The Fresh Loaf

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GSnyde's picture

Foodies (myself included) can be really annoying.  Especially the obsession with details of the provenance of ingredients.  I don’t need to know what species of leaves are in the mulch that fed the grass that fed the lamb that I eat.

One foodie principle that I endorse, though, is the locavore concept, the idea that it is beneficial to use local ingredients and to celebrate local cuisine.  Well, we don’t grow wheat here in the Bay Area, but my bake today is decidedly local to the Bay Area.  

The recipe for this miche was developed at San Francisco Baking Institute in South San Francisco; the flours are produced to the specifications of, and distributed by, Central Milling Company in Petaluma; and the whole shebang was put together right here, just a mile from the Golden Gate, by a middling local baker in a worse-than-middling local oven.

The SFBI miche formula has been much touted in the last few weeks, and can be found in Brother David’s recent blog post (  Many of you have baked this formula, and have been pleased with it.   I followed the formula, except I used 50% Central Milling Organic Type 85 flour and 50% Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft flour (a white flour, enriched with malt, that I’ve been happily using for a range of breads).  I used Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Germ (ok, that’s from way up in Oregon).

The dough behaved nicely in mixing.  I found it very slack and sticky, like a high-hydration baguette dough.  Indeed, it was pretty difficult to form the boule as my floured hands kept sticking to the dough.  I either succeeded or failed to properly form a tight boule; I gave up trying at a certain point, and plopped it in a genuine SFBI linen-lined proofing basket.

After 15 hours in the fridge, and 90 minutes on the kitchen counter, the dough ball was very nicely risen, and the poke test indicated proper proofing.


The loaf sprung up nicely in the steamed portion of the bake.  I baked at 450 F for 65 minutes total, and the internal temperature got to 210 F.  The crust is near burnt in places.  My oven is considerably hotter at its top and this loaf was close to the top (no room to use a lower shelf).   Next time I’ll try a slightly lower temperature.  Still, not a bad looking bread, and nicely crackled.



The crumb texture and flavor are awesome—very tender and airy, and complex, sour and toasty-wheaty taste.  I can’t say I notice the wheat germ, compared to the last miche I made using 100% Type 85 flour.  The flavor of the crust is just a tad past “bold”, verging on burnt.  But, this is a really yummy bread.



So this was the last of a three-bake weekend, producing also a nice Cranberry-Walnut bread and some tasty “Bearguettes”, all described in my previous blog post (’s-away-mouse-bakes…-lot)


Happy Baking, all!



Jo_Jo_'s picture

This might just say it all. I made a very small amount of Peter Reinharts Rich Man's Brioche, actually only a third of the recipe. It still called for 1 1/2 sticks of butter in it, by weight is was almost the same amount as it called for flour! The recipe said this was the hardest to make of the three formula's. I took that as a challenge. Here's the end result, the "Money Shots".

From Brioche


It really has an incredible crumb on it, soft and tender, literally you can see the gluten feathering out as you pull one apart. The trouble is that it is almost dripping in butter. I was brought up on using real butter on my breads, so I can't believe I am going to say this. I ate one of these and it almost made me sick there was so much butter in it. It has been a couple hours since I ate it, and my body is still saying, "I am so glad you froze those things!" Really, with my love for breads and using real butter on them, you would think these would taste awesome to me. Even putting sugar free strawberry jam on them didn't help the situation, so I hope that my husband likes them or I might have to feed them to the chickens or something. Here is how I made them, although I really don't recommend them and won't be making them again.

Everything all measured out and ready to be made into Brioche.

My sponge was really small in that huge 6 quart bowl.

Added the other liquid ingredients. At this point I realized that such a small amount was not going to be easy to make in

my mixer.

Flour is mixed in and getting ready to start putting the butter in.

My ball of dough after mixing with the paddle. It had difficulty producing gluten, because it was small and sticky with butter. I actually did some stretch and folds on it for about an hour, trying to get it developed more.

Flattened out and ready for fridge, sorry for the blurry pictures. My cell phone was used for these and it sometimes is hard to tell if the picture is good or not.

Shaped and ready for proofing. They rose about twice this size in two hours, and then I cooked them and they really shot up.

wassisname's picture

There have been some inspiring and mouthwatering nutty breads posted lately, so how could I resist.  I had to have some.  It's been a long time, and I forgot how good a few walnuts in a loaf of bread could be. 

The bread is a basic sourdough, mostly bolted wheat, a bit of  whole white wheat, and a small amount of WW from my starter.  Hydration was around 75%.  To this I added a handful of walnuts and a spoonful of honey.  Precision was not the priority this particular day, clearly.  I don't usually use sweetner in my sourdoughs so I lowered the oven temp to compensate for the honey, but the crust still went a little dark, darker than the photos make it look.  No complaints about the flavor, though!  I made a batch of cranberry sauce to go with it and now everything is right with the world... until the bread runs out anyway!


Moots's picture

I stumbled upon bwraith's 2007 blog entry on this sourdough ciabatta. It combines my two favorite breads in a way that enhances the best of both! I have learned so much from others on this forum and thought others might like to be reminded of this great bread.

sourdough ciabatta


The link to bwraith's formula is here.

I didn't change a thing, but the discussion that followed the original posting was very helpful in monitoring the process.




breadsong's picture

Hello, I was poking around the website, where they make available back issues of their magazine.
I was delighted to find an article written by my SFBI Weekend Baguette class instructor, Frank Sally, on baking with Teff (in a WFO): (The SFBI Teff Miche article starts on page 26).
(David, if you're out there, this one's for you!)

I wrote Frank and asked permission to post the formula here, and he agreed and kindly offered a modified version which I tried baking this weekend.
With so many thanks to Frank Sally and SFBI!!!

I used Bob's Red Mill Whole-Grain Teff flour; that website notes "Whole Grain Teff (Tef, T'ef) an ancient North African cereal grass, is a nutritional powerhouse. It is the smallest grain in the world (about 100 grains are the size of a kernel of wheat!). The germ and bran, where the nutrients are concentrated, account for a larger volume of the seed compared to more familiar grains."

I tried to create "cereal grass" with the scoring:


*Added to post: As a result of Larry's question below, I went back to the article to re-check the baker's percentages.
In the article, in the formula for the Teff levain, the baker's percentages for Starter and Teff flour were switched.
I am embarassed to say I failed to notice this as I blithely went along, entering the information for calculation in my spreadsheet.
Here is the bread as I made it (and the formula restated below, as it was intended to be made!):

SFBI Teff Miche       1500 Desired Dough Weight in grams       <----      
  From 2010.1          
  Baker's Percentages Weights Baker's
Ingredients Dough Starter Teff Levain Dough Starter Teff Levain Total %
Bread flour 1 1   688 76   764 98%
Teff flour     0.1     18 18 2%
Water, boiling (65%)     0.52     94 94  
Water, 70F (35%) 0.65 1 0.28 448 76 51 575 85.55%
Salt 0.027     18.6     18.6 2.38%
Sourdough Starter   0.4     30   30 3.84%
Starter     1     182    
Teff Levain 0.5     345        
Total 2.177 2.4 1.9 1500 182 345 1500  
    (1) (2)          

Restated formula (1500g loaf):



Teff Levain



Bread flour





Teff flour





Water, boiling















Sourdough Starter










Teff Levain











(1) Starter: Mix to 70F, ferment 12 hours.

(2) Teff Levain: Pour 65% of water, as boiling water, over teff flour & mix to make mash.
Cool to 70F. Add remaining 35% 70F water.

When mixture is at 70F, mix in Starter. Ferment at 65-70F for 12 hours. (My Teff levain was starting to recede after 7.5 hours; I carried on with the mix at that point).


(3) Dough: Place flour, water, salt in bowl. Mix to very strong improved mix, medium soft consistency.

Mix in teff levain until incorporated.

Bulk ferment 1.5 hours with 2 evenly-spaced SF's. (I let the dough ferment for an extra ½ hour).

At end of BF, dough will be very sticky and full of gas.

Divide into 1.5kg pieces. Bench rest 20-30 minutes. The dough will become loose and flat.

Flour proofing basket with rice flour. Shape and retard 12-15 hours.

Brush off rice flour, score for even expansion, bake with steam 500F 25 minutes, then additional 35 min. (I found in my oven, that I had to bake in a reducing oven to so the loaf wouldn't get too dark. After 20 minutes, I reduced to 460F, then to 440F after another 20 minutes for the remainder of the bake).

This was a very wet, sticky dough and the stretch and folds did wonders (dough just after mixing, then just after the final shape):

The scored loaf, then the result in the oven:

The loaf is cooling now, and crackles are starting to appear. The most wonderful aroma has filled the kitchen. I want to let the loaf cool a good long while, but I can't wait to taste it & see how the crumb turned out!!!
from breadsong

Submitted to Yeastspotting!
louie brown's picture
louie brown

A return to Andy's formula yielded good results and considerable lessons about dough development, strength, and fermentation. At the same time, I'm more convinced than ever that all home baking is local. Andy, if you are reading, thanks again for your guidance.

Now, an interesting new question arises. Andy mentioned that the center of these breads does not bake up as does the perimeter. My own loaf, and my own experience in general, agrees with this. I have made and seen loaves with very even distribution of the cell structure, but more often, I make and see loaves that have a perimeter with larger, varying cell size, and a center with a more uniform structure. As a nontechnical person, I am only guessing that this is a result of a combination of all the factors that go into a finished loaf; handling, fermentation, baking. 

I would be very interested in comments directed at the goal of producing loaves with more evenly distributed cell structure throughout the loaf, even if the holes themselves are irregular in size, if that's clear.

Anyway, photos (I've included one with flash to better illustrate the translucency of the cell walls,) followed by some shots of txfarmer's crazy baguette, which I undertook just as a challenge. The long cold autolyse and bulk fermentation make for a really delicious bread. However, do take txfarmer's admonition to heart: this isn't an easy dough to handle, especially as a baguette. Myself, I'd be inclined to form it maybe as a batard, or more accurately, a log of some kind. I'm still trying to figure out how I got a 21 inch baguette on my 17 inch stones. Still, delicious and a fun project.

And a side by side shot, which is actually pretty interesting:



Sjadad's picture

After lurking for a year I've decided to share what I've been up to.


Five Grain Levain

Five Grain Levain


Vermont Sourdough

Vermont Sourdough





Pizza Crumb



Baguettes a l'Ancienne

Baguette a l'Ancienne using Don's recipe and Sylvia's wet towel steaming method


Baguettes a l'Ancienne Grigne

I was fairly pleased with La Grigne and the scoring


French Apple Tart

I do pastry too :)

hansjoakim's picture

I admit there's not a speck of either lactobacilli or saccharomyces cerevisiae on the ingredient list this time, but that doesn't mean it's no good... I've been busy in the kitchen (breadwise and otherwise) the last few weeks, but my blog's been sadly neglected. This weekend's dinner is something that really looks after itself once you've popped it into the oven, so I thought I could use the opportunity to snap a few photos.

Ever since I bought Ruhlman and Polcyn's book on charcuterie, I've wanted to try the confit method of cooking and preserving meat. Back in the day, after harvesting foie gras, French farmers of Gascony and the Dordogne had great quantities of duck meat and duck fat, but no easy way to conserve the meat, save for the confit technique. Today, with refrigeration, the main reason for using confit is the unique tenderness, texture and flavour of confited meat that make the technique worthwhile.

In brief, the meat is first dry cured with salt (add pepper, coarsely ground cloves and a clove of garlic if you like) for 24 hours. Rinse off all excess salt under cold, running water and place the meat in an ovenproof pot or casserole. Pour over rendered fat (or oil) so that all the meat is covered and place in a low oven for 8 - 12 hours, until the meat is beautifully tender and settled on the bottom of the baking vessel. Keep the meat submerged in the fat and cool to room temperature before covering the vessel with foil and refrigerating it. Both Ruhlman/Polcyn and Robuchon have great recipes for duck confit, that, if followed accurately, produce confits that can be kept for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. As the fat turns solid, and prevents air to reach the meat, the confit technique is a way of hermetically sealing meat.

I had problems obtaining duck fat, so I used a cheap olive oil as the poaching medium instead. The olive oil doesn't turn solid in the refrigerator, so this will not make a fully conserved duck confit. According to Ruhlman, it can still be kept for up to a month in the fridge, but mine won't last that long. Promise.

So... Rub your duck legs with generous amounts of coarse sea salt, a few ground cloves, pepper corns and a crushed clove of garlic. Place in the fridge for 24 hours, then rinse and place in a tight cooking vessel. The tighter you can place the meat in the vessel, the less fat/oil you need to use to cover the meat:

Duck confit

Fill it up all the way so that all meat is covered in rendered fat/oil:

Duck confit

Now, a good idea is to first warm the pot over medium-high heat until the oil is close to the simmering temperature of water. This will give the legs a good thermal kick in the beginning (otherwise you might have to extend the baking time in the oven by several hours). Then place in a low (approx 80 - 85 dC) oven, uncovered, until the meat is absolutely tender. One way to check whether it's finished, is to gently pierce the meat with a skewer. If the fat that runs out is a thin, liquid stream, it's done. My four legs were done in roughly 8 hours. Remove from oven and let the vessel come to room temperature before you cover it with foil and refrigerate it.

A simple but tasteful dish of confited duck legs can be made by cooking the legs at 220dC for 15 mins (the last few minutes with the broiler on to make a ridiculously crisp and delicious skin) and serving them with a ragu of lentils (I used green du Berry lentils), carrots, shallots, garlic, asparagus beans and a potato purée. Shredded duck confit is amazing in salads as well. Oh, and did I mention that this is great with bread too? A tasty duck rillette on freshly baked pain au levain... sacrebleu. Bon appétit!

Duck confit


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

My family is not so much in to football, but we are into bread.  This post will give you an idea how much.  You see, my mom taught me the basics of making bread when I was a kid.  However, she never went much beyond a basic white bread pan loaf (although these were always excellent).  Although I got her The Bread Baker's Apprentice for Christmas a couple years back, she never got into the artisan baking thing, with pre-ferments and all, and found the whole process a little intimidating.  But this year, for Christmas, she asked for a baking lesson from me.  Today was the day.

The plan: to bake three types of bread in one day, making two batches of each so that I could make one and demonstrate, and then she could make one.  Limitted to her standard (but quite good, as I discovered) home oven, this required staggering the batches over the course of the day.

On the roster: Italian Bread (from BBA), Potato Rosemary Bread (also from BBA), and French-style rustic bread (Pain Rustique from Hamelman's Bread). All solid players that I can do in my sleep at home, and felt like ought to go fairly smoothly, while showcasing different flavors, shaping and slashing styles.

Let the games begin!

We showed up at my parents' place at 9am, bringing with us a pre-game miche:

Another Mighty Miche, ready for toasting

At 9:30 my dad took the baby, my wife went out shopping with her mom and sister, and my mom and I got to work.  First up was mixing Italian Bread--not much teaching there, although I demonstrated the power of the 5-minute rest for helping along gluten development

Italian Bread #1, in between the remaining biga and the poolish

From there, the day proceeded in an almost-orderly fashion, alternating mixing, stretch-and-folding, dividing, and shaping with one bread and then another.  Mostly things proceeded smoothly, although there was a moment of panic when we realized that I'd dumped out, pre-shaped and final shaped Potato-Rosemary Bread #2 instead of #1, while #1 sat happily bulk fermenting for an extra half an hour.  Some improvisation was required (we pretended batch #2 had never been shaped, quickly shaped batch #1 without a pre-shape and pretended it had already been proofing for 10 minutes.  It worked.)

Mom kneading Potato Rosemary Dough

Italian Breads Proofing - "Mine" are on the left. (All on my new TMB/SFBI couche!)


Potato Rosemary Breads in the Oven


Rustic Breads in Bulk Fermentation - "Mine" is on top (Also my lovely SFBI/TMB proofing board)

Italian Breads, Finished. Mine on the left (clearly under proofed!)


Rosemary Potato Breads (I don't even know whose are mine!)

Rustic Breads  (Mine on the Right)

The hardest part of the whole business (besides being up on our feet all day baking), was teaching the shaping techniques.  I had the principles clear in my head (surface tension, surface tension, surface tension), but conveying the actual physical motions (which are just plain tricky anyhow) was quite difficult.  Practice was useful -- except on the Italian bread, I had my mom shape and slash one of "my" breads after I demonstrated the technique so she'd have an extra chance to get the hang of it.  What proved invaluable, however, was employing a dish towel a la Mark of Back Home Bakery to demonstrate.  I already thought that video was great when it was posted, but now I'm really grateful to Mark for making posting it! I only wish I'd thought to do that before we'd already shaped the Italian breads, rather than after.

The other main challenge was the oven--it was just too good!  My parent's gas oven held it's heat remarkably well, which meant that turning the temperature up before was actually unnecessary, and indeed counter-productive since amidst the chaos I forgot to turn it down after loading the breads.

The fruits of our labors

The bakers and their breads


After we were done baking, we brought three choice loaves over to my in-laws for dinner (it was my father-in-law's birthday, by coincidence), and had a lovely meal.

Clockwise from left, Rustic Bread, Italian Bread, and Potato Rosemary Bread



It was a fun, busy, bread-ful day.  I'd do some things differently if I were to do this again (like use a bigger oven and do three batches instead of six!), but my mom and I had a great time.

Happy baking, everyone,


mdunham21's picture

This weekend has been a smorgasbord of baked goods.  Friday afternoon i mixed together a poolish with the intentions of making poolish baguettes the following day.  I let the poolish sit out until it was nice and bubbling then retired it to the refrigerator for the next day.  I removed the poolish from the refrigerator and brought it to room temp while I prepared the main dough. 

I was working off of Peter Reinhart's poolish baguette recipe from BBA.  I sifted the wheat flour to remove the bran, i'm not sure if my sieve was fine enough to remove all the bran but it removed a large proportion of it.  I'm going to be a bit lazy in my blogging tonight and just post a few pictures, which will not include crumb shots because the crumb turned out piss poor.

I had to find something to do with the left over bran i sifted from the wheat flour.  I decided to make bran muffins, which I have never made before but thought i would try.  The recipe was a crap shoot a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I used a small portion of wheat flour to AP added some sugar some molasses, yeast, and buttermilk and an egg.  I topped the muffins with oats and baked them in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick came out clean.  I can't say I've ever had a bran muffin so I have nothing to compare them to, they seem to taste fine.  

I caught an episode of Diners Drive in's and Dives earlier this week, Guy Fieri happened upon a restaurant that featured cranberry and wild rice french toast.  The two ingredients seem like such an odd combination to me and I had to try it.  I pieced together a recipe and made a large sandwich loaf with a smaller free form loaf to go with it.  Needless to say, I can't wait for breakfast in the morning, I just wish I had some fresh maple syrup to go with it.  

As if this wasn't enough for one day, I decided to make sandwich loaves for the upcoming week.  The loaves are basic white loaves from The Bread Bible.  I don't eat a lot of white bread but this will have to do this week until I can make some whole grain loaves.  

Nope, not done yet.  The poolish baguette recipe calls for 7 ounces of poolish, which leaves a substantial amount for another application.  I am tossing around the idea of making a poolish pizza crust tomorrow, although I am still uncertain about a recipe at this point.  I have also decided to start the bread baker's apprentice challenge tomorrow.  I have already made quite a few of the recipes in the book but I will chalk that up to practice.  At any rate, I have the soaker for Anadama bread sitting on the counter top now, another post to follow.


Happy Baking,


White Sandwich loaf before pre-shape

Sandwich loaves final proofing

White sandwich loaves final proof

Finished sandwich loaves

Crumb Shot


Mixture of the day's bake

Crumb shot of cranberry wild rice bread


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