The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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JoeVa's picture

Yesterday, I was reading about Ezio Marinato. He is a famous italian baker and teacher, one of the most representative member of the italian team at the "Couple du Monde the Boulangerie - Paris" (along with Piergiorgio Giorilli) and gold medal at the "Mondial du Pain, Goût et Nutrition - Lyon 2007".

He is also a baking consultant and I already knew him because of his work with Molino Quaglia and Farina Petra.

So, I was reading about his bread/courses/work ... and I stopped on this bread: "Pane a Lievito Naturale con Segale Integrale", that is "Sourdough Bread with Whole Rye". As I am in a "focus on process" period, or "... learn the subtle art of fermentation ..." (Shiao-Ping reminds me Hamelman's statement in the post "body and mind"), I thought this bread could be really close to the basic Pain Au Levain I'm working on.

After a receipt translation to bakers % I saw again that schema! It's a while I see that schema, maybe with some little differences in the process, and when you see the same bread made with almost the same schema by a lot of professional/inspired bakers you focus on the subtle art of fermentation.

My first thought was: this is J.Hamelman Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain but:

  • not increased prefermented flour: 15% vs 20%

  • not liquid levain: stiff 50% hydration vs liquid 125% hydration

  • more "intensive mix" vs "improved mix"

Now that I have a better knowledge of mixing techniques and requirements (thanks to Dan DiMuzio book) I understand the main timing difference in the process: 01:00 bulk + 03:00 proof @26°C vs 02:30 bulk + 02:30 proof @25°C.

Here the original receipt, I let you play with all the math!

Ingredients: 4000g bread flour (W280), 1000g whole rye flour, 1500g stiff levain, 25g malt, 50g toasted malt, 100g salt, 3500g water.

Dough temperature: 26/28 °C

Mixing: 5 minutes speed 1 + 10 minutes speed 2

Directions: autolyze the flour with 2750g water, mix 5/6 minutes in speed 1; wait 30 minutes, then add all the ingredients and the remaining water, mix 10 minutes speed 2. Bulk fermentation about 70/80 minutes at 27°C. Division (suggested piece 500g to 1000g) and preshaping with 15 minutes bench rest, then proof at 28°C for about 3 hours. Bake.

Here my attempt at the bread. I adjusted timing and ingredients according to my environment (for example I raised the final hydration from 66% to about 68%). Next try a would go for a short mix that is higher hydration (70%) longer bulk fermentation (3 hours) with 4/5 set of stretch and fold.

     [The stiff starter before and after 8/10 hours @20/22°C, inoculation 25%]

                 [Malted Barley Flour + toasted and dough before autolyse]

                  [The bread]

                  [The crumb]

This bread was prepared in my mom's kitchen and baked 3 Km far in my "new working on house" where my oven is now placed. When I will finish to build my kitchen this oven will be dismissed so this is the last opportunities to show it to you.


Here the "technical specifications": very cheap electric static oven, 20 years old, crazy temperature controller, hot in the back cool in the front, no light bulb (exploded), no door handle (broken, I use a screwdriver to open the door).

occidental's picture

I've been reading David's many posts on his blog about San Joaquin Sourdough, a formula he developed that was inspired by a long bulk ferment Janedo wrote about after a visit with Anis Bouabsa.  David had tried enough variations of this formula I had to do some reading before I settled on the approach I was going to take for my first attempt. 


From bread

I started with a 65% hydration starter that I refereshed and let mature for approximately 6 hours.  It had definitely started to grow but had not reached the peak of it's activity when i proceeded to the next step.  I then incoorporated 100 grams of the 65% levain with:

  • 370 g water
  • 450 g bread flour
  • 10 g dark rye flour
  • 40 g whole wheat flour

I mixed and let autolyze for approximately 30 minutes.  I then added:

  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 10 g sea salt

I proceeded to fold this mixture 3 times in the bowl, for approximately 15 folds each time, spaced about 20 minutes apart.  I intended on 20 folds but the dough seemed to have enough, or maybe too much strength after 15 turns so I stopped when the dough told me to.



From bread

After mixing and kneading (folding) I placed the dough in the fridge overnight.  Instead of keeping the dough in the fridge until just prior to shaping as David suggests I removed it and placed in a cool room (~55 degrees F) to encourage a little more growth.  I have found that placing the dough my fridge may retard it a bit too much and I desired a little growth before dividing and shaping.  The time in the fridge was about 15 hours, followed by about 5 hours in the cooler (50 degree) room.  I then divided the dough into 2 pieces and pre-shaped, and let sit for approximately 1 hour.  I then did the final shape and let sit again for approximately 45 minutes.  During the time in between shapings there is not much growth to the dough, you are expecting most of your rise once the loaf hits the oven.  I pre-heated my oven to 500 degrees F, about 1 hour prior to baking.  I scored the loaves I added some steam once I added the loaves.  About ten minutes into the bake I was pleased to look into the oven and see that the loaves were getting a nice oven spring and my score was going to result in a nice 'ear', which was pretty exciting since this doesn't happen just every day for I had to get a pic:


From bread

I baked the loaves about 40 minutes, reducing the temp from 500 to 460 once the loaves were in the oven.


From bread

As for the crumb, it is very open, has great flecks of whole wheat and rye, although that is not very evident from these photos, and flavor is out of this world!


From bread

As David has done, I envision experimenting around more with these methods and the ingredients, learning from them and creating my own favorite formula....


From bread

By the way, this bread was a great compliment to the strawberry jalapeno glazed ribs that came off the grill not long after this bread cooled....

From bread
dmsnyder's picture

A couple weeks ago, I made Greek bread (Horiatiko Psomi) for the first time (See: Greek Bread - I finally make it with my Greek daughter-in-law). I based it on this recipe, which my Greek daughter-in-law said seemed closest to the bread she had had in Greece. It was good, but I felt it could be improved. I had intended to make the bread with some durum flour, but forgot to use it. Although everyone enjoyed the bread, I felt the crumb suffered from slight under-development of the gluten. Everything I'd heard or read said this was supposed to be a dense bread, but I felt it would be better, even if less authentic, with a more aerated crumb.

Today, I made another batch. I remembered to use some durum flour this time. I used a combination of mechanical mixing and stretch and fold to develop the gluten. I had planned on making it as a sourdough, but, because of time constraints, I did spike it with some instant yeast. I think it turned out well.

Horiatiko Psomi (pronounced hoh-ree-AH-tee-koh psoh-MEE)


Liquid levain




Mature sourdough starter

28 gms (2 T)

Bread flour

85 gms


113 gms


Final Dough




Durum flour

200 gms

Bread flour

775 gms


600 gms


2 T

Olive oil

2 T


2 T


1 T


All of above

Instant yeast (optional)

½ tsp

Sesame seeds

About 1 T



  1. To make the liquid levain, in a medium bowl, dissolve the mature starter in the water. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl tightly and ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

  2. To make the final dough, mix the water, instant yeast (if used), milk, oil, honey and levain in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  3. Mix the salt with the flour and add 2/3 of it to the liquids. Mix until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover and allow to rest for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Mix at 2nd speed until you have an early window pane. (About 4-6 minutes in a Bosch Universal Plus mixer.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and do one stretch and fold. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Roll the dough in the oil. Cover the bowl.

  6. Ferment the dough until doubled in bulk with one stretch and fold after an hour. (About 2-2 ½ hours)

  7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as balls.

  8. Cover the pieces and let them rest to relax the gluten for 10-15 minutes.

  9. Shape the pieces into boules and place them in floured bannetons.

  10. Proof the boules until they have expanded to 1.5-1.75 times their original size.

  11. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  12. Pre-steam the oven.

  13. Transfer the loaves to a peel or to parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Brush the loaves with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Score the loaves with 3 parallel cuts about ½ inch deep.

  14. Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. Immediately steam the oven. Close the oven door, and turn the temperature down to 450ºF.

  15. After 12 minutes, remove the steam source. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes. Check the loaves every so often, and, if they appear to be darkening too fast, turn the over down to 430-440ºF. (Note: I did not turn the oven down from 450ºF, and the loaves turned out a bit darker than I wanted.)

  16. The loaves are done when the bottom sounds hollow when thumped and their internal temperature is 205ºF.

  17. When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes to dry the crust.

  18. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  19. Cool thoroughly before slicing and serving.

As noted above, the breads turned out a bit darker than I had wished. Next time, I'll bake at a lower temperature or turn the oven down a bit half way through the bake.

The crust was thin and chewy with a nice flavor from the sesame seeds. The crumb was quite open, considering the low hydration. It was very pleasantly chewy but did not have a dense mouth feel. The flavor was marvelous! It had a mildly sweet flavor from the honey and nuttiness from the durum flour.

I'm not sure I'd change anything, other than baking at a lower temperature and having my daughter-in-law here to tell me how far I'd strayed from Greek authenticity.


Submitted to YeastSpotting.

moxiemolly's picture

I started last night with an experimental poolish, 1/8 tsp yeast 1 cup AP flour and 1 C water. This morning I added that to 5 C flour, 2 tsp yeast (proofed with sugar and 1 C water) and 1TBS salt. I mixed by hand and started kneading and after ten mins this is what I had:

So I posted it in the photos forum with a plea for help and figured out that I added a whole cup too much flour! It was a dry, dry dough, tearing when I pushed on it and not sticking to itself whatsoever.

So in a desperate effort to save my overnight investment I put it in the cuisinart with about 2/3 C water and let it spin. It mixed in well and I kneaded it for a few more minutes, this is what I had then:


Much better but I still had some doubts. I let it rise for about 4 hrs total, folding every once and a while, cut it in two and let the boules proof for about 30 mins. Next time I will proof for an hour and see what happens! I baked them and oh my did they turn out well! Crusty and chewy and moist and full of flavor. The best crumb yet!

Yummy! Thank you TFL!


jacobsbrook's picture

As a parent of a 9 year old, I am attempting  to teach him how to be self sufficient.  This is my gift to him.  He has been growing his own vegetable garden for two years now.  Often giving extra vegetables to people camping in our campground.  All soups are made from scratch at home.  Tomorrow he will be learning how to make cheddar brocolli :)   Meanwhile he and I are learning to bake our favorite breads at home.  Last week he sat with me, watching videos about shaping baguettes and decided he was ready to try.  I'm proud of my little guy.  He is perfecting his stretch and fold and seems to be getting the shaping of baguettes down better than Mom.  The short baguettes in this picture he made today to bring to a friends house.  How cool is that!

pmccool's picture

Hallelujah!  I located rye flour today at a store within reasonable driving distance!  And not just simply rye flour: I can get wholemeal rye, medium rye and crushed rye.  Thanks MiniO for one of your tips; I went to the mill's web site, looked at their list of stockists (for the Americans, the equivalent would be retailers), and finally made it to the store today.  For anyone else in the Pretoria (Tshwane) area, it is the SuperSpar store at the Silver Lakes shopping center, just off Hans Strijdom Drive.

I decided to slowly work my way back into baking with rye and limited myself to a bag of medium rye (which I had already wheedled from the baker before rounding the corner of the aisle containing flours - oh me of little faith).

Since I had pulled my starter out of cold storage last evening and given it a feeding, I nipped off a tablespoon or so, stirred in some water and enough rye to make a thick paste.  It's sitting on the counter now.  With any luck, the party for the lacto-, aceto- and yeast-beasties should be revving up.

I noticed that the gluten in the starter was almost completely destroyed, so I took a taste and was surprised by the intense acidity.  I think my starter may be longer on bacteria than on yeast, so I'll try running it closer to 100% hydration for a while (it's normally kept at 50%) to see if that favors yeast development and gets things into a better balance between leavening and flavor critters.

Color me happy!


will slick's picture
will slick

Started this bake last night at 7pm. I was done at Ten A.M. this morning. Mixed Berry braids for the shower and my staff. Chocolate raspberry Braid for the shower. Three loafs of Maltese Bread for my sisters I slashed there first initial on them. All in all I am a Happy baker. My wife was not so happy she had to lug the stuff with her and wait for the chocolate braid to be done.


moxiemolly's picture


Oh man am I happy with these! I loosely used a recipe my mom gave me over the phone years ago. I used less salt and minimal flour. For the first time I felt worthy enough to share with my neighbor/friends! I feel like I'm onto something here :)


Shiao-Ping's picture

This post is to document a technique (or the realization of the lack of it, rather) that became apparent to me while I was making the bread below (the first one).  I subsequently applied it in making the second bread below with good result and would like to share my experience.

It started because I wanted to re-do my last try at Chad Robertson's French-style Country Sourdough back in September.  This was one of my New Year bread Resolutions.  My Imitation of Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough had a serious flaw:  sourdough without whole wheat flour and/or rye flour can hardly be called Country Sourdough (Pain de Campagne).  Very soon after I did that post, it was clear to me that the ratios that I used in my formula with regards to ingredients were nowhere near those used by Chad Robertson; for instance, starter as a percentage of final dough flour, starter hydration and overall dough hydration ratios, etc.  My timeline may be quite accurate as it was pieced together from "A Day in the Life at the Bay Village Bakery" in The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott who interviewed Chad.      

I reconstructed my formula as follows:

  • 450 g ripe 75%-hydration starter (after a special 2-hour levain expansion), 100% baker's percentage

  • 70 g organic stone-ground medium rye flour (10% of total flour)

  • 140 g organic stone-ground whole wheat flour (20% of total flour)

  • 240 g organic unbleached plain flour

  • 316 g water

  • 14 g salt

Total dough weight was 1,230 g and the overall hydration was 72%.






The bread looked gorgeous from the outside.  That was only half of the story.  The crumb revealed the other half of the story:



          London cabs?                                             


                                                                                    THAT hole was where my thumb was (see point (2) below)


While the crumb was lovely to taste, springy to bite, and not altogether dense, I did not develop the full potential of the crumb as would otherwise be manifested in the open cell structure.  I knew this because of what I was able to achieve in my last Chad Robertson bread, using similar formula.  I looked back at what I had done differently, and I think the following was what happened: 

(1) That my starter was over-ripe before I did the two-hour expansion and, despite the two-hour expansion, my starter was still "tired."  My starter was not at its most vigorous when I used it to mix the final dough.  And,

(2) That my stretch and folds could have been better executed.  (I used my left hand to hold and stabilize the dough while my right hand folded it.  As the dough was folded onto itself, my left thumb was in the way because I did the S&F's in a very quick motion as if I was in a hurry or racing to get the job done.  The big hole in the crumb shot above was the mark that my left thumb had left behind.)  The point here, however, is not about the hole so big that a mouse could sneak through.  The point here is that I was stretching and folding the dough too fast that the dough was not allowed an optimal chance for proper gluten development while the fermentation was happening concurrently

I came across the following remark in LeadDog's comment in a post, entitled "Exploring Bread" in Sourdough Companion that best exemplifies what I meant.   He said,


When I was reading "Local Bread" Leader attributed the following concept to Max Poilane:

"Max explained how slow, steady kneading gently conditions the gluten to create an extensible and elastic dough.  The modern practice of high-speed mixing while hurrying along the process, oxygenates the dough too much and bleaches it out, causing the bread to lose flavor and character."


In my formula above, there are at least two more elements that are not consistent with a French-style Country Sourdough.  And these are (a) that the levain is normally a stiff levain, and (b) that the levain normally falls within 25 to 35% of baker's percentage.

Based on the foregoing, I gave it one more try at reproducing Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough that I had when I visited his Tartine Bakery last August in San Francisco.


My formula for Bread Inspired by Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough

  • 150 g just ripe stiff levain @60% hydration (30% baker's percentage)

  • 41 g organic stone-ground medium rye flour (7% of total flour)

  • 82 g organic stone-ground whole wheat flour (14% of total flour)

  • 377 g organic unbleached plain flour

  • 384 g water

  • 11 g salt

Total dough weight was 1040 grams and overall hydration was 74%.




Some main points of my procedure

My room temperature was 28C.  Over the three hours of bulk fermentation (from the time mixing was complete to the time I pre-shaped the dough), I did 4 sets of slow and gentle S&F's of 25 strokes each, every 45 minutes or so apart. 

At the end of each set of S&F's, instead of oiling a separate clean bowl to place the dough in, which I find really troublesome, I dab some oil at the edge of the dough where it meets the mixing bowl all round.  This works really well - the oil protects the dough from tearing through the successive S&F's.  I also oil my fingers so the dough doesn't stick to my fingers.  I have a standing plastic container on the side, in which I have oil, ready to be used.

I proved my shaped dough for about an hour and then placed it in the refrigerator for a 12 hours retarding.






I am very happy with the result and will now close my book on Chad Robertson's country sourdough.  If you are interested to try this recipe, the two-hour levain expansion is not necessary, but just make sure that your starter is very vigorous; under ripe, I think, is better than over-ripe; I would use it as soon as it domes. 

The recipe looks simple.  Its success, however, is all in the understanding of and management of the fermentation and gluten development processes simultaneously.  They are independent of each other and yet co-dependent on each other.  

This is the first time that I felt that our dough should be treated with love.  "Slow and gentle S&F's" means love. 

In closing, may I be presumptuous and say that I would like to bring your attention to a most beautifully written "Meet the baker" story by MC.  So much love came out of her description of Gérard Rubaud, the man, the baker, and his way of making his Pain au Levain.  If you can feel the love, your Pain au Levain will have come to a new level.     




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