The Fresh Loaf

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dmsnyder's picture


I baked Gérard Rubaud's pain au levain for the second time this weekend. For background and detailed procedures, see my previous TFL blog entry. Gérard Rubaud Pain au Levain

I altered my procedure in two major ways: First, I followed MC's suggestion that I try this bread with a single levain build, rather than the three builds used by Gérard. Second, rather than mixing the flours for each build, I weighed out the total flour mix and then used the necessary portions of it for the levain and the final dough. In addition, following Rubaud's lead, I scored these loaves very lightly, and I baked them at 450ºF, which yielded a lighter-colored crust.

When I made this bread a few days ago, I had problems with the proofed loaves sticking to the couche and to the transfer peel. MC said that Rubaud does not flour his couche. He dusts the bottoms of the loaves with a high extraction flour. I dusted my couche with some coarsely ground whole wheat flour, and this worked better than the AP flour dusting had. I also dusted the tops of the loaves with AP flour to prevent sticking to the covering folds of the couche. As a result, the baked loaves have a quite prominent flouring. I don't find this particularly attractive, so I'll try to avoid it in the future.






Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)


AP flour


Whole wheat flour


Spelt flour


Rye flour







Final dough



Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)


AP flour


Whole wheat flour


Spelt flour


Rye flour









This bake was essentially identical to the first in oven spring, crust consistency, crumb aeration and, most importantly, flavor. The flavor, as described before is simply astonishing.


This bread is highly recommended.



Submitted to YeastSpotting


trailrunner's picture

I used the rice flour in a linen lined basket and WHAT a difference. Sunddenly, as you said, the loaf comes out like teflon and the slash...well all I can say is WOW ! I used about 1 tsp of rice flour and lightly rubbed it into the linen napkin. I turned the shaped pain de campagne into it seam side up and waited 1 1/2 hrs, preheated the iron pot for 30 min at 500 and then turned the loaf out and slashed. Placed in pot/closed/reduced oven to 460 and baked for 30 min lid on and 15 min lid off to 207 degrees. The loaf carried on like crazy when I got it out of the oven,,,snap, crackle, pop and I got GORGEOUS cracks too. Who would have thought that someone who has baked bread for this many decades could still get so excited ?? Thank you again Hans for the rice flour baking will now move forward at a different pace as far as are the best. c

risen/slashed note linen lined basket w/ rice flour:


fresh from oven :

 Photobucket Photobucket

old iron pot for cloche baking:


moxiemolly's picture

Wow, I made Floyd's blueberry and cream cheese braids today (started them yesterday) and they are AMAZING! I did one by the book and made the other with a smear of the cream cheese filling sprinkled with chocolate chips, YUMMY! In case you haven't come across his post here is a link:

I highly recommend trying it. One note, my oven cooks a little fast because it has a convection option so this bread only needed about 25 minutes. Here are some pictures of the process:

The braids before going into the oven, the large one is blueberry:


The braids right out of the oven, it was really hard to wait 30 mins before cutting:


A close up of the delight:



A slice of blueberry heaven:


And a shot of chocolate loveliness:



Thanks Floyd!

jacobsbrook's picture

Thank you Shiao-Ping for sharing your wonderful skills as both a baker and a true artist!  Also thanks to MC for sharing with the "inspiring" story from Vermont.  After reading the blogs from Shiao-Ping and Farine I decided why not try???  Maybe the flavor will be what I am seeking. 

I followed as best as I could the formula that Shiao-Ping described, with only timing and my lacking a standmixer being an issue.  Therefore I used an autolyse of the flour, water, and starter, minus the salt for 30 minutes.  Then 6 stretch and folds one every 30 minutes.  After pre-shape and shaping, the dough was placed into the couche  and off to the fridge.  It remained in the refrigerator close to 14 hours.  In the morning the the cold dough went directly into the pre-heated oven at 500F with steam for the first 15 minutes and dropped to 450F for the remaining bake.  I am happy with the resulting loaves.  The flavor is mild and light and I agree with others that the resulting loaves are surprisingly light. The best description I can think of is "YUM". 

I cannot wait to see how they "age".  As usual my scoring leaves much to be desired, but you can't see that when it is sliced for a sandwich.  :)  

Once again thank you to the Artisans of TFL.

Best regards and well wishes.


JoeVa's picture

Last three weeks I baked really bad bread and I know why: the flour.
Nelle ultime tre settimane ho sfornato del pane veramente brutto e so perché: la farina.

Most of the (bread) flour you can buy at the market is not so good, at least where I live (Italy). It's too strong or too weak or enhanced with ascorbic acid or made with all Canadian and US grain. So, I've seen liquified dough, super strong plastic dough, very strange dough behavior ...
La maggior parte delle farine (per pane) che si possono comprare nei negozi non sono così buone, almeno dove vivo io. O sono troppo forti o troppo deboli o migliorate con acido ascorbico o fatte totalmente con grani Canadesi e Americani. Così, ho visto impasti liquefatti, impasti molto tenaci quasi di plastica, impasti dal comportamento davvero strano ...

Last week I said - I want a decent flour. So, I asked an Italian forum (my first message) if someone could suggest me a miller or reseller of good bread flour near where I live. The first reply was from a Madam (Angela) who lives just 2 km from my home. I don't tell you all the details, but she gave me a 3 kg of Caputo Rossa flour. A flour I always wanted to try! Great!
La settimana scorsa ho detto - voglio una farina decente. Così, ho chiesto su un forum italiano (il mio primo messaggio) se qualcuno poteva suggerirmi un molino od un rivenditore di buona farina nelle mie vicinanze. La prima risposta è stata di una Signora (Angela) che vive a 2 km da casa mia. Non sto a raccontare tutti i dettagli, ma alla fine mi ha regalato 3 kg di farina Caputo Rossa. Una farina che ho sempre voluto provare! Fantastico!

Molino Caputo is a miller located in Naples, famous all over the world for pizza flour. But they mill also flour for bread, croissant, babà, sfogliate. The flour I received is the one in the red bag (00 rinforzato), a medium strength flour (W 280:300, P/L 0.5:0.6) made with a selection of high quality Italian and North American grain.
Il Molino Caputo è sito a Napoli, famoso in tutto il mondo per la sua farina per pizza. Ma macinano anche farina per pane, croissant, babà, sfogliate. La farina che ho ricevto in dono è quella nel sacco rosso (00 rinforzato), una farina di media forza (W 280:300,P/L 0.5:0.5) fatta con una selezione di grani nazionali e Nord Americani.

What should I give Angela to thank her? A million dollar question ... Bread.
Cosa avrei dovuto regalare ad Angela per ringraziarla? Domanda da un milione di dollari ... Pane.

A simple sourdough bread, with a touch of whole grain (5% rye, 5% wheat), a soft dough (65% hydration).
Un pane semplice a lievitazione naturale, con un pizzico di grano integrali (5% segale, 5% frumento) dall'impasto morbido (65% idratazione).



Yes, I cut it half, before give it to Angela, to check the quality of the crumb.
Sì, l'ho tagliato a metà, prima di darlo ad Angela, per controllare la qualità della mollica.



Bread does friend!
Il pane fa amici.

JeremyCherfas's picture

Last week I baked Hamelman's Semolina with whole-grain soaker, using a natural leaven rather than fresh yeast, and was delighted with the results.

I wrote it up in detail at my blog, but wanted to mention it here for one reason: if it hadn't been for the help and support of the people here, I would almost certainly have made a mess of it and abandoned it. Thanks to your generosity, I have the confidence to handle doughs that, a year ago, I would have found much too wet, much too sticky and much too sloppy to work with. I would have murdered the texture by using too much flour, over-kneading and all that. Instead, I let time and stretch-and-fold do their thing, and was rewarded with excellent loaves.

So, thank you.


ananda's picture



I have moved this over from a discussion on Shiao-Ping's blog  to my Blog, as I was getting lost in some of the detail being covered, and because Shiao-Ping had asked me for more detailed discussion of sour doughs within My Blog page; so, here goes:

I am detailing below the feeding regimes we used to make thousands of Pain de Campagne and Rossisky loaves everyday in the bakery where I worked from 1994 to 2003.

Feeding regimes:   Commercially one feed works fine

e.g. French Leaven was refreshed from 41kg to 130g every 8 hours.   We had 3 bins this size, enough to make 6 x 120kg of dough for pain de campagne, with 3 sets of 41kg of leaven left for refreshment, which would take place 4 to 5 hours later, given our leaven fermented in 3-4 hours.



FORMULA % of flour


French Leaven [from stock]



Strong White Flour













 Occasionally we had to let a batch of leaven go really sour, or, add some rye sour into the leaven as we worked the leaven so hard that the acid content had fallen way down; a rare problem indeed for the home baker, I suggest?

Shiao-Ping, thank you for your most recent reply making reference to LeFleur, Kamir and Leader.   How ironic indeed that our French leaven as discussed above needing an injection of acid bacteria, whereas LeFleur and Rubaud both reject the premise.   I happen to think it really depends on how you look after/mistreat the leaven in its non-production phase.   Commercially, this phase is very short, but for the home baker that will not be the case, unless a constant refreshment regime is applied, and a considerable amount of regenerated leaven will then have to be thrown out as waste.   Don't you think the magic of maintaining a living culture to raise all your bread over a long time period is some really special concept?   Unless I was thinking my levain had genuinely gone bad, I'm with Hamelman all the way; but if the base is "off", it has to be thrown out, and a new leaven created in its place.

1 bin of Rye sour comprised 18kg of flour and 33kg water, and just 2kg of original sour; on flour basis this means 670g of fermented flour being used to ferment 18kg of flour [i.e. 3.72%]!!!!   After 2 hours the fermenting rye mass would be bubbling up at the top of the bin.   When we used the sour after 18 hours it would have dropped right back and the colour changed from the grey of dark rye to a pinkish brown tone with an obvious creamy texture, and the residue of a thin yeast crust on the top.



Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [kg]

Rye Sour [from stock]



Dark Rye Flour










For the home baker life has to be a bit more complicated in that most bakers will use a mother which is retarded in the fridge between baking sessions.   That said, when it comes to refreshment for baking, I build enough leaven to have some left over which will then go back in the fridge ready to make the next leaven.   I do not keep a pot of degenerating rank sour in the fridge, as that just becomes an acid bath in which no wild yeasts can survive.   If you do this it will take an aeon and a fantastically complicated feeding regime to bring the leaven back to a suitable state to make good bread.   To this end, I agree wholeheartedly with Shiao-Ping on leaven storage.   The mention of German bakers using  sour for flavour purposes only, maybe needs the additional reminder that commercial yeast will then be added to the final dough to counter  the inability of the wild yeasts to prosper in the high acidic environment.   Only keep a small amount of stock, and make sure to keep it relatively fresh.   Yes, it is possible to bring very old leaven back to life and make bread relatively quickly; but I would argue that bread would be poor in quality.   A small amount of relatively decent leaven can be fed carefully to produce a fully balanced culture which will yield the BEST bread; this is what we strive for.


When all's said and done the state of the leaven needs to reflect your own palate in terms of the eating qualities of your bread.   A leaven made with just one refreshment of a chilled pot of acid will give sour bread.   A leaven which is "green" will produce bland and low volume bread, as the yeas activity has not kicked in properly, and insufficient time has elapsed for a build up of any lactic or acetic acid


Please read what Jeffrey Hamelman says in his section on "Detmolder" [pp200] of "Bread: A Baker's Book of..."   It gives real context to the need to create the necessary balance of acids and wild yeast.   Other than that most other references are academe.   They are of great interest and make very challenging reading, but with reward.   I think Shiao-Ping would agree with me that the work of Debra Wink on this site is by far and away the best starting point for digging deeply into this complex area.


I'm still trying to make sense of a comment made by Hansjoakim concerning high acid concentration and low pH.   For Hans, wild yeasts don't like high acid concentrations but don't mind low pH.   To me, the wild yeasts are just as sensitive to acid concentration as lactobacillus, if not, even more so!   Shiao-Ping is under the impression that a low pH indicates high acid concentration; that these are one and the same thing.   I would totally concur with this.   Saacharomyces Cerevisiae [Baker's Yeast] does not like acid conditions at all, so plays a very limited role in this type of baking.   There are a number of other yeast strains which can tolerate more acidic conditions, but I would suggest that is still over 5 on the pH scale.   Working with pH is incredibly interesting; we did some experimentation whilst I was at College, but it would require tremendous dedication to the cause to do it in a home baking context.


On that note Shiao-Ping is bang on the money in her discussion of "balance".   Yes, a feeding regime can be just a guideline; but it will only work in this way when the baker understands what is needed from the leaven and how to create the conditions that will deliver that.   The reference to rhythm is all important.   A long-time baking colleague and friend of mine once wrote a small passage explaining how we used to hand knead all our dough in the small bakery he and I set up and ran over 20 years ago.   He came up with the monumental phrase "be the dough".    In that sense the dough really is what you put into it, in terms of energy, and on many different levels!!


Hansjoakim makes reference to high ash content/extraction rate in flour.   This definitely impacts on fermentation.   I have more direct experience of this with regard to the more conventional bulk fermentation systems.   Wholemeal and brown doughs will not tolerate long fermentation in the same way that white flour doughs would.   I think this is the real basis to the French ash content system.   In the UK we don't really have anything industrially to compare with the Type 65, and 80.   I suspect the American way to deal with this is the same as we do in the UK.   That is to add in a portion of wholegrain flour to conventional white bread making flour.   This may be either strong wholemeal flour, or a dark, or, medium rye flour, or a combination of both.   I notice a lot of folks on here use "AP" flour.   We have "Plain Flour" as the nearest equivalent, but I would not look to use that myself; it is designed for home bakers making pastry and cake.

My favoured alternative to the wonderful all-Canadian strong white flour I have sourced is from the following places.   There are some wonderful local farmers/millers who produce an equivalent of this ash content, and it is great to make bread from these organic and sustainably produced strains.   For all that, our climate in the UK is rubbish, as many of you will no doubt know.   A local miller who has supported me by coming in to lecture to my students grows single strain rare breed organic wheat on his own farm, milled at his own brand new, but traditional, stone grinding mill just 3 miles away from the farm.   His flour has quite a high protein content, and it can be used to make great bread, through long fermentation.   For all that the gluten quality is, to me, very low in comparison to the strong flours derived from Canadian and North American climates.   That has to be expected and accepted when taking the decision to use these flours.   The English climate is what it is, and these wheats have been grown in a non-intensive and environmentally sensitive way.


Best wishes


sergio83's picture

Hi All,

I tried again with the baguettes.  This time I used 1.25 cups of flour and .5 cup of water, 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast (i bought the glass jar in spite of some of ya'll's advice so i'll be using it for a while.) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (i should've used more salt)...

So, does it count as an autolyzing if I've already added the yeast and the salt? Since i've got the active dry stuff i have to soak it first and since i'm using so little water i don't have enough to divide it.

Anyway, the dough was a lot firmer than I'm used to and I'm thinking I might try an extra .25 cup of water to see what happens.  I transferred the shaped baguette onto a hot cookie sheet and that seems to have helped with oven spring.  This time the shaping was a lot better-- I took occidental's advice and dusted the flour with a sifter and that combined with how the dough was a lot more dry than what I've been using so I managed to shape a pretty pretty loaf.

My knife obviously isn't cutting it ;) when it comes to scoring.  I went to the local wal-mart to look for straight razors (is that what they're called... oops, double edged razors) well, the saleslady looked at me like i was crazy.  I also went to the hardware store to find drop canvas-- more on that in a bit-- and some quarry stones.  All the tiles they had were glazed.  There's this place down the road that has a lot of rocks and stuff so maybe they'll have some.

The bread came out a bit darker than I like and i'm not too crazy about the taste of it.  Also it's missing some salt... actually, i've got some more dough in the fridge, let me go add salt to that now...

I'll let you all know what happens when you add salt 10 hours into a cold fermentation/rising.

Here's the crumb

The bread came out sort of dry but that may have been because i tried baking at 500 for the first 10 minutes-- i won't try that again...

I don't reckon I'll count this as a victory-- except for the shaping; it's the best shaping i've been able to manage so far...

I think i put too much salt in the dough for next time... it'll be a half teaspoon for ~1.25 cups of flour.

anyway, regarding couches-- i went to the hardware store and got canvas drop cloth.  It says it's heavy-duty tight cotton weave, absorbent, washable and reusable, 8.oz. 4'x5' finished size

sorry about it being sideways... and here's as good a closeup of the weave as i could get with my camera

It's still in the plastic in case i've made a terrible mistake I can return it.

Does anyone know whether it'll work or not?  By the way, I need to wash it (with bleach as well as detergent?) then once it's dry rub flour into the weave?  is that how one turns it into a couche?

will slick's picture
will slick

Will slick Method 100% naturally leavened, white  Maltese bread.

Flour 100% ( Including flour from starter )

Starter 33% ( 100% hydration )

Water 67% ( Including water from starter)

Salt 1.6%

Sugar 2.5%

Butter 2.5%

Milk 1 TBS @ 600G total flour

The final dough was built with two additions of flour and water keeping the braum at near 100% Hydration. Then the addition of the remainder of flour and the other ingredients.The final dough was kneaded into a fairly smooth elastic ball, then fermented till nearly doubled with one stretch and fold after about two hours. the fermented dough was shaped and proofed till near double then baked at 475f for 30min.  total time from start to bake about 11hours.


korish's picture

Yesterdays recap.

11 hours since I started my bake n blog day, I finally completed my bake. At first the dough was giving me some trouble, by being stubborn and not wanting to double fast enough, luckily my wife came up with a great solution, I took it into our baby room where we keep it warmer, and with in two hours it popped wright up.

I divided the dough into 1.5lb loaves and let it rise free formed on my granite counter. Last week I tried using tea towel but all my loaves got stuck to it and the bread fell flat as I was removing it from them. All together I had 16 loaves of bread and 20 paninis. As with my previous bake I still had trouble mastering the slashing, I will need to practice more with that.


One of the accomplishments is that I was able to place the bread in the wood fired oven in such a way that I baked all of them in just to bakes, so that is great, It means that I can bake more bread with out having to fire the oven again.

On the Pain au Levain I added extra steam to the oven about 7 minutes after placing the bread in, that resulted in a much crustier crust which I liked.

The spelt bread is the best variation that I have tried so far, it's definitely going to be one of the breads that I will bake regularly. One of the main thing I learned in this bake is to just relax during the whole process and don't try to rush things, sometimes the little beasts in the starter like to work on there own schedule and we just cant do much about it. It was lots of fun and I know that my family and many of my friends will enjoy the bread for the week to come.


Please visit my site to see more pictures from the bake.


Healthy living.



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