The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dmsnyder's picture

Two old friends ...

Vermont Sourdough

My scoring was inspired by Shiao-Ping's most recent miche.

Vermont Sourdough Crumb

San Joaquin Sourdough

San Joaquin Sourdough crumb

Now, the difficult decision: Which to use for our dungeness crab sandwiches for dinner. Aha! My wife has spoken: "Both!"


LIsaatthecoop's picture

As I read the latest copy of Saveur magazine I was happy to see that one of their 100 Picks for 2009 (made by readers this year) was for being a great resource for bakers. I am new to this group, but am excited to see so many people enthusiastic about what some would see as a simple reaction between yeast, flour, water and salt... but we know to be a miracle. Congratulations Fresh Loaf!


droidman's picture


I had lunch with a friend in Minneapolis at an establishment called The French Meadow Bakery. I had bacon and eggs, which was served with a couple slices of toasted sourdough. The bread was like a typical sourdough, but had a hint of caraway.

It's listed on the menu as organic sourdough toast. No mention of caraway. Perhaps it was just stored next to a caraway rye. In any case, I decided that I would try to make a sourdough that has all the wonderful characteristics of a standard sourdough, but with a subtle taste of rye and hint of caraway.

I got the initial formula from Flo Makanai:

Here's my first shot.


150 g whole rye
150 g water
75 g white starter @ 75% hydration

305 g barm
610 g water
915 g flour
22 g salt
5 g caraway seeds

Barm allowed to rise overnight (approximately 18 hrs).

Dough very soft and sticky. Kneaded for 15 minutes.

Initial fermentation in greased bowl for 5 hours.

Proofed in two bannetons for 90 minutes.

Baked in 500 degree oven (my oven sucks, so it's more like 425-450) with steam pan on stone for 30 minutes.


This produced a loaf that was sourdough dense, but still had a nice open crumb. It turned out to be oddly shaped because the bread stuck to my peel when I was sliding it onto the stone. The bread is slightly grey in color, due to the rye in the barm. Flavorwise, sourness in evidence, but some of it gets swept away by the caraway. I used caraway seeds I bought from Bob's Red Mill, and they are the most intense caraway I've ever come across. I want the caraway tones to be more subtle than this.


Next Time

For Take 2, I'm going to try BRM light rye, and scale back the caraway to 3 grams.

And, one of these days, gotta try this one: Wow.

Shiao-Ping's picture

My daughter left today for Belgium to start a six week (French speaking) holiday and visiting our family friends over there.  A couple of days ago I asked if there's anything she'd like me to make before she goes.  She said, "Something familiar."  I can take the hint.  Recently, I have been experimenting with rye flour and my family are not very impressed with the result.  One rye bread came out really dense and as I was mumbling why this bread is so dense, my husband said, "Don't throw it out."  "What made you think I would?" I asked.  He said, "History."  I have had a bad track record in littering. 

Anyway, as I said, I can take the hint from my daughter.  I made this good old House Miche, or Daily Bread, for our lunch yesterday.  "House Miche" - doesn't it sound glamorous?  It sounds really lovely, I might add.  I took the term from a post by Jeremy of Stir The Pots in the Australian Sourdough Companion, back in 2005!  Jeremy's sourdough making history certainly goes a long way back (or, put another way, Sourdough Companion goes a long way back). 

Well, here it is, our House Miche, a simple formula with a simple procedure:




My Formula

  • 230 g starter at 60% hydration * Note

  • 100 g whole wheat flour (20% of final dough flour, or 15% of total dough flour)

  • 400 g white bread flour (sometimes I do 50 g rye flour and 350 g white bread flour)

  • 378 g water * Note

  • 12 g salt

Total dough weight 1120 g; overall dough hydration 72%.

* Note: If your starter is at 75% or 100% hydration, you can reduce your water to 355 g or 328 g, respectively, and still keep the same overall dough hydration.




  1. Mix all ingredients.  Autolyse 30 to 45 minutes.  

  2. Depending on your room temperature, over the next 2 - 3 hours, stretch and folds 3 - 4 times with 20 - 30 strokes each time. 

  3. Pre-shape, rest for 15 - 20 minutes, and shape.  (If the dough does not appear to have enough dough strength, pre-shape twice with 15 - 20 minutes rest in between, but be mindful of the time elapsed as it all counts towards the total fermentation time.)

  4. Depending on your room temperature, proof for no more than 1/2 - 1 hour.  (As my room temperature was 28 C, from the time my ingredients were mixed, to the time the shaped dough was placed into the fridge, it was no more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Alternatively, if you want to bake it on the day the dough was made with no overnight retardation, proofing can be up to 2 1/2 hours.) 

  5. Place the shaped dough in the fridge for a minimum of 8 -12 hours.  (Note: an 8 - 12 hours overnight retardation in the fridge is equivalent to an extra two hours of proofing in the room temperature!)  Bake with steam at 240C for the first 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 220C and bake for a further 20 minutes.




My daughter loved it.  When she returns in mid February, she will start a new phase in her life - say goodbye to school and start university.  She will be ready for more independence and responsibility. 

Until then, our son gets the full attention of both his mummy and daddy.  How good is that, he says.



                            Roast beef and salad sourdough sandwich for our boy - a mid-morning snack



dmsnyder's picture

In addition to the Greek bread, about which I wrote yesterday, I made a couple of pizzas while visiting with family this week. I used the pizza dough formula in Hamelman's bread, but used Pivetti typo 00 flour from, made the dough with sourdough rather than commercial yeast, and did all the mixing by hand. 

Ham & Pineapple Pizza 

Chanterelle, Crimini, Leek, Olive, Mozzarella and Parmesan Pizza


Jonathan & Glenn watching Pizza TV

The chopped veggies were for the fab barbecued turkey gumbo brother Glenn made for dinner. The pizzas were just an appetizer.


yogajan's picture

Years ago I stopped making New Years resolutions.  All that ever resulted was a big measure of guilt because I couldn't usually get beyond 24 hours without breaking them.  One of the problems with previous years resolutions, is that they usually involved a diet.  And, as we know, most diets treat bread that an evil that is to be totally avoided for fear of ever losing weight. 

Now I am older, (age 71) and while not particularly slender, I am comfortable with my weight  and am in perfect health and feel great, mostly because of regular yoga practice.  My only rule (resolution) is to eat only good tasting food, eat only when I am hungry and to enjoy good food.  In that vein, I am taking baking my own bread very seriously. While there is a lot written of bread as a metaphor for life, my own goals are more simple, enjoyment of creating something, applying science to a skill and simply eating something good.

My shelves are bending with bread books, my cupboards are full with flours, implements, and I have bookmarked every bread site I can find.  Now, I need to get it all organized and get to work/play and get serious with the bread thing. 

Even though I am starting this on New Years Day 2010, I will be posting about some other recent and incredibly fun experiences.




Shiao-Ping's picture

I read in MC's beautiful blog,, that Miche is not her favorite bread but that she can understand how someone can go wild about it.  She said, "It is a majestic bread ... rich with the lore and fervor of the old days."    That is exactly how I feel about Miche!  "... rich with the lore and fervor of the old days." 

The word, Miche, conjures up for me images of a past full of hardship and labour, and yet, romances, at the same time.  Romances, not in the true sense of the word, but in a nostalgic way, referring to the simple, unsophisticated, and natural way of living.

One of the pseudo-Miche I made was Sourdough 50/50 nearly four months ago.  I was not happy with the bread at the time and had wanted to re-make it ever since.  But, No, I had to do something slightly different.  I could not even follow my own script.  I introduced one more element into my Sourdough 50/50 to make this Miche 50/50/50.  In addition to 50% levain, and 50% Poolish, of the final dough flour, I added 50% old dough.  The old dough was a piece of dough reserved from a previous bake a couple of days ago.  This piece of dough did not go through bulk fermentation or proofing.  It was sectioned off and placed in the refrigerator straight away.

Apart from being whimsical and having fun, I had but one purpose for doing this - to see how adding a piece of old dough would improve the flavour of the crumb, along with the levain and Poolish which I already had.  This is nothing new.  Many people have done something similar.  And here is my Miche 50/50/50:







 In order to be able to score the dough easily, I went for an overall lower hydration of 63%, compared to 68% for Sourdough 50/50.  I wanted to have some sort of Chinese tofu look  on the crust.  As a result, I gave up some openness of the crumb.






The crumb was exceptionally flavourful, which might come through the close-up shot below:




The crumb is very sour to my taste, due to the lower hydration too. 

When I prepare my Poolish, I did not put in a pinch of instant yeast, which one would normally do.  I wonder if this has anything to do with the slightly dense interior structure of the Miche.

If you are interested in trying the idea in this post, I would suggest a dough hydration of no lower than 67 - 68%, and definitely a pinch of instant yeast to go with your Poolish!




Muffin Man's picture
Muffin Man

    Well, I've completed a couple of weeks without the mixer.  It has been an interesting and informative time.  I have a very nice Kitehcn-Aid which my son gave me for Christmas about 4 years ago.  It was a refurbished machine which works fine and had given no trouble all this time.  Based upon the experience of others, I decided to mix by hand so I could get to know my dough better and to develop a sensibility to its needs.  This is not something you can get from a book, and failure is your best teacher.  Analyzing what went wrong with a bread leads inevitably to better and better bread.  As someone wise once pointed out: "you don't learn anyhing from success".  For very wet doughs or large volumes, the mixer becomes indispensable, but for someone like me who does mostly mufins (which the mixer teds to overmix) and challah variants, I am much happier doing it 'by hand'.  If you disagree, that's fine.  This works for me; I never claimed it would be right for you.  There are many paths to bread success, and each must choose his own.  Adios for now.

Jw's picture

Wishing you a happy new year, with lots of baking. I am sorry for being absent from TFL, I must concentrate on a different hobby next half year (college). Regarding baking I am stuck in Reinhart's Crust and Crumb, which is not a bad thing. Lots of rustic and french bread, favorite is still the SF sourdough from the trail. I did continue experimenting with new forms. I also scan TFL every now and then, thanks for all your posts.

All the best for 2010!



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