The Fresh Loaf

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Floydm's picture

We just got back from our first trip to Europe with kids, our first trip overseas in nearly twelve years. We spent most of it in southern France but flew in and out of Paris.

As you can imagine, I made all kinds of plans for hitting bakeries while passing through Paris.  We got in on a Sunday and left Paris early Monday though, so most bakeries were closed.  We did find one that was open in the neighborhood we were staying in, which was on Rue de Lombards, one of the gayer streets in gay Paris.  Coincidentally it was also pride weekend, so the bakery was baking up special treats.

We headed to Montpellier after that, where I had a lot of really good though not incredible bread.  I wasn't so envious of the quality of the bread, which was comparable to what you can find in a good bakery here, as I was the abundance:  whereas we have four or maybe five good bakeries in all of Portland, every five or ten blocks in Montpellier there were decent bakeries.  Every the baguettes they sold in the grocery stores were quite good.  And cheap.  And I really loved these:

Nothing fancy, obviously, but mildly sweet chocolate brioche that you can find in every grocery?  I'm extremely envious.  I wish we had breakfast buns readily available that weren't as syrupy sweet as doughnuts or Danishs.  The closest thing I can thing of here is Kings Hawaiian Sweet Bread which is quite good but not the same.

When we returned to Paris I tried to arrange to hit some of the better known bakeries but didn't have much luck.  We got sandwiches from Pain D'Epis and I snapped a few photos but it was the middle of the day and we were headed to Les Invalides, so I didn't buy any of their breads.  They were nice looking though.

Julien was the bakery we went to the most.

Gosselin, which I tried to visit. Unfortunately it was being remodeled.

Oh yeah, and I wanted to head over to Poilâne on our final day in Paris but opted to take the kids to the Pompidou instead, but noticed they had Poilâne bread in the local grocery store.  So I tried it this way.


hanseata's picture

Today's baking was my (less sweetened) version of the German Many Seed Bread from "Whole Grain Baking". Instead of a soaker and a biga I used just the soaker with stretch & fold technique for the first time, adding some more water. The breads turned out really nice, I think it's an improvement.

Sorry, no crumb shot - these breads were for sale.

dmsnyder's picture


I made my San Joaquin Sourdough today with a couple of modifications.


The last few bakes, I have substituted a liquid levain for the the firmer levain and also have used a higher percentage of levain, although, since I've used a liquid levain, the percentage of pre-fermented flour in the dough is actually lower. Also, note that, while the “final dough” hydration is 72%, the total dough hydration is actually closer to 78% because of the high-hydration levain. This is actually a somewhat higher hydration than my original formula for San Joaquin Sourdough.

The second modification was to cold retard the dough for a longer time – 36 hours as opposed to the 16-20 hours I have generally used. This was for my convenience, but I've also been curious about the effects of longer cold retardation on this dough.


Liquid Levain:

Baker's %

Weight (g)













Final Dough:

Baker's %

Weight (g)

AP Flour



Whole Rye Flour
















  1. Mix the liquid levain (1:5:4 – Starter:Water:Flour). Let it ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

  2. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the starter and dissolve it in the water.

  3. Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix thoroughly using the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

  5. Repeat the “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and do a stretch and fold.

  7. Return the dough to the bowl and cover.

  8. After 45 minutes, repeat the stretch and fold on the board.

  9. Reform the dough into a ball and replace it in the bowl.

  10. Allow the dough to continue fermenting until the volume has increased 25%.

  11. Cold retard the dough for about 36 hours.

  12. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately transfer it to a lightly floured board.

  13. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape them into logs or rounds, depending on whether you want to make boules or bâtards. Cover the pieces with plasti-crap and let them rest for 60 minutes. (Give them a shorter rest if the kitchen is very warm. You don't want them to expand very much, if any.)

  14. Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  15. Shape the pieces and place them in bannetons or on a couche. Cover the loaves and proof them until they have expanded by 50-70%. (30-45 minutes)

  16. Pre-steam the oven. The transfer the loaves to a peel (or equivalent). Score them, and load them onto your baking stone.

  17. Steam the oven. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

  18. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus. Turn the loaves 180º, if necessary for even browning.

  19. Continue to bake the loaves for another 15-18 minutes or until their internal temperature is 205ºF.

  20. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  21. Cool the loaves completely before slicing.

Because I was planning on a longer cold fermentation, I refrigerated the dough sooner than I would have otherwise – when it had expanded about 25%. In the refrigerator, the dough continued to expand, but very slowly. At 24 hours, it had expanded to 150% its original volume. At 36 hours, it had doubled in volume.

The dough was of about the same consistency as usual. This is a sticky dough, at 78% hydration, but it was easy to handle with lightly floured hands. The dough had nice extensibility but excellent strength. The pre-shaped pieces and shaped loaves held their shapes very well. I could not say that the longer cold retardation resulted in any problematic gluten degradation.

The crumb was as expected with this bread. There was no evident effect from the longer retardation. The flavor, on the other hand, was distinctly tangier. The initial flavor was the lovely, complex flavor of the San Joaquin Sourdough. The moderate sourness came through a bit later, and the flavor lingered on the palate for an exceptionally long time.

I would certainly recommend trying this version to any who have enjoyed the San Joaquin Sourdough before and favor a more assertive sourdough tang to their bread.


Submitted to YeastSpotting


holds99's picture


I'm not really sure if there is a fixed definition for a miche.  From what I can determine, from reading baking books and information posted on the Internet, there are numerous miche formulas, ranging from exclusively whole wheat to mixed-flour.  Based on my limited research, one thing that seems to make them stand out from the crowd is their size---they're big.  The legendary French baker Lionel Poilâne, who reintroduced the miche in Paris in the 1970s created his loaves using stone-ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven.  Mr.  Poilâne's loaves weighed 2 kilograms each (4.4 lbs).  I made mine approximately the same size.  His were round, mine are oval, because, as you can see from the oven photo, that's the only way I could get these two big guys into my oven.

"Poilâne is most famous for a round, two-kilogram sourdough country bread referred to as a miche or pain Poilâne. This bread is often referred to as wholewheat but in fact is not: the flour used is mostly so-called grey flour of 85% extraction (meaning that some but not all of the wheat bran is retained). According to Poilâne's own website, the dough also contains 30% spelt, an ancestor of wheat." [Wikipedia]

After a number of iterations I've come up with a mix of flours that I like and, for my taste, has good flavor.  I also incorporated a soaker in this version.  Anyway, here's the latest iteration. 

This recipe uses a double levain build, a total 14-18 hrs. total build, depending on room temperature (I used a tablespoon of mature culture, equal amounts all-purpose flour and water for each build (8 oz. water, 7 oz. flour)).

Final Dough

All the levain - 29 oz.

White all-purpose flour - 34 oz.

White whole wheat flour - 16 oz.

light rye flour - 7 oz.

Water -  35 oz.

Salt - 1.5 oz (2 Tb.)

Soaker (optional) 2 cups cracked rye

Total water = 51 oz (including levain)

Total flour = 71 oz (including levain)

Hydration = 71%

Note: Give the dough three (3) stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals.  Then retard it in fridge overnight or for up to 20 hours before removing and bringing to room temp. After the dough reaches room temp. (approx. 2 hrs.) divide, shape and place in bannetons seam side up.  Allow to nearly double in volume (finger poke test) and turn out of bannetons onto parchment lined baking pans sprinkled heavily with semolina flour.  Score the loaves and bake in preheated (475 deg. over) with steam.  After 10 minutes reduce heat to 450 deg.  Bake for 40-50 min. Check for an internal temp. of [EDIT] 205-210 deg.

Cool on wire racks.

breadsong's picture


I picked up the CIA book "Artisan Breads at Home" by Eric Kastel from the library and was delighted to find a recipe for Chipotle Sourdough, using pureed chipotle chiles in adobo as an add-in.

For 48 ounces of dough, the recipe calls for 2.6 ounces of pureed chipotles combined with 1.3 ounces whole wheat flour as the add-in; I kneaded this in by hand at the end of mixing.

This bread is spicy and so, so tasty. I think it will be perfect to serve with an al fresco Mexican dinner and Margaritas!

The author advises the reader to "use it to create your most memorable grilled cheese sandwich" - a great idea I can't wait to try.

It's too bad the crumb shot doesn't show any pieces of chipotle chile - but they're in there, trust me!












Jw's picture

What is far away depends very much on your own perspective... I was in San Diego, CA, last saturday. Great farmers market in Little Italy. Surpised by the quality of Sorry that I could not buy anthing - the market was at the beginning of my stay there-, but it sure was tempting.

And my boy just returned from Paris (a week's holiday) and brought me the following from Poilane. What more can one wish for? It smells great. Time for some holidays now! Happy baking. Cheers, Jw.



trailrunner's picture

I followed the detailed postings and the bread was a success. It is very easy to handle and the shaping /scoring are a cinch due to the texture after all that chilling. I loved the crust and crumb. It exploded with crumbs when we broke into the loaf....just as the New Orleans French bread used to do before they ruined the way they make it. I will definitely be making this again and again. I used the 1/2 tsp yeast and didn't get much rise in the  fridge over the 24 hr period. I was a little worried but it did great in the oven. Here are pics.

pasta making: Photobucket fresh tomato topping for pasta and baguette: Photobucket finished with some lovely aged parmesan and a chunk of bread...broken  not sliced :Photobucket

AurorasBreads's picture

Well, here goes nothing! I have been baking for years (the usual...cookies, fruit breads, desserts, etc.) and recently decided to try my hand at bread baking. I baked a few using active dry yeasts from the grocery store and they turned out pretty nice. But I realized that I wanted to make my own starter so I took on an ambitious project of starting one of my own to capture the wild yeasts instead of using the packaged kind. My starter is going well (it's been about 7days) and I am ready to bake my first loaf of bread. My problem, however, is that I can't seem to find any recipes in my books that ask for a sourdough sponge...all they use is active dry yeasts and quick-rise yeasts. I have "Bread Alone" by Daniel Leader and "The Bread Bible" by Beth Hensperger (both great books!) but neither of them seem to have any recipes that call for a sourdough starter that I have made myself. Can you substitute the dry yeasts with the wet ones (the sourdough starter that I have made) and if so, what is the ratio? Any help that could be offered would be greatly appreciated! Thank you and happy baking :)

varda's picture

I continue to bake in my mud oven - in fact I haven't baked any bread at all in my "indoor" oven so far this summer.   It is a steep learning curve.   Since I last posted, I have added a thermometer and a door (essential) a peel (helpful) and have started to use parchment paper to keep things cleaner.   I continue to make my slow progress through Hamelman's Bread.   Today I tried Semolina with a levain.  (page 171)   I split it into three small loaves which are a bit more manageable.    Here they are. 

and the crumb

When I finished baking, I put tonight's dinner (chicken and vegetables) in a dutch oven into the oven and let it cook with the "leftover" heat for several hours.   And served with bread of course.

txfarmer's picture

This is another recipe from "A Blessing of Bread", while the last sourdough challah from that book (I blogged about it here) was very traditional and authentic, this one, is definitely not. 75% of the flour is whole wheat, no eggs, just some oil and minimal honey to tenderize, no egg wash on the surface (the recipe suggests a cornstarch wash instead, I used butter), and a very hot/long bake to get the dark crust. It's not as eye catching as traditional golden challahs, but the taste is wonderful. The dark and hard crust contrasts nicely with the soft crumb, and complex ww flavor is enhanced by sourdough and long fermentation - different from all the other challah breads I've made and tasted, but got major charm of its own.

The following formula makes a 900g loaf, which is scaled down from the book:


starter (60%), 22.5g

bread flour, 120g

water, 75g

1. Mix into a dough, cover and let rise for 8-12 hours.

-main dough

ww flour, 375g (I used King Arthur WW Flour)

water, 289g

salt, 9g

veg oil, 42g

honey, 15g

all of the preferment

2. Mix ww flour and water, autolyse for 20 minutes. Add other ingredients, mix well until glutens are well developed. About 12 minutes in my KA pro 6 mixer. See windowpane test below.

3. Bulk rise about 2 hours @73F.

4. Divide, round, relax, and braid. I tried two single braids in a 8inch squre cake pan.

5. Proof @ room temp until triple in size and do not push back. About 5.5 hours in my case.

6. Spray water on the surface, bake @430F for 45 to 1 hour, 50min was perfect for mine.

7. In the mean time, prepare cornstarch wash by mixing 1tsp cornstarch and 1/3cup water, boil until solution becomes clear. Brush onto loaf when it's hot from oven. Cool for 5 minutes, brush again. Note that I did NOT do this, I brushed the warm loaf with melted butter. The crust got a bit soft from it, but flavor was great.


Judging from the dark and hard crust, I thought the crumb would be like a hearth ww bread, nope, it's actually soft and spongy, contrasts nicely with the crust.


I love how WW breads taste, sourdough starter and long fermentation add yet another dimension to the flavor profile, definitely recommend it.


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