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A while ago I wrote a post, Life With Fred; Maintaining a Starter In Pictures, about how I maintain my starter; an approach focused on minimizing both waste and stress. The starter, Fred, seemed pretty resilient. While I usually baked every week or two, sometimes Fred would cool his heels in the fridge for a month or more. I wondered how long he could go between feedings and still remain viable. I knew that dabrownman was taking a similar no-waste, laissez-faire approach. He had some additional goals and described them and his approach in his excellent No Muss No Fuss Starter post.

I also knew that there were a lot of beasties in my 75g of Fred; it would take some time and effort to kill them all. On the other hand, at 100% hydration, Fred might not last as long as a stiffer starter.

So I cloned Fred by removing 15g and feeding with AP flour and a pinch of rye  it 1:2:2 to make a clone known as Dead Fred (DF) . I kept DF in a warm place until he was starting to bubble.


Then I put him in the back of the fridge and left him undisturbed. For 11 months.

When I removed DF it was clear that he had been cold and lonely back there. He had even turned to drink. Sad.



I poured off the hooch and left him at room temperature for a while. There were no signs of life; he's starving, I think.



But was the yeast dead or just dormant? Let’s see.

Once again I removed 15g, this time from Dead Fred, and fed it 1:2:2 with AP flour and a pinch of rye to make 75g of 100% hydration  or Zombie (i.e un-Dead)  Fred (ZF). ZF went into the proofing box at 78 F:



About 11 hours later there are signs of life. He really was just sleeping.



Looking good, but not quite as active as the original Fred yet. Normally I would have fed him again before building a levain - a multi-stage build - but timewise, if I tried to build a levain immediately it would fall into my usual baking schedule. So I went for it and built a 123% hydration levain for my spin on Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough. Lately I’ve been doing mostly whole-grain breads, but I knew I’d have better chances with a whiter bread if the levain were a little weak.



After about 14 hours in the proofing box at 78F, the levain is looking good:



The levain and the remainder of the ingredients get rough-mixed:


Then some slap-and-folding, a bulk ferment with a couple of folds, shape, retard overnight, and et voilà. From dead to bread.



There are a lot of yeastie beasties in a starter. They're simple organism, very focused on survival. Maybe your starter's not dead.

Just sleeping.


BobS's picture

This summer we had the occasion to pass by the King Arthur bakery and store in Norwich, VT several times. The cafe is quite good, and we tried to time our visits for lunch or dinner. Of course, we always pick up some bread to scope out too. One of these was a walnut ciabatta that had a remarkably nutty flavor. Couldn't figure out what was in there until I saw a 'walnut raisin ciabatta' in V2 of Hamelman: ah, toasted wheat germ.

I've made this a few times since, increasing the hydration a bit to open the crumb more.  It's good, and my homegrown food critics say its pretty close to what we brought home.

Here's where I ended up.


26.7%ripe white levain, 125% hydration
100%AP flour
6%wheat germ, toasted
21%walnuts, toasted
  1. Prepare the levain ahead of time.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the walnuts in a mixer until there is moderate gluten development. In my Kitchenaid this took maybe 10 minutes at moderately high speed. You need to crank it up at this hydration
  3. Fold in the walnuts.
  4. Bulk ferment 2 hours, folding once.
  5. Turn out, divide in half (don't shape, just divide) and proof on parchment for maybe 1.5 hours at 75F. This is pretty wet stuff; don't handle it much.
  6. Bake with steam (I use the dabrownman MegaSteam method) at 460 35-40 minutes.
  7. Enjoy.
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You find these muffins in places with an Azorean Portuguese population, like SE Massachusetts, where I've eaten plenty of them. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Sort of a cross between Portuguese Sweet Bread and English Muffins. But better. Great at breakfast or tea-time, with or without butter. These are tarted up a bit with a biga and some lemon peel.


AP Flour      162 g    100%
Water          105 g      65%
Salt                  1 g     0.5%
IDY                0.2g     0.1% (pinch)

Final Dough

AP Flour            506 g        100%
Milk                    101 g          20%
Salt                      10 g            2%
IDY                        5 g            1%
Eggs                  167 g          33%   (3 large eggs)
Sugar                 157 g          31%
Butter, Melted      44 g        8.75%
Lemon Zest           1 g           0.5%
Biga                   268 g           53%    (all of the biga)


  1. Mix biga ingredients, ferment overnight.
  2. Combine all ingredients. Mix until good gluten development, then bulk ferment 1.5 hours, folding once or twice if necessary.
  3. Scale at about 105g, shape into balls, then flatten to maybe 1/2 inch thick. Proof about 45 minutes.
  4. Grill over low-medium heat until browned and cooked all the way through. Do not use too much heat or the middle will not cook properly. It takes me about 15 minutes to grill a batch.



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This is my second take on the SBFI Finnish Rye. Didn't get so much spring on the first take, but it was tasty and seemed pretty popular. I only got one slice out of two loaves.

This time I focused on a little more gluten development, mixing for about 8 minutes, then adding the soakers and mixing for another 3-4. Bulk ferment was 3 hours with three folds, final proof about an hour both at 78F. Also added a couple of Tbs of vital gluten to the mix. The dough is pretty sticky stuff; wet hands help.

Baked at 20 minutes @ 460 with steam, then another 20 @ 460 without. We'll see what it looks like inside tomorrow.


BobS's picture

The recent posts from wassisname and limmitedbaking got me hankering to try this bread.

I used the formula here, but, as happens in the Hippie Kitchen, modified the method:

  1. Mix flours, polenta and water, autolyse 30 min. I used KA Bread and WW flours.
  2. Add levain, salt and pepitas; slap-and-fold until there is some gluten development.
  3. Bulk ferment 3 hours, folding 3 times.
  4. Scale, rest, shape.
  5. Retard in fridge about 18 hours.

Then baked at 460F for 15 minutes with steam, then another 20 minutes at 460 F without steam, then 10 minutes at 410F convection.

It's really good. You wouldn't think such a little bit of polenta would make such a difference, but it does.

Pepita Polenta Sourdough

BobS's picture

Some days you're the hydrant.

This one was a dog day. Baguettes with poolish from Hamelman, but a little bit wetter. This baguette stuff is tricky.

BobS's picture

Not posting much lately, but still fiddling around. One of the things I've been doing is messing with a formula that typecase posted here: Not quite there yet, but here's what the latest spin on it looks like.

Film at 11

BobS's picture

I recently took the 'Artisan Baking at Home I' course at the King Arthur Baking Education Center in Norwich, VT. I pondered whether it would be worthwhile, as I'm a not-a-beginner home baker and (thought I) was familiar with a lot of the material in the course description. I finally decided to go as I was sure to pick up some tips from the pros, and taking the course would allow me to see and feel the various doughs. And I could mess around with dough and commercial equipment for four days in a row with other breadheads. I'm glad I went.

I won't say much about the course content, as it's been described in other posts here on TFL. I will say that it was useful, educational and good fun. The instructors, facility and materials were all top-notch, and our time was used very efficiently.

Some photos to give you an idea

There's a store, bakery and café in the same complex. The café is pretty good.


Foccacia SicilianoFoccacia Siciliano



Inspecting Ciabatta

Inspecting Ciabatta

Croissant, Pain au Chocolat and other pastries

Croissant, Pain au Chocolat and Savories

BobS's picture

It took a few days to recover from bread overload I got at the Boston TFL meetup (thanks so much for organizing, Varda). Time to try something new.  Pumpkin seed bread from the Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, RI as described by MC Farine has been on the list for a while.

I made a few changes. The original formula combines two levains to form the levain for the bread. I built a levain with the same percentages starting with Fred, my 100% hydration mostly white starter. The amount of pumpkin puree is pretty small: maybe 1/4 of a can. Instead of opening a can of pumpkin puree I pureed a bit of fresh acorn squash.  The squash seems mostly for color in this bread, and I suspect that some of those cans of pumpkin puree have squash in them anyway.

It seemed to work.


The rye makes a nice undertone under the nutty flavor of the roasted pumpkin seeds. There is more carmelization that I would have expected, perhaps due to the sugar in the puree. I like the orange hue.


  • 14 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 29 g whole-wheat flour
  • 18 g rye flour
  • 35 g water

Final Dough

  • 500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 75 g whole wheat flour
  • 30 g coarse cornmeal (polenta)
  • 475 g water
  • all of the levain
  • 120 g pumpkin puree  fresh or canned (squash also works)
  • 75 g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 120 g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 12 g salt


Mix the starter with the water and flours; ferment 12-14 hours

Final Dough

  1. Mix the flours and the polenta and the water to a shaggy mass. Cover and let autolyse for about 30 minutes, at warm room temperature
  2. Add the levain, the pumpkin , and the salt.
  3. Adjust hydration if necessary
  4. Mix in the seeds until well distributed in the dough
  5. Proof @ 76° F, giving  it three folds 30 minutes apart and let it rise afterwards for about 3 hours.
  6. Shape, then retard overnight in fridge.


  1. 460° F with steam for 20 minutes, then without steam for an additional 20 minutes.
  2. Turn the oven off and let the loaves rest inside with oven door ajar for another 7 minutes

Yield: about 1500 g (two loaves)


Submitted to YeastSpotting

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We had a can of pumpkin puree kicking around. I'm tired of the usual pumpkin quick bread and wanted something lighter.  Some time ago our paper had a braided yeast-raised pumpkin bread, originally from King Arthur. I started there and somehow ended up here:

Sorry, no crumb shot; the good light was gone by the time I sliced it.

I'm going to try another spin, this time with a preferment to punch it up a bit; then I think this one will be done.


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