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ericjs's picture

Prior to the one-loaf mystery result of my last post, the openest crumb I've gotten from the BBA pain de champagne recipe was a few weeks ago when I modified the recipe to use a dose of the KA levain du jour (dried levain starter), the mild version. I basically made the sponge from this starter as per the instructions that come with it, but made sure the amounts of eveything in the end would total to the same as BBA recipe using the pate fermentee as usual. A second alteration I made was to put most of the rest of the flour (including the whole wheat) into a soaker. The end result was this:

Because I'd changed two different things at once, I wasn't sure if it was the levain or the soaker or both that produced the opener crumb. So I did another batch a few days later with no levain, but with the soaker. The result was the typical crumb I get from this recipe (which has improved a bit over time, as I've pushed the hydration a little, improved my kneading technique, and switched from my somewhat alkaline tap water to bottled water). Interesting thing about this batch though. It had the slight tart tang to it, just as if I had used the levain! I assume that by chance either my pate fementee or my soaker picked up some good beasties...perhaps there were some floating around left over from the levain. Maybe I should start making a point of not cleaning my kneading board!

davidg618's picture

At the moment we have three Welsh Corgi's, two "found us" cats, and a Haflinger pony. I think we give more thought to the healthiness of what we feed them, than what we consume ourselves.

Here's a very pet-healthy pet snack recipe my wife makes about every three weeks. It originated with our wonderful neighbor, and accomplished horsewomen, Cathy, pretty much as she gave it to us. Both our dogs and Mimi, the pony, love them.

Buck-a-Roo Bites

As far as the cookies go, I usually have some basic ingredients and add whatever I might have.  

4-5 cups dry ingredients:  3 cups rolled oats, 1 cup flax, bran, ground pumpkin seeds, barley, corn meal......or whatever.

1 tablespoon salt - sea salt, mineral salt....

lots of shredded carrots and apples (skins and all)

a little sweetener - molasses, raw honey.  (I don't use much any more, everyone so concerned about insulin resistance but so many folks feed a processed feed that has a binder of molasses anyway.  What I use most now for adding sweetness is applesauce, pumpkin (Calabasa), sweet potato (boiled, baked with the skins)

mix together, make a mess everywhere.  You want the mixture to be like a wet cookie dough, so if it is dry, add oil.

bake at 350 degrees till golden brown or burnt if you forget and then put in dehydrator till very crunchy!!!

[or a 150° - 200°F oven, if you don’t have a dehydrator]


You can vary the recipe for the dogs by adding protein - chicken, steak...


This batch is shredded carrots, oats, flax seed, yellow cornmeal, and apple sauce.


...and, the finished product


David G


davidg618's picture

Yesterday I was baking baguettes. I've usually had to bake them in groups of two, not because my oven can't hold up to four, but because I couldn't find a fool-prove way of getting more than two on the hot baking stone using a peel. (I've dropped them on each other, off the back of the stone onto the rack, and, worst of all, onto the oven door.)

So, I decided to try using a rim-less cookie sheet as a peel. However, I needed a flipping board to place four baguettes on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I like Mini's cardboard flipper, but decided I wanted something more permanent. I went out to my shop, and found the remnants of some fiberboard I used to back some bookshelves I recently made. One side is smooth, but the backside has a diamond-like 3-D pattern. Eureka! I reasoned the back would act as a flour "holder" much like the panty-hose covered flipping peels posted in Bread Flipping Boards

I cut a 6" x 18" board from the scraps, and dusted the backside with flour. My baking stone is only 16" wide, so an 18" flipping board is adequate.  It worked perfectly.

Here's the flour dusted side. The insert shows the 3-D pattern magnified, and before dusting.

The opposite side is smooth.

David G

ericjs's picture

I made two batches of bread in slightly different variations on the Pain de champagne from Reinhard's Bread Baker's Apprentice, and the results are quite different.

I'm working with the T55 Clone from NYBakers right now, and that's the bulk of the flour in both of these batches, with a little whole wheat added to one, and a little rye added to the other. The whole wheat is Anson Mills' Red Fife Bread Flour (Red Fife is an heirloom wheat, North America's preferred bread wheat in the 19th century), and the rye is Anson Mills' Abruzzi Rye Flour (another heirloom grain, from the colonial era, ground somewhat coarsely--they don't explicitly call it a whole rye, but I have the sense it might be, or approach it). In each case only about 7-8% of the flour that went into the recipe, so I'm not sure how significant the variety used really is.

Besides the whole wheat vs rye, the other difference was I added a little more water to the wheat batch. I started from a double batch of pate fermentee (100% T55), and the rest of the flour for each recipe in a soaker at room temperature. I would have liked the soakers to go 24 hours, but I probably used them after around 15 hours. I also proofed the wheat loaf on a peel (on top of the oven to raise it from fridge temp and proof it at the same time) and the rye loaf in a banneton (tipped so the load kind of nestled in the corner, since the banneton was too big for it) not on the oven so it would be behind the other loaf and ready when the wheat loaf was done baking.

When kneading the wheat batch I became concerned the dough was too firm. I like to push the hydration on this recipe, which opens up the crumb a bit. So I wet my hands a few times, and sprinkled little water on the dough as I kneaded. I didn't think I added very much, but the dough got quite slack, so perhaps I added more than I realized. This made me cautious about doing the same to the rye batch, and I decided to add no extra water to that at all, as it was already slightly stickier. This was all done on Friday.

Pictured are the second loaf from each batch which I baked today. (BTW, the color difference of the crumb is if anything more pronounced than in the photo, the rye noticably darker.) I baked the first loaf of each on Friday, and they had much the same in shape as these (the wheat much more flattened out), and like these, the crumb of the wheat was opener. But tonight's wheat loaf's crumb was WAY opener than Friday's. The crumb on Friday's wheat loaf was comparable to the opener crumbs I've gotten from this recipe without a levain, but I've never gotten anything like the huge irregular holes of today's loaf except the one time I added a levain to it.

Certainly the extra hydration explains the bigger crumb in the wheat loaf vs the rye. Perhaps the grain difference contributes too, though I'm not sure how much impact that 7-8% has. But the difference between Friday and today is surprising to me. I typically bake some of my loaves a day or two later with the dough resting in the refridgerator. It's never made much a difference before. One thing I did do differently this time, was I kneaded the dough a little bit after taking it out of the fridge, then shaped it. Could that have done it? Does anyone ever knead after a retardation between the first ferment and proofing?



Elagins's picture

I've been talking to a potential supplier who's up in the hard wheat belt and produces only certified organic flours. he was nice enough to send me a few samples, one of which is organic high gluten, milled from hard red spring wheat, about 13.5% protein. we were going to have a NY smoked fish brunch this morning, so i decided to whip up a batch of bialys using the flour.

i would love to stock this flour, but i need to know if there's enough demand to justify ordering a couple of thousand pounds of the stuff. can you folks let me know? i promise you this: it will be attractively priced.

it's interesting stuff. first, the color is rather more beige than, say, All Trumps (which i compared side by side) ... very creamy. also, the grind was slightly coarser than AT, both to the touch and to the tongue. taste-wise, the raw flour was slightly sweeter and nuttier than AT, without a trace of that bitterness you sometimes get with raw flours.

the mix was also interesting. i had to increase my hydration by about 2% in order to get the consistency i was looking for. the gluten formed relatively slowly, but came together almost immediately at about 9 minutes under the dough hook, very, very elastic and not very extensible because of all the work it had been getting.

i used a relatively small amount of fresh compressed yeast, and got doubling in about an hour, then divided the dough into a dozen boules and put them in my proofing box. they reached near full-proof after about another hour and i formed the bialys.

i was amazed at how extensible the dough was at that point. the gluten was amazingly well formed and very very smooth, and didn't fight back at all when i stretched the boules into the bialy shape.

at that point, they went immediately into the oven, and since the photo upload isn't working for me here, you can see what they looked like on this link:

the bialys tasted wonderful; the flour itself gave a nice moderately chewy crumb and the color of the flour lightened in the baking, but still had that lovely creamy beige tone to it.

i have to say that this is probably the best batch of bialys i've ever made!

Stan Ginsberg

PS, i'd give recipes, etc., but Norm (nbicomputers) and I just signed a contract to do a Jewish baking book, so I'm afraid our publisher now has first call on all our intellectual property!

Shiao-Ping's picture

I was taking shots of the moon cakes for this post and was late collecting my son from his sport; when I arrived, he said to me, "Mum, do you love me?"  Seeing my stunned face, he added, with a grin, "I was the last to be picked up!"

Somehow I felt that another post about the full moon was in order ... because of that remark about the Chinese excellence in astrology, or not!  The Chinese lunar calendar was formalized thousands years ago.  Recently I have learned a big word from my husband - to recalibrate.  Something that is as old as the Chinese lunar calendar may be in need of some sort of recalibration!  In recent years a few friends of mine and I have found that the moon is fuller the next day after the Moon Festival.  I know nothing about astrology.  What I have just said may well be taken as an excuse to eat more moon cakes!

I came to my favourite Taiwanese grocery store in "Little Taipei" in Brisbane looking for good moon cakes to buy.  I was chatting with a lady there and I found out that she is the boss's wife.  I asked her which are the good ones to buy.  She asked me, "Are they for you, or for giving away as a present?" - the latter means moon cakes with good looking packaging and wrapping but may not be of the best quality, while the former means good quality and good tasting moon cakes for own consumption.  She pointed at those she got for herself.  I could not pass by a lead like that.



Assorted moon cakes from "Little Taipei" in Brisbane - lotus paste on the top left, red bean paste (very dark brown color) in the centre, and savory ham & nuts to the top right

And below are the "moons" - salted duck egg yolks. 



These have been the traditional flavours since I was a little kid.  In recent times there have been new flavours being developed because of the affluence in consumers and the popular new flavours have been chocolate and other tastes under the Western influences.  Because I was in no mood for the troubles in making the moon cakes, I decided I would try incorporating a very traditional moon cake ingredient - red beans - into my sourdough.  This is a can of the cooked red beans that I used (made in Japan):


In addition to the Red Bean Sourdough, I made Cocoa Cranberry Sourdough Rolls.  So, here below is the goodies I made for the Moon Festival for my kids and myself, quite a Western concoction:




My formula for the Red Bean Sourdough

  • 240 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 240 g bread flour

  • 157 g water

  • 170 g cooked red beans from the can above (45% of total flour) * see step 5 below

  • 7 g salt

  • Extra rice flour for dusting

Total dough weight 810 grams and total dough hydration (approx.) 69% 

  1. Mix all ingredients by hand

  2. Autolyse 40 minutes

  3. Mix in the red beans by way of stretch & folds (this serves as the 1st set of S & F's; I did close to 100 strokes)

  4. After 30 minutes, perform the 2nd set of S & F's

  5. After another 30 minutes, perform the 3rd set of S & F's (* At this point my dough still felt very extensible, no strength whatsoever.  I decided something was wrong - I went and checked the can of red beans for its composition and found that its sugar was 38%!  This meant the sugar level in my dough was 17% flour.  When sugar is more than 12 - 15% of flour, it is best to add it in stages or starter may have difficulty performing.  It's too late now so I proceeded as normal.)

  6. After another 30 minutes, do the 4th set of S & F's

  7. After another 30 minutes, pre-shape the dough to a tight ball (I had to use a lot of flour on the work bench as the dough was extremely slack and sticky.)

  8. Rest 15 minutes and shape it to a boule and place it in rice flour dusted basket

  9. Proof for one hour in room temperature then place it in the refrigerator for overnight retarding (I did 10 hours.) Note: By the tiime I put the dough into the fridge, it had hardly risen.  Fortunately, after 10 hours of retardation, the dough had risen nicely, more than doubled.

  10. Next morning, just before baking, stencil any way you like, score, then bake with steam at 230 C for 35 minutes





It is strange that for that much sugar this sourdough actually does not taste sweet.  It tastes quite sour (I would say, slightly less than medium strength sourness), and therefore I felt no guilt at all to have a slice of this with a handsome topping of extra red beans from the can!  Yum (to a Chinese).




My formula for Cocoa Cranberry Sourdough Rolls

  • 350 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 350 g bread flour

  • 60 g cocoa powder

  • 240 g water

  • 30 ml or 2 tbsp oil

  • For cranberries: 80 g dried cranberries + 60 g Kirsch + 20 g sugar, soak for as long as you can, up to a couple of weeks, in the refrigerator

  • 12 g salt

Total dough weight 1.2 kg (to be divided into 8 pieces of 150 grams each) and total dough hydration (approx. ) 75%





  1. Bulk fermentation 3 hours with 4 sets of stretch & folds

  2. Proofing one hour

  3. Retardation 10 hours

  4. Bake with steam @ 220 C for 25 minutes (I baked 4 pieces at a time while the other 4 resting in the refrigerator)





This Cocoa Cranberry Sourdough Roll is really lovely to have.  So far I have found the cocoa powder (and for that matter, chocolate) very easy to work into a sourdough.  The crust is very crispy.  

I asked my daughter if people would find so many pictures in one post nauseating. She said without hesitation, "No, people would just think you are a lunatic."  My daughter is one who cannot tell a lie (what you see is what you get).

There had been a big patch of dark cloud hanging over the north-eastern side of the sky, determinant not to let me see the moon tonight.  As I was signing off this post, I went to my balcony to have one last look, and there it was - brighter and fuller than last night!  And here it is - the last photo of this post: 




ehanner's picture

The Simple Sourdough bread posted below is such a beautiful loaf and the perfect size for dinner. Susan has been making this loaf as her daily bread for a long time, has perfected the process and shared it with us. This is a bread any of us who bake with a natural levain (SD) should be able to bake. Or, if you are not currently feeding a sourdough pet, this is a good reason to start.

I think it might be fun to take the challenge and try to duplicate Susan's handiwork. If nothing else it will be a good exercise in the building blocks of basic sourdough. From the looks of her efforts I can stand to pay attention to the details. On occasion I get a loaf that has the qualities of hers but I would really like to be able to make this bread on any day.

In the next few days I plan to give this my best shot and work on the technique until I understand all the subtle check points to arrive at a perfect loaf. Anyone care to join me on this?


turosdolci's picture

Taralli are a biscuit that is eaten by Italians any time of the day. It should be named the national biscotti because taralli are enjoyed by young and old. Wheather it is for breakfast, as a snack, dunked in wine, as a treat for children, they are a biscuit that fills every occasion.  They can be found  in every bakery, market and in every Italian home.  There are many preparations of taralli, but the one here is from the village where my grandparants come from, "Vieste (FG) Italy".

Puglian Taralli
Recipe Summary
Prep Time: 50 minutes 
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes @ 375 degrees F 
Yield: 5 Dozen

Dry Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached

2 cups semolina flour

2 teaspoons dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed, or 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


1 cup dry white wine, warmed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, warmed


Sprinkle the yeast over the warm wine and let it stand for several minutes, then stir it into the wine and mix well.  In a large bowl put all the remaining ingredients and your chosen seasoning. Mix and knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Return to a clean bowl and cover the dough with plastic wrap or a dampened towel and let it rise for 30 minutes or longer in a warm place.


Divide the dough into pieces. Roll them into 1/2” cylinders. Cut them into 6” lengths. Bring the two ends together and join them to make a round doughnut - like shape. Press your thumb on the ends to seal them.


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop the taralli in a few at a time. When the taralli rise to the surface, remove them and put them on a clean towel to dry.


Arrange the boiled taralli on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Note:  When crushing the black pepper, do not use a grinder.  The finely ground powder from the pepper will make the taralli taste hot.  Use only hand crushed pieces.

 An old Italian say: "No matter what the argument, it can be resolved with a glass of wine and a handfull of taralli"

SylviaH's picture

Today I thought I would fire up the wfo with the usual pizza first.  I made 3 pizza's and then the bread baking.  My pizza dough was from P.R.Book 'American Pie' the dough recipe was for the Napoletana Pizza Dough.  I always just flour dust my wooden paddle and slide my pizza into the I used half flour and half semolina...the semolina always burns like crazy when it hits the oven floor..indoors on my stones or in my wfo.  I guess it was just convenient all mixed in my little shaker!!  It is getting dumped! 

We love Oatmeal bread so I made 4 small boules of J. Hamelman's recipe from his book 'Bread'.  I also made Susan's Sourdough..Oh it tastes wonderful!  I'am still learning about the heat in my oven and experimenting with the steaming.  I would like to have seen the boule open up time I'll try the oven even hotter and more steam.  I didn't overnight the final proof but it did get a long stay in the frig today along with the Oatmeal loaves.  Getting everything ready 'oven heat and temperature leveled out and loaves proofed' at the same time can be challenging and will take a more baking than I have been doing in the wfoven.

It was a fun day of baking and I have learned to get my fire going with only a few minutes of smoke.  I feel very proud of being able to light a fire correctly!

See the black spot beside the pizza...that's the semolina and flour mixture.  I don't recommend using semolina flour on your paddle because it just burns!  It will stick to the stone and not to the pizza if a little does you can just wipe it off.  Hot coals will clean up anything burned on the floor..self cleaning oven!

Topped with San Marzano Tomatoes , dried oregano, fresh garlic, EVOO, Fresh Mozzarella, home grown basil..that's it!

Wait a minute I'm taking a crumb shot!

See those tiny little black specks...that's the semolina that was mixed with the flour on the wooden paddle.  Not recommended!

Oatmeal boules and in the center Susan's Sourdough boule...the glow on the wall is not from's a reflection from the camera shooting in the black of night with a flash.

J.Hamelman's Oatmeal bread WFOven baked

Susan's Sourdough WFOven Baked.  I would like to see it bloom open more on the top.  

The flavor is very good!




benjamin's picture

I was entirely inspired by Shiao-Pings recent blog entry entitled 'Sourdough Down Under'. The part that really grabbed my attention was the inclusion of Vegemite in the dough. As an English boy I have a love affair with vegemite's cousin from the northern hemisphere: marmite.

I have often spread marmite lovingly across my yeasty creations, yet had never considered incorporating it into a dough!

Long story short I simply added  it into my favourite sourdough recipe (pain au levain from "Bread"). I removed 40g of water and replaced with marmite. The result was fantastic. I can honestly say that this is the best my apartment has ever smelled! The taste of marmite is present throughout the bread, but particularly strong in the crust... so good!


thank you Shiao-Ping!!


happy baking









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