The Fresh Loaf

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dmsnyder's picture

Daniel Leader's Pain au Levain formula in "Local Breads" is a mixed white, whole wheat and rye bread. I have made it once before with sunflower seeds, but I thought I should try the "straight" recipe at least once. It turns out, I like it better without the seeds. The whole wheat flavor comes through better, at least fresh out of the oven (cooled for 50 minutes).

 I followed Leader's instructions, except i didn't knead at Speed 4 for 8-10 minutes. I did run the KitchenAid at 4 for bursts of up to 2 minutes. After 9-10 minutes, I got my first window pane! Woo-Hoo!

 We had the bread with dungeness crab cakes, a green salad and a domestic pinot gris. I'll definitely make this bread again. My wife announced I'm having it tomorrow morning as French toast. I think I can stand it. ;-)

 Leader's Pain au Levain

Leader's Pain au Levain

Leader's Pain au Levain - Crumb

Leader's Pain au Levain - Crumb

Preview of coming attractions: I have another Pain au Levain, Hamelman's levain with 3 seeds, in the refrigerator to finish proofing and bake tomorrow.


bwraith's picture

100% Whole Grain Hearth Breads

100% Whole Grain Hearth Breads - Crust

100% Whole Grain Hearth Breads - Crumb

After following the recent adventures of JMonkey with 100% Whole Grain Sourdough and working on answering some of the questions concerning whole grain sourdough breads posted by Ron, Shai, and Taygirl, and wanting to make some bread my wife, who is more of a "true believer" in whole grain breads, would be happier to eat, I've decided to do some experimenting again with whole grain hearth breads. Just to be up front about this, I'm not a "true believer". I'm happy to have some "Work Horse Sourdough" or even a white "Pane Casarecio di Genzano" or a "Sourdough Pagnotta" or a "Thom Leonard CF" or the like in smaller quantities, and just eat other foods to get the nutrients and fiber from the bran and germ that might be missing due to indulging in less than 100% whole grain breads. Nonetheless, when my granola eating friends give me that disapproving look, I just feel guilty if I can't come up with a good 100% Whole Grain Sourdough Hearth Bread to settle their doubts.

With the caveats mentioned above, I still thought this bread had good flavor and texture. My wife was especially happy with it and asked me to keep a small quantity of it on hand at all times in the freezer, along with other favorites. The only other time she has made such a request was for the Sourdough Focaccia, which is an addiction, not a healthy choice.

I made this bread in two different ways. The first is a one-step approach with a very long somewhat cool rise from a very small amount of starter added directly to the final dough ingredients. The second is a two-step approach with an overnight levain allowed to somewhat more than double in volume and a soaker of the remaining whole grain flours that are combined in a final dough with salt and a little malt syrup the next day for a faster warmer final rise. Note that to satisfy the "100% whole grain true believers", I have gone to the trouble of making a whole wheat starter, which I did by taking a tiny amount of my white flour starter and feeding it repeatedly over the course of the past week with exclusively whole wheat flour. Given that I feed the starter 1:4:5 (starter:water:flour by weight) every 12 hours, there is still about 1 billionth of a part of white flour in it. Sorry, I just didn't have time to get it any closer to pure whole grain. However, I then dilute it by a factor of about 100 in the dough, so the final dough is 1/100 billionth white flour or so, just in the interests of full disclosure.

I have spreadsheets for both the two-step version (html, xls), and the one-step version (html, xls). Photos of the process, including a nice pair of roast chicken and some roast yams, later mashed, covered with marshmallows, and allowed to brown in the oven. Kids love those marshmallow covered yams, let me tell you.

Version 1 Mixing and Initial Rise

Version 1 Dough:

  • 15g 80% hydration whole wheat starter (you can probably substitute any whole grain starter, or a white flour starter if you don't mind going a little below 100% whole grain).
  • 41g whole rye flour
  • 141g whole spelt flour
  • 383g Wheat Montana Prairie Gold (high protein white whole wheat flour)
  • 375g Wheat Montana Bronze Chief (high protein red whole wheat flour) or just combine the whole wheat flours and use whatever whole wheat flour(s) you like.
  • 10g organic barley malt syrup
  • 18g salt
  • 758g water

Mixed at 9:55PM with DLX mixer on medium/low for 8 minutes, then folded a couple of times and dropped in covered rising bucket for the night. It started at 74F after mixing and dropped to 70F over a few hours. It was at about 69F the next morning.

Version 2 Levain and Soaker


  • 15g 80% hydration WW starter (same notes as above)
  • 41g whole rye flour
  • 141g whole spelt flour
  • 146g water

Mixed at 10:15 PM and let rise overnight, covered, at 70F down to about 69F.


  • 375g Wheat MT Prairie Gold (same notes as above)
  • 375g Wheat MT Bronze Chief (same notes as above)
  • 604g water

Mixed at 10:25PM and allowed to rest overnight at 70F down to about 69F.

Version 2 Mixing

Version 2 Dough:

  • Levain
  • Soaker
  • 10g organic barley malt syrup
  • 18g salt

The mixing of Version 2 was done at 7:30 AM. I spread soaker out on wet counter like a big pizza using wet hands. Paint levain onto soaker using a spatula. Paint organic barley malt syrup over levain. Roll up and fold a couple of times. Spread out like a pizza again. Spread salt evenly over the dough. Roll up and fold a couple of times. It was mixed in DLX mixer at medium/low for 8 mintues, folded a couple of times and placed in a covered dough bucket to rise. The dough bucket was put in my "proofing cabinet", a spot above my coffee machine that sits at about 76F in the winter. I knew that if I want to bake "Version 1" and "Version 2" together, I would need to speed up the rise on "Version 2" a little to get them to coincide. So, Version 1 was left in a cool spot at 70F for the morning, while version 2 was placed in the proofing cabinet to get a boost.

Version 1 and Version 2 Folding

At this point both versions are in their respective rising buckets, one in a warm spot, the other in a cool spot. I folded both of them about once per hour during the remainder of the bulk fermentation for a total of 3 folding sessions each. All the folds were typical of the description in Hamelman's "Bread". I pour the dough out on a lightly dusted counter with the smooth side down, fold each side in toward the middle, from the north, east, west, and south, brushing off any flour after each fold, and then turn it back smooth side up and drop it back in the rising bucket. The remainder of the bulk fermentation, measured from the point Version 2 was mixed (7:30AM), was 3.5 hours.


At 11:00AM, both loaves were shaped into batards. Each one is about 17 inches long, and both were placed in a half sheet in couche cloths smooth side up, put in a Ziploc "Big Bag", and allowed to proof for another 2.75 hours, until 1:45 PM. The ambient temperature of the kitchen was still about 70F. Version 2 therefore proofed at an average temperature of about 74 or 73F as it started at 75F and dropped to room temperature during the final proof, while version 1 proofed at 70F the whole time.

Slash and Bake

The loaves were turned onto a peel, slashed, and put in my brick oven. The hearth temperature was about 425F and I sprayed a few ounces of water on the loaves and into the oven chamber with an orchid mist sprayer, and sealed the oven with a wet towel covered door. In a kitchen oven, bake at 425F for a few minutes with steam, then drop the temperature to 375F and allow to fully brown. The final hearth temperature was about 375F after 45 minutes of bake. The loaves had browned, the crust seemed done, and the internal temperature was about 209F.


The loaves were allowed to cool completely.


The crumb is somewhat soft, but not fluffy, the holes are irregular and mostly small, but the crumb is open for a whole grain bread. It doesn't feel dense or heavy when you chew it. The crust is crunchy and fairly chewy with a good toasty flavor. The sourdough flavor of these loaves was mild and the crumb clearly had the characteristic nutty sweetness of spelt in it, even with just 15% spelt. It was hard to tell the difference in flavor between version 1 and version 2, but version 2, with the levain, seemed slightly more sour. Also, version 2 had a wetter, more proofed feel at both shaping and slashing time, even though both had increased in volume almost exactly the same amount. When I shaped version 2, it was harder to shape, as it was more gloppy, and it ended up being longer and flatter after shaping. However, the crumb texture, the crust, and the flavor were virtually identical after baking. Version 1 held its shape better and sprung in the oven, while version 2 seemed to spring up very little but did spread out a lot during baking. Although version 2 was flatter, the crumb was slightly more open. The Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread I blogged a while back had a slightly lighter and softer crumb, even though the method was almost identical to version 2 with the levain. I suspect this is because in the sandwich bread version, the loaves were raised and baked in pans at slightly warmer temperatures and allowed to proof a little longer. Also the hydration was slightly higher in the sandwich bread.

Some Thoughts

I have had better luck with one-step versions and with two-step versions where I only allow the levain to just double and no more and with two-step versions with about 10% fermented flour, as opposed to this "Version 2", which had 20% fermented flour in the levain. I think that delivering the extra acid in a riper levain that constitutes 20% or more fermented flour causes a breakdown in the gluten structure of the final dough. This may be why Peter Reinhart's recipes in his whole grain book recommend using instant yeast with the larger levains in his recipes, which works well as many of us have verified. However, if you want to do a sourdough only recipe, my experiences so far point toward doing long slow rises from tiny inoculations, as in the one-step method, or if you are doing a two-step method with a levain, then only allow the levain to rise by double and not more before refrigerating or combining with the final dough. You won't get a big flavor boost from the levain the way you would with a riper levain, but it does allow for a convenient break in the timing, as the levain and soaker can be refrigerated for a day or two, and the the bread making process can be resumed at a convenient time.

oftedahlh's picture

I think I am going to us cast iron to bake pizza, I have broke many stones usually just when I think this one is going to last for ever! Most break when I use my sauce, the water boils on to stone and it cracks.

weavershouse's picture

Pain de campagnePain de campagne


This is the first time I made Leader's French Country Boule and I'm very very happy with it. I doubled the recipe and made 3 loaves. The boules are 8" across and the batard is 12". I thought they were well risen but I guess I should have let them go longer because they busted out. I should have left the boules darken more just because I like the dark better. Instead of the whole wheat called for I used First Clear Flour and I used pumpernickle for the light rye and I used a little more salt than called for. My sour dough starter was refreshed 3 or 4 days before I made the starter but it did good. It was a stiff starter.


I will make this often. The flavor is excellent. The crumb is even with no large holes. Did anyone else post a photo of this bread so I can compare? How long did you let it proof after shaping? I know zolablue and Liz made does is compare bread friends?


By the way Liz, I picked up my rye grain yesterday. The health food store finally got it in. I'm itching to try it. weavershouse

dmsnyder's picture

I've ordered a new mixer.

 I've reached the limit of what I can reasonably expect from my Kitchen Aid Accolade 400. It has served me well, and I've certainly learned a lot using it to mix and knead breads. But I want to mix larger batches of dough. I want to try formulas that demand longer kneading times, higher kneading speeds or both. And I don't need to prove that the Kitchen Aid isn't up to a job by destroying it.

 Over lunch (Salami sandwich on my own sour rye, of course), I had a good talk with Deanne at Pleasant Hill Grain.  Several on this site have been very pleased with their Electrolux DLX mixers from that vendor. When I visited their web site, I found they also sell the Bosch"Universal Plus" mixer. The Bosch and the DLX are more similar than different in capabilities, with each having a slight edge in one feature or another.

 Without going through a blow-by-blow description of my decision making, I'll just say I have ordered the Bosch Universal Plus mixer. Honestly, the biggest draw of the DLX was that I know there are bakers here who know that machine and whom I could count on for tips and to answer questions as I get to know it.

 Well, I guess we will have an opportunity to compare notes. That's something.

 I expect to get the Bosch mixer next week. I couldn't possibly be lucky enough to get it before the weekend!


tattooedtonka's picture

Here are some photos of this weekends bake.

I started off with a sponge being made on Friday night for the cranberry bread.  I used a recipe for Pain Rustique bread with modifications made to it for my purposes.  On Saturday I mixed up the the final dough and let it set while I made a couple bagel sponges


Mixed up Cranberry bread dough.


Dough and bagel sponges


Bagel balls


Finished cranberry bread



Now the top bagel is one of a batch that I let set in the fridge for 8 hours after shaping.  The Sea Salt bagel on the bottom is from a batch I boiled and baked 20 minutes after shaping.  You can see how the seams go away after setting in the fridge.  Also the color difference in the Sea Salt one is due to an egg wash being put on the bagel with salt.  I have found this works the best for me so I dont have the salt absorbed into the bagel during baking.  The plain bagels have no egg wash.

I dont mind the seams too much, especially when I am out of fresh bagels...

Here is the photo of the pickled garlic, from Saturdays pickling fiasco..



Beth D's picture
Beth D

Please anyone let me know where I can find Bohemian flour.  It's a rye and wheat mixture.



tattooedtonka's picture

Well, I dont want to hijack Erics thread so I figured I would put up a new blog for my latest crazy idea.  Pickled garlic.  Now I know, its not bread, but heh, I had bagels proofing when I got into this so it must count somehow.

After talking Garlic with Eric, I thought to myself "self, I can surely figure out pickled garlic". And off to the world wide web I go.  I get hit with about a hundred or so recipes, not two alike, so great.  Lets go with what seems to be the best rated.  So I settle in on a nice Garlic festival website, with a pickled garlic recipe that the folks seemed to love.  Now here is the basis of the recipe.

4 cups White Distilled Vinegar

1 1/3 cup sugar

Then anykind of flavor additive you would like to add, mustard seed, hot pepper, dill, whatever.

You take a sterilzed jar, and you mix up your liquids, bring to a boil in a non-metal pot (which I used a teflon coated pot) And once at boil, you boil for 5 minutes.  Then you add your peeled garlic cloves and boil for an additional 5 minutes.  Then you pore into your jars, put the covers on and place in the fridge for 3 weeks before consumption.

Easy enough it sounds right.  So here I am with 30 heads of garlic, and the big grin on my mug of me making pickled garlic.  After setting at my kitchen table for what seemed like 30 or 40 years I look into my jar to see I have only peeled about 25 cloves.  So I do what any smart fella does and I recruit backup.  In comes my 13 year old daughter, who after looking at me like I just told her she had to change the oil in the truck in a snow storm, she sets in to help.  So now the two of us continue to peel garlic cloves.  The outer dry parts come off easy, but the fine skin, well that just about makes a man cry after a while.  So after what seemed like forever, I have 4 jars of peeled garlic cloves.  I swear my kid grew a couple inches while we were there.  So now onto making the liquid.

Now let me let you in on a little secret.  When you boil vinegar, in your kitchen, for 10 MINUTES, you should probably invest in a gas mask.  Or maybe a jet engine to force fresh air through your home.  Now being a fairly smart fella, I was really surprised to see that I didnt see this coming.  SO after about 6 minutes into boil, my daughter pleads mercy, and begs to be released from the kitchen.  I kindly inform her that "darling, were in this together, you stay.".  Sometimes being a parent is rough.....

Now at 7 minutes in I add my flavorings.  I like hot and spicy so in goes.  2 Teaspoons Mustard Seed, 2 Teaspoons of my own grown, and ground Thai hot pepper, and 3 cut up Habeneros.  So by minute 8 you can already imagine what my kitchen is like.  If you close your eyes and imagine a swat team is about to raid your house but before they enter they throw 4 tear gas grenades in through the open window that you have because you are trying to get a strong vinegar smell out of your kitchen. 

So now, my back door is open, my 2 kitchen windows are open, snow is blowing in through the windows, and my daughter and I are trying to maintain some sort of normal breathing pattern.  The 10 minute mark couldnt have gotten there any sooner.  When that buzzer went off saying my 10 minutes were up, the time that pot came off the stove to the time the 4 bottles were filled, outsides wiped clean, and into the fridge was about 2.5 seconds.  Well, maybe not not quick, but I barely remember any of it, it was so fast.  The dogs are no where to be found, they are hiding in some far off part of the house.  My youngest is watching tv in the living room in her jacket, and thank god my wife was out for the afternoon doing a craft fair.  We cleaned up my mess, I went back to my bagels, we shut the windows after our house temp dropped to about 40.  And 5 hours later when my wife returned she says "Honey, the house kinda smells like hot wings" 

Me and my great ideas.   I'll post photos later today of the end results, along with my Cinn./Cranberry bread I made (another idea).  The worst part is I have to wait 3 weeks just to see if the garlic is any good.   Ha,ha,ha......


PMcCool's picture

Well, if I had had my druthers, I would have been in San Diego for the meet.  After all, I was in Ensenada, which is pretty close.  Compared to Kansas City, that is.  But, no, I couldn’t get away from work for a fun Saturday with other TFL-ers.


Being in Mexico so much in the past few months has had an upside, though.  That would be tortillas.  Not the stiff, cold, nearly tasteless disks of flour or corn from your supermarket shelves or coolers.  Uh-uh.  No, we’re talking about steaming, burn-your-fingertips-hot, still puffy, straight-off-the-comal fresh tortillas here.  The real deal.


I’ve had freshly made tortillas before.  We lived in Houston for five years and there are a bunch of restaurants in that town where you can find fresh tortillas, although they are usually the flour variety.  I’ve even made my own, although I haven’t really mastered these deceptively simple little flat breads. 


What I’m finding here in the Baja is something almost magical.  Whether rolled up to eat as a bread, or torn off in chunks to pick up food, or wrapped around meat and other fillings, tortillas make a simple meal complete in very much the same way a crusty bread makes a bowl of soup a dining experience.


Growing up in northern Michigan really didn’t give me any useful insights into tortillas.  The only thing that I knew about tortillas was that they came in boxes (think Lawrys or Old El Paso), were hard, brittle, made of a coarse corn meal and used to make tacos. And that they disintegrated at the first bite.  And I wondered: why would anybody get excited about something that lets you take just one bite before it collapses into your lap?  Later on I learned about flour tortillas and things like burritos and enchiladas; then tortillas began to make a bit more sense.


But here, as I am sure is the case in other parts of Mexico, tortillas aren’t just an ingredient that you use in one dish of your meal.  Instead, they are an integral part of nearly every meal.  And that is a very good thing.  Especially the maiz (corn) tortillas.  They are just as soft and flexible as their flour brethren and come in a variety of sizes. The flour tortillas don’t hold a candle to the maiz tortillas when it comes to taste, though.


For instance, there is a tiny little eatery called Paola’s in the village of La Mision, about half a mile east of Highway 1D along the Baja coast.  There are maybe 4 or 5 tables, each seating a handful of diners.  You walk up to the counter and you can see the stove, which usually has 5 or 6 large kettles and pans on it.  There’s usually beef in one pot, pork in another, chicken in a third and, sometimes, a fourth with lamb, or goat, or tongue or whatever else Paola found at the market that morning.  There will also be a pan of beans, usually, though not always, refried; and another of rice.  You tell the ladies which meat you want (which is usually braised or stewed with chilies, onions and/or other vegetables) and they will ask “Maiz o harina?”  (Corn or flour?)  You reply with your choice of tortilla, then tell them what you want to drink and go sit at your table.  In a few minutes, your plate will arrive, along with a basket of tortillas that are simply too hot to pick up. 


Once the tortillas cool just enough that you can snatch one out of the basket without burning yourself, you have an important decision to make.  Should you skip the silverware and use the tortillas to scoop up your food?  Should you start stuffing the meat into your tortilla for an impromptu taco?  Or just alternate bites of the meat and tortilla so that you get to experience the melding of flavors?  In the end, it really doesn’t matter, so long as you savor the flavors that are completed and balanced by the inclusion of the tortillas. 


Another favorite dish in these parts is the fish taco.  Ensenada is home to a fishing fleet, so you can get fresh fish every day, ranging from sea bass to tuna to squid to lobsters to shrimp.  Fish tacos are usually made with white-fleshed fish, like locally caught flounder or halibut.  The flesh is cut into strips that are battered and deep fried.  A few pieces go into a soft tortilla, preferably a maiz tortilla.  They are then topped with shredded lettuce or cabbage.  If cabbage, it’s more like a slaw with a faintly sweet-tart creamy dressing.  Other than maybe squeezing a lime over it for some extra zing, all you have to do is roll the taco closed and enjoy every bite.  All of which would be impossible if not for the tortilla.


While sitting in a restaurant waiting for my check one evening, I saw a woman walk into a work area and haul out a very large stainless steel bowl.  She proceeded to scoop several pounds of flour into the bowl from a large bin, then added a largish blob of either shortening or lard, some salt and part of a pitcher of water.  She then began to mix it all together with her hands (I wonder if there is a Spanish equivalent for frissage?) until she had a large mass of dough, adding water to get the consistency just right.  After rubbing off the excess dough clinging to her hands, she set about rolling the dough into balls that were sized somewhere between a large egg and a tennis ball.  About that time, my server brought my check, so I didn’t get to see her finish the process.  I’m assuming that, since these were flour tortillas and she was making a large number of them, she probably used a press to flatten the balls into disks which were then put on a griddle to cook.  However, I was walking out the door before she got to that stage.  Still, it was interesting to see that the tortillas I had enjoyed with my meal were freshly made on site.


Tortillas are sometimes used to thicken soups, or as garnishes.  And, yes, they can even be bent and fried into a crispy shell for tacos or salads, although I haven’t seen that in this part of Mexico.  For my tastes, though, the tortilla is at its absolute best in its simplest and freshest form.  Then it can work its magic in any way the diner desires.

AnnieT's picture

I have read here many times that there is no such thing as a silly question, but this may be it. Suppose my starter was refreshed a couple of days ago and refrigerated, then placed on the counter to warm up, and then used in an overnight ferment, why wouldn't that act as a big fat feeding? This is a pretty active starter but I only decided to bake at the last minute. I would be glad to hear any opinions as I have been mithering about it for several days. My grandaughters stayed the night and inhaled vast quantities of sourdough pancakes this morning, so at least I know how to use the surplus starter. I'm thinking of putting a notice on the community board "Free Sourdough Starter"! A.


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