The Fresh Loaf

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Bushturkey's picture

Olive levain just out of the oven

Olive levain just out of the oven

Olive levain - crumb

Olive levain - crumb

The recipe called for a liquid levain. The flavour was extraordinary. I didn't know the flavour of the levain can change as much as it did (going from stiff to liquid).

For a culture, I used left-over levain from the Pain au levain recipe (Hamelman's levain recipes always have an ounce or so of surplus levain in order to perpetuate the sourdough), which I made into a liquid levain (125% hydration). I found it was slower to start rising than my usual sourdough.

When I mixed the final dough, I tried to let the flour autolyse with the water. I found it a bit too dry, so i added a bit of extra water. When I then added the liquid levain I encountered two problems:

  1. The hydration was way too much (the recipe called for 65%, mine felt more like 80%!) and
  2. The dough had chunks of the stiffer flour/water mixture in a smooth batter-like dough.

I worked it and worked it, until I got the chunks ironed out and I added a bit of flour to make the dough less slack. Then I got worried that the extra flour I'm adding won't be as worked as the initial flour and I didn't know how this would affect the dough, so I stopped at some point, even though the dough still felt slack.

Even though my culture was active, the final dough seemed to take a long time to rise. It was at 69.8 F (close enough to 70). Even at 2.5 hours, there wasn't much rise in the dough. I was pressed for time, so instead of waiting longer I proceded with the foldings and dividing and shaping. I let the loaves rise in nylon baskets, dusted with rye flour. 

The loaves also took a long time to rise, and (something which I'm used to currently!), the dough stuck to the baskets when I up-turned them onto the baking tray to load into the oven.

The bread tasted good but, as you can see, the crumb is not as open as it could've been.

I've just refreshed my sourdough and I'll have another go. 

Janedo's picture

Baguettes "Monge"

Sandwhich "Monge"

These are the "famous" french baguettes from the Kayser bakery rue Monge in Paris.

I upped the hydration level, but didn't really calculate. The recipe here is the original and I don't know how it would work with american flour, so if anyone wants to try, keep an eye on the dough.

I also would leave them to rise a bit longer next time, but we were in a rush to go on a picnic (the fated one where I broke my pinky!) I thought the crumb should be a bit more open. They are really good, though. Obviously not sour because the sourdough doesn't have the time to react, but it sure gives great oven spring.

Baguettes "Monge"

500 g farine T65 (or maybe just white bread flour?)

100g liquide starter at it's peak

5g fresh yeast (or about 3/4 tsp fast acting package yeast I think)

10 g salt

270 ml water at 20°C

Mix the fresh yeast with water and leave 20 min to ferment.

Then make a regular dough using your method. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rest 20 min.

Take the dough out and divide it into three pieces. Form three equal size balls and leave them on the counter to rise, covered with a damp cloth, 40 min.

Form three baguettes with pointed ends, place them in a baguette banneton or on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 1 1/2 hrs.

Preheat oven to 220°C. Sprinkle flour on the baguettes and do the incisions. Do the water thing (coup de buée) and place your baguettes in the oven.

Leave them to back around 20-25 minutes.

dmsnyder's picture

Janedo's basic bread

Janedo's basic bread

Janedo's basic bread - Crumb

Janedo's basic bread - Crumb

This is the second time I have baked Janedo's Pain au Levain (Sourdough) recipe for what she calls her "basic bread." Since I cannot truly duplicate the flours she uses in France, I am liberated to experiement using different combinations and proportions of American flours.

 The first time, I used a combination of King Arthur First Clear Flour and Guisto's White Spelt flour. This time, I fed my starter with KA Organic Whole Wheat Flour and used KA Bread Flour in the dough. The Ingredients were:

160 gms Starter
307 gms water
540 gms KA Bread Flour
10 gms Salt 

 The dough seems just very slightly less hydrated than my last attempt. As you can see, the crumb was denser, as expected. It was very chewy. The crust was a bit crunchier and less chewy than the First Clear/Spelt version.

 Overall, the taste was less sour this time, and the whole wheat flavor was less apparent than I expected. This was a bread that would be an excellent sandwich foundation, but it was not my "target" bread. I think the combination of flours was too strong.

 So, what flour combination should I try next? KA Artisan Flour with a little spelt? Or a little whole wheat? Or Golden Buffalo and spelt? Hmmmm....


dmsnyder's picture

Nury's Light Rye from "Local Breads"

Nury's Light Rye from "Local Breads"

Nury's Light Rye2

Nury's Light Rye2

Nury's Light Rye crumb

Nury's Light Rye crumb

I know there have been several blog entries regarding Pierre Nury's "Light Rye" as described in "Local Breads" by Daniel Leader, but I felt a "reminder" of how wonderful this bread is would not be out of order. So ...

 This bread is wonderful!


shakleford's picture

Today I decided to try my hand at a new recipe, a Whole Wheat Chipotle Black Bean bread.  The idea for the recipe, along with the majority of the ingredient list, is taken from the Sourdough Home recipe.  I tweaked a number of ingredients and amounts, but my main changes were to convert the recipe to all whole wheat flour and to change it from sourdough-leavened to commercial yeast-leavened.  The first change was because I generally prefer whole wheat breads, while the second change was mainly to eliminate a possible point of failure (I'm still quite new to sourdough baking).  With these changes, my ingredients for a single loaf were as follows:

  • 360g whole wheat flour
  • 150g dried black beans, cooked and mashed
  • 3/4 cup (approximately) water, including cooking liquid from beans
  • 3.5 g yeast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chile oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1 can chipotles, lightly rinsed and coarsely chopped

I soaked the beans overnight on Friday, then cooked them for around 90 minutes first thing Saturday morning.  I blended them, using around 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, until mostly smooth.  Afterwards, I spread them on a plate and placed them in the fridge to cool them to room temperature more quickly.  Meanwhile, I rinsed and chopped the chipotles (I used canned chipotles and wanted to get rid of some of the excess adobo sauce).

I borrowed the basic procedure for preparing this bread from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.  I followed a normal mixing/kneading procedure except that I added the chipotles in at the end of the kneading.  Canned chipotles are quite soft, so I basically treated them like very plump raisins.  The dough had an unusual feel, presumably because of the beans, and took quite some time to pass the windowpane test.  However, it smelled terrific, so I didn't mind the extra kneading too much.

After finishing the kneading, I let the bread rise once for around two hours, then a second time for around one hour.  Both rises were higher than I'd expected, given the ingredients.  After completing the rising, I formed a single round loaf and allowed it to proof for around an hour (the loaf is shown below before proofing).  In retrospect, I probably should have proofed in a bowl or basket - the loaf spread more during proofing than I was expecting.  Just the same, it was a very pretty dough.  The photos unfortunately do not show the flecks from pepper seeds and larger pieces of beans.

I baked this loaf at 350 (with steam) for around 50 minutes.  I was considering a hotter bake, but I was baking a loaf from another recipe at the same and that one called for a lower temperature.  Due to spreading during proofing and a complete lack of oven spring, I ended up with a much wider, flatter loaf than I had planned.  On the bright side, it smelled incredible while cooking and darkened to a very nice deep brown.

As you can see, the crumb was not very open.  However, it was probably the softest of any bread I've ever made - in fact, the texture was much more cakelike than breadlike.  The chipotles lent a smoky aroma to the entire loaf as well as a bit of a bite whenever you got a piece.  The entire crumb had a slight tang, thanks primarily to the chile oil I suspect.  Not a bread I'll be making every day by any means, but very flavorful and an excellent complement to other Mexican dishes.
zainaba22's picture

Astrid from Paulchen's Foodblog selected oat as theme for this month's Bread Baking Day.

BreadBakingDay #9 - bread with oat

I got inspired from zorra for this recipe & the method from iban.

For more information about sourdough starter you can read Susan post about Sourdough Starter from Scratch .

60 g (1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon) oat flour.

374 g (2 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour.

670 g (4 1/2 cups) high gluten white flour.

1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

2 teaspoons sugar.

2 teaspoons yeast.

46 g (1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon) milk powder.

2 Tablespoons oil.

90 g (1/3 cup) sourdough starter.

3 cups water.

1) Place all ingredients in the bowl of mixer; beat 10 minutes to make soft dough.

2) Cover dough and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hour, stretch & fold every 30 minutes.

3) Divide dough into 2 pieces

4) Shape each piece into round loaf, cover; let it rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 40-60 minutes.

5) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 F.

6) Before baking dust flour over the top of the loaf, slash the bread.

7) Reduce the heat to 400F, bake for 15 minutes with steam, & another 15 minutes without steam.



Bushturkey's picture

Pain au levain

Pain au levain

 A breadman. He/she even looks French with a beret!

Pain au levain -crumb. Do you reckon he/she looks French and wearing a beret?!

Holes big enough to hide a mouse?

Holes big enough to hide a mouse?

I had a go at Hamelman's pain au levain (95% wheat, 5% rye, 65% hydration). I didn't do some things as well as I should have.

1. After mixing the final dough, I left it overnight in the fridge. It was 2300 hours, I was tired and working night shift from home.

Next day, the dough was cold and it took a long time to "wake up". May be it was exhausted. It seemed to take a long time to rise.

2. I probably under-proved the loaves. The oven spring tore the loaves apart and my scoring was probably sub-optimal.

Ah well, the journey continues. It would be nice to have a baker near by to learn from, though.

dmsnyder's picture

Janedo's "basic bread"

Janedo's "basic bread"

Janedo's basic bread crumb

Janedo's basic bread crumb

Jane ("Janedo") is an American expatriot who has lived in France for 15 years with her husband and children. She has a wonderful blog about her sourdough baking ( ) with a loyal and enthusiastic following. We have been fortunate to have her participation on TFL, and there have been some rather interesting discussions of differences in taste preferences in France versus the U.S., the frustrations of exchanging recipes when the ingredients we use, particularly the flours, are not comparable and other topics.

 Currently, Jane is, I think it's fair to say, struggling to like San Francisco style sourdough bread made from Peter Reinhart's formula in "Crust and Crumb." Of course, we cannot know exactly what she is baking, since we cannot duplicate it with the flours we have. Nor can she know what my baking from this formula produces with King Arthur Bread Flour and Guisto's whole rye flour.

Jane has shared the recipe for what she calls her "basic bread." She says this is the bread her family prefers (and asks her to return to whenever she inflicts San Francisco-style sourdough on them). This was my first attempt to duplicate Jane's bread. She uses a combination of T65 and white spelt flour. I don't have access to T65. I debated as to how I might best approximate it. I'm not at all sure I made the best decision, but the recipe and procedure I used, adapted from Jane's recipe, follows:


150 gms active liquid starter (fed with high extraction flour, 100gms flour to 130 gms of water))
315 ml water

400 gms First Clear flour
140 gms White Spelt flour
7 gms Sea Salt.


I mixed the starter and 300 ml water then added the flours and salt. I mixed in a KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle for 1.5 minutes at Speed 1, then with the dough hook at Speed 2.  After the first minute, the dough cleaned the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl. This seemed too dry, so I added 1 T (15 ml) water at this point, resulting in the dough still cleaning the sides but sticking to the bottom of the mixer bowl.

The dough made a "window pane" after 9.5 minutes mixing with the dough hook. It was quite tacky. If I pressed on it for a couple of seconds, it was sticky, but with brief contact it did not stick to my (lightly floured) hands. The dough kept its form easily without spreading but was very extensible.

(I am describing the dough in such detail because the differences in flours we use result in such different doughs at the same hydration. I think the behavior of the dough and its feel will give another person better guidance, if they want to reproduce this bread. For that matter, it gives me more guidance if I want to change it next time.)

I put the dough on a lightly floured Silpat mat and, after a brief rest, stretched and folded it a couple of times, then placed the dough in a lightly oiled glass 2 liter measuring cup with a cover to ferment.

The dough doubled in volume in 7 hours. I scraped it onto the Silpat, rounded it gently and let it rest for 15 minutes. I then shaped a boule and placed it, smooth side down, in a linen-lined wicker banneton. I lightly floured the surface of the dough and enclosed the banneton in a plastic bag.

The boule was allowed to expand to 1 1/2 times the original volume (1.75 hours) then transfered to a peel and slid onto a baking stone in a pre-heated 450F oven. 1 cup of boiling water was poured into a pre-heated cast iron skillit, the oven door was closed and the oven was turned down to 410F. After 5 minutes, I removed the skillit and continued to bake for 35 minutes. (The internal temperature of the loaf was 205F after 30 minutes, but I wanted the crust a bit darker and to be sure this large loaf was well-baked.) I then turned off the oven but left the loaf in the oven for another 5 minutes.

The crust was qute hard when the boule came out of the oven, but it softened considerably as the loaf cooled.


The crust was somewhat crunchy, but more chewy. The crumb had a lovely, tender, slightly chewy texture. I could not identify a distinctive flavor I could attribute to the spelt flour (which I had never used before). I thought I should add a little more salt next time - maybe 10 gms rather than 7 gms. The sourness in the bread hit on the 5th chew and became progressively more apparent. I would regard this as a moderately sour sourdough, certainly more sour than the pains au levains I have made from Hamelman or Leader's recipes.

With all levain breads, the flavors seem to fully develop and become better integrated on the second or third day after baking. So, stay tuned.


JMonkey's picture

I've been absent from TFL recently, as work and home have eaten up just about every waking minute, and there have been far too many waking minutes in the past couple of months. I could have stood for a tad more sleeping minutes.

Nevertheless, a family has to eat, so I've still been baking. One thing I learned: Don't double the amount of salt in a bread recipe. I did this by accident, doing the math for 2% in my head and adding 20 grams instead of 10 grams. Not even the birds would eat this stuff. Yuck.

I have had some nice loaves come out of the oven, however. Last week, I made the same doubling error as before, but with the starter. I used a 40% innoculation instead of 20% for this largely white flour sourdough (I added 10% whole wheat). All in all, the loaf was fine, though it wasn't as flavorful as I'd have liked. Rose quickly though, and looked beautiful.

I also revived my rye starter to make a 40-30-30 rye to whole wheat to white flour loaf. I didn't add caraway, and missed it, actually.

Starter is amazingly resiliant stuff. I'd not fed it for months (probably three at least ... maybe even four), and it had acquired a nasty black crust that could have been mold, could have been hoochy gunk (the rye is kept at 100% hydration, but it's still pretty pasty rather than liquid). In any case, it started right back up and made a wonderfully sour rye loaf. The shaped dough stuck a little bit to the baker's linen, so I had to slash it strangely to incorporate the rip and avoid a blown out side. Turned out OK, though, in the end.

And, of course, I regularly make my standby overnight whole grain sourdough hearth loaf (60% whole wheat, 30% whole spelt, 10% whole rye. The secret to getting a good "grigne" I think is not to proof it too long. Two to two-and-one-half hours seems to be just about right.

Mmmmmm. Grilled cheese sandwiches on whole grain sourdough hearth bread.

dmsnyder's picture

Leader's Baguette a l'ancienne

Leader's Baguette a l'ancienne

Baguette a l'ancienne crumb

Baguette a l'ancienne crumb

In my ongoing quest for delicious, home-made baguettes, I baked the "Baguettes a l'ancienne" from Daniel Leader's "Local Breads" today.

 Unlike the "Pain a l'ancienne" in BBA, Leader's is a sourdough baguette made with a (very) liquid levain - about 125% hydration. I started refreshing and activating the starter with my usual (these days) firm starter: 50 gms starter, 130 gms water, 100 gms Guisto's Bakers' Choice (T55-style) flour, then fed it twice more with 130 gms water and 100 gms flour at 12 and 8 hours. The starter was incredibly foamy. Leader says it should have a "mildy tangy aroma." Mine smelled strongly of acetic acid!

 The dough is made with 150 gms water, 300 gms flour (I used 50gms whole rye and 250 gms Guisto's Bakers' Choice), 310 gms liquid levain and 10 gms sea salt.

Mix the flour(s) and water and autolyse for 20 minutes. Then add the salt and levain and mix to window paning. This is a very slack dough. It is fermented for 3 hours, with one folding after the first hour. Form the baguettes and place on a parchment paper couche, well floured, and refrigerate 12-24 hours.

Warm at room temperature for 2 hours, then bake at 450F on a stone in a well-heated oven with steam for 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven still on the parchment, and let cool 5 minutes before removing from the parchment. Eat warm.

 I had some of the bread for lunch with a salad and some Laura Chanel chevre. The crust was crisp. The crumb was chewy-tender with a nice, complex flavor. It had a pronounced sour tang, especially as an aftertaste. 



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