The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


The Fermentator's picture
The Fermentator


Hi there,

a month or two ago I beseechingly approached you guys after failing at Forkish's Walnut Levain recipe. It was my very first post on this forum and you were more than generous with your advice and encouragement. Today I'm writing you to present you with the fruits of your labor (and mine, of course).

[FYI, Here's the original post with all your great advice in the comments:]

You will see in my notes below that I completely disregarded Forkish's schedule this time around, as I understand many of you do.

I am very pleased with the outcome. Thanks to using different (better) flours and being introduced to the brilliant Rubaud method (hat tip to Lazy Loafer and others) I was even able to stick with Forkish's hydration (78%).

What do you think: Is there anything I could do better still next time around? Where do you see room for improvement?

Alright, here's my notes and a few pictures: 


  • 740g AP
  • 60g WW
  • 360g Forkish levain (80% AP, 20% WW, 80% hydration)
  • 620g water (~32°C / 90°F)
  • 220g roasted walnuts
  • 22g sea salt 
  • 1/2 Tsp. IDY (RED)
  • Room temp at ~23.5°C / 74° F


  1. Refresh starter the night before
    water temp. 22°C / 72°F
    room temp. 24°C / 75°F
    mix and let sit for 10:15 hrs
  2. Autolyse (35 mins)
  3. Mix in the levain, salt and IDY using the Pincing & Folding method (but not extensively, just 2-3 rounds to loosely incorporate the ingredients)
  4. Rubaud mix #1
    10 mins
    let rest for 15 minutes
  5. Rubaud mix #2
    five minutes
  6. Bulk fermentation (refrigerator*)
    Total duration: 6:30h
    *fridge temp ~8-10°C / 46-50°F 
  7. Stretch & Fold
    seven rounds of S&F (first four every 30 mins, last three hourly)
  8. Divide & shape
  9. Final proof (refrigerator)
    for 3:00 hrs
  10. Bake
    at ~250°C / 482°F
    for 55-60 mins

Again, a big thank you to all of you who've chipped in!!!

Sending oven warm regards from Germany,



Abe's picture

I want to do this recipe now. Everything is just perfect. Think you can even try missing out the added yeast next time.

Love walnuts in sourdough bread.

P.s. just looked back at your last post for a recap (it's Lechem but had an issue with my account) and the difference is staggering. You must be so pleased.

The Fermentator's picture
The Fermentator

Thank you so much for your kind words! You're right, I am quite pleased I got Forkish's recipe to work for me at a 78% hydration. 

Also, your comment about possibly losing the added yeast is well taken. This would be taking it to the next level for sure. I'm wondering though: Will my starter be vigorous enough? Perhaps I should start incrementally by cutting the added yeast in half, e.g.? What are your thoughts?

Thanks again, Abe, and happy baking!


WatertownNewbie's picture

What a nice loaf!  That crumb is superb, and the crust is uniformly baked.  The distribution of nuts is great too.  If you can duplicate this bake, that will be the real challenge.  Do not worry about doing something better with this recipe.  What you did is plenty fine.

I do have a couple of observations (and clearly from your result these are not issues).  Your refrigerator is fairly warm.  Most are around 38F/3C.  Seven S&F sessions seem like a lot, but perhaps are necessary (or beneficial) for the consistency of this dough.  Be alert to variations in room temperature for subsequent bakes.  The 90F water in a 74F kitchen look like a solid match.  If you repeat this bake in the winter, you might need to up the water temperature.

Lastly, you have inspired me to try this recipe.  I like FWSY, but tend to stick with recipes that involve only those four ingredients.  Now I will have to branch out for other Forkish recipes.

Thanks for posting this.  Made my day to read it.  Congratulations.

The Fermentator's picture
The Fermentator

I truly appreciate your encouraging comments! 

You're right, my refrigerator is fairly warm, which means that I probably couldn't get away with an overnight fermentation / retardation (over-fermentation!!!). From my understanding a longer fermentation process would be beneficial taste-wise? See, while I truly love the way this loaf turned out in many ways, I think there could be more complexity to its flavor.

(I got a chance to try Forkish's Walnut levain on a visit to Portland and it did have that extra layer or two of flavor that mine seems to be missing.)

You think this could be accomplished by a longer bulk or final proof at lower temps? (I COULD turn down my fridge a little lower...)

Can't wait to hear your thoughts.


The Fermentator's picture
The Fermentator

Regarding the high number of Stretch & Folds: I believe I heard Trevor Wilson say in one of his videos that the more S&F's you do the better the oven spring is going to be (there's gotta be some point of diminishing returns, of course). I think I might get away with only five or six S&F's...but up to that fifth or sixth one my dough does seem to benefit in terms of strength. 

This might be a good general question though: How much is too much (or too many) when it comes to S&F? What does your experience say? Interesting stuff..

dabrownman's picture

bread gre=and from FWSY and this proves it - as long as you totally toss out his levain builds and times!  Watch the dough and not the clock and try to not make a bath tub full of levain that you don't use:-) Never thought of using it foe a full body soak though?

The Fermentator's picture
The Fermentator

Nothing to add to that :-)

Forkish's levain builds are beyond wasteful. I only ever refresh my starter to the amount needed in a given recipe.

**Fake sigh** And there I was believing that being ultra environmentally-conscious was a prerequisite to running a business in Portland :-D