The Fresh Loaf

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varda's picture

Lately I find myself making a lot of baguettes.   I definitely have an ideal for this simple, hard bread, which involves the pure taste of fermented refined wheat sheathed in crunchy goodness, but how often my efforts fall short.   Lately, maybe because of practice, practice and more practice I feel like the corner has been turned, and more often than not, what I get appears to deliver what I'm looking for.   I say appears, because usually I don't cut into, let alone taste the results of my labors.  Today I got a taste simply because knobbly ends are fragile and I broke a few before I could sell them. 

Speaking of knobbly ends --

recently a fellow fresh loafer (she can identify herself if she wants) taught me to make them.   I fell in love instantly.   All my baguettes must have knobbly ends.   The ones above are pretty restrained -- they can get a lot more knobbly than this.   But as I said, fragile.   As I was unloading this  morning (maybe my brain was fogged so early in the morning) one of my baguettes fell on its end, and bang - that was the end of the end.   Then a couple more tossed around too much, lost their knobs (is there a French word for this?)   Must treat more carefully - as if made of china. 

I switched to knobs from points a few weeks ago.   The store manager where I deliver many of these said her customers were asking why.   I said, just because they're cool, but then thought I should have had a more sophisticated and learned historical answer.   Any ideas? 

Method, Formula, Notes


Distribute yeast in water, then mix all until strong
S&F twice 20 minutes apart in mixer (10 seconds)
Bulk retard after 20 more minutes, 8-18 hours
Cut and preshape by scrolling into cigar shape
Rest around 20 minutes
Shape by gently pushing into long rope without folding or pressing seam - when long enough roll ends fiercely until knobbly
Proof in trays - seam down - around 20 minutes
Bake 500F 6 minutes with steam, 18 min 450F
Fresh yeast0.910.835.10.53%

A few notes:

-Credit Mark Sinclair for the S&F in mixer approach.

- I started using fresh yeast a few months ago, and I definitely can see a difference - as you can see amount is tiny.

- I upped the salt to 2% because it seems to help survive the long night in the cold.

- I dropped hydration from around 80% a year ago to 73% now.   Much happier with the results.

- The high initial temperature is due to using baguette trays - you put all that metal in the oven and temperature drops pretty quickly.    It is actually a lot colder than that during the steam period but that's what I have the oven set to.

- a 300g baguette rolls out nicely to around 18 inches.   I also make a 24 inch baguette using 450g of dough.




mcs's picture

This was filmed between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM on Wednesday September 3, 2014.  I was getting ready for and at the final market of the season in Big Sky, Montana.  Enjoy.  :)


PetraR's picture

This one just came out of the Oven so I could not yet make a crumb shot. 

This one is made with a malted Brown wholemeal flour, I shall go downstairs in a minute when the hubby finished to carry his Office furniture upstairs.

No Caraway seeds , I forgot * hangs head in shame *





350g mature 50% starter

400g wheat flour

300g malted brown wholemeal flour

550g cold filtered Water * I just noticed today that we know have a filter thingy under the sink *

  25g salt

   1tbsp Sunflower oil


1. Mixed the flours and the Water and Autolyse for 2 hours * I was baking a caramel, apple and pecan pie and forgot the time * normally only 1 hour.

2. Added Salt , mixed well and did french Kneading until dough was smooth and elastic.

3. Bulk fermenting in the fridge for 12 hours.

4. Shaped when dough came out of the fridge  by gently deflating before shaping.* made the shaping easier with the cold dough * and put in round banneton which was well floured with corn flour.

5. Final proof for 2.5 hours at room temp.

6. Tipped dough carefully on parchment paper that was sprinkled with semolina.

7. Scored dough.

8. Put Dough with the parchment Paper in a very hot dutch oven and put the very hot lid on.

9. Baked the bread for 40 minutes on 250C with the lid on and a further 20 minutes on 200C without the lid.


I baked this one with top and bottom heat and not fan as I had to with the old oven.

Even with the lid on in the dutch oven and later the lid off I get this nice small blisters on the crust, I never had that before.

The crust stays crisp for longer too.


Now I so badly want a slice with butter and brie and some green grapes. DROOLING


Here is the crumbshot * had to hurry before the loaf is gone! Why are my Sons are ALWAYS HUNGRY for Sourdough bread. grrrr *



Jason1876's picture

yeah...just like the title...
I read an article in here about sharing ur learning experience...not all the good ones but the...failed ones as well...
so, here it is.

Bread flour 900g
WW flour 100g
Water 750g
Salt 20g
Levain 200g

I followed the recipe exactly and after 3 hrs bulk rise (with stretch and fold every 30 mins) I retarded the tub around 18 hrs (from 11:45 pm to 06:00 pm, I have a full-time job -_-~)
divided and pre-shaped twice every 20 mins before the final shape (really really sticky and slack)
dusted the basket with bran flour (a sorta bread flour with lots of bran~)
final rise for 2.5 hrs. (I was making soup with windows close, so the ambient temp was higher, I did the finger dent test and my guts told me "its time to bake")

there are 2 factors that I'm not really sure about.
1 is the flour thing, like what I mentioned before - summer time - high humidity - quality, I think using less water will fix this problem
2 is the major one - starter and levain.
I discard 80% and feed my starter around 11 pm with 50/50 of BF, WWF and equal weight of warm water.
around 7 am, I do the smell check, not very sharp but just a little bit sour and a bit nutty, that's the levain I used.

yeah, I still have the other half and will continue to bake. maybe after my 100 loaves, I can sum up some tips~
So, guys~please give me some advise and let me know what you think what went wrong.



emkay's picture

I have always wanted to make a naturally leavened croissant for no other reason than to see if I can do it. But most sourdough starter / levain croissant recipes I see on the internet have both commercial yeast and levain in the dough. I have nothing against using commercial yeast in croissant making or in any other bread for that matter. Whatever floats your (bread) boat is fine with me. Croissants and other laminated yeasted doughs are challenging enough without using sourdough starter / levain as the sole means of leavening.

When Michael (mwilson) recently posted his purely sourdough croissant formula, let's just say that I was more than excited to try it out. The day I made my croissants was one of the hottest days of the summer in San Francisco. 83 degrees F! And, yes, that is considered hot for SF. I did have some minor tearing while doing my folds and I didn't roll the dough thin enough during the shaping step, but I don't think that had anything to do with the weather. I just need to practice my lamination skills. I filled the croissants with chocolate because (1) I have a big box of Callebaut chocolate batons that I needed to use up and (2) uh, it's chocolate, so why not? :)


I deviated from Michael's recipe a little bit. I used more egg yolk and butter and I didn't add any flavorings to dough as suggested in his post. I didn't use a stiff levain nor did I double-feed my levain to temper the sour flavors. I built a 20% rye flour, 80% hydration levain which fermented for 12 hours. Even though I wasn't following the letter of the law, I hoped that I was honoring the spirit.


I think my croissants still turned out pretty well. These croissants seemed sweeter and less buttery than the typical French-style croissant. My crumb wasn't as lacey and honeycombed as I would have liked and the bottom crumb was slightly compressed, but that's because I overhandled the dough. They were still flaky and crisp and oh-so delicious! I admit to having more than one with my afternoon tea.


Naturally Leavened CroissantsGramsBaker'sPct
Low-protein bread flour (~12% protein level)350100%
Egg yolk205.7%
Granulated sugar6318%
                                                           DOUGH726.3 grams 
Roll-in butter22631.1% of final dough


  1. Mix together all ingredients except the roll-in butter. (I used my KA stand mixer to mix the dough on speed 1 for 2 minutes and then on speed 2 for 2 minutes.)
  2. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours. (I did it for 6 hours.)
  3. Enclose the roll-in butter in the dough. (I like the regular lock-in method, but any alternative lock-in is fine.)
  4. Do 3 folds with 1 hour rest in the refrigerator between each fold. (I used the single fold aka letter fold as opposed to the book fold, but that's just my personal preference.)
  5. Shape the croissants and let them proof for 16 hours at 72 degrees F. (I shape retarded mine at 40 degrees F for 16 hours and then let them sit at 72 degrees F for 3 hours before baking.)
  6. Gently brush with egg wash and bake at 375 degrees F until golden brown, about 20 minutes. (Baking time will depend on the size of your croissants.)


:) Mary

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

After taking the summer off of baking bread (too hot in house) I took the opportunity of our recent long weekend to bake up some Neopolitan style pizzas on the grill.  As usual with my pizzas, I used unglazed quarry tiles and a grill flare-up method to re-create that fire hot environment a traditional forno would give.  No shots of the wild mushroom, goat cheese and arugula pizzas I made, but here are the Margheritas.  The very puffed up cornichione makes the pizzas look like the crust was thick and deep, but it was actually about a 1/4 of an inch thick, just the way we like it.


squarehead's picture

Hi all im wondering if anyone out there has tried the Devil's Tooth Bakery (Outer Sunset, San Francisco) cinnamon rolls? They are a molten caramel buttery wonder, but the dough is thinner and more carmelized then a "traditional" cinnamon roll. I wonder if this is the result of the laminating process? Anywho I was just wondering if anyone out in TFL world knows what I'm talking about so that I can attempt to re-create the recipe at home. I live 5 hours from SF so I can't just pop in to grab one. ; )

PetraR's picture

Well the move went well and the new Oven is a DELIGHT.

Here a picture of the new Oven

Just out of the Oven. * drooling *

Cooling down * waiting, waiting ... wahhhh *



Crumb * Kids stole the first slices pffft *



We have more of this bread with our Green Bean Soup * Like my Mama used to make *  

Just Butter on bread and a bowl of Soup and some Frankfurters, what can be better?


250g  mature 50% hydration Starter

625g Strong bread flour

 75g Whole Wheat flour

550g tepid Water

   1Tbsp Caraway Seeds

 25g Salt

   1tbsp Oil


Mix flour, Water and oil and Autolyse for 1 hour.

Add Salt.

French kneading in Sets of 5-6 and 5 minutes bench rest in between, did that for 6 times.

Bulk ferment for 12 hours at  room temperature.

Shape and put in banneton which I sprinkled with Corn flour. 

Put a kitchen towel in the fridge , cover banneton with floured kitchen towel and cover with a plastic bag and put on Kitchen towel in fridge.

* I put the kitchen towel in the fridge and on top of the banneton as it seems to prevent sticking of the dough *

Preheat your Dutch Oven to 250C.

Tip the dough gently on to a parchment paper that is sprinkled with Semolina and score.

Transport your dough with the parchment paper to you Dutch Oven.

Bake with the Lid on at 250C for 30 Minutes.

Turn the heat to 200C and bake without the Lid for a further 20 Minutes.


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