The Fresh Loaf

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wally's picture


This past weekend I decided to continue my experimentation with ryes and hot soakers. After my experience spending 7 hours making a mash for my last rye, I took Hamelman's comment on my attempt to heart: "it's always seemed to me that historically people would have been grateful to be able to make a simple manipulation of ingredients and wind up with a little sweetness in their bread."

So I decided to trade-in further chemistry experiments in favor of seeing if greater simplicity could still yield greater flavor. I selected Hamelman's 66% rye in Bread because I wanted a sandwich loaf and this seemed like it would fit the bill - sufficient rye content to provide a flavorful loaf, yet not so much as to yield a dense crumb.

The variation on his recipe was to add a hot soaker as well as toasted sunflower seeds. To create the soaker I took his rye levain, which accounts for a little over 40% of total dough weight, and halved it, creating a soaker with equal portions of flour and water that would have gone into the levain. This also raised total hydration from 75% to 80%. I then upped the percentage of yeast slightly to account for the smaller amount of levain used.

The night before my bake on Sunday I mixed my levain, and then poured boiling water over the rye. According to Hamelman this is called brühstück (a scalded soaking) in Germany. Using equal parts water and flour you end up with a very dense mixture. Both levain and soaker were covered and left overnight.

The next morning I mixed levain, brühstück and water, and then added the remaining ingredients. My toasted sunflower seeds were salted, so I gave them a quick rinse in a sieve.

Because I wanted sandwich bread - and because the hydration was so high - I air shaped the loaf and placed it in a somewhat smaller than standard bread tin. After 55 minutes proofing it was baked at 460 F initially, after which the temperature was decreased to 400 for the remainder of the bake. I wrapped the loaf in a tea towel after it cooled, and allowed it to rest 24 hours before cutting.


This, it turns out, was a good move, because it was quite moist, and over the past few days while it has dried somewhat, it remains moist. The soaker did in fact impart a noticeable sweetness that balanced nicely with the nuttiness of the sunflower seeds. Not as sweet as a mash soaker, but much simpler. This is bread I'll bake again.


While waiting for the rye to finish baking I was reading through old articles I've accumulated related to bread, and stumbled upon James MacGuire's wonderful The Baguette, printed in The Art of Eating in 2006 (Number 73 + 74).


I've read a number of times his wonderful accounting of the history of the baguette, how French baking underwent near ruination after World War II with mechanization, and of the pivotal role played by MacGuire's friend and sometime collaborator Raymond Calvel in resuscitating the art of baking through the introduction of autolyse. James MacGuire is a master baker, but he is as well a masterful narrator and commentator on the history of bread - particularly in France. I cannot too highly recommend this article to anyone unfamiliar with it. (Reprints may be obtained from The Art of Eating.)

The surprise for me, however, was that I had neglected to ever look at his recipe for a pain tradition at the article's end. And I delighted in what I found there. MacGuire is keenly aware of the challenges baguettes present to the home baker, starting with the fact that most home ovens will not accommodate a true baguette's length, and including the travails one confronts with steaming, especially in gas ovens.

And then there too is the fact that his pain tradition is a super-hydrated dough at 80%, meaning that for the vast majority of bakers it would present formidable obstacles in shaping and slashing.

MacGuire says, in effect, Ok, you want a baguette but it is very hard to do. Here instead is a baguette dough which we'll shape to an easier profile (more like a miche), and through this achieve basically the same crumb to crust ratio a baguette has.

Again, simplicity is chosen over complicated schemes. (A theme is emerging I think).

His recipe calls for hand mixing and hand folding over many hours. Because I machine mix dough at work I'm inclined to do so at home - it just seems easier. But as I followed his process I was struck by how much more in touch you become with the gluten development of the dough. It is truly fascinating to experience over many hours what transpires in mere minutes in a mixer.

My one variation on his recipe was to give it a bulk retarding overnight in my refrigerator to develop more flavor since it is a straight dough.

Next day, after 16 hours in the fridge, I preheated my oven, and turned the dough out on a floured counter. Shaping, such as it is, is equally simple: MacGuire advises patting it out to a diameter approximating that of the bottom of your floured banneton or mold, and then plopping it in for final proof. That's easy.

Final proofing was about 75 minutes. The secret to this bread is a long bake which dries out the loaf so that its crust does not go soft after coming out of the oven. And to accomplish this means an initial bake at a fairly high temperature, followed by a long bake at a much lower temperature.


The loaf, just under 1 lb., was in the oven for 70 minutes. The trick is to achieve bread that has dried sufficiently, but not in the process developed a dark crust which overwhelms the delicate flavor of the crumb. The profile in terms of height is comparable to that of a baguette and it has a crisp crust and an amazingly light, airy crumb.

I love baguettes, but I tend to avoid baking them at home because the results are never as good as what I get in a commercial steam oven. And that is frustrating. But here, in this marvelous little recipe that MacGuire tucked at the end of his article, is a simple and enjoyable method of enjoying everything good in a baguette with the exception of its form.

Not a bad compromise!



breadsong's picture


I've enjoyed the lovely bread served at the Grand Lux Cafe; I think this bread has outstanding flavor and a gorgeous crust.
I was wondering if anyone had ever tried reproducing it at home.
If yes, I would just love it if you were willing to share what you did, and how it turned out.

Regards, breadsong




teketeke's picture

I have a question.

When I tried to make a Gosselin or Mr Nippon's looking baguette, They turned out  both of them were heavy baguettes. They are looking good indeed.  My question is that is right?  they are supposed to be heavy? I never had real one so that I can't figure it out. I hope that somebody tell me the fact.


Have you ever heard that a ratio of how much water the baguette lost ?

Here is the one that I heard of in Japan.


A ( The baguette's weight  before baking ) - B( The baguette's weight after baking) ÷ A x100 =  Ratio of  how much water the baguette lost.

The baguette's ratio is supposed to be around 20%-23% by Japanese bakery books. You can judge between good one and bad one depend on this.  The pictures above are around 17%

There are two of baguettes that I made today are light. see picture below:

All of them are 80% hydration. I like light baguettes.   

Best wishes,


Jon Morrison's picture
Jon Morrison

I spoke to a professional baker on making bagels and he told me he uses ice in his dough.  This lowers the temperature of the dough allowing for a longer mix time with the large mixer.  Has anyone else had experience with using ice?  Can you do it with other sour doughs?


I am currently baking 7 types of sour dough,30-40 loaves a week, no rye yet.





Floydm's picture

We just spent a weekend up in Victoria BC. 

As you can see, it was beautiful.  We had a great time.  I have a new obsession now though:

The current scones at Murchie's Tea & Coffee (on the right) were unbelievably good.  We had them with tea in the afternoon the day we got there and I had to go back to have another the next morning.  So light and totally different than the biscuit-like scones I am used to.  

I've been told that using cream that is already whipped and folding it into the dry ingredients is the secret to scones like these. I will figure out how to bake them or something very like them... oh yes, I will... and share my findings here.

JoeVa's picture

Finalmente sono andato a far visita al Mulino Marino nel piccolo paese di Cossano Belbo in provincia di Cuneo. Che dire: un mulino speciale dove puoi incontrare delle persone speciali.

Finally I went to visit Mulino Marino in the small town of Cossano Belbo, near Cuneo. What can I say? A special miller where you can meet special people.




   (in primo piano, da sinistra verso destra, Ferdinando, Flavio e Felice - in secondo piano, da sinistra verso destra, Fulvio, Federico e Fausto)

   (front, from left to right, Ferdinando, Flavio and Felice - back, from left to right, Fulvio, Federico and Fausto)

Il giorno prima di andare a trovarli ho contattato Fausto e al mio arrivo sono stato accolto da lui e suo fratello Fulvio (nella foto sono i due ragazzi seduti sulle macine). In un paio di ore ho visto tutto il mulino e abbiamo discusso in lungo e in largo non solo di tutto ciò che riguarda il loro lavoro ma anche delle attività connesse quali coltivazione dei grani, panificazione, ecc.

The day before going to meet them I contacted Fausto and at my arrival I was welcomed by him and his brother Fulvio. In a couple of hours I have seen all the mill rooms and we have discussed extensively not only about their work but also about related activities such as cultivation of grain, bread baking, etc..

Fausto ha studiato biologia e si occupa del controllo qualità, Fulvio ha studiato scienze della comunicazione e fa l' "apprendista mugnaio". Mi ha fatto molto piacere incontrare due miei coetanei con la mia stessa passione, inoltre Fulvio ha la mia stessa ossessione per la lievitazione naturale!

Fausto studied biology and works at the quality control, Fulvio studied communication sciences and he is "apprentice miller". I was delighted to meet two of my peers with my passion, moreover Fulvio has my own obsession with sourdough!


La loro storia inizia 50 anni fa, a meta anni '50, e continua oggi con la produzione di farine da agricoltura biologica macinate a pietra. Le macine a pietra naturale francese sono periodicamente martellate per ottenere le migliori farine macinate in purezza senza l'aggiunta di miglioratori o condizionatori (come conservanti, malto, enzimi, glutine, ecc.).

Their story begins 50 years ago, around the mid of 1950s, and continues today with the production of stone grounded organic flour. The natural French stone grinders are periodically hammered to get the best stone grounded flour milled in pureness without the addition of improvers or conditioners (such as preservatives, malt, enzymes, gluten, etc.).


La macinazione a pietra naturale usa un solo passaggio. L'intero chicco, compreso il germe e la crusca, viene macinato dando vita alla farina integrale (la Macina), molto nutriente e profumata. In successivi passaggi di setaccio viene separata la crusca/cruschello producendo le farine Setaccio e Buratto. La farine così ottenute sono farine non ricostruite, farine grasse impregnate dell'olio del germe di grano.

The natural stone grounding process use only a single step. The whole grain including the germ and bran is grounded into whole wheat flour (la Macina), a very nourishing and fragrant flour. In subsequent steps of sieving, the bran is separated producing Setaccio and Buratto flour. The flour obtained is not a "rebuilt flour" (a flour obtained with a mix of white flour, bran and germ), it is a "fatty" flour impregnated with wheat germ oil.

Il mulino dispone anche di macine a cilindri metallici per la produzione della più raffinate farine 0 e 00 sempre nel rispetto di una buona macinazione che non surriscaldi la farina. Poi c'è il piccolo laboratorio dove si trova tutta la strumentazione per le prove reologiche e farinografiche dei cereali. Tra tutte le attrezzature quella tecnologicamente più interessante è sicuramente il selezionatore ottico/infrarosso per la selezione dei chicci danneggiati, un'operazione che una volta veniva fatta manualmente.

They also have a metal roll miller to produce the finest flour type 0 and 00 always in compliance with a good grinding process that does not overheat the flour. Then there is the small lab where you will find all the equipment for rheological and farinograph test of cereals. One of the most technological and interesting facilities is the optical / infrared breeder for the selection of damaged grains, an operation that was once done manually.

Per le loro farine usano solo i migliori grani accuratamente selezionati prima dell'acquisto. Le farine di grano tenero, Tipo 00 - Tipo 0 - Tipo 1 Buratto - Tipo 2 Setaccio - Tipo Integrale Macina, sono prodotte dalla stessa miscelazione di grani di grani biologici italiani (nelle brutte annate acquistano anche del grano biologico canadese) tra cui il Taylor, il Bologna ed altri grani panificabili. La miscelazione dei grani è fatta in modo da ottenere un prodotto dalle caratteristiche costanti: W=280 P/L=0.55 FallingNumber=300s con un marigine di errore massimo del 20%. Poi ci sono i "grani antichi" quali il farro, il kamut, la segale, l'enkir, il senatore cappelli (grano duro) ed il mais "otto file".

For their flours they use only the best grain, carefully selected prior to be purchased. The wheat flours, Type 00 - Type 0 - Type 1 Buratto - Type 2 Setaccio - Type Whole, are produced by the same mixture of grains of organic Italian grains (in bad years they buy also some organic Canadian grains) including Taylor, Bologna and other grains with good quality for baking. The blend of grains is made to obtain a product with constant characteristics: W=280 P/L=0.55 FallingNumber=300s with a range error of no more than 20%. Then there are the "ancient grains" as emmer (farro), kamut, rye, enkir, Senatore Cappelli (durum wheat) and  "eight rows" maize.


Fulvio mi ha raccontato cosa significa passare dall'agricoltura convenzionale a quella biologica. Nei primi tre/cinque anni il terreno ormai "povero" e deturpato dai prodotti chimici fa fatica ed i raccolti sono di bassa qualità. Solo dopo alcuni anni la terra riprende il suo naturale equilibrio, fertile e piena di lombrichi è pronta a dare buoni raccolti. Coltivare biologico conviene non solo per la salute ma anche al portafoglio del contadino!

Fulvio told me what it means to switch from conventional to organic farming. In the first three to five years the field, now poor and disfigured by chemicals, has not enough power and vitality so the harvest is poor. Only after several years the land will resume its natural balance, fertile and full of earthworms is ready to give good harvests. Organic farming agrees not only to health but also to the farmer's portfolio!

Ho avuto il piacere di vedere dal vivo alcune spighe di orzo, grano tenero, senatore cappelli, segale ed enkir, tutti campioni coltivati da lui stesso in un piccolo appezzamento di terra. Il mulino si trova immerso nella natura, circondato da vigneti: siamo nelle Langhe, terra di vini pregiati come il barolo, il dolcetto d'alba ed il barbera d'Asti.

I had the pleasure to see some ears of barley, wheat, Senatore Cappelli, rye and enkir, all samples grown by himself in a small plot of land. The mill is surrounded by vineyards: we are in the Langhe, land of wines such as Barolo, Dolcetto d'Alba and Barbera d'Asti.


Anche Fulvio è appassionato di lievitazione naturale e mi ha mostrato i suoi lieviti, uno di frumento e l'altro di enkir e farro, pronti per la preparazione di pane e focaccia. Finalmente un mugnaio che fa il pane!

Fulvio has also my sourdough addiction and showed me his yeast, one fed on wheat and the other on farro and enkir, both ready for the preparation of bread and focaccia. Finally, a miller that bake bread!

Prima di andare via ho comprato un sacco da 5 kg di "Buratto" e Fulvio mi ha omaggiato di un pò di Enkir Integrale (da lui stesso prelevato durante la molitura). L'Enkir è un grano molto antico, tra i primi cereali addomesticati, un farro piccolo selvatico. Le sue qualità sono la resistenza e l'alto contenuto di carotenoidi.

Before leaving I bought a 5 kg bag of "Buratto" and Fulvio gifted me some Whole Enkir flour (taken by him just out of the mill). Enkir is a very ancient grain, one of the first grains domesticated, a small wild einkorn. His qualities are strength and high content of carotenoids.

Il giorno seguente, con queste farine ho preparato un pane fantastico, quello che cercavo da tanto tempo.

The next day, I baked a wondelful bread with these flours, the one I was looking for so long.

Qui i punti salienti:

  • Una pagnotta da 1.4kg (1.1-1.2kg cotta).
  • Farina Buratto per l'impasto.
  • Due lieviti naturali liquidi al 125% di idratazione, uno di Buratto e l'altro di Enkir Integrale.
  • Un impasto morbido e succoso con idratazione finale del 75%.
  • Impastamento breve con una lunga puntata di 4h cadenzata da 3 piegature.
  • Un appretto lungo a 4°C / 8°C.
  • Cottura su pietra con vapore.
Here the main points:
  • 1.4kg boule (1.1-1.2kg baked). 
  • Buratto flour in the dough.
  • Two liquid levain at 125% hydration, one on Buratto and the other on Whole Enkir.
  • A soft and mellow dough with 75% final hydration.
  • Short mix with 4h of long bulk fermentation with 3 set of folds.
  • A long cold proof at 4°C / 8°C.
  • Baked on stone with steam.

Per ricapitolare:

- 680g Farina Buratto
- 450g Acqua
- 18g Sale Grigio
- 135g Lievito naturale liquido di enkir integrale (60g farina + 75g acqua)
- 135g Lievito naturale liquido di buratto (60g farina + 75g acqua)

To recap:

- 680g Buratto flour
- 450g Water
- 18g Guérande salt
- 135g Liquid levain on whole enkir (60g flour + 75g water)
- 135g Liquid levain on buratto (60g flour + 75g water)

Nella mollica ho finalmente ritrovato intense note fruttate di mostarda, mosto d'uva, vin cotto. Il gusto leggermente acido e dolce allo stesso tempo. La crosta fantastica e la mollica perfettamente fermentata, leggermente umida, translucente e gelatinizzata. Sicuramente tutto ciò è dovuto alle qualità ed alla freschezza degli ingredienti utilizzati.

The crumb has intense fruity notes of mustard, grape must, vin cotto. The taste is a bit sour and sweet at the same time. A wonderfull crust and a perfectly fermented crumb, moisty, translucent and gelatinized. Surely all this is due to the quality and freshness of the ingredients I used.

Mebake's picture

This is a late bake from Hamelmans "BREAD", chapter 6: Sourdough Rye with Walnuts, only with Walnuts being left out (no stock). This is essentially a 50% Whole Rye Bread. I used HOVIS bread flour for remaining 50%. most of the Rye inthis recipe is fermented.

Obviously, i have done a lousy job on proofing seem side down. I had hoped to get the artisanal effect that Hansjoakim had: here. Reason may be my boule shaping, DMsnyder would you chime in here for an advise of your boule shaping experience from SBFI?

Having observed Hans Bake, i also increased the hydration to 75% to obtain a somewhat loose dough. I have used Whole Rye instead of Hans Medium Rye.

I haven't tasted the loaf yet, but i trust in hamelman's recipe.

UPDATE: now that i tasted the loaf, it is typical of 50% Whole Rye surdough breads: mild sourness, with earthy rye flavor. I think the walnuts were in the recipe for a reason. I'll add walnuts for sure next time.


varda's picture

Yesterday I tried my hand at a miche after reading so much about these loaves on this site.   I must admit that I had to restrain myself from dividing it into three loaves as I was wondering what a three person household was going to do with an almost four pound loaf.  I tried Hamelman's Pointe-a-Calliere (page 164 of Bread.)   I had to make a few modifications.   I was planning to do 85% whole wheat flour, 15% AP, but ended up with around 60-40 because I was lower on whole wheat flour than I had thought.    Since I was baking in my clay oven which has a fairly narrow door, I found that the dough had grown so large that I had to make an oval rather than round loaf, and again because of the oven, I took it out after 45 minutes instead of the full hour since it was already quite cooked and would have turned into a cinder after any longer.  But I did follow the instructions to wait a full 12 hours before slicing despite my usual impatience in these matters.   And after all that?   Wow.   That is a delicious bread.   It is very hearty.   A slice with a bit of peanut butter makes a substantial meal.  But will we eat the whole thing?   I guess it depends how long it remains fresh, which I've yet to see. 



dmsnyder's picture


Ruth (our sister) left her sourdough starter in the refrigerator at Pelican Way (vacation home).  I plan to use it when we're back here in a few weeks.  Where shall I start?


Dear Glenn,

I'm so happy that you have decided you are mature enough to enter into a long term commitment to a levain. You have, no doubt, heard the expression "starter marriage." I assume, like most, you have the impression this refers to the failed marriage of two people at a young age, but, as the Egyptians first discovered some 5000 years ago, it really refers to the successful long-term relationship between a baker and his or her wild yeast culture.

This can be one of the most rewarding experiences anyone can have, but it only works if there is mutual respect, an understanding of the partner's needs and a willingness on the baker's part to be patient and flexible, especially in the first months of the relationship. There will be disappointments, inevitably. You must accept these adversities and work through them together. If you do, your starter will reward you with nourishment for your body and soul. It will become resilient and forgiving. It will provide an endless variety of pleasures - pain au levain, pain de campagne, sour rye, challah, even croissants! 

As you feed your starter, it will awaken and come alive. It's yeast and lactobacilli will grow and multiply and produce the CO2 that raises your dough and the alcohol and acids that strengthen your gluten and lend complexity of flavor to your bread. But, if you neglect it, it will weaken and ooze liquid (hooch) as it's strength fades to nothingness. Yet, if you feed it again and again, it will revive and forgive you, time after time. Who cannot but treasure such loyalty?

The material requirements for a successful relationship are minimal: Your starter, water, flour and salt. Bowls and spatulas and ovens you have. You will need a scale to accurately measure ingredients. It should measure to 1 g (1/4 oz) and have a tare function. The most inexpensive but very acceptable one I know is made by Escali and costs less than $30. 

Your levain can be fed all purpose (AP) flour, but it really likes its feeding spiced up with a bit of rye and/or whole wheat (WW). The mix I use for feeding my starter is 70% AP, 20%WW and 10% rye. (All measurements are by weight, not volume.) So, I advise you to mix up a batch of starter food, say 210 g AP, 60 g WW and 30 g rye and keep it in a quart jar.

I generally keep my starter at 75% hydration. (This means 4 parts flour to 3 parts water.) And when feeding it, I mix together 1 part starter with 4 parts flour and 3 parts water. For example, mix 15 g starter with 60 g flour (the flour mix described above) and 45 g water. This makes 120 gms of starter. Mix this in a medium sized bowl (3-4 cup size), cover the bowl and let it ferment for 12-16 hours. It should double in volume and be all bubbly with a domed top. I like to do this in a glass or clear plastic container. Before using the starter to make bread, repeat the feeding. Discard all but 20 g of starter and feed the starter with 80 g of flour and 60 g of water. You now have 160 g of starter. It may now double in 6-8 hours. It is now ready to use to make bread.

I would start with a simple San Francisco-type sourdough bread. I would plan on making the same bread several times before you feel you "know it." Then, choose a variation or another type of sourdough bread. I know you like my Sourdough Italian Bread, so you may want to work on that. It is a little trickier, in that it is a wet, sticky dough. I can send you formulas for these or other types of sourdough bread.

There is a wealth of information online. You know TFL. Read Sourdough Lessons which has links to a number of sources. Mike Avery's Sourdough Home - An Exploration of Sourdough also has a lot of good information and tips. You may also want to explore Susan Tenney's Wild Yeast blog for inspiration. If you read my blog on TFL, you will find many formulas, most of which contain detailed instructions for procedures. I'll be home next weekend (making bread, no doubt) so feel free to give a call.





teketeke's picture

Would you like to surprise your family or friends for their birthday? I do! It is not difficult but time consuming especially if you use multi-color chocolate.But it is worth it when you see their reaction!! That is a speechless moment that I really love to see.  This recipe is posted by Hanaasu. Thank you, Hanaasu!( Japanese: you can understand how to make by pictures)

This SpongeBob cake was for my daughter's 4th birthday. The pink and light blue spongecake was Gary. (SpongeBob's pet snail)   SpongeBob's left arm was broken because I didn't put enough chocolate on the back.

 For my my son's 12th birthday.( bakugan 爆丸) He was surprised, and smiled with a joy when he saw this cake. I forgot to put a little bit of white chocolate to color his eyes.

This is for my husband's birthday.(LADY GAGA) He used to like her song but not anymore.....  I should have made shadow like this: Click this link below.

 It is fun! :)

9/2/2010 I challenged to trace and paint Berry Manilow's face using  a bamboo stick for my sister-in-law's birthday.

 I messed  up  the shadow around his right eye. But my husband's sister was very happy. That made me happy too.


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