The Fresh Loaf

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BvN's picture

My re-innoculated, stuck sponge, made a wonderful batch. I've been working on this recipe for 3 years. This is where I wanted to go. As soon as I can confirm repeatability, I will post my "recipe" - actually it is written as a "best practice".

BvN's picture

Had a stuck sponge this time. Fell back to good 'ol "dry active" to re-inoculate and the sponge took off like gang-busters. Will taste the results tommorow while I keg my new Red.

The bread really rose this time. I even noticed "oven spring" which I understand, results from what in brewing is the protease rest (122 F). I expect some conversion (beta glucanase - 104 F) is also involved.

Found some words in the Wikipedia that refer to what I am attempting - barm {from which the English get the word barmy - which may explain the why of my efforts :-} and emptin's (emptings) - an old American cooking term that showed up in print in 1790's (Simmons). The description of emptin's exactly describes what I have been doing.

According to the Wikipedia,  "active dry" was invented for WWII and "instant" was invented in the 1970's.

As to the current state of my recipe - the sponge provides all the yeast and water for the bread. 1 Tbs malt extract powder to each 3/4 cup of water (simulates wort) and 2 parts bread flour to 3 parts water (provides the right consistancy for the sponge). The fake wort is raised to 85 F and shaken in a gallon milk jug to remove chlorine and add oxygen). The yeast is pitched and allowed to rest for an hour or two. Flour is added and allowed to rest overnight.

Re-inoculation method for a stuck sponge is: 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon malt extract powder, raised to 105 to 115 F, one packet of "active dry", rest for 15 minutes, pitch it into the stuck sponge and stand back :-)

Assuming the new bread has the flavor I am looking for and given the cost of "active dry" versus the effort to maintain a pure yeast culture, I may drop the yeast culture effort and only use the emptin's on the days I rack (primary and secondary fermenters) - which is at least a couple of times a month.

SylviaH's picture

Today I made Daniel T. DiMuzio's Olive Oil Bread and I have placed on order his new book.  Daniel and Floyd's photo's/write-up really encouraged me to bake this bread.  The bread turned out lovely.  It was very easy to make and went quite well with our Scampi Diablo Pasta dinner tonite.  I used Rosemary from my tiny new plant I picked up at the nursery the other day.  The leaves were very green, pliable and fresh.  The bread is tender and at first bite there was the lovely mellow flavor of the rosemary.  I think this bread will grill very nicely for sandwiches husband wants to toast everything..I don't know about jam and rosemary!  Maybe some lemon curd on it for a snack!

I also made Jeffrey Hamelman's Pain au Levain. This is a very nice sourdough bread with a pleasing taste and crumb.

Rosemary Olive Oil Boule's

Very tender open crumb.

Front two loaves are J.H. Pain au Levain (Sourdough Bread) back loaf is Rosemany Olive Oil Bread

Pain au Levain Crumb





mlydon8's picture

There is a farm near our house that grows wheat and grinds it into whole wheat flour. What size sieve would I need to sift out some bran and get 85% extraction flour (like Poilane in Paris)? Thanks. Susan

Yippee's picture

A variation of my previous whole wheat sandwich bread.  The lightest and the most aromatic I've ever achieved.

xaipete's picture

I've been experimenting with various method of making San Francisco Sourdough for some time now. Suas' SF Sourdough loaf came out pretty well. I baked it with steam instead of under a cloche and didn't get as much oven spring as I hoped for. This loaf underwent bulk fermentation on the counter and was proofed in the refrigerator. It isn't quite as sour as I would like. I achieve the degree of sourness I'm looking for only when I do both the bulk fermentation and proofing in the refrigerator.

Suas San Francisco Sourdough

                      The crumb of this loaf is medium open and doesn't have a glisteny wet look about it.


2 1/2 oz. bread flour

1/8 oz. rye flour

1 1/4 oz. water

starter (stiff) 2 1/8 oz. (50% hydration)

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Allow to ferment 12 hours at room temperature (65º - 70º).


Final Dough:

14 7/8 oz. flour (I used bread flour)

10 7/8 oz. water

3/8 oz. salt

6 oz. levain (all of the levain)

My Method: mix water and levain in mixer with paddle to loosen levain (about 1 minute). Add remaining ingredients and mix for an additional minute. Let mixture rest for 5 minutes so flour can hydrate. Resume mixing with dough hook for about 4 - 5 minutes to achieve a medium consistency (gluten structure is developed, but not fully--window pane forms but breaks upon stretching). Put dough into an oiled container with a lid. Let ferment for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Do a stretch and fold. Let ferment for another 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Form into a ball and let rest 20 minutes. Shape into batard, put into a banneton, cover with a plastic bag sprayed with pan-spray and refrigerate for 12 to 16 hours. Turn out onto pan-sprayed parchment and bake on a stone in a 450º preheated oven for about 25 minutes with steam.

Makes a single two pound loaf (weight before baking).

Below is a picture of a loaf I baked several days ago. This loaf underwent overnight bulk fermentation in the refrigerator after the stretch and fold, overnight proofing in the refrigerator, and was baked with a cloche; it got much better oven spring and had better sour flavor. I'm sold that this is the way to go. I don't think it is so much the particular formula as the method. Additionally, in my experience, loaves that undergo this much refrigeration, tend to be pretty wet (slack, extensible, whatever you want to call it), but seem to bake up well in spite of this characteristic. I'm not sure how you go about successfully scoring such a wet loaf, but perhaps that isn't as important as the taste. Yesterday I read in Local Breads that wetter doughs have bigger holes. Based on my experience, I'm a believer.

San Francisco Sourdough

                      The crumb of this loaf is very open and has a glisteny wet look about it.


xaipete's picture

My main motivation in making Pain de Beaucaire was that it could be completed in one day! I refreshed my starter early yesterday morning and made the levain for this bread from the discard. The bread took me only twelve hours to complete.

I broke off a piece of the finished loaf last night so I could taste it warm and was surprised by the prominent burst of sour on my upper palate.

This morning I had a closer inspection of these cooled, rough looking, free-form loaves. They have a someone soft texture and a medium crumb, and I liked the look of the vein of bran running through their middles! I toasted a piece for breakfast and was struck by how similar it tasted and looked to ciabatta--no surprise here really; this area of France is very close to Italy.

I think this bread is best served warm with a regional dish from southeastern France, e.g., coq au vin or a fish stew. I would make it again.

pain de beaucaire

pain de beaucaire

Named after Beaucaire, a region in Southeastern France, the Pain de Beaucaire is one of the first breads to be made "free-form" or not formally shaped. The bread is produced by placing two layers of dough on top of each other and then cutting with Râcle a Beaucaire, strips of dough that are baked side by side, giving this bread the unique appearance. Pain de Beaucaire was very popular until people started to prefer the lighter and crunchier baguette. However, this authentic regional bread is currently enjoying a resurgence as a new generation discovers its many appealing characteristics (Suas, p. 220).

I think a râcle a beaucaire is a type of pastry scraper.


2 3/8 oz. bread flour

1/8 oz. rye flour

2 1/2 oz. water

1 1/2 oz. stiff starter (50% hydration)

Mix all the ingredients until well incorporated (DDT of 70º). Allow to ferment 8 hours at room temperature (65º - 70º).


Final Dough Formula:

1 lb. 1/8 oz. bread flour

9 oz. water

1/8 tsp. instant yeast

1/8 oz. salt

6 1/2 oz. levain (all of the levain)

wheat bran

My method:

Mix water and levain with paddle attachment to soften up levain (about 1 minute). Mix remaining ingredients, except wheat bran, with paddle (1 minute), turn off mixer and let sit (5 minutes). Resume mixing with dough hook at speed 2 until dough has a medium consistency--window pane starts to form but breaks upon stretching (about 4-5 minutes). Put into an oiled, lidded container and bulk ferment at 75º for 1 1/2 hours. Shape into a ball and let rest 20 minutes. Make a paste of 1 tablespoon flour and 5 tablespoons of water. Pat ball out into a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Cut rectangle in half both length- and cross-wise. Apply paste to rectangle and sprinkle with bran. Place one length-wise strip on top of the other, bran sides facing inward. Move loaves keeping bran seams horizontal to a couche and let proof 2 hours. Preheat oven with stone to 450º, remove loaves from couche and place on pan-sprayed parchment paper with bran seams vertical (seams will hold because they have been pasted together)--in other words, you bake the loafs sideways. Bake on stone for about 25 minutes.



GabrielLeung1's picture

The shock of retarded yeast fermentation has worn off. Like the afterglow of an especially buttery bread, it had washed over me and left me satisfied and looking to the future. I was filled with excitement and an ever ravenous attitude filled me as I looked for a way to implement what I had learned. From that point a passion for bread making filled me.

This is the secret: lower the metabolism of yeast by  lowering the temperature of their environment, the dough. As the yeast sleep, enzymes from the four (amylases) are allowed to work, breaking complex starches into sipler sugars. With the waking of the yeast comes an explosion of enzymatic action. Sugars are consumed, carbon dioxide is released, and the dough rises. With this preliminary step of retarding yeast metabolism the reservoir of sugars is larger, and the amount of sugars by the end of fermentation is also larger; the bread is more delicious.

I could not have imagined this scheme. It was so amazing! And it made sense. This was life, and science, and human ingenuity. Two years passed, and I learned much about bread making. I'd heard of autolyse, and soakers, but I paid them no attention as I hadn't yet expanded to whole wheat flour and non-wheat grains. But there was a forum post about scalding flour. It led me to information about the utter opposite of retarding yeast. To scald flour is to mix flour with boiling water. In so doing you increase the temperature of the flour paste and super-charge the amylase in the dough. Amylase activity when high digests amylose and other long chain styarches, producing sugars.

The exact same result as retarded yeast fermentation (I think)! I am in shock. People are thinking about this. P:eople like me have a desire to know about ways to improve bread making. There are methods and styles I have never heard of, it is so inspirational to know they are there.

And of course its true that autolyse and soakers and other types of ways to do this aren't particularly new, I am amazed nonetheless. What other hidden bread making secrets exist? And ultimately, what are they and how can I incorporate them into my technique list?

BvN's picture

I've been rumaging arount this site a bit, read reviews of The Village Baker etc. I too, am trying to go back in time - pre Fleishmann's (1860's). Before instant and dry active yeast. I work with my own yeast cultures, but trust me, if something goes wrong, out comes the active dry. It is a wonderful failback.

I make live, cask conditioned, export bitter ales (extra, special, and best). IPA is an export based on either session or ordinary bitter. I grind my own grain, step mash, and dry hop. In this, some of my methods go back to the 18th century (before Louis Pasteure discovered the role of yeast). The same biases show up in my bread making - which is why I try to get all of my baking yeast from poolish. It also means that I fool around with recipies so as to jetison the dependence on modern (the last 150 years) yeast sources.

The really odd thing is, that I avoid a lot of the difficulties I read about on this site. The sponge setting step has a very elastic time scale (6 to 60 hours) - at least the way I go about it. However, once the dough process starts, the assembly line timing takes over until it comes out of the oven. This is very similar to when the strike contacts the grist in the making of beer. The 6 hour process ending with "pitching the yeast" is "in charge" of my life.

A note in passing. I just finished baking a couple of loaves of Italian from yeast culture poolish last night. One loaf has already evaporated (before noon today). I have a very small oven - 1/2 sized convection with stone - 2 loaves max. It would be nice to have a double stack, baker's depth, but then there would be no room for us to live here.

I very much appreciate the efforts made by the members of this forum, both failures and the successes. I really enjoyed "High Altitude Bricks". So many wonderful breads, so little time :-) I hope to try them all.

If anyone has questions about yeast, ask me. If I don't know, I know people who do - and I enjoy the research. Consider me your local zymurgist. Meanwhile, I'll keep plagerizing (the sincerest form of flatery) your recipies and methods.

Illa's picture

I'm having problems with the milk bread recipe from Yippee. I don't know just how to convert the grams, etc. into ounces, pounds or cups. Please help as I have a couple of recipes I would like to try but am not sure of the amount of ingredients.  


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