seeds and place in the proofing baskets. Typically proof for 3 1/2 hours and then bake. 15 minutes with immediate steam and then 10 minutes with the vent open. 

Recently Ive been just trying to make small adjustments to get a more open crumb (slightly changing the salt percentage/a lighter touch with shaping/hydration). My first focus is trying to change the hydration which is 75%. Two days ago I baked one of the best breads we've ever had (normal recipe). Today I baked a bread with 79% hydration that didn't have the crumb that yesterdays bread did but had a beautiful texture and very light but with a perfect chew. Tomorrows bread I increased the hydration to 84%. I suppose we'll see what happens. I figured I could dabble with different hydration levels and find one that works and then move to another change like shaping/salt/etc.

Photo above is of the 75% hydration (normal recipe) that had our best crumb yet.

I suppose I haven't really asked a question yet but Im just asking for advice on getting that perfectly open crumb. There are just so many variants that can go wrong I guess I wanted to see if you all think that the recipe as is could be the problem or maybe just shaping problems.


Well, let me know. Thanks for any tips you may have. Sorry for all the info. I know that was kind of a lot. 


Filomatic's picture

I'd recommend the book Hamelman's Bread.  It's comprehensive, designed both for the professional and home baker.  It is a great read, and the recipes are easy to follow.  It will teach you the complete art, but succinctly.  I've learned a lot of other techniques and info here, but that book is my bible.

Taylor F.'s picture
Taylor F.

Thanks very much. I've been looking into getting a new bread book. I'll have to check that out.

_vk's picture

Disclaimer, I'm not a pro, or a expert or anything more than a curious hobbyist :)

I'm a self learner, and I've being baking for some years now. Most learned here.

It took me a lot of time to understand (and believe) the importance of right final proofing time to get an open crumb.

I think perhaps more than the hydration.

It's counter intuitive. More proofed (over proofed) yields a tighter crumb. 

Experiment with that. Try to bake a loaf that you think is under proofed .

You might find a sweet spot for your recipe/environment.

good luck and

Happy baking

in time. lovely loaf! Should be delicious.


Taylor F.'s picture
Taylor F.

Maybe since I have the three loaves that we're baking a day I can bake one when I think its a bit under-proofed, one when I normally would, and one when I think it may be a bit over? As long as I can squeeze that all in before service starts it could be a great experiment. Thanks for the recommendation!

clazar123's picture

Unless that slice of bread tastes absolutely awful (I doubt it!), I think you have already developed perfection! If I had gotten bread like that served to me at a restaurant, I would have thought I was in heaven. Your crumb shows a beautiful balance of larger and smaller holes-close enough to hold butter and open enough to feel feathery.

You did it! Where can I go to experience that bread?

HansB's picture

Any more open than that you would not be able to butter it! I'm in NYC today, where can I eat some?

Taylor F.'s picture
Taylor F.

Casino Clam Bar in Williamsburg.

Taylor F.'s picture
Taylor F.

I guess I've been doing a lot of research on open crumb and am seeing photographs of billowy open crumbs and mine just seem to have a few larger bubbles but nothing consistent. Im very happy with our bread. Im just looking to learn more about baking by tweaking the recipe and aiming for a picture worthy crumb myself. 

Its called Casino Clam Bar in Williamsburg. Open at 5pm!

Filomatic's picture

Agreed, that bread looks perfect.

alfanso's picture

when I read the post yesterday was "what do want the bread for?"  Not whether you want bread, but rather, what is the purpose of the bread?  As with HansB, any more holes and the butter will slip through it.  So...

Looking at your menu, I see "Bread and Butter".  And I'll take your lead photo for that every time.  Now, if you serve something like a cioppino, which I don't see on the menu, then perhaps you'd like something more open, something that approaches a ciabatta, grilled before serving.  Maybe the "Steamer Pot" has a white wine base or the Clams Casino has the clam juice, then I also see a grilled ciabatta type of bread for dipping.

If you are using a poolish, it is easy enough to also make a biga, and they take about the same time to mature.  Or just up the amount of poolish and use either for a ciabatta.  

Caveat - in any case here I am not suggesting that you do this.  Rather, I am looking to have you think about what the purpose of the bread is.  What do you want the bread to say about the restaurant?  Do you want something that is all purpose throughout the meal, or something to keep the diner busy while the courses are prepared?  Or do you want to pair the bread to the food?  Do you want to present a basket of bread with differing characteristics to the diner or just a single type of loaf?  And so on.  

Considering that this place is run by a well known and respected chef/owner, you may wish to ponder these questions, review them with the FOH and BOH for input.  Extraordinary restaurants that serve ordinary bread are not something to strive for.  Once you have the basics down for making a bread or two, repetitive scheduled behaviors are easy to accommodate.


Taylor F.'s picture
Taylor F.

Thanks so much for the feedback Alan. I really appreciate the thoroughness of your response and doing research on our menu.

I spoke with my chef about what direction we think we're going in with the bread. I think realistically we're looking for something all purpose for the bread. We use it for the bread and butter, steamer pot (toasted) and conserva/escabeche (sliced thinly and toasted) so I think I need to just work on keeping our crumb consistent. Still going to make some tweaks Im sure but thats more for gaining my own knowledge about how those factors can change the final product. My recent change in hydration seems to be working out really well. 

_vk's picture

That was said to me once by @minioven, and she is always right! :)

Just to say that besides my suggestion, I do think that big holes are overrated, and your bread looks amazing.

Anyway some experiment couldn't harm :)

happy baking


ds99303's picture

Just because a good tasting bread has large holes in it does not mean that all breads with large holes taste good, or are even suitable for how you plan to use it.  I tried making crostini with a loaf of ciabatta and the olive oil just went right through the bread.  The bread was all holes.  There wasn't enough "bread" there to absorb the oil.  Also, you have to consider mouth feel when you're chewing the bread.  If the bread is all holes, you're going to feel like you're eating nothing, which is basically true.  On the other hand, you don't want a bread so dense that you feel like a cow chewing its cud.