The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

Well, the other day when I wrote about the Queensland floods, I didn't actually get on to write about that, but that's what came out.  Thank you to those who offered encouragement and hope through your replies.

On Wednesday, after the floods, I baked my bread as I had started it the day before and it needed to be finished.  There was a lot of damage to roads and other infrastructure.  As well, lots of rescue people, emergency services, and local council doing repairs here and we were all advised to stay home if we could, so that they could do their jobs.  So baking bread it was for me.

I had decided on the Max Poilane style miche, however I struck a problem.  As we had been advised to stay home I realised that I didn't have all the ingredients for my loaf.  I didn't have enough wholewheat flour, only about a quarter of what I needed.  I had some wholewheat self-raising flour and some other unbleached bread flour.  I took the risk and used the self-raising flour in the mix, wondering if it would kill my yeast or blow my bread up too much.  Strangely it didn't seem to affect it at all.  My bread turned out so tasty, in fact I think it was the tastiest bread I've ever made to date!  Gorgeously flavoursome with a subtle, sweet wheatyness and chewy texture. 

Max Poilane style miche

It's a very big loaf!

A nice crackly crust.

With a nice crackly crust.

Crumb from Max Poilane style miche

This is a nice wheaty, chewy bread with an open(ish) crumb.  And I'm not sure if using the small amount of self-raising flour made it a little more open.  I'd love to taste the real thing!

GSnyde's picture

Saturday 1/15/11.  Today, I am musing on my bread-ucation.  Sort of a milepost marking.  I have been baking for five months.  But I am beginning to feel somewhat knowledgeable about a narrow category of breads, due in large part to (1) The Fresh Loaf and readings recommended here and advice given here, and (2) an enthusiasm for baking that has me making lots of bread as often as I can.  I learn stuff every time I handle dough and bake bread.

In that short span of baking experience, here are some things I've learned about baking simple sourdough breads:


  • To make bread the way you like it takes lots of study and gathering of general information (reading, watching videos, asking questions, and the like) and even more hands-on trial and error (the error part is very important). It's good to know some bread science--what factors have what results and why--but you can only improve your bread-baking by keeping track of what you do each time and making adjustments the next time.
  • You may like bread to be a certain way that others don't, and your tastes may change.  Some like big holes in the crumb, others don't; some like really dark crusts, others don't; some like sourer flavor than others do, etc.  Make it the way you like it and  be your own judge.
  • There are lots of variables that affect the crust, crumb and flavor: to name a few: flour choices; hydration; attributes of your starter culture; dough handling at each stage (including mixing, kneading and/or folding, dividing, pre-shaping, shaping, scoring and loading); time of each stage; temperature of ingredients; temperature of environment; type, quality and duration of steam during the bake; characteristics of the oven; attention to, understanding of, and reaction to the sensory information the dough provides; and luck, blessedness, karma, whatever you choose to call it.  All of these variables are important, but I think the last two in the list are the most important.  
  • There is no perfect loaf.  Striving for improvement can yield improvement, but can also yield higher expectations.  The Earth is round; the horizon keeps receding.
  • The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
  • Bread tastes better when it's been well photographed and shared, and your friends ooh and ahh at it.


This weekend, I am making San Francisco Sourdough from Reinhart's Crust and Crumb.  This is the first time I have made something called "San Francisco Sourdough".  I have made 20 or 30 sourdough breads, mostly variations on Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough (including Brother David's San Joaquin and my own San Francisco Country).  But I love the sour flavor, the crispy crust and the moist, chewy crumb of classic San Francisco Sourdough, and I've lived in San Francisco and environs for most of my life.  So isn't it time? 

I have read the formula and all the commentary in the book, and I've looked at several TFL blog posts on this bread.  What I learned: my brother David really likes this bread (or at least he did in 2008-09 when he blogged many times about it).  I chose the formula from Crust and Crumb because (1) I have the book, (2) the formula won some whoop-de-doo award, (3) my brother David really likes this bread and he has good taste, and (4) it's a weekend when I can focus on this formula which takes several days of attention.  

In comparison with most of the other sourdoughs I've made, this formula calls for a firmer starter, considerable kneading, and a more passive fermentation approach.  There are no stretch and folds during the long (4 hour) primary ferment.  I am also--for the first time--making a sourdough with all white flour, and no rye or whole wheat.  I am using BRM enriched white flour, made--according to the bag--from high gluten hard red wheat.  

I can't say I am following Professor Reinhart's formula exactly (I rarely follow anything exactly).  I made a liquid starter from my stock starter, and let it ripen, then chill (but not as long as the formula prescribes).  I then made a firm starter from the liquid starter, and let it ripen, then chill (but not as long as the formula prescribes).  I suspect the shortened retardation time on the starters will make the bread less sour than it would have been, but I will get to finish the process in time to enjoy the bread before the end of the weekend.  Some day I will give this formula all the time it asks, and see if the result is sourer or otherwise different.

I mixed the firm starter, flour, water and salt with my fingers and a plastic scraper.  At least 90% of the dough ended up in the bowl at the end of the mixing.  I then kneaded it on my granite counter, sprinkled with flour.  What I learned. I like kneading dough (I sort of knew that from a few past kneading experiences); it gives immediate visual and tactile feedback on dough development.  Unlike stretching and folding over several hours, when you knead dough, you feel the strengthening of the gluten with every few turns.  Also, I like kneading on floured granite.  Seems like just the right amount of sticky friction.  The dough is now fermenting.  Giving me time to muse.  What I learned as I mused and watched the activity in my sunny courtyard: voles and sparrows will riotously gorge themselves on scattered birdseed, while totally ignoring each other.  The sparrows will chase each other away, but the sparrows don't even seem to acknowledge the voles, and vice versa.

Later 1/1/5/11.  I have now shaped the 1 pound dough pieces into boules.  What I learned. This dough is loose and silky though the hydration is fairly low.  Is it because the gluten develops less strength when the dough is not stretched and folded periodically?  Or because the all white flour absorbs less water than my usual dough which has 15-25% whole grain?  Or because the fermentation (and looseness) is enhanced by the high proportion of stiff levain?  I also learned that un-floured granite is an excellent surface for using the boule shaping technique that Brother David has famously video-recorded.  I strove for a really taut sheath, but the little blobs seem to think they're 75% water when they're more like 60%.  

Now the boules are in their bannetons in their plastic bags, proofing.  They will proof in the kitchen until they have once-and-a-halfled (half a doubling).  Then they will go in the refrigerator for the night.

Sunday 1/16/11.  90 minutes after being taken out of the refrigerator, the boules were gently flopped from their bannetons onto pieces of parchment, then placed on a cookie sheet and scored.  The oven, with baking stone, was pre-heated at 475 F for an hour steamed using Sylvia's magic towels and a cast iron skillet with lava rocks. In addition, contrary to my usual procedure, I misted the loaves with water when they were loaded and again after a couple minutes.  After 15 minutes, I removed the steaming apparati and reduced the temperature to 425 F on convection setting.  After 30 minutes total (and a 207 F internal loaf temperature), I turned the oven off and left the loaves on the stone with the door ajar for another 10 minutes.

The oven spring was very good, though not the mighty spring of some other sourdoughs I've baked.  The loaf scored with a star rose about 20% more than the one with the hash mark (is this a commentary on telephone keypads?). The crust is perfectly colored, deep caramel and quite even, shiny, with little crust bubbles here and there. What I learned.  Spritzing loaves seems to add to shine and crust bubbles.  The star scoring pattern seems to encourage upward spring.  Convection baking (in a good oven) seems to enhance evenness of crust color.  I love my North Coast oven.



As the loaves cool, I can take a few minutes to look off to sea, where a large group of grey whales are commuting South, presumably looking for real Wharf Bread.  They are spouting off and waving hello with their flukes.

Later 1/16/11.  The loaves are mostly cooled.  They spray crust crumbs widely as they are sliced.  The crumb is moist, airy but chewy.  Very much a classic SF sourdough.  The holes are mostly small, with a few bigger pockets, but not what you'd call an open crumb.  This is just as I like it.  The flavor is simple but good.  Mildly sour.  What I learned.  Maybe the longer retardation of the starters is key to stronger sourness.  The less open crumb may be linked to the passive bulk retardation (with no stretch-and-folds and thus less gluten strength to hold bigger bubbles). 



Update:  An hour later, the structure of the crumb has solidified and become a bit denser.  I'd say medium dense.  Good texture.  The flavor's also become a bit more sour.

All in all, this is a bread I'll make again, probably adding some stretch-and-folds and some whole grains.  And definitely trying the longer retardation of the starters that the recipe calls for. That would combine the more complex flavors, more gluten strength and the sourness I'm seeking.  I learned a lot from this bake.



wassisname's picture

Winter started with a bang this year and seemed like it would never let up!  After two months of slapdash, subsistence baking I finally managed to find enough time (and energy) to bake some decent sourdough.

A simple miche based on Leader's method in Local Breads seemed like just the thing so I mixed up a double batch using about 75% WW flour and 25% bolted "Turkey" flour.  With my kitchen being nice and cool the dough fermented for about 7.5 hours.  Loads of flavor.  Just what I've been craving.  I feel much better now.


Jo_Jo_'s picture

Ok, I admit, my bookshelves are literally crammed with books, and I know that I haven't finished reading the three I got for Christmas.  Bread Baker's Apprentice, King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, and Taste of Home Baking... all really nice books and this gives me TONS of recipes.  I am doing the BBA Challenge, so that has slowed me down from simply reading the book from cover to cover. Thing is, now that I have those books, what ones are next?  I was thinking the the whole grain one from Peter Reinhart, but I see so many other books that people are talking about that I am wondering what is the next step?  Which ones would be better for me to start with and then continue through?  For having baked bread as many years as I have, you would think that I would have a ton of them, but most of the ones I have are simply recipe books and don't even show weighing the ingredients. 

I am interested in grinding my wheat and am planning on getting a Nutrimill pretty soon, so I am trying to factor that into my choices.  Having ground some of my wheat in the past I know that it can change tried and true recipes into total disasters.  I prefer books that give me the science and explanations rather than something that simply gives me a recipe.  Don't get me wrong, recipes are good but when you have so much learning to do and nobody with the experience to teach you the art of breadmaking then reading books and forums is where you get 100% of your knowledge from. 

I have read through a lot of the reviews on TFL, and see a lot of enthusiasm for certain books, but I am still not certain what to buy next and why this one would be better than that one etc.  I am only allowing myself a few books a year now, sorta a book diet.


davidg618's picture

Desired DoughTemperature (DDT), at best only a gross-estimate of the temperature of a dough at the beginning of bulk fermentation (ref.: ) is too often ignored, or given only a brief word or two of non-specific, and often ambiguous explanation. (See, for example, BBA's Pain a l'Ancienne: this is the best I've found, and still, in my opinion, using ice-water is ambiguous in specificity, and lacks complete explanation, of effects and side-effects.) 

Within the usual range of factors, i.e., the newly mixed dough's temperature, Ph, hydration, and ingredients present; dough temperature, more than any other factor, controls yeast and bacteria activity. Secondly, dough temperature is hard to change, and especially hard to change in a controlled way. Thirdly--and not an issue, but a reality--the home baker has more direct control over temperature than any other factor. (Ingredients is, of course, the second, but you can't turn a brioche into a ciabatta.)

Addressing the latter issue first, having recently built a proofing box, early experiences supported my concern that a dough's initial temperature would dominate the dough's average temperature for hours. Stated differently, the heat energy in a light bulb, or heating pad--typical heat sources in homemade proofing boxes--is low. Furthermore, the transfer of heat into a dough mass (a complex function of the dough's mass, surface area, temperature differences, and its specific heat) is slow.

This is not a bad thing. If the heat source is cranked up too high, undesired side-effects will likely occur; e.g., the dough's surface will dry out, yeast cells at or near the dough's surface will produce gas at a reduced rate. The solution to avoiding both these problems is straight forward: Set the DDT to the temperature desired for bulk fermentation. If your going to proof at 76°F (the most common temperature invoked by bread book formulae), 80*F (Tartine Bread). 82.5°F (Zojurishi bread machine pre-heat, and proof temperature most favorable to yeast growth and activity), or 90°F (best temperature favoring bacterial vs. yeast growth in most sourdough cultures.) adjust the mixes' water temperature to reach a DDT as close as possible to the intended bulk fermenting temperature. Conversely, 40°F if you're going to retard the dough in the refrigerator, and finish proofing at room temperture, or 55°F if your using a wine cooler--my preferred retarding temperature. Then your proofing box (or chiller) is maintaining the dough's initial temperature: a much less energetic job.

The first issue, also stated in a different way: why? What's the reason for a specific DDT? Flavor, Scheduling, or Texture? I can't think of a fourth reason, and texture is the most tenuous.  Nonetheless, know why you've chosen a proofing temperature, and choose accordingly. And, if your writing a breadbook, fully explain why you chose a specificied initial dough temperature, including its benefits and downers.

David G

SylviaH's picture




While having my morning tea and viewing the latest on TFL, I noticed yesterday was another beginning year for my membership.  I wasn't going to post this bake, but what a great excuse to show what I did for most the day and evening yesterday!  

The weather was gorgeous, finally another lovely warm sunny day. 

We've had a lot of welcome rain and cool weather lately and a day in the high 70's and sunshine was welcome...especially since I had planned on firing up the WFO.

It had the door sealed against the rain and the wood underneath and inside was protected from the wet.  Well, I hadn't planned on it being damp just from the moisture from the rain, so it took me nearly two hours to get a good hot fire going without the smoke, even the wood I had stored inside the oven seemed cool maybe damp, sometimes I think the wood I purchased 'white oak' was a bit on the green side.  They also have fairly large cuts, I like to start the fire with smaller cuts, which I usually ask for at the firewood supply, and build the fire up larger, then I have my fire up a going great without the smoke in about 15 minutes. 

It took me a while just to learn how to make a proper fire. All I learned about making fires was in my 3rd grade 'Brownies' camp trips and then the fire was made in a coffee can and we cooked on top.  I still remember those great hamburgers we made...I always loved to cook even as a kid.  I still remember the first thing I ever cooked.  My mom let me heat up some peas in a pot.  I was about 4 years old...that started my love of cooking!

I think the neatest thing is that once you get the fire going you can tell immediately when it's fired up and ready...then I can start adding a log about every half hour or so...I love tossing the log in and watching it burst into flames without all the smoke...the coals and fire are so hot, no more waiting for the newly added wood to catch fire, each new log just combusts into flames!

Well, I had my head stuck in the WFO!  I said to Mike, when he asked why is your face so red, as he came in from his bike ride..he's so thrilled with his new mountain bike, weighs less than 22 lbs. and has those big new wheels..what a deal he got ;/  

Back to baking!  I planned on pizza's for the us and for the neighbors across the street and then when they were done I had a pork roast, that would be easy, just put a little seasoning on and put it into the oven as the fire was turning to embers, and after that I would make some simple Rustic Apple pies with those lovely organice apples I had in the refrigerator.  I wish now I would have added some nice buns for the shredded pork roast...maybe today I'll bake some!  

Oh, I just remembered, I have some loaves in the frig waiting to be baked, the tea must be kicking in : )

So here's the WFO bake for my third year on TFL.  What great time and learning experience it has been and will be...Thanks to You All :) :) :) and a

'Very Special Thank You' to Floyd and Family or none of us would be here today!


Pictures, this is what I took!!






                   Ham, Pineapple and Creme Fraiche Pizza - Peter Reinhart's American Pie - Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough is used today on all the pizza's




          Mike's, Pepperoni and Plain Mozz Pizza's - I had enough dough for 8 large pizza's - I didn't put very little char on neighbors pizza's




                      Rustic Apple Pies Baking - Dough recipe is from I. Garten's apple tart - Filled with organic apples, little sugar and butter



                                          Ready after about 35 - 40 mins. - I used Gala organic apples - lovely tender and sweet 



                        Wood fired baked pork roast to be enjoyed with tonights fresh baked Sourdough bread 




                         Tonight's Dessert too!





proth5's picture

 Panned loaves (to paraphrase) don't get no respect.

It's the crusty, lean, free standing loaves that we tend to think of when we invoke the term "artisan bread."

But, as others have pointed out - it isn't the bread that should receive the term "artisan" - it is the baker.

I did a lot of bread baking during my "childhood" and that time was spent mostly in the 1960's.  It was a different time.  I learned to speak French early in those years, but Paris was an impossible dream.  It had not yet become the place that I know almost better than the city where I live (or at least where I own property) - where I drop by once a year (barring extraordinary circumstances) to do the chocolate shopping (and take in the sights - I haven't become quite that blasé).

Of course, in those years, the taste of a real French baguette was unknown to me - and to the vast majority of the people around me.

What I baked was panned loaves. They were plump and brown like genial friars with a taste as heavenly as the personages they resembled.

I have eaten my share of sour bread, of terrine with crusty loaf, of peanut butter on baguettes, and even fresh Poilâne miche (not completely sure why people pay vast sums to fly it all over the world, but that's me).  Yes, there are pannini and those things you get from vendors in France with a couple of slices of something on a baguette or ficelle with not much else.  But sometimes you just want a "sammich" - on soft bread.  You know you do. You just won't talk about it in front of your foodie friends.

At the end of last year I was visiting family in Southeastern PA - land of my birth - and found myself adrift in the world of mass produced bread.  Apparently a substantial amount of money is exchanged for this stuff, but I really couldn't eat it.  I could have written up a formula for an enriched loaf using the limited range of ingredients and equipment at hand, but after spending quite of bit of effort working on pre ferments/lean loaves/fresh milled I have become interested in the formulas I remember from my youth.  You know those books (well, some of you do) - the ones from the "Ladies Farm Journal" with their tips on pleasing your man (making yeasted pancakes will do it, so I am told) and their enticing promises that this bread "always sells out at bake sales."  The target audience was rural women - whose major charge in life was the daily feeding of a large, physically active family- with limited resources.  They had to know what they were doing.

The formula I ending up using produced some pretty nice bread and as I returned to the wild West I had to wonder what I could do to goose it up a bit.

Since 2011 is my year to change and develop formulas for lean breads, I thought that I might add this to my baking plan.  I tend to be a patient formula developer - tweaking one factor at a time and evaluating the change.  I bake only once a week, so things take some time.  Since there are many recipes for lean loaves n these pages I have similarly decided that my 2011 blogging project will be to chronicle how I work with this old formula and what it eventually becomes. I have also decided to abandon my ill fated attempts at photography.  I have never been interested in taking pictures as my frustrated friends who are constantly saying things like "You spent three months in Malaysia and Thailand and never took any pictures!" could tell you - and I am singularly bad at it.  These are panned loaves.  They will look like a standard panned loaf of bread.  They will have a fine crumb.  I know that in the world of blogging if there are no pictures the blog is somewhat disappointing.  Well, I'm writing this as much for me as for the one or two people who actually read my blogs.  Perhaps if I get some real "show off" loaves I will find someone to help with the photography, but I just don't have it in me to do it myself.  We all have our limits.

The first step was to bake the formula mostly as written and to get the thing converted to weights so that I could analyze the baker's percents.  So here is the first formula with my notes.

2 loaves.

0% of flour pre fermented (I include this because it may change in future iterations)

Ingredient                           Wt                          Baker's Percent

Rolled Oats                       4.5 oz                      20%

Steel Cut Oats                   3 oz                        13% (The original formula called for all rolled oats.  This variation was mine)

Boiling water                      20 oz                      89%

Shortening                          1 oz                        4% (I used leaf lard)

Non Fat Milk Powder            1.2 oz                       5% (The original called for 2 cups of scalded milk.  This is just a substitute for the scalding process)

Salt                                   0.65 oz                     3%

Molasses                             3 oz                       13% (We "Dutchies" love our molasses!)

Instant Yeast                      .25 oz                    1% (Instant yeast was also my variation.  Of course instant yeast was not available when the original formula was written.  It called for Active Dry Yeast dissolved in 4 oz of warm water which I have included above as part of the boiling water)

KA AP flour                         22.5 oz                  100%


Combine the two types of oats, boiling water, milk powder and shortening.  Allow to cool to lukewarm.  (this would be a "soaker" except that it is not hydration neutral - whatever liquid is not absorbed by the oats is very much needed for the hydration of the final dough.  I may rework this in future iterations).

Add the salt, molasses, yeast, and flour.  Mix 5 minutes on the single speed of the spiral mixer. (The original called for adding only "some" of the flour to the oat mixture and beating - by hand - until the mixture was quite elastic.  This is a great technique for getting some gluten development before the kneading process when you don't have a powerful mixer at your disposal and it is what I used when I was away from my toy.  But since I have the big toy - it is a shame not to use it.  Of course, the rest of the flour would be added and the dough kneaded until "smooth and elastic.")

Let rise until doubled - 2 hours at cool room temperature.  One fold.  Let rise again - about 2 hours at cool room temperature.  (The original called for one rise of about an hour at 80F - no fold or punch down.  The fold and the second rise seemed like an obvious change to me, since most of the old formulas I baked called for a punch down and a second rise.)

Shape and place in greased pans.  Proof (1 hour) and bake at 375F for 40 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on a rack.

So easy.  Honestly.  I haven't put that little effort into baking a loaf in awhile.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this bread.  It had a mildly sweet taste, was soft and moist with a moderately soft crust.  I was a bit concerned that the steel cut oats would be too hard, but they added a soft crunch to the bread and were very nice. The molasses gave a nice color to both the dough and the finished bread.

But naturally, there were things that could be better.

Bearing in mind that this bread had to stand against an assortment of levain based breads when I was tasting, I missed the kind of depth that a levain based pre ferment brings to even commercially yeasted breads.

I also have a lot of milling products (like bran and high extraction flour) that I could incorporate if they would be an improvement.  Although tempted to do cracked wheat as an inclusion, I am going to stay with the steel cut oats, as oats add not only a subtle sweetness but their own share of healthy oat fiber (not that I am baking for health, mind you, but if it can taste good and be healthy, that's win-win) and really the inclusion of oats is the basis for this variant on standard white bread.

The formula does not leverage any ingredients local to the Western US - other than wheat, of course.

I have all that triticale that I was going to mill, but haven't - yet.  I thought it might perform better in panned breads.  Maybe that can be included.

Looking at the formula, the hydration seems high, but it is offset by the oats (now we know why the BBGA wants the soaker to by hydration neutral - so that hydration is more easily understood by looking at a formula.  There is always a reason...) My "guesstimate" is that the hydration is between 58-68% (remember to add in the molasses!) which is well in the region for panned breads, so I won't be playing with that just now.

Same with the fat content - that's pretty standard for a good old loaf of bread.

The salt and yeast seemed high until those troublesome oats were factored in.  Yeast still seems high to me - there is a real candidate for reduction.

My bread testers tell me not to change a thing - they loved it.  But I still think I can make it better.

So I am considering what to do.  Yes, I could make a whole lot of changes at once, but I gotta be me.  My instinct tells me that working some levain into that formula somehow (without making a pure levain based bread) would make a big change without using a lot of ingredients, but I have a week to think about it.  We shall see.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

There was no KA flour in the house, so I used supermarket ap for this. Along with a fair amount of olive oil, the result was a finer, softer crumb than I am accustomed to. Nevertheless, topped with salt, oil, parmigiano, marjoram and thyme, it made a delicious accompaniment for cheese.

I am partial to the round freeform shape for my foccaccia. 

MadAboutB8's picture

I came across polenta flour (maize flour) at Oasis Bakery (a middle eastern food store) and thought it would be an interesting ingredient for bread. I use polenta (coarse grind) quite often with my multigrains bread and I like its taste. It make the bread sweeter and give a nice yellow hue to the crumb.

Having no experience working with polenta flour, I had no idea how well it would absorb liquid, what changes it would make to the gluten development when mixed with wheat flour, etc. A search through Google and The Fresh Loaf website didn't give much information either. It doesn't seem like polenta flour is widely used in bread making, at least not from the information I found on the Web. 

The bread turned out quite nicely. The crumb was relatively open. It is denser and slightly chewier than usaul. It's good change from normal wheat bread and works really well with tomato, basil and olive oil.

More details can be found here:

dmsnyder's picture


Pat's (proth5) baguettes have been my “go to” recipe for baguettes for quite a while. When she posted a new formula in November  - See Starting to get the Bear  - I promised myself to give them a try. I got around to it today.

These baguettes are made with both levain and a poolish and are spiked with some instant yeast. They still have a relatively long fermentation, for yeasted baguettes. Pat's description of her method included baking some of the dough the day they are mixed and retarding some to shape, proof and bake the next day.

Here is my interpretation of her formula a methods, with some modifications, as described below.





Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast

“generous pinch”





Wt (oz)

AP flour




Ripe sourdough



Final dough



Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast









Total dough




Wt (oz)

Baker's %

AP flour






Instant yeast













  1. Mix the poolish and the levain and let them ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

  2. Mix all the ingredients except the salt to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. (I actually autolysed for 90 minutes.)

  3. Add the salt and hand mix in a large bowl or machine mix for 3-5 minutes at low speed. (I hand mixed the dough.)

  4. Bulk ferment for 4.5 hours with a stretch and fold at 2 hours. (Or, cold retard for up to some length of time, but surely less than 3 days. Or divide some pieces and retard the rest of the dough. This time, I divided the dough in two after the S&F and retarded half.)

  5. Divide into 10 oz pieces and pre-shape as logs. Rest the pieces, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

  6. Shape as baguettes.

  7. Proof en couche for 1.5 hours (Or until ready. Or retard shaped loaves.)

  8. Pre-heat oven to 500ºF with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  9. Transfer loaves to peel. Score them and transfer them to the oven.

  10. Bake with steam for 5 minutes. Then lower temperature to 480ºF (convection, if you have it), and bake for another 12-13 minutes.

  11. Transfer to a cooling rack and cooling thoroughly before eating.


Because of the size of my baking stone, I divided half the dough into 4 pieces to make mini-baguettes.The dough handled really nicely, I thought. The baguettes were proofed and baked as above, according to Pat's directions. After 17 minutes, they were rather dark, especially the one at the back of the oven. They sang loudly when removed to cool. They came out of the oven just in time to eat with dinner, for a change, rather than just in time for bedtime snack.

Baguette crumb - torn, not cut

We ate one baguette with dinner – Sautéed petrale sole, leeks vinaigrette and warm Swiss chard salad with olive oil and lemon dressing.

The crust was very crunchy. The crumb was quite chewy and nicely aerated. The flavor was good, but I will use a bit more salt next time. I think I will also bake at a somewhat lower temperature for a slightly longer time. 460-480ºF for 20 minutes would be better for me, I think.

Addendum: I baked the second batch of baguettes today. I baked these at 470ºF for 20 minutes.

Baguettes with varied shaping and scoring

Compared to the first batch, the second had less dark crust. It was very crisp. The crumb was basically the same. The flavor was noticeably sweeter, but it still was under-salted to my taste.

These are very nice baguettes. I'll be following Pat's reports of her continuing bear hunt.





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