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ejm's picture

In August, I received an email from Hayley Mick asking if I would do a telephone interview about how "rising food prices (particularly when it comes to grains, flour etc) are affecting bakers" and whether "it put a damper on [my] productivity". She said she had found me through The Fresh Loaf. Her email came just at the time that we had ridden our bikes all over Toronto trying to find rye flour and learning that "Five Roses" (now owned by Smucker Foods) has discontinued production of "dark rye" flour due to slow sales.

So I readily agreed to do the interview. Little did I realize that they would want to come and do photos as well! And about a month later, I appeared on the front page of the Life section of Canada's national newspaper "The Globe and Mail".

making wild yeast bread © photo Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic August 2008

And an even larger photo inside as well!!

making wild yeast bread © photo Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic August 2008

Here is the bread I ended up making:

wild yeast bread © ejm August 2008
JMonkey's picture

It's been a while since I posted, mainly due to ramped up work and family obligations, but I've not stopped baking. And, despite the fact that both of these breads are white, the vast majority of my baking is still 100% whole grain.

But, dangit, white bread -- I just can't quit ya.

I was particularly pleased with the poolish demi-baguettes that I made for dinner last night. I had my first acorn squash of the season, and had made a soup with it. For some reason, poolish baguettes seemed just the right accompaniment.

These are, without a doubt, the best looking baguettes I've ever made. Took a lot of less-than-perfect loaves, but I think I now understand how to shape these buggers so they don't look like a string bean with big bulbous ends, how to time them so they still have some room to spring in the oven, and how to slash them so they look like ... well ... a baguette.

The insides were lovely.

Today, they were starting to get stale, so I cut the leftover baguette in half and broiled it with some mozzarella, which we ate with a chopped up tomato from the garden. These were about 12 oz each, with 33 percent of the flour in the pre-ferment and a hydration of 66%. I used about 1/16 tsp of yeast in the poolish (135g of water and flour, each) and then about 2g instant yeast in the final dough (270 flour, 135 water, 8g salt). The poolish ripened for about 12 hours, but it's pretty cold in my house -- mid 60s at bestt.

Earlier in the week, I also made a white sourdough (20% of the flour in a thick starter at 60% hydration -- the starter was 100% whole wheat, and the overall hydration was about 75%) which I let retard overnight outside. It was lovely, but the top seemed as if it wanted to peel away. Was probably a little underproofed.

Again, I was pleased with the crumb.

Hopefully, things have calmed down enough so that I can post a little more frequently. I've missed this community!

dmsnyder's picture

Sourdough Italian Bread

Sourdough Italian Bread

Sourdough Italian Bread crumb

Sourdough Italian Bread crumb

This bread is based on the Italian Bread formula in Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice." The only change I made was to substitute a biga naturale (sourdough starter) for the biga made with instant yeast in Reinhart's formula. I still added the instant yeast to the final dough.

I also employed the "stretch and knead in the bowl" technique during bulk fermentation, even though I used a KitchenAid mixer for mixing beforehand.

Intermediate starter (Biga naturale)

3 oz. Active starter

9 oz. Water

12 oz. KAF Bread flour

Final Dough

18 oz. Biga naturale (Note: save the remaining 6 oz. for another bread.)

11.25 oz. KAF Bread flour

o.41 oz. (1-2/3 tsp) Salt

0.5 oz. (1 T) Sugar

0.11 oz (1 tsp) Instant yeast

0.17 oz. (1 tsp) Diastatic barley malt powder

0.5 oz (1 T) olive oil

7 oz (¾ cup) Water at 80F

Sesame seeds for coating.

Semolina to dust the parchment paper.

Mix and ferment the biga.

Mix the biga naturale the evening before baking. Dissolve the starter in the water in a medium sized bowl, then add the flour and mix thoroughly to hydrate the flour and distribute the starter. Cover the bowl tightly and allow to ferment for 3-6 hours, until it doubles in volume. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the biga from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up for an hour or so.

Mix the dough

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and malt powder in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer. Add the biga in pieces, olive oil and ¾ cups of tepid water and mix thoroughly. Adjust the dough consistency by adding small amounts of water or flour as necessary. The dough should be very slack at this point.

I mixed the dough with the dough hook in the KA mixer for 10 minutes then transferred it to an 8 cup/2 liter glass pitcher that had been lightly oiled.


I stretched and folded the dough in the pitcher with a rubber spatula then covered it tightly. I repeated the stretch and fold again 20 and 40 minutes later. I then left the dough to ferment until it was double the original volume. This took about 60 minutes. (Approximately 2 hours total bulk fermentation.)

Divide and form

Divide into 2 pieces and pre-form as logs. Allow the dough to rest 5 minutes or more, then form into bâtards. If desired, spray or brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Prepare a couche – either a floured piece of baker's linen or parchment paper sprinkled with semolina.

Pre-heat the oven to 500F with a baking stone on the middle shelf. Make preparations for steaming the oven.

Place the loaves in the couche, cover with plastic or a towel and allow to proof until 1-1/2 times their original size.


Score the loaves and transfer them to the baking stone. Bake with steam, using your favorite method. After loading the loaves and steaming, turn the over down to 450F and bake until done (about 20 minutes). If you want a thicker crust, use a lower temperature and bake for longer.


Allow to cool before slicing, if you can.



gmask1's picture

Well, I took all of your comments with me to the kitchen, and turned out the loaves you see below: 

Not too dissimilar from my previous attempt, however I did note some differences:

- They're hard to make out, but you might be able to spot the holes in the top of the left loaf where I tried to dock each of the loaves using suggestions on my last blog entry (this was done prior to proofing). I didn't have a pencil handy, but I did have a chopstick, and used it to make half-inch or so holes along the top of the loaves. The dough was still pretty sticky and clung to the chopstick, so I'm unsure whether they had any lasting effect, or if they just closed up again during proofing. The loafs tore along the side as you can see.

- The fermentation times were changed, in the order of 12 hours for the first rise, then about 18 for the second (including 9 hours at room temperature, 8 hours in the fridge while I was at work, and 1 hour returning to room temperature). Proofing was two hours. The final loaves are not nearly as tangy as my previous attempt, and taste much more like the loaves we buy from the grocery (the word that came to mind was 'mainstream', but I'm not sure that's appropriate!).

- On the suggestion of a friend at work, I used a spray bottle to moisten the top of the loaves immediately prior to loading them in the oven. The resulting crust is much softer than the previous attempt, and not as chewy. I'm not sure if there's a direct link there, but it certainly seems that way. 

chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

Fanoos Ramadan or Ramadan's Lamp or lantern is one of the Egyptian traditions however it is known in many other Islamic countries now. The tradition started in the year 358 AH (Hijri) on the 15th of Ramadan when the Fatimi leader El Mo'ez Le Deen Allah enered Egypt, and the Egyptians recieved him with lamps and torches. And since then the Fanoos has been known as one of the main symbols of Ramadan and most of the people own it and light it in Ramadan, especially children. There has been also varios songs related to Ramadan talking about the Fanoos and the Mesaharaty - some one who wakes people up at night in order to eat before fasting. The tradition fanoos contained a candle in it, while today's ones have different shapes and using battries and LED's instead of candles

During the competition , that i told you about it, i tried to make " fanoos" from " la pate morte" or the dead dough,i really do not like the idea of decorative stuff using eatable ingredients, so i made a small one, i do not like to consume a lot of flour and oil , just to decorate non eatable and decorative dish because some people die from hunger, anyway, here you are the pics of my fanoos,

In this picture, i put a real candle, the necklace also from the pate morte" actually it is not a necklace", muslims use it in praying and mention allah"I saw it also in the hands of christian nans, they use  it too, i saw it when i was in my christian nans school " la mere de dieu".

but i do not know its name in english " what a shame!!!"

I use my fanoos to decorate our dinning  room table during the whole month.

Anyway did you like my fanoos???

chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

Dear friends,

this month for all the muslims is Ramadan.It is a time for spiritual purification achieved through fasting, self-sacrifice and prayers.

We Celebrate it during the ninth month of Islamic calendar, the fast is observed each day from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam. The Islamic belief that requires that Muslims perform five central duties in order to strengthen their faith. While Islam has two major sects, the Sunnis and the Shiites, all Muslims aim to realize these five pillars in their lifetime.

Ramadan concludes with a 3-day festival known as "Eid" or "Eid ul-Fitr," which literally means "the feast of the breaking/to break the fast." The holiday marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and is a culmination of the month-long struggle towards a higher spiritual state.

We have " the egyptians", some traditions "specially in food", also some plates , that you can not see it in all the rest of the year.

I am from Cairo , but we mooved to Alexandria a long time ago, i discovered a special kind of bread appears just in Ramadan, bakeries prepare it at night , so people can buy it and eat it fresh on dinner before thesunrise.

I participated in a competition ,concerning traditional dishes all around the arabic world, i made Fasting Bread, the ingredients are so simple " eggs , white flour, milk , some oil or butter".

But my own touch was different , i wrote on it " Ramadan Karim" means : wishing you generous and happy ramadan, i also paint on it.It was not my first time, i use to draw on my brioche.

Here you are the pics:-

I gave to my old neighbor one loaf, i freezed some loaves to my kids , and made sandwiches after cutting it to quarters, they really enjoyed it.

My dear husband and me , served it with our everyday dinner in Ramadan " youghurt , beans , feta cheese, some vegetables" They were all my home made.

We really enjoyed it.

Thanks to you all, and stay tuned i will put my Ramadan lantern made from the dead dough, and the feast biscuits and cookies.

Love you all

donk12's picture

I've tried 3 or 4 different recipes for ciabatta and all have basically the same ingredients, but for some reason I come up with the same result. Soft crust and a dense center. Everything goes fine during the mixing process, which I come out with this sticky dough, but my final product just doesn't come out right. Where am I going wrong? What do I have to do to get that crispy, rustic crust and center full of limitless air pockets.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Today was a good day. Strangely. It started horribly. Nothing was going my way. I thought my chicken had gone rancid on me. I was dropping things constantly. I thought my bread overproofed.

Nope. All went just fine.

Today's bake was something of a hurried thing. I knew that sometime this week I wanted to make burgers. We tend to like ground pork instead of beef for our burgers and thus I decided that there's nothing better with pork than more pork: burgers with bacon, sharp vermont cheddar, and caramelized red onion for tomorrow's dinner. I pulled the meat out of the fridge to thaw and then set out to make the buns.

I know that this is a forum of bread bakers, but have you looked at how many supermarket breads recently have high fructose corn syrup in them? Since my daughter is now getting to the age where she's going to start eating real food (as opposed to her babyfood purees), I'm trying to cut it out of our diet as much as possible. So I look to see if I can find some buns without some because she will undoubtedly want a bite of the bun...and I come up with *nothing*. There wasn't one bread on the shelf that didn't have HFCS in it. So homemade buns it is.

Now comes the tricky part. I'd never made buns before. I've picked up sandwich bread fairly quickly and can get a good loaf of that, and what I really wanted was sandwich bread in a smaller form. A slightly crisp crust with a very moist but still hearty inside. Immediately I go toward Bob's Red Mill graham flour. So I start my dough with 2 cups of whole wheat graham flour and 1 cup of distilled water. Into this I also put 2 (!) tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. Mixed until I got a cohesive dough, and then let it sit on the counter for 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. I wanted the wheat to fully soak up the water.

2 hours later, I mix a few more things into the dough. 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 4 tablepoons butter, 4 teaspoons yeast, and 2-3 tablespoons of honey. To this I add enough Harvest King bread flour to make a very wet, sticky dough. I'd say about 2.5 cups or so. I knead this together, put it in the bowl, and walk away for 20 minutes. After that 20 minutes I flatten the dough a bit, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of salt or thereabouts, and knead it in for about 7 more minutes. Then I walk away for another 20. One final knead for about 5 minutes, and on to the real bulk rise. Takes about an hour. Then I shape the rolls (and one very short but tasty loaf) and put them in the pan to rise. I shaped 6 large rolls since they're going to be burger buns tomorrow, but for the next occasion they'll probably be smaller. Let them proof for 45 minutes and into the oven.

The only issue that I have with them is that they aren't brown on the top by any means. I'm going to brush with egg yolk next time to get more color. The taste, however, is killer, and they'll work well with the burgers.

whole wheat buns, background, and crumb, foreground (blurred a bit, darn my camera phone)

I'm learning, and I'm loving every second of it. Without this site I'm sure learning would have been possible, but I couldn't pick a better group of people to share the experience with. You're all so helpful and very understanding. I'm glad I have some like-minded people to share both my successes and failures with. :)

apprentice's picture

I love this bread! I love it for a lot of reasons, not least of which that it's easy and delicious. I also feel as if I'm reclaiming a bit of our bread heritage, when I make this loaf. Barley has a long and wonderful history. Now it is almost exclusively used in brewing – understandable on account of its very low gluten content. But a pity from the nutritional point of view!

I've made it three times, and I'm not quite there yet. But I'm well within sight of the changes that will make it work for me. So here's the story to date:

#1 Bake: The dough, silky soft and extensible. Not much elasticity:













Bulk ferment was good, but not much oomph left for the proof.

Shaped as pain-fesses, about as ready as it would ever get.













Beautiful crumb, lovely taste:













But short!!!!

















Got a little more height after experimenting. That's Bake #2 on the right:













The trick seems to be substituting some bread flour for a portion of the whole wheat. I also threw in a pinch of gluten. Am happy to share the percentages of barley, ww and bread flour that seem to work best for me. But it will have to wait until I return from a short holiday.

Meanwhile, if anyone else wants to play with this, go check out the thread on Mini O's Oat & Barley Loaf. PMcCool posted Jaine's recipe there about half-way down. It's dated Aug. 23/06. (Sorry, the taxi's due, or I'd go get the link to post it here for you.)

Happy Baking!


ehanner's picture

Early (really early)this morning I mixed up a big batch of Susan's SD. I planned to bake this 3 pound batch as a single boule under cover with steam which is what I do when I know Susan will be grading how I did on her recipe.

This turned out wonderfully IMHO. The oven spring is about all I could expect and the color is perfect for my tastes. It took 33 minutes at 450F (I lowered the heat to 400F at 28 minutes). At the end I followed my friend David's advice and left the bread in the oven with the oven off and the door cracked, to crisp up the crust. And, I added 1% diastatic malt (8g) to the final dough in hopes of enhancing the color just a bit.

The crumb isn't as open as Davids but then I didn't give it any retarded ferment time. The flavor is a mild sour and a great wholesome flavor. I wouldn't say that I can taste the malt but this is the best sourdough I have made-ever. That's saying something considering the many varieties I have tried. We like a mild sour and I like it a little more so but some people cringe when you get a full sour that turns your toes up. I have no doubt this would be really sour with an overnight retarded ferment .

I get the sense that there is something going on with the total mass of the loaf. This might not make any logical sense but all of the aspects of tastes I look at and can judge seem better in a larger loaf. It is just dawning on me that maybe this is a SD Miche. Any thoughts on that?


Susans Giant Boule
Susan's Giant Boule

Giant Boule-Crumb
Giant Boule-Crumb


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