The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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cranbo's picture

Happened to be in the Bay Area after Christmas this year for a vacation, and was passing through Petaluma on a weekday, so decided to swing by Keith Giusto Bakery Supply, which is tucked into a corner of an industrial park in Petaluma.

They have a neat, warm little consumer sales and reception area where they have 5lb individually bagged organic and non-organic Central Milling flours, and other home-baking supplies like bannetons, scrapers, buckets, bowls, baking books, and even a line of gluten-free baking mixes. So fun to explore the options, I felt like a kid in a candy store!

I was busy picking some stuff out when a nice young curly-haired gentleman with a friendly grin and enthusiastic personality struck up a conversation about where we were travelling from, how I found out about the place, etc. Lon (Gallardo) introduced himself as the main sales rep for the company; IIRC he's been working there for 8 months and knows Nicky (Giusto) from college. We talked a bit about the Giusto family and how Keith and Nicky Guisto are associated only with Central Milling and separate from the part of the family that produces Giusto's Vita Grain, and how getting Central Milling flour in LA is easier using the LA Bread Bakers meetup for group buys (flat rate shipping of a pallet i.e., fifty 50lb bags to Los Angeles area is only about $110).

Lon then asked us whether we would want to take a tour of the warehouse.

Oh heck yes we would!  

The warehouse is big, tons of flour sacks in pallets stacked neatly with several rows of different kinds of flours and other baking ingredients (they sell whole grain berries, sugar, baking powder, and now even chocolate!) Was cold in the warehouse (high's in the mid 50's in the bay area this week), and found out that it's not air conditioned, and apparently even during the summer it never gets very warm. 

Here is all my "loot": I'm excited to try their spelt, type 70 and 85 flours, california stone-ground wheat, and 9 grain cereal (which will soon be discontinued in lieu of the 6-grain cereal blend they already sell). 


Some things I learned:

They are the primary distribution point of Central Milling flour. Their primary mill is in Utah, but they have several mills. They have other distribution points thru other bakery supply providers throughout the US, but most do not carry the full Central Milling product line. They even distribute from their Petaluma location to as far as Texas.

Their flours and grains come from all over the country, wherever is necessary to get the right specifications of product.

They have a spooky guard for their warehouse:

They also have other non-organic commercial products (Red Rose brand) which are used by many commercial customers; it's not a brand that's commonly available for retail, but it's a really old brand (I believe Lon said it dates back to the 19th century). This brand is not organic (like Central Milling) and is significantly less expensive (maybe 1/2 the price of the Central Milling version), but are milled to very similar specifications (they have a type 70, type 85, and others in this brand). It's a reminder of the extra cost involved in organic certification, procuring and maintaining organic product.

They have special equipment to re-package the bulk product into 5lb bags to maintain the organic requirements, which is great for a home baker/hobbyist like me. Easy to spend $6-8 for a bag and try something new before committing to 50lbs. Ended up buying a 50lb bag of the Bakers Craft Plus (which is a malted flour). They sell malted & unmalted versions of a number of their most popular flours. 

Maintaining an organically certified warehouse requires special procedures including off-loading the many pallets of flour, checking for pests/rodents, and vacuuming/cleaning the entire shelving area regularly (once a month I think?) That seemed like an incredible amount of work! 

Confirmed that both Acme, Tartine and Josey Baker use Central Milling flours (Tartine supposedly uses 50/50 of organic and non-organic flour in their breads). 

They are building a new test kitchen, to ensure that the can continue to test products. Half will be set up for hobbyist baking classes, and the other half will be set up for commercial production testing. I was drooling over the steam injection deck ovens and the mixing gear. This is the current test kitchen:

As part of their service to commercial customers, they offer formula troubleshooting to ensure that customers are getting the right product, and that it's working as expected.

Nicky Giusto is a competitive baker who is getting ready to compete for Team USA in the Coupe de Monde Boulangerie competition. Nicky wasn't there (he is in training with Team USA, they meet all over the country to train) but he had done a test bake the day before with lots of baguettes, epis, and other pretty decorative loaves. The breads were day-old and Lon offered for us to take what we wanted. The two baguettes we grabbed were phenomenal. I have never had baguettes that had such a creamy, translucent, custardy and open crumb. Even the two day-old baguettes sitting in my warm truck were like a sweet, wheaty, toasty perfume that filled the air after only a couple of minutes. I wish I took a photo of the crumb. 

Lon and everybody at Keith Giusto's Bakery Supply made it a really fun and informative visit, got to leave with some great breads and fun memories. Can't wait to start baking! 

cranbo's picture

11/3/2014: A recent TFL forum post inspired me to think about ways to keep your starter warm. 

Maintaining a warm temperature is extremely important to establishing a new starter. If you maintain your initial starter temperature at 82-86F, this will lead to the production of more lactobacillus than yeast, meaning a more sour/acid environment, which is important to establishing a healthy yeast and bacteria colony in your starter, especially at the beginning. 

Once established, maintain your starter between 72-80F; this will help improve the speed of yeast growth. Want more lactobacillus, or more yeast activity? Take a look at this handy chart of yeast and lactobacillus growth, and choose the starter temperature that will work best for what you're trying to achieve. 

I live in a part of Southern California where the weather is 75F on average about 300 days out of the year, so home warmth is generally not a problem. But what if you live where it's cold in the winter? Here are 9 ideas for how to keep your starter warm when it's cold:

1. Sunny spot by a window. Easy and cheap, with one caveat: place your starter in a shoebox or other opaque or dark-colored box. Yeast and direct sunlight don't mix well. Of course dark colors will also help keep the box nice and warm in the sun too. 

2. Added 12/14/2019 - Double-insulated thermos: you could add some warm water to a double-wall vacuum-insulated thermos, then add starter in a double-bagged ziploc bag, seal the whole thing up. The larger the thermos and the more water as thermal mass, the longer it will keep your starter warm. You could probably maintain the temp heating up some metal or ceramic rods (or maybe even some sand!), placing them into a double-insulated container, and setting the starter on top. I have used this method multiple times and it works fantastically well! The trick is to not to add in too much warm water, because the bag will expand and the hydraulic pressure could cause damage to the thermos. 

3. Use a water bath. Use a hotplate, slow cooker or aquarium tank heater to maintain a water bath at the right temperature, and submerge your starter container (or ziploc bag) in the warm water bath.  

4. Cardboard or plastic box with a lamp. Run a low-wattage incandescent lamp/light bulb into a sealed box, turn the lamp on, and position your starter somewhat away from the lamp. A cardboard box or ubiquitous 20gallon plastic bin could be useful for this. 

5. Use your oven light. Simple as that: keep your starter in your oven with only the oven light turned on. It's easy to adjust the temperature by how close you place your starter container to the light. 

6. Next to your home heating system. Put it next to your home heating vent, wood stove, home furnace, water heater, fireplace, etc. 

7. Old miner style/next to your body: put your starter in a small double-bagged ziploc bag, and keep it close to your body, in a shirt or jacket pocket. Just like the "old sourdoughs" used to do when prospecting. This option is the most affectionate method, and results in the most bonding with your starter ;) 

8. Brod & Taylor Proofer. A lovely and functional option, if somewhat expensive. The Lexus of home proofing and warming options. 

Any other ideas I missed? I'd love to hear 'em. 


cranbo's picture

When I got more serious about baking several years ago, I created my own spreadsheets (or "breadsheets" as I like to call 'em) where I kept accurate track of formula tweaks, timings, etc. Over 200 sourdoughs, ciabattas, mixed grain pan loaves, pizzas, flatbreads, etc. 

Nowadays, even though I still weigh my ingredients, I "eyeball" things much more, and I rarely write my outcomes down....probably because for the most part, the outcomes come out consistently well. I haven't been baking a ton of breads lately, but my recent go-to's are:

  • a mixed grain pan loaf with white, whole wheat, medium rye, and Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain blend. 
  • a pizza with white, a bit of whole wheat and about 25% Caputo 00. 

I usually start with 500g of flour total, hydrate at about 70% (350g), and add yeast, salt, sugar, and fat as necessary. Doing the calculations in my mind is simple and easy. A 850g dough ball is convenient because it makes a good size loaf of pan bread, and makes 2 large pizza skins (or 4 individual ones). All kneading and clean up can be done in 15 minutes or so (I knead in a KA mixer). The shaped pizza dough balls go in the fridge overnight, so even less work to do than the pan loaves. 

Having the detailed formulas are nice when I'm trying to remember how to do a bread that I don't make regularly, but for my daily bread, I don't even think about it anymore...350g of water, add yeast (and sugar if desired), add 500g of flours (whatever I feel that day), add salt and fat as desired, knead in mixer, shape for bulk ferment, etc. watching the dough and not the clock. 

How about you, what recipes do you bake from memory these days?

cranbo's picture

There's quite a few good tutorials on this on TFL, but tons of lousy ones online, but I thought I would add my own. Mine is a bit different than others in that it focuses on maintaining warm temps throughout the starter creation process. I believe this is key to establishing good yeast and bacterial multiplication and a healthy starter ecosystem. It also focuses on just using flour, water, time and temperature to build a starter. No sugar, potatoes, honey, (heaven forbid) commercial yeast, other fancy stuff. Be patient, pay attention (look, smell, taste, and take good notes) and you will be rewarded with a strong, tasty starter. 

You'll need:

  • A quart-sized Ziploc bag (or other clear plastic or glass container)
  • A bowl (optional, to contain the Ziploc bag in case it leaks) 
  • An instant read thermometer (that provides accurate temperature between 60 - 110F) 
  • Whole wheat (or rye) flour (organic is nice but not required)

Day 1

To the Ziploc bag, add: 

  • 1/2c whole wheat (or rye) flour 
  • 1c very warm water (98F) 

Thermometer in starter

Get as much air as you can out, zip it up, and squish the mixture around. 

sourdough starter in ziploc bag with flour

Now put it in a very warm place (but not in direct sunlight!) between 85-99F...this is important. If your house isn't warm enough, you can place your starter in your oven with the oven light on. Or you can use a heating pad. Use your thermometer to check the ambient temperature where you are keeping it. You don't want it to get hotter than 100F, otherwise this has a negative impact on yeast and lactic acid bacteria development: any hotter and you risk killing them.

starter ziploc bag in ceramic bowl in oven with light on

Let the Ziploc rest in this warm place for 24 hours. Relax and congratulate've taken your first steps towards a healthy starter. 

Day 2

Your starter might look fizzy or foamy today. That's good; if it doesn't, don't worry about it. It's time for its first feed. Beware, it may smell vomit-like and be gag-worthy. Don't sweat it, this is normal; pinch your nose or breathe thru your mouth if it bothers you. 

sourdough starter day 2, foamy and smelly

To the Ziploc, add: 

  • 1/2c whole wheat (or rye) flour

day 2 sourdough temp reads 93.4F

Again, squeeze the air out, seal the bag, then squish the mixture around again. Let it again sit between 80-99F for 24 hours. 

Day 3

Give the bag 1-2 shakes to distribute mixture.  Check how it smells. Should be somewhat less vomit-like at this point. If you're lucky, it may start to smell a little vinegar-like, or like sharp cheese (like Parmigiano), or beer like. If it still smells vomit-y, don't worry about it. Over the next 2-3 days, with subsequent feedings, this smell will pass. 

day 3 sourdough starter, puffy and smelly

liquid separation on day 3 sourdough

The mixture might look separated, as in the above photo. That's OK, don't sweat it, just give the whole thing a couple of shakes to distribute the mixture again. Now reserve 2 tablespoons of the starter, and dump the rest out down the drain or in the trash.

To the emptied Ziploc, now add:

  • 2 tbsp of the reserved starter
  • 1/4c. warm water (98F)
  • 1/2c. whole wheat flour 

Seal the bag again, squish it around, let it sit at a comparatively cooler (but still warm) room temp (75-85F) for 24 hours. 

Day 4

Today your starter may be starting to show signs of life. This is when you start your regular feed cycle. It's also a good time to transfer your starter to a new container, like a large mason jar, or a plastic quart deli container, or other plastic container. Just don't seal the lid tight, it could pop! 

From here on our, you want to feed once or twice per day, as follows: 

  1. Toss all but 2 tbsp of your starter in the trash
  2. To your reserved starter, add 1/4 c. warm water (85-90F), and stir to combine
  3. Feed it 2/3c. whole wheat flour. 
  4. Store it at warm room temp (70-85F) 

Always try to feed your starter at the same time of day. For this and subsequent feedings, your starter will look pretty thick and pasty, like this:

Day 5, 6, 7: continue feed in the same way as described in Day 4 above.

This is what mine looked like on Day 7. Notice the nice air bubbles and pockets visible on the side and bottom of the container: this means your starter is active and ready to use. Don't worry if this doesn't happen for you on Day 7. Be patient, and keep going (as directed) through Day 11, and in that time you will have an active starter that looks like this. 


ready to use, bubbly sourdough starter

Day 8, 9, 10: feed in the same way as Day 4. Your starter should be pretty active by now. Start keeping track of how long it takes for the starter to double. Record the time you feed, and how much it rises. You are aiming to get it to double within 4-6 hours. When it does this, the starter is ready to use. 

Day 11: you can switch to feeding with all-purpose flour or a 50/50 combo of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, if desired. Whole wheat will give a more sour flavor to your starter.

By this point your starter should be quite active and ready to use in your recipes. It will be more active if you feed it 2x per day. It will be more active if you keep it at a warmer room temp (between 75-80F). If you only feed it once per day, it will generally take much longer to leaven your bread. 

Frequent Issues or Problems:

If you ever get black or fuzzy mold, scrape it off, and save a tablespoon or two of the clean starter. Then transfer it to a clean container and feed it. 

Don't store your starter in the fridge. You can if you have to (it is more convenient if you're not baking), but it will change the flavor. If you do, pull it out of the fridge 2 days before baking, and feed it at least 2x over those 2 days before baking. 

After Day 4, you can feed smaller amounts if you're concerned about waste. You can reserve 1 heaping tablespoon of starter, 2 tbsp water, and 1/2c. flour for your daily (or twice daily) feeds. 

Problems? Successes? Questions? Comments? Post them here. 

cranbo's picture

Inspired by a recent thread, I decided to tackle creation of a copycat recipe for Joe's Squared pizza from Baltimore. Anyone want to try it out?

Update 1/26/2012: when I first developed this formula and made this over the last 2 days, it started with a very liquid starter (~170% hydration), then to a loose sponge (~114% hydration), to a firm final dough (~59% hydration). It was also created for double the quantity, to ensure that the sourdough build would be successful. I've now updated it based on what I've read and learned about Joe Squared's pizza, as documented later in this tread: generally lower hydration, original bulk ferment, and more fridge time.

Cranbo's Cubed Pizza

Makes about 4 personal-sized (200g) pizzas.


Caputo 00 flour,50g
Sourdough starter,25g; OR use a pinch (1/16 tsp.) of yeast


Stage 1 starter,135g
Caputo 00 flour,200g


Stage 2 sponge,535g
Caputo 00 flour,300g
Vegetable oil,12g


Caputo 00 flour, 100.00%
Water, 60.7%
Oil, 2.15%
Salt, 2.15%

Stage 1:
Dissolve starter in water
Mix with flour until well incorporated
Set aside overnight at room temp (75F for 8-12 hours) 

Stage 2:
Dissolve stage 1 starter in water
Mix with flour until well incorporated
Let sit at room temp (75F) for 2 hours
Refrigerate overnight (8-16 hours)

Stage 3:
Next day, let come to room temp for about 30 minutes
Add stage 2 sponge to mixing bowl
Add flour, water and salt

Mixing and Kneading:
Knead for 1-2 min at lowest speed, just until it starts to come together as a ball
Now add oil
Knead for 5 min at medium speed (Kitchen Aid speed #4)
If you're going to use same-day, start preheating oven now to 550F with your pizza stone, sheet steel, or cast iron griddle. You'll need to preheat for at least 1 hour.

Bulk rise:
Let bulk dough rise 2 hours at warm room temp (75F). You can probably go longer if desired; however, you do not want your dough to more than double. 

At this point, shape into balls, grease lightly with oil, and refrigerate for future use; OR divide into desired pieces (200g is probably the right size for small individual servings).

Generously flour your rolling surface, and roll out to 1/8-1/4" thick using a rolling pin. If dough is too elastic and springs back, let it rest for 10 min, and try again.

Place pizza dough on cornmeal (on pizza peel or parchment)
For true "cube" square style, use a pizza wheel or a sharp knife to cut a 10 or 11" square.  
Top pizza as desired, putting ingredients right up to the edge in true copycat style. 

Bake at 550F for 3-7 minutes, until bottom crust is browned and toppings are melted as desired.

UPDATE 2012-01-26: my first bake is in the thread below. 

cranbo's picture

So in response to a recent post, I decided to try Beth Hensperger's Sennebec Hill bread for myself, to see if the original recipe was problematic as I initially suspected. This is an enriched multigrain bread with 3 different flours, as well as rolled oats and yellow cornmeal. 

Some adaptation was necessary, because as I have no bread machine. Fortunately guidance is easy to come by: in Hensperger's book, she notes that her recipe originates from Bernard Clayton, and his version can be found in New Complete Book of Breads, Soups & Stews. Clayton's version appears to use slightly more whole wheat flour and slightly less water than Hensperger's. He also uses very hot water (120-130F), which I suspects help rehydrate the ingredients more quickly, and promote some level of gelatinization. 

So in the bowl of my trusty KA mixer, I combined all the dry ingredients, including dry milk powder, salt and yeast. 

After whisking these together, I added the egg yolks, oil, molasses and water. In deference to the previous recipe, I only added 1 cup of water, and reserved the remaining 1/4c., as it was reported that the dough was very sticky and unmanageable. I mixed to combine on the KA's lowest speed for 1 minute with the dough hook. 

Here's the result after 1 minute of slow mix; still rough, all not quite incorporated. 

I don't know how long a bread kneading cycle typically is, I'm sure it varies from machine to machine, so I'm eyeballing this. Clayton specifies 8min of knead time by hand or mixer. 

So after this rough mix, I cranked up the mixer for 2 min at KA speed #4.

As you can see from the photo below, it was still very shaggy, loose and goopy after those 2 min of mixing, as you can see from the picture below. 

Seeing how shaggy it was, I let the barely-mixed dough rest for 5 minutes, to help the flour, oats, and cornmeal absorb some moisture. 

I then unleashed the KA again, for 5 more minutes at speed #4. About 1 minute before mix was completed, I scraped the bowl down again, as the mixer was starting to bog (!) from the horizontal structural "blanket" that had formed. Mixer wasn't even hot, but it's the first time I've heard the mixer bog mixing any dough, including some of the high % ryes that I do. 

Here's how it looked right after 7 min of mixing was completed:

Looks slightly sticky, but really it was just "post-it note tacky". Shaped easily into a smooth dough ball with no additional flour on the board. 

I let it rise for 1 hour in my microwave alongside 4c. of boiling water (which creates a nice humid fermentation, at temps between 80-85F). It had almost exactly doubled during that time. 


Again, a very soft and supple dough, not sticky at all, and very little elasticity. Notice the finger prints that remain.

Weighed this dough ball after rising, weight was 842g.

Flattened it into a rectangle, rolled it up, and into a bread pan dusted with a bit of flour to help release. 

Then I set the oven to preheat to 375F.

Back into the microwave with the hot water for final proof; here's what it looked like at 30 minutes elapsed:

Not quite 1" above top of pan, so I let it rise another 10 minutes, at which point it was fully risen (total rise time 40 min). Passed poke test, so it was ready to go. 

Gave it a light slash, sprayed the top down generously with water. I always tend to slash the tops of my loaves, in this case, perhaps I don't need to. 

Set it to bake on middle rack at 375F for 2 min, then turned it down to 350F for 18min; rotated in the oven after 20min elapsed, here's what it looked like as I rotated it:

Total bake time of 40min. When removed, internal temp of bread was 206F, and this is what it looked like:

Baked weight was 782g, which is closer to a 1.75lb loaf. 

And the crumb?

I found the crumb a bit too tight and dry for my tastes. It does have some shreddability, but not enough moistness. Could be because of slightly reduced hydration, or long bake, or both. 

Flavor? Nothing specific jumps out. You get a little bit of crunch from the corn meal (either you like that or you don't, I'm impartial to it), and a faint muskiness from the combination of rye and molasses. A decent sandwich loaf with whole grains, not mind-blowing. Overall found it to be slightly dull & flat-tasting, compared to other breads I've baked; this may be a combination of short warm rise, high yeast, and intensive knead conspiring to reduce flavor. 

For next time?  I revise my initial assumption and say that it will probably work with the original amount of water (1.25c), but I suspect that it will be pretty sticky and shaggy, and require more careful handling, or similar knead and regular bowl scraping to get it to come together. Or perhaps a slightly shorter bake. Maybe a touch more salt, or some more sweetening (I think honey in lieu of molasses would be nice). Ars Pistorica's prior suggestion of an overnight rest in the fridge, maybe with a bit less yeast, would help boost the flavor. 

So here's my adaptation:

Cranbo's Hilly Sennebec Bread

(I'll come back and provide weight measurements later)

1 1/2 cups KA all purpose white flour
3/4 cup KA whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill dark rye flour
3 tablespoons rolled oats
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons KA vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses
2 large egg yolks
1 cup cool tap water + 1/4 cup cool tap water (reserved if necessary)


  1. In mixer bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together.
  2. In small bowl, whisk oil, molasses, egg yolks, and 1c. of water.
  3. Mix until all ingredients combined, rest 5 min (or up to 20min)
  4. Knead for 7 min at medium speed with dough hook (KA speed #4); scrape down bowl during this process as necessary (or every 2 minutes). 
  5. Shape into ball, place in oiled clear container, let rise in warm humid place until doubled, about 1hr.
  6. Now preheat oven to 375F
  7. Take risen dough, flatten into rectangle, roll like log.
  8. Place in 5x9 bread pan, let rise in warm humid place until about 1-1.5" above pan edge, about 40min.
  9. (Optional: slash and mist loaf with water)
  10. Place on middle rack in oven, reduce heat to 350F and bake for 30-40 min, until desired browning is achieved and internal temp is at least 190F. 
  11. Remove from oven. If desired, brush top crust with melted butter. 
  12. Let cool on rack for at least 30 min. 

cranbo's picture

In response to a thread, I thought I'd start a thread with simple sourdough recipes for beginning sourdough bakers.

The idea is that the recipes are:

  • use steps that build upon well-established baking techniques
  • forgiving enough if starter hydration is not exactly 100%
  • use common ingredients (that you can find at any supermarket)
  • use a minimum of ingredients (no more than 7)

The recipe does assume that you have a healthy starter which:

  • is well-established (at least 14 days old and has lived at moderate room temp (between 65F and 75F) for that period of time); 
  • has been fed regularly (i.e., 2x or 3x per day) for the last 3 days, and is being stored at moderate room temp (between 65F and 75F) for that period of time; 
  • is active (can double within within a 4-6 hour interval) and (again!) is being stored at moderate room temp (between 65F and 75F) for the last 3 days; and
  • is at 100% hydration (that is, it's fed using 100g flour and 100g water for every 50g of reserved starter)

If your starter can't do all of these, the recipe might still work, but won't work nearly as well.  Requirements: You'll need a small digital scale to weigh out the ingredients in grams (if you're a beginner who's serious about baking, you'll find this a cheap and worthwhile investment).  

cranbo's Beginner's Sourdough - makes one good-sized loaf

(OP updated 2013-06-06)

Originally posted Sept 2011

Flour (100%): 550g* 

Water (56%): 308g**  

Starter @ 100% hydration (20%): 110g

Salt (2.2%): 12 g

Wheat germ (1%): 5.5g (or 1 tbsp) (optional)

Total (179%): 986g

*This recipe was originally designed for all-purpose flour or bread flour, which most people have; you can use whole-wheat flour but the result will be more dense; 100% rye flour not recommended for this recipe. 

**if you use only whole wheat/wholemeal flour, use 378g water, whole wheat absorbs more moisture, and if you don't add more water, your loaf will be dry. 

  1. Dissolve starter in a portion of the water.
  2. In mixing bowl, add starter, remaining water, flour & wheat germ.
  3. Stir/mix to combine, until all raw flour is incorporated, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Let rest for 20 minutes.
  6. Knead for 5 minutes in mixer on lowest speed, or 10 minutes by hand. It might be a little sticky still, that's OK.
  7. Stretch and fold the dough 4 times, with 30 minutes rest in between. (search TFL for "stretch and fold"; this means:
    1. flatten your dough into a rough rectangle
    2. tri-fold your dough like you would a letter: first top-to-bottom, then left-to-right. You will end up with a nice package. Flip it seam side DOWN back into the container where it will rest. 
    3. NOTE: it helps to dip your hands in water, or spray them with cooking spray, to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers when doing stretch and fold. 
  8. Shape into desired shape (boule, loaf pan, etc.; read up on shaping techniques here on TFL). 
  9. Now cover the shaped dough, and refrigerate overnight. This will help develop a lot of flavor. 
  10. The next day, let it rise, covered, in a warm place until a bit less than doubled. This can take a long time, plan for 3-6 hours. Pay attention to the bread (learn how to do the poke test to know when it's ready). As I said, it should be just a bit less than doubled. 
  11. About 1 hour before you think you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450F.
  12. Right before baking, SLASH YOUR LOAF with a knife or a razor. 
  13. Next, create some steam in your oven (1c of hot water on a hot sheet pan is one way to do it).
  14. Bake at 450F for about 40-45 minutes; check at about 30 minutes, reduce heat to 400F.
  15. Remove and let cool on rack at least 1 hour before eating.

Baking Variation: instead of Step #12, carefully place the uncooked dough in a cold Dutch oven. Then follow the remaining instructions, baking the bread in the cold dutch oven for 20 minutes, uncovering, and baking for 20-25 minutes uncovered (for the same total baking time, around 40-45min). The Dutch oven technique gives you great oven spring and nice browning. 

My results:


The funny shape is due to the shape of the enameled cast-iron pot I baked it in. 

If you try it out, let me know what you think.  

cranbo's picture

To try to document dough development of a lean dough, I created a video of mixing some lean, 59% hydration dough in my KitchenAid 5qt mixer at speed #2 (the 2nd click).

I'm trying to get a better idea of knead times for my mixer with respect to different doughs. Hamelman in "Bread" says 6.5 - 7.5 minutes for moderate gluten development for KAid stand mixer. He recommends 900-1000 total revolutions for moderate dough development, so with some info from fthec and KAid:

#1 (stir): 40 rpm 
#2: 54 rpm 
#3: 79 rpm 
#4: 104 rpm 

 This means:

Time (minutes) Revolutions
0 0
1 54
2 108
3 162
4 216
5 270
6 324
7 378
8 432
9 486
10 540
11 594
12 648
13 702
14 756
15 810
16 864
17 918
18 972
19 1026
20 1080

According to the stats, I may still have kneaded for too short of a time (H. also says that doughs with hydration under 60% will take longer to develop, as will doughs that have high hydration). It really started smoothing out at about 8 minutes, even more substantially at ~13 minutes. I guess next time I'll have to push it further, and see what happens. 

cranbo's picture

After being intrigued for a while about it, decided to give it a shot this evening. 

  • 1 organic Fuji apple, washed, cored and chopped
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • Enough water to just cover
I put everything in a plastic quart container, on top of the fridge, at about 915pm this evening, Day 0.So is that it? Just fruit and water? Nothing else necessary? 

Two questions:

  1. how often should I feed it, and what do I feed it? Do I need to feed it on the same kind of intervals as I do for sourdough starters (i.e., 2x per day)?
  2. Also, are the effects of refrigerating a fruit water starter the same as sourdough (slowing of yeast & bacterial activity)?


cranbo's picture

I wanted a quick reference list for dough ball sizes for common items I bake: breads, rolls, pizza. I haven't found one on TFL, maybe it's here, but no luck yet. So I figured I'd share what I have so far.


12" pizza, personal (plate-sized): 175g (thin) - 250g (thicker)
14" pizza, thin crust, NYC style: 450g
14" pizza, medium "american" crust style: 540g
16" pizza, thin crust, NYC style: 567g

Sourdough and Rustic Loaves

Regular free-form loaf (boule) of sourdough: 1000g
Small free-form loaf (boule): 750g
"Standard" loaf-pan loaf (9.25" x5.25"x2.75"), heavier multigrain bread or sourdough: 1100g

Other Breads

"Standard" loaf-pan loaf (9.25" x5.25"x2.75"), light lean bread: 800g

12" hoagie/sandwich roll: 227g
6"/7" hoagie/sandwich roll: 113g

Standard baguette: 340g
Home oven baguette: 200-250g

Large pretzel: 160g
Bagel: 96-113g

Burger & hot dog buns: 92g
Small soft dinner roll: 48g

Feel free to comment or add other recommended values.


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