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ananda's picture


Bread Adventures in July [finally edited to include a few pictures, and remove the original apologetic whingeing!]

This academic year seems to have gone on longer than any I can previously remember.   I still have a few assignments to mark for late submitting Hospitality students...maybe I should be getting that out of the way this weekend?   However I thought it would be more fun to write up the detail of the breads I've been making this month instead!

Apologies in advance: unusually for me, there are very few photographs.   I've had 2 excellent baking sessions, but a camera has been hard to lay hands on, on both occasions.   I'm actually just baking off the last of the breads from the last 2 day's hard work crafting an interesting range of doughs.

Some of these are part of my contribution to the "Hamelman Challenge".   I haven't checked up to see how folks are progressing with this recently, but here's a summary of where I reckon I've got to:

TOTAL is apparently 85 different breads.   Some of these I have decided there is little point me making.   These are the likes of Chollah, Hot Cross Buns etc., which I've made so many times, and incorporate into my regular teaching every year, and have tried and tested methods which I don't intend to change [eg. use of a ferment etc.].   Then there are breads I've made before such as ciabatta, baguette etc.

Add these to the one's I've done recently and the total completed reads 29, and therefore, still 48 to complete.   Many of these are Rye-based, so that continues to excite.   Most of the others either use soakers, or liquid levain [I tend to use a stiff wheat levain], so there is much to look forward to.

Anyway, I've had 2 baking sessions; one on Thursday 1st July, the other largely yesterday and today.   The first session was in College, when I played host to my Baking and Teaching mentor from Leeds together with one of his recent student graduates who is a bread fanatic working at an artisan outlet in Leeds.   Joe actually retired just a year ago; a fount of knowledge, it would be difficult for me to quantify my debt to Joe; he was the inspiration driving me to work so hard whilst studying.   Joe had told me a little about how passionate Laura was about bread, and had asked me to make some breads on the day, which would give her some new ideas to work with.   These are the formulae and methods I came up with; many, actually being work in progress, or brand new recipes to me.

•1.    "Bermaline"

This experiment was inspired by a post on TFL from qahtan, which has clearly been a long term project for the original poster.   See:    As will be noted, original interest goes way back to an old thread on the Dan Lepard forum in 2004!

I used the traditional recipe supplied by duncang, on the Dan Lepard thread, in 2008.   I couldn't resist using this formula, as it specifically references semolina.   Given I have been using the coarse semolina provided by my local miller, the by-product from the accompanying bag of lovely fine pizza/ciabatta flour, this was the recipe for me.   Just a bit about the bread itself: it is a companion to the traditional "Hovis" tinned loaf, therefore using a prescribed amount of germ and fibre, both as a bread improver, and, to add to the somewhat worrying lack of fibre creeping in to the British diet at the time.   So, not much has changed there then!!!   Additionally the loaf used a given quantity of malt extract, which was actually manufactured by "Bermaline", so the bread made under this brand, would have to use this type of malt, together with the specified meal.   Hovis and Granary are really the only mass-produced bread categories in England still made along the same lines; I don't want to count "Soreen" as a bread, if that's alright?

The bread is baked with the tin over the loaf, so the attractive logo on the side of the bread appears the right way round.   There is a hole in the middle of the pan base.   Put a skewer inside this during proof as a means to monitor proof levels prior to baking....good tip from the master [Joe]!   Well, I used Bermaline pans at Leeds to make tinned bread as they are really attractive finished loaves.   But, I don't have these at Newcastle College.   I do have a similar tin, oval-shaped, but with straight rather than sloping sides.   It does have the crucial hole in the base too!

Here's the formula and recipe.   Neither Bermaline Malt Extract nor Meal exists anymore, but this is a semolina take on it.


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

Gilchesters Organic Coarse Semolina



Organic Barley Malt Syrup [Meridian]









Vegetable Shortening



Fresh Yeast






Original Source  is Bennion, E. B. [1954] Breadmaking: its principles and practice. London: Oxford University Press

nb. This is not the original edition of this book; first print was January 1929!


  • Soak the semolina in the water for one hour before mixing
  • Add the remaining ingredients, attach a dough hook and mix on slow speed to form a soft and developed dough. A gluten network will form so long as gentle mixing is employed. DDT is 30°C
  • Ferment in bulk for 2½ hours, knocking back after 1 and 2 hours
  • Scale and mould loaves at 500g, and prove on trays covered by the oval loaf pans. Proof at 35°C, 85%rH, for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Bake at 225°C top heat 6, bottom heat 8 for 35 minutes.
  • Remove covering pans, and bake out a further 5 minutes if necessary.
  • Cool on wires



Following changes needed:

A] not enough salt; increase to 1.8%

B] not enough yeast; increase to 1.8%

C] to increase the strength of the dough, use strong white flour at 20% and reduce the semolina to 80%; this may not be necessary with changes A and B implemented.   Another alternative may be to reduce hydration by 1-2%, but keep formula as 100% semolina

D] consider a small increase in malt syrup


•2.    Gilchesters "Pain au Levain"

I started a natural leaven with the Gilchesters flour back in October 2009.   I buy 2 grades of flour from Gilchesters; one is the very fine pizza/ciabatta flour, and the other is branded as "Farmhouse" flour.   Andrew Wilkinson, who runs the business, came to College back in November to give a lecture to my Foundation Degree students.   He explained this flour has approximately an 85% extraction, and it really is wonderfully finely ground.   This is the base for the leaven I have since maintained.   Here is the formula for the second bread we made:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

  • 1. Levain



Gilchesters Organic Farmhouse Flour












  • 2. Final Dough



Levain [from above]



Gilchesters Organic White Pizza/Ciabatta Flour












Pre-fermented flour: 25%.   Overall dough hydration 66.5%


We made this as a true sourdough.   I did the final elaboration for the leaven about 18 hours ahead of schedule - longer than ideal, but I don't sleep at College, thankfully!   Still I made the leaven cold, and chilled it down for the final 2 hours in the fridge as soon as I arrived that morning.   I mixed the dough gently on a low speed to enable long mixing time and full development.   The Gilchesters flour is high in protein, but the quality of the gluten is not great.   The Farmhouse flour always needs every drop of the 70% hydration used; the 66.5% in the final formula was just right for the bread we could produce in a relatively limited time schedule.   After mixing, the dough had 1½  hours in bulk with one S&F at the mid-point.   After that, we scaled just less than 1kg to give 5 large loaves.   These were moulded round and proofed in bannetons.   We used a prover, with humidity due to time pressure.   The result was the loaves stuck, just a little in the bannetons; but this was not fatal, just distorted the loaf shape a little.

Finished breads were great, although a little sour for some people's tastes, I suspect.   This leaven actually needs quite a lot of looking after to maintain it well.   The high ash content means it gets pretty hungry, and ferments through quite rapidly.   However, I don't get to work with it as often as would be ideal.   I think this leaven would be a total winner in a commercial bakery, where it was in use all the time, and subject to a constant refreshment cycle....a dream, per chance?

•3.    Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel

I think we've been here before a couple of times now; see blog entries below.   BUT, finally I had the opportunity to cook this bread as I've wanted to all along.   I made the bread in my Pullman Pan.

We cooked it in the Combi Oven I have installed in the bakery kitchen.   This is a Steaming Oven and a Convection Oven in one; you can use steam, fan-powered dry heat, or a combination.   Ordinarily I detest this sort of oven for baking, being a dedicated worshipper of conduction or radiation systems.   However, 9 hours in the steamer for a 2.4kg loaf in the Pullman Pan?   Extraordinary result, I have to say.   The only difficulty is that the finished loaf had to sit in the oven overnight with the lid still on the bread pan.   The oven was programmed, so it switched off automatically, but I was long gone home by then, and the building was devoid of anyone to decant the finished bread.   I actually have photos of this loaf, and will attach below.   Colour is just sublime; soo dark, and it got darker too.    BUT, not the burnt dark you get from baking in the oven.   I don't like that.   Dark from all the sugar caramelisation over such an extended cooking period.   The slight sag on the top of the loaf is entirely due to the loaf sitting in the cold oven overnight with the lid on.   Condensation as the loaf cooled has run onto the top of the loaf, causing it to collapse just a TINY bit.   Well, I eventually dared to cut into this on Monday evening, having made it the previous Thursday.   Moist may not be even enough of a description.   It's Saturday today, and I've just eaten the last slice for breakfast...still almost as moist as when the loaf was first cut.   Way to go in the future, methinks for sure!


•4.    Jeffrey Hamelman's Flaxseed Bread

I was almost totally faithful to the author's formula, and refer you to pp.211-2 of his book "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes".   I did adopt the small element of fresh yeast, purely on account of available time, given I had set up so many breads for Laura to have some kind of hands-on experience in making.   Actually, now I look over the formula, I realise that I decided to use wholwheat flour in the final dough, rather than medium rye flour.   Given I'd chosen the HB to perfect, I decided to make this slightly less of a "high rye" than originally intended by the author.

We made just over 4kg of dough and shaped it up into 4 large loaves proved in bannetons.   These loaves were so bold; they baked beautifully in the steam of the deck oven, on the sole.   The keeping qualities were absolutely amazing, thanks to the flaxseed [cold] soaker.   Laura e-mailed through to me on Thursday, a week later.   She said she was still eating up this loaf, and how fresh it had kept!


And so, on to Session 2.   I've made the following breads over the weekend, and they are all inspired by Hamelman's "Bread" book.

•5.    Garlic Levain

The formula is almost exactly to the one in the book.   I had some very tasty flavoured oil which I used to roast the garlic.   I actually peeled the garlic and chopped it into chunks which I then roasted in the oil.   See pp. 183-4 for the recipe/formula.   My main deviation is that I used an overnight cold bulk fermentation for the dough.   As recommended I used a 2 hour ambient bulk proof [I added in one S&F half way through].   After that I chilled the dough right down overnight in the fridge....good excuse to get up early and bake!   I baked this as one oblong loaf, with arrowhead cutting on the top.   The smell in the house has been quite outrageous for some time now!

•6.    Pain au Levain with Mixed Starters

I know this is a favourite with Larry.   I actually had to do a little adapting of the formula, as my rye and wheat leavens were not running in synchronicity.   The wheat leaven is older, and has been used to the point where it is becoming a kicking culture.   It had been sitting unused in the fridge for about 3 weeks.   I did one elaboration on Thursday evening, making it into a liquid levain.   From there, yesterday afternoon I refreshed this to a full stiff levain.   It was ready to use within 3 hours, and I knew I would have to motor.   Of course, the rye was very active by this stage, but had nowhere near soured through, as I prefer when working with rye.   So I will publish this recipe to clarify how the balance of the formula has been change.   Additionally, my rye sour was the usual batter [100flour:167water], and the wheat leaven, a stiff dough [100flour: 60water]


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

  • 1. Rye Sourdough



Dark Rye












  • 2. Wheat Levain



Strong White Flour












  • 3. Final Dough



Rye Sour [from above]



Wheat Levain [from above]



Strong White Flour



Strong Wholemeal Flour












Pre-fermented flour: 24%.   Overall hydration: 68%

Hamelman's formula uses just 16% pre-fermented flour; my higher alternative was to counter the youth of the rye sour!

I used exactly the same method as described above for the garlic leaven.

Any photos posted of these products are done on my mobile phone...apologies for any lack of quality!   My wife, Alison, is off to Manchester this weekend with her 3 girl superstar students, bidding to win a national poetry competition.   She, quite rightly, has priority in terms of access to the camera.   Still the bread in the freezer will be replenished on her return.   Oh, nearly forgot: one more!

•7.    Volkornbrot with Flaxseeds

This has been a total delight to make.   Having perfected the steaming technique for HB, I decided I would bake this loaf, just as we used to bake the Rossisky-style loaves at Village Bakery.   However, my Pullman Pan contained only just short of 2kg of paste, so clearly getting a bake on the product was going to be a small challenge.

Essentially the formula is exactly to Hamelman's, see pp. 219-20, but for the following small amendments: I have only cracked rye to use as a substitute for the rye chops in the first cold soaker.   I am very happy to say I had no need whatsoever for any baker's yeast in this formula.   In fact I actually had to hold it in the fridge for 2 hours waiting whilst I baked off the 2 breads described above.

Once on the final leg of baking the last mixed levain, I put the Pullman Pan in the oven, with the temperature reading 220°C, and turned the thermostat down to 200°C.   20 minutes later, I propped open the oven door for 5 minutes, and turned the heat down to 180°C.   After that, I removed the baked Pain au Levain with mixed starter.   I re-filled my makeshift "larva pan" [old cast iron roasting pot containing several stones] with boiling water, shut the oven door and left the loaf to bake a further 1¾ hours at 175°C.   My oven is an electric fan oven; nothing fancy at all.   The finished bread looks as I would have expected.   It's not quite as dark as the HB [no molasses for a start, and it has golden flax], but I reckon it will darken in the days to come.   I wonder how long I can wait before cutting into it?!

Top left: Pain au Levain with Mixed Starters.   Top right: Garlic Levain

Bottom: Volkornbrot with Flaxseeds


Best wishes to all



Neo-Homesteading's picture


This is something I recently decided I had to finally try. I saw it on an episode of Good Eats, and decided it was really a great idea, especially since its 85 degrees in my house right now. Throughout the years I've actually found a surprising amount of Alton Browns recipes to be really good so I tried out his recipe with a few differences. I made more of an "American style" pizza with a sourdough crust lots of sauce and spicy sausage. It really was pretty incredible. Although I've made it a few times since I'm still mastering the art of...not setting my dough on fire. One night I even made these little pizza buns on the grill as well. 



External Link to blog post and recipe:


Neo-Homesteading's picture


his is a bread that I've seen in every grocery mart I've ever shopped at and although I find the store bought variety somewhat awful I've always been drawn to it. For some reason or another I decided one day that I just HAD to make it. It was after all one of my grandmothers absolute favorites, and although I've never met her I always feel like I do when I make these sorts of traditional New England foods. Its actually steamed in a tin as strange as it sounds its definitely a new england tradition that I adore. 


External Link to Blog Post and Recipe:



proth5's picture

We've seen it before - a person goes "missing" on TFL.

But I'm still out here and kicking. Just not baking.

My time in Okinawa "morphed" just a bit and I'm still commuting across the Pacific.  I've already survived earthquakes and tsunamis and now am looking forward (not) to typhoon season.  It's a beautiful place, but it has a lot of ways to kill you (won't even mention the snakes, spiders, and cone shells -oops, I did...)

I managed to ship quite a bit of Okinawan flour to that property that I own in the US, but alas, have not managed to pack it up and ship it to the lab for testing.  My theory is that the ash content is lacking, thus these beautiful but bland breads.  Really, I will get to it soon... Inquiring minds want to know.

To all of you who are baking beautiful breads, I say "Nice breads!" but understand that even when I get home time is so short (and stuff to do so much!) that baking is difficult and the baking deprivation is hitting me hard.

I did go to an upscale department store on Kokusai street where one of my colleagues had to pull me away from watching the baker slash breads  (with the very same tool I use...) and use a very ingeneous folding loader to load them in the oven.  I'm sure he was quite alarmed by the big blonde woman who practically walked into the tiny space near the oven, but was too polite to give any clear indication of it.  We did try the bread there which had the most taste of any I have tried in Okinawa.

I am no stranger to being set down in places where the culture is different and I don't speak the language, but this has been quite an adventure.  They tell me I'll be back in the US for good - soon.  Although I've heard that before :>)  When the time comes for the summing up, I feel that I will never be quite the same.  Some things I will be able to talk about then - others not.

So, best wishes to Norm and his test bakers (I knew I wasn't going to be able to do that...), happy milling to all you new (and old) home millers, and don't worry - although breadless, I am happily nourished on Okinawan soba and sticky rice!

Oh, and - I'll be back!


rcornwall's picture

I was wondering if anyome has a fromula for the Spanish pan de orno? I have found some vague references to it, but not any solid formulas. Please help!


benjamin's picture

I've been taking it easy with the baking lately due to the excessive heat in center city Philadelphia, which has been hovering around 100 for the past few days now. I always feel guilty running the air conditioners and the oven at full tilt simultaneously, half expecting Al Gore to knock on my door and give me a lecture. Regardless, I had the itch to bake, and so I went back to one of my favorite recipes, the Vermont sourdough from 'Bread'.


Levain Build

  • Bread flour: 4.8oz
  • Water: 6oz
  • Mature culture (firm): 1oz

Final Dough

  • Bread flour: 1lb, 8oz
  • Whole-rye flour: 3.2oz
  • Water: 14.8oz
  • Salt: 0.6oz
  • levain: all of above

The levain should be made 12-16 hours prior to the final dough, however with the high temperatures of the day I only gave mine 10 hours.

Mix all of the ingredients for the final dough, less the salt and allow to autolyse for 20 min. Add the salt and mix for 2min.

Bulk ferment for 2.5hr with 2 stretch and folds.

I used all of the dough to make a single boule. Proofed for 1.5hrs... again this was shortened from the actual recipe due to excessive heat in my apartment.

Bake @ 460 for 40 min (first 10 covered).



Happy baking


Neo-Homesteading's picture


This rolled and filled bread was something I made one morning for my husband. My husband and kids can sometimes be picky (plus my son has food allergies) so often when I'm trying to write new and inventive recipes they run...ASAP! I do experiment often but this I believe was a good time to be momma's guinea pig! Its my soft butter enriched sourdough recipe with a chocolate and cookie filling, the chocolate fudge is a home made sauce and for the cookie crumbs I used ladyfingers but any vanilla type cookies would work, the cookies essentially are the glue to keep the roll from just oozing. 


External Link to blog post and Recipe:

Neo-Homesteading's picture

I've recently stumbled upon the tradition of making Polish bialy. This was my first try at the recipe and I found them to be absolutely amazing. Although I am not Jewish and have never had one before in my life I think I gave it a good effort and made my own variation that is wonderful and tasty. (with my sourdough starter of course!)


External Link to blogpost and recipe:

hmcinorganic's picture

uh oh!  this happened again!  As usual, my timing for baking was way off.  I tried to fit breadmaking into a very busy day.  Same batch as usual, 123 sourdough with 1/3 of the flour being whole wheat.  I took the dough from the fridge and divided it into 3 batards.  Let rest 20 minutes and shaped into 3 baguettes.  scored with slashes.  The "porcupine" loaf was cut by my 5-y-o daughter. and that one split up the side;  whoops.  I don't think I sealed them well enough, and the porcupine cuts aren't deep enough.  The other 2 are all my fault.  Not sure what happened;  lots of oven spring.  Is this due to underproofing? (note, I am quite pleased with the two loaves, they turned out great!)

the diagonal slashed loaf came out great.  The long lengthwise one less so;  I've seen examples of that on this site, but haven't tried it.  And the porcupine loaf exploded.  crumb shot when it cools if I can wait that long......

CaffeIna's picture

Hi everybody!

During the weekend I tried a recipe for brioche that comes from a mix of different recipes given by friends and found online. I added cream cheese to the dough with the idea of making it fluffier. I really wasn't sure about the result...I had never made brioche before...but the result was suuuuper good. Don't expect anything suuuuper sweet as American stuff usually have. And don't expect them to taste like cheesecake. They are more like a sweetish bread....which make them perfect for both breakfast and a snack. Here is the recipe, but you can find it also on my blog

Sorry but i still have to figure out how to upload a pic in this section.



Cream Cheese Brioches

Ingredients:  yields 14-15 small brioches
170 gr (6 oz) all purpose flour
50 gr (1.75 oz) sugar
70 gr (2.5 oz) cream cheese

15 gr (0.5 oz) melted butter
50 ml (1.7 fl oz) warm milk + 3 or 4 extra tbsp for brushing
5 gr (1 tsp) sugar

7 gr (1 and 1/2 tsp) instant yeast  
few drops of vanilla extract 

Dissolve the yeast in some of the milk, together with one teaspoon of sugar. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients with the dissolved yeast and the remaining milk until the dough is homogeneus. Don't get scared if the dough seems to be a bit too fluffly as long as it stays compact. 
Place the dough in a clean bowl,  cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (at least 2 hours).
Roll out the dough onto a floured surface into a 10-12inch square then roll. Using a string cut into 1/2inch thick piece. Place them onto the baking sheet covered with baking paper, cover and let rise until doubled volume. 
Brush the risen dough with a mixture made of 3-4 tbsp of milk and just a few drops of vanilla extract. 
Bake for 20 minutes maximum or until lightly golden brown. (make sure not to overbake them as I almost did!)
Let cool on a rack. Serve them plain or with some butter or jam.



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