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bwraith's picture

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (1)Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (1)

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (2)Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (2)

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives Recipe

This recipe is a slight variation of Sourdough-guy's blog entry on Pagnotta and Ciabatta. Many thanks to Sourdough-guy for the recipe, which he says is his variation of an Il Fornaio recipe. I've posted pictures of my process and a spreadsheet with the amounts in ounces, grams, and baker's percentages.


  • 400 grams fresh 100% hydration starter (my starter was taken out of the refrigerator after having been refreshed 3 days earlier. I probably should have used more recently refreshed and vigorous starter)
  • 650 grams water
  • 700 grams KA Organic AP
  • 50 grams KA rye blend (optional - substitute white flour, whole wheat, or other)
  • 50 grams Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo flour (optional - substitute white flour, whole wheat, or other)
  • 18 grams salt
  • 300 grams pitted halved olives (I used calamata olives)


Mix ingredients until well integrated and there is some resistance to stirring. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

I think there was slightly too much water for my choice of flours and maybe because of the olives, which made the dough harder to handle. This was very slack dough. I would use a little less water next time, but I'm reporting this as I actually did it.

Fold and Rest, Repeat

Every 30-60 minutes pour the dough out onto the counter, let it spread a little, and fold it up into a ball. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rest 30-60. Repeat this process every 30-60 minutes 3-4 times.

I may not have repeated this enough, given the very wet dough I ended up with. The dough was still too slack later when I tried to shape the loaves.

Bulk Fermentation

Place the dough in an oiled rising bucket or bowl. Allow it to rise by double at room temperature.

Actually, I wanted to bake by midnight, so I let it get a little warmer, about 80F, which may have been a little bit of a problem. I think it made the slack dough even a little more slack to also be warm.


Pour the dough out on the table on a bed of flour and cut in two. Work with each loaf separately. Form a ball by carefully and gently pulling the sides toward the center repeatedly to get some surface tension on the smooth side underneath. Do not overhandle.

Here I was a disastrous dough handler. I way overhandled it because it was too slack and would not form a ball. It just kept spreading out quickly. Well, I just decided after way too many times pulling at the sides to stop trying and went for flat bread. So, I can't emphasize enough, don't overhandle. Just make that shape and be done with it.

I am doing a second version, and I think I've discovered how to do this. Use thumbs and fingers of one hand to pinch and hold the gathered sides over the center, holding the gathered edges up a little to help the sides stretch and the shape to become more round and taking a bit of weight off the loaf. Use the other thumb and a couple of fingers to pinch a bit of the side, pull the bit out and up and over to the center, stretching the side as you do. Gather that bit in with the first hand along with others as you work your way around the loaf. Try to make it round by gathering a bit from the place that sticks out the most.

Turn the dough over onto a thick bed of flour with the rough side down.

Final Proof

Allow the loaves to increase in size by double.

For me, this took about 3 hours. I'm still having a hard time figuring out when these higher hydration loaves have finished proofing. As I said there was too much water, and I never got these loaves to stiffen up very much. They mostly spread out on the counter.


Bake at 425F.

This took about 25 minutes, and the internal temperature went quickly to 210F, which I've experienced with these flat high hydration loaves. I didn't get much oven spring. I think the overhandling was a serious problem


Allow the loaf to fully cool.


The flavor was as good as any bread I've made. The crumb was much less open than I had hoped but was soft and flavorful. I think the flatness was because of the overhandling and maybe adding too much water to the dough. Maybe another fold or two would have helped. The gluten never really stiffened up enough. Still, this was a great tasting bread. My bad for the handling, but I'm already trying a second one. I also think the olives made the dough wetter, heavier, and harder to handle. The next try will be without olives.

JMonkey's picture

It hasn't been a snowy winter, but (an unnervingly warm first half of January aside) it has been a cold winter. Thankfully, spring has finally arrived. Our New England canopy is finally greenish again, and the temperature has been creeping toward, occasionally even attaining, 70 degrees. Which can only mean one thing.

Time to bake burger buns.

But of course, I had a lot more baking than that in mind. Plus, thanks to a post by TheGreenBaker which led me to revisit Mike Avery's Stretch and Fold video and lesson, I decided to try not kneading anything I worked on this weekend.

It worked beautifully and is easily the biggest breakthrough for my baking technique in many, many months. Knowing that I can just mix any bread in a matter of minutes and then only need to pay attention to it for 3-4 minutes every hour or so is hugely liberating. With a 3-year-old, finding 3 minutes is no big deal -- finding 20-30 is a very big deal indeed.

The first bread I made this weekend was Desem, as we were having friends over for dinner. The menu I'd planned was relatively simple. Asparagus with lemon butter, golden cheddar soup (a delicious, easy soup from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home with potato, carrots, yellow squash, onion, garlic, buttermilk and ... oh yeah ... cheddar) and carrot and avocado salad.

Basically, I thought these foods would go well with the bread I wanted to bake (surely, I'm not the only one here who plans menus in this bass-ackwards fashion ....).

Here's how I made it:

  • Whole wheat bread flour: 100%
  • Water: 90%
  • Salt: 2%
  • Starter: 30% of the flour was prefermented at 60% hydration


  • Whole wheat flour: 350 grams
  • Water: 360 grams
  • Salt: 10 grams
  • Starter: 240 grams

First, I tore up the starter into small chunks, poured the water over it and mushed it up with my fingers. I then let it soak for about 10 minutes before I added the flour and salt, which had already been mixed together. A minute or so of mixing with the dough whisk, and I covered the bowl with a plate to rest at room temperature for an hour.

After an hour, I removed the dough, which was still very rough, and flattened it out gently, looking for thick spots with my fingers. When I found them (and there weren't many), I mashed them real good with the palm of my hand. I then did one stretch and fold and let it rest again. I did two more folds over the next three hours, before I shaped it.

Here's where I owe a huge thank you to all the kind folks who gave me advice on how to avoid the sticky sticky arrgggh sensation I'd come to know so well. It turns out Bill Wraith's advice was really key, for me, anyway. The dough was pretty wet (though not as wet as the 100% hydration high-extraction flour ciabattas Bill regularly wrangles with - now THAT'S amazing), so I was concerned that I'd get a stringy, gluey, sticky mess when I tried to turn it out of the proofing basket and onto the peel. But Bill had suggested dusting the loaf before placing it in the well-floured banneton. I did, and it worked. I used a 50-50 mix of white rice flour and whole wheat flour for dusting and, I'm happy to say, the loaf popped right out. Amazing. Thanks Bill, and everyone else.

I turned the dough out onto parchment on my peel, and then loaded it directly onto a hot stone at 460 degress F, which I promptly covered with the top half of my cloche. After 30 minutes, I uncovered it and let it bake for another 20 minutes.

The crumb was more open than it was a 85%, but still not as open as the beauties that Mountaindog and Jane pulled from their ovens. I'm wondering whether it's my dough handling? Perhaps I'm being too rough shaping the dough into a boule? Mountaindog, could you describe (or even better, video) how you shape your dough? I'm beginning to think that's the key to how you get such a beautiful crumb structure.

Nevertheless, I was the only one who was a bit disappointed. The flavor was everything I could have hoped for from a Desem loaf. One of our friends thought it had to have some rye in it.

On Sunday, I made sourdough waffles that came out ... very strange. The salt apparently didn't blend into the dough, which resulted in waffles that were mostly bland, except for pockets of pretzel-like saltiness. Unappealing, to say the least. I'm not sure what I did wrong, as I thought I'd blended the salt well. Guess I didn't. Anyone else ever have this problem? Pretzel-waffles are a concoction I can't recommend to anyone.

After church, I took a trip to Debra's Natural Gourmet in Concord to pick up another 50 lb bag of hard red spring wheat. It's a bit of a hike, but worth it - it's the only place I can get big bags of wheat berries in Boston that I know of, and it's relatively cheap. Just less than 50 cents a pound for organic berries.

So, in the afternoon, I made Kaiser rolls (gonna grill turkey burgers tomorrow night - yum) and some sourdough sandwich bread.

First though, we had to have dinner. Earlier in the day, I'd pulled a sourdough pizza doughball from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. Around 4pm, I put it on the counter and, after a trip to the park with Iris, came back to make the sauce, grate the cheese, chop the toppings and make the pizza. I was a bit concerned, since this doughball had been in the freezer for one month, but it turned out well, as you can see below.

I'm not sure why the cheese bubbled up to cover the toppings (roasted bell peppers, sliced turkey sausage and black olives) but it tasted fine, anyway. I used a new brand of feta, so maybe that's it?

The whole wheat Kaiser rolls turned out really well, though I made them wetter than I'd intended because I didn't compensate adequately for the eggs. I didn't do the Kaiser roll fold, though - I just tied them in an knot. My daughter wanted me to play dominoes (the knock-down kind, not the boardgame), so I didn't have time for anything really fancy.

Last, the whole wheat sourdough sandwich dough.

I used the stretch-and-fold method with both the rolls and the sandwich bread, and, I've got to say, the dough was at least as well developed as it is when I knead, and may have been even better. The only change I made to the recipe was to melt the butter for easy incorporation. From now on, I'll be much less kneady guy.

I thought I'd leave you with one more photo, just to prove that I don't do all the baking in the house. While I went to get grains (btw, I bought 6 lbs of spelt berries while I was there. I can't WAIT to try them out!), Aurora and Iris made brownies!

I used to lick the spoon in exactly the same way when my Mom made brownies.

Heck, when no one's looking, I still do.
Floydm's picture

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what this site is for. Part of the reason I've been thinking about this is my recent employment at Mercy Corps, but the disputes the last few days have brought to my attention that we don't all come here with the same expectations about what this site is trying to do. So let me riff a little about what I think think The Fresh Loaf is about. I'll admit up front, I'm not entirely certain either, and as the site has grown my feelings may have changed and probably will continue to do so. Still, some reflection is worthwhile, and hopefully it'll help explain why some things set me off.

The site is a little over two years old. In that time we've had people come and go, but a decent number of regulars have hung around. Many of them (as well as new members) have commented that they don't tend to post to online communities but that this one is different. People here are more helpful, more courteous, less judgmental, more humane than on most other boards.

As the site grows, I'm coming to realize that *that* is what I want to cultivate here. More than the recipes, more than the photos, more than anything else it is the kindness and the humanity that I want to see flourish. Given the choice between this become the most authoritative bread baking site online but run by a bunch of a**holes or a site full of compassionate, caring, but perhaps mediocre bakers, I will hands down choose the latter. That said, I think we have some very talented bakers here and the site content keeps getting better and better. I don't think kindness needs be thrown aside to achieve greatness.

Mercy Corps' motto, which I see and think about every day, is a quote from Gandhi: "Be The Change." In our every day interactions with one another, we can make the world a better place. I honestly think what we've been doing here is consistent with that mission. Every time a baker on one side of the world helps a baker on the other side of the world regardless of borders, race, or religion, we make the world a better place. Every time someone who has been wanting to try to bake something but has been too intimidated to finally tries it because we gave them the confidence to and it brings joy to them and their loved ones, we make the world a better place. Every time we post a tip or a hint we are focusing on our common humanity by sharing our passions with one another rather than focus on our differences and by doing so, in a small way, we are making the world a better place.

As I've mentioned, I worked with Peter Reinhart and the other Brother Juniper's bakers while in high school. I watched how they took something as simple as neighborhood cafe and used it to bring kindness, joy, inspiration, love, and caring into people's lives. They did things far nobler that anything I've done here, such as provide food for the terminally ill and employ a number of people with handicaps that made it difficult for them to find work elsewhere. Their model has inspired me to think about the mission of this site as something more than just exchanging recipes.

I'm continuing to think about how we can use this site to be an agent for positive change in the world, both on micro-level ("offer encouragement to excited new bakers") to the macro-level ("could we do a World Bread Day fundraiser for people who can't even afford to put bread on the table?"). I think we can do more with it.

All that said, I am grateful to the people on this site who come here each day and share their talents and experience. By doing so they enrich my life and the lives of many others.

Floydm's picture

We had a lovely dinner over at some friends house this evening. The only downside was there was no bread or starch of any kind with the meal. Being the carbivore that I am, I was very pleased that I had some sourdough loaves waiting to be baked when I got home.

I haven't baked sourdough in three or four weeks. I was pleased to see my starter is still alive:

Not the best sourdough I've ever made, but not bad. It does seem to have been improved by the fact that we were out for 6 hours and it got an extra long final fermentation.

Floydm's picture

This was the second time today I've prepared a post and then lost it. Perhaps I should take that as a sign and log off.

This is the latest variation on the whole wheat honey bread I've baked. Less honey and with sunflower seeds. Quite good, quite simple to prepare.

Dutchbaker's picture

I have been experimenting with Pugliese lately.  I adapted the Pulgiese recipe from Beranbaum's BB this weekend using my stiff sourdough starter.  I was pleasantly suprised with the results.  It was a nice airy loaf with an open crumb.   The crust was a little tough, but I am still using 100% rice flour to coat the banneton.  I would like to try the bread flour and rice flour mixture next time, to see if I can get a crisper thin crust.


pjkobulnicky's picture

I did a forum post a week or so ago asking if anyone knew more than me about making Joe Ortiz's Pain de Seigle de Thiezac . I didn't get any comments so I supposed the answer was no. So .. here is an update.

This bread is supposed to be all rye made solely with a natural starter. Ortiz humanely suggests that the beginner incorporate a bit of white flour and some yeast into the final dough. Even so, the first time I tried this it was a bear to make. Super glue has nothing over on pure rye dough. And ... pure rye starters that are not soupy wet are, how shall we say this ... subtle in their demonstration of activity. I also feel that Ortiz's transcriptions of bakery recipes for the home baker are poorly executed in print. (Joe ... if you read this I do apologize). He has the recipe starting not from an existing starter but from making a stiff levan from scratch. So ... the novice will spend 2-3 days waiting for something to happen and it may never happen. Or, since the action is so subtle, you may never know if you are successful. Anyone knows that it is MUCH easier to get a starter going with a wet solution. Then, once you have a working starter you innoculate another levan with it.

So, I spent the week getting a good starter going and when it came time to do Joe's recipe, I mixed a bit of the starter into the first levan mixture.

Joe doesn't give weights and Joe makes no mention of proofing temps. So ... I used the usual standard weights for cups of rye and white flour. I did the levan and the first refeshment at room temp (curretly about 60 in our house) over long times. The first (innoculated) levan went for almost 24 hours and the refreshment went for 8 hours. When I put the dough together with the wee bit of yeast, I move it to my proof box at 85 degrees where it went for 45 minutes. Then I shaped it ... not too tough and with less additonal flour to manipulate the sticky dough than with cibatta. I put it into a round shape and put it into a heavily, heavily floured round cane banneton using rye flour. It went back to the proof box for another 45 minutes. The oven preheated (450) with my stone for the 45 minutes. The loaf popped right out of the banneton on to my parchment covered peel. It baked for 50 minutes with another 10 in the turned off oven at the end.


If I can figure out how to get pictures to this site I'll post them. I did upload them but got a blank acknowledgment screen so maybe the image upload fairies were sleeping.


If it takes, here is the loaf:




And here is the FlickrURL:


Here is the crumb:





And here is the Flickr url.




tattooedtonka's picture

Well after making about a couple dozen bagels a week for the last 3 or 4 weeks, I figured I would try Cinn./Raisin Bagels as well as regulars.

I soon found out Cinn./Raisin Bagels are not like making regular bagels.  The shaping really kicked my butt.  Plenty of lumps, bumps, seams, oh what a mess.  I have been making my bagels in 4.5oz. size.  But with raisins I went with a 5oz. weight.  After shaping I was really concerned they would end up looking like bumpy biscuits, but I was happy with the ending results.  Most of the lumps smoothed out in the baking process.

After reading Tigressbakes Cornbread post I decided to give it a go.  She is right in her post, it makes alot of cornbread.  But it is a very good recipe.  I took a shot of the outside and then later took some of the inside, but those photos didnt turn out so well.  Here is what I did have.

After trying this out I decided to give Sourdough Guys "Sunflower Seed Bread" an attempt.   Since I am still wrestlin with my starter I decided to try to adapt it to a White/Wheat bread with a white poolish.  I used his weight ratios for the seeds.  He warned that he didnt go 100% with them, so I figured what the heck, I'll try.  So with that I took the entire added up weight of all flours used in the recipe and matched it with exactly the same amount of roasted seeds (per his spec.).  WOW was that alot.  It was a bit messy, and a whole lotta fun.  I used Mike Averys folding method that I read about thanks to JMonkeys recent post, and here are my results.  ALOT of seeds.......Tastes pretty good though if you dont mind so much crunch in your bread.

Well thats all for now...


mary ann's picture
mary ann

I have an old receipe that requires cake yeast to be crumbled over dough and worked in.


I cannot find cake yeast anywhere, can I use dry yeast.  And what do I have to do with it.  Can I just sprinkle is over the dough and just work in like the cake yeast or do I have to do something to it.  Help

T4tigger's picture

Thing 1 and Thing 2 have given birth to two reasonably successful loaves of bread. I used Rose Beranbaum's 2 day basic sourdough recipe from TBB. I made one loaf with each of the starters. The doughs were made from:

  • 150 g. 50% starter
  • 150 g. water
  • 180 g. bread flour (my first experience with bread flour)
  • 6 g. salt

Her recipe calls for mixing all ingredients, kneading for 5 minutes and then autolyzing for 20 min. After this, 5 more minutes of kneading and then a 1 hour rise. Following the first rise, the dough is folded twice and allowed to rise for another 4 hours. Then the loaves are shaped, put in a bowl lined with a floured towel and given a final 4 hour rise. I floured the towels with both AP flour and corn starch. I had a lot of flour left on Thing 2, so I think I used too much.

Dough slashed and ready for baking. Thing 2 is on the left, Thing 1 on the right

Thing 2 and Thing 1 after baking

Each of the loaves weighed just under 1 pound.

Thing 1 Crumb                                                                                Thing 2 Crumb


The crumb looked pretty good to me, considering that I was using 2 new starters and bread flour for the first time. The tase was still pretty mild, but I expected that since the starters are young and I didn't do a long, cool rise. I tried to taste a difference in the flavor between the 2, but couldn't. The rest of the family devoured both loaves in about 45 minutes!

The biggest difference I noted was that Thing 1, the indoor starter did perform a bit larger and faster than Thing 2. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues over time. Now I just have to figure out how to justify keeping 2 more jars of starter.......


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