The Fresh Loaf

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dmsnyder's picture

Peter Reinhart's recipe for San Francisco Sourdough Bread in "Crust&Crumb" is one I keep coming back to. I have enjoyed many French-style levains with a more subtle sourness, but I still prefer the assertively sour San Francisco-style Sourdough. Reinhart's formula in C&C is the one with which he won the James Beard Award, and it is a winner in my book too.

I generally make three 1.5 lb boules from this formula, but I had wanted to make a sourdough walnut bread again for quite a while. So, I made two of my usual boules and one batârd with walnuts. The walnuts were lightly toasted (15 minutes at 350F) and kneaded into 1.5 lbs of the mixed dough before bulk fermentation. 

I think this bread has the most beautiful crust! Can't you just hear the crunch when you imagine biting into a slice?

And for the crumb aficionados ...

The crumb is not as open as usual. Maybe the white whole wheat (10%) was thirstier than I thought.


Yundah's picture

I would like to thank everyone who weighed in when I was looking for advice for the class, "Chemistry and Culture of Bread" that I co-taught this spring.  It was an amazing experience.  We had 15 students in the class and the local Congregational Church allowed us to use their kitchen with two regular ovens and two huge convection ovens.  (I have to admit here that I think convection ovens are an arcane form of magic which I have yet to master, but at least I got enough of a sense of how they work that no bread was burned in the baking of this class.)  We started out dividing our time between a class room in the academic building across the street (for the lecture part) and the kitchen.  We ended up, as all aspiring bakers should, spending any time not requiring computer displays in the kitchen.  The class was heavily weighted towards bio and chem students with two sociology/anthropology students and one insurance major.  It was fun watching the hard-science students try to get into answering questions like "What effect do you think the development of neighborhood bread ovens would have in your community?"  On the other hand, reading the answers my non-bio/chem students gave trying to explain the chemical reactions that were occurring at different times within the bread baking process was likewise interesting.  Each set of students had to stretch to get their minds around not one, but two, new languages as they learned the language of bread and baking.  Only one of the 15 had actually baked and only 3 had bread bakers in the family.  

We used the Science of Bread by Emily Buehler and Peter Reinhart's The Bread Bakers Apprentice.  Students made no-knead bread, sourdough loaf, soda bread, pita (huge smiles as they watched them puff up), and Reinhardt's Poor Man's Brioche (we couldn't afford the butter for the richer version.)  In addition, we visited a wonderful grain mill in Argentine, MI, Westwind Milling Co. (where I spend too much money buying some boutique flours... I'm going for a Spelt bread this weekend.) We also ate at an Ethiopian restaurant, Altu's, in East Lansing, so the students could try Injera bread. 

For their final the students had a practical and a written exam.  They had to bake a bread on their own for the final.  It could be one we'd already made or, they could work with a formula we hadn't worked with.  Half the students worked with formulae we'd already made but the other half went out on their own and found family recipes or something they found in the Reinhart book.  One of the students did the Rich Man's Brioche and ended up with nothing to take home.  The students agreed that it was delicious as it disappeared quite rapidly during the tasting.  For the tasting, we invited the college community (and the church folks) to bring soup and share a bread and soup lunch with us.  We numbered the breads and asked our guests to judge them on form, crumb, color, taste, etc.  We had a big turnout, a lot of soup and a lot of bread, and a wonderful lunchtime (followed by our last faculty meeting of the semester but then you can't win them all.)  

The class was a learning experience for me as well.  I've taught friends and family how to bake bread before but never in a structured, "school room" way.  It was hard not be able to just get into the zen of bread and pay attention to what everyone, including my colleague (who had never baked a loaf of bread in her life) was doing.  I became aware of many more levels in the process and had to work out how to explain how to form a loaf, how to knead, how not to brutalize the dough!  I'm so glad I did this.  I'm not sure I'll do it again, it was sort of like running a marathon.  

I'm not sure how to attach photos to this and I have to run, but I'll try to get a couple of photos up later.  Again, thank you all for your help, all of you.  

foolishpoolish's picture


AnnieT's picture

This is a loaf of Susan's sourdough that I was sure was way overproofed. In fact it surprised me and produced a lovely set of ears. Note the stainless steel stirring spoon, perfect for whipping up my starter. Susan is going to enter the picture! A



blackbird's picture
















Nothing fancy, just basic baking.

AP flour unbleached, overnight cold fermentation in the fridge, spray and steam pan at the start of the bake, came out of the oven making cracking sounds.

Reinhart's crackers are facinating.  I made a basic variation of the whole wheat with sesame seeds.


 First try with wet dough.  Should have used more steam.

Rosalie's picture

I tried to include a picture, but I'm not adept enough with my photo editor and the online host.  Maybe another time.  But, trust me, they look and taste good.

They're the Four-Seed Snack Crackers on page 122 of Brother Juniper's Bread Book by Peter Reinhart.

Grind 1 cup each sunflower and pumpkin seeds into a flour in the blender.  Also grind 1/2 cup flax seeds in the coffee grinder.  He has you grinding all three seeds together, but the flax seeds did not break down properly.  Mix with 3-1/2 cups ww flour (or ap if you must), 1 cup sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons honey, and 1/2 cup oil; add 6-8 ounces of water as needed to make a ball of dough. Knead about 10 minutes "until smooth, firm, but elastic, satiny rather than tacky" about 10 minutes.  Then place in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for at least 10 minutes (I left it overnight).**

Divide into six pieces.  I rolled each piece into a ball and flattened it.  Then I placed five of the flattened balls on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours before placing them in a freezer bag.  They'll keep up to three months.  Roll today's dough out to about 1/8 inch thick.  (It was still stiff from the refrigerator, so I nuked it for a few seconds before rolling.)  I found that my Sil-Pat (little brother to the Roul-Pat) was adequate because the dough was oily enough, but he warns that you should re-flour as needed.  Then he has you use a biscuit cutter or a pizza roller knife to cut out round or diamond shapes, but I used a plastic dough scraper - gently - on my Sil-Pat and cut out random shapes.  I just wanted crackers and wasn't trying to impress the bridge club.

Finally, you can mist the top of the crackers with water and sprinkle with more sesame seeds or other toppings, but I didn't.  I just baked in a 340-degree F oven for 20-25 minutes until they're light golden brown.  You're warned to let them cool for at least 20 minutes so that they'll crisp up.

My first batch is now almost gone.  When I'm ready, I'll pull out another piece of dough, defrost it, and repeat.  I can keep the crackers coming with just a little effort.


**EDIT:  PLACE IN REFRIGERATOR - Details! Details!

Yippee's picture

The ‘force’ was very strong this weekend, because I had the blessings from Susan of San Diego.    It was so strong that I could feel it as soon as the bouncy boule-shaped dough rolled out of my palm after one of its many S&Fs. From that moment, I knew I was going to make it.  Here it is, and Susan, I’m forever grateful to you!


Yippee's picture

Same formula as the 76% hydration baguettes in my 090510 entry.  However, a few changes took place:


Flour - switched to KA organic all purpose flour from bread flour

Having become more comfortable handling slack dough by referencing to dough kneading and shaping techniques from Susan of San Diego, SteveB of Bread Cetera and Mark of the Back Home Bakery.

And for the first time, I heard the 'singing' of my baguettes.


Next time:    Study David's Bread Scoring Tutorial and handle the dough even more gently.




BobS's picture

I've been baking bread (like sandwich loaves) for a long time, but in the past few years have gotten interested in making 'really good' bread. TFL has helped a lot. Here's a bit of what I've learned.

This is a Rustic Italian Bread from Cook's Illustrated.


I fiddled for a while with jonkertb's multigrain bread recipe, and eventually got it the way I wanted:


Multigrain Bread

Multigrain Bread Crumb

Here's a direct-method white bread from Bertinet's Dough, using his kneading technique:

Bertinet White Bread


Lately I've been mostly working with 'Fred', my sourdough starter. Some success, but no pictures yet.


xaipete's picture

These baguettes turned out surprisingly well in spite of a number of recipe mishaps--I improperly jury-rigged some ripe firm levain into an instant liquid levain, made two large loaves instead of three smaller, and left the oven at 500º. The crumb was somewhat open and had a nice buttery flavor, but the loaves lacked a crispy crust owing to their too high and brief bake. I really owe this one another try before deciding on its merits!

dimuzio french baguette


dimuzio french baguette

450 g KA AP flour

290 g water

10 g salt

3.5 g instant yeast

100 g liquid levain

Put together in the usual fashion.




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