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DesigningWoman's blog

DesigningWoman's picture

Hello, dear FreshLoafers,

For those of you in Europe, this programme might be interesting to watch;

Available in French and German, not sure if this will be visible at all in North America.

All the best to all of you,


DesigningWoman's picture

…or: how many variables can we change at once?

A few things have caught my attention in the last week or so:

  • oat porridge from the Community Bake: makes for a lovely crumb, as does a fermented oak soaker
  • while I liked the crumb of the oat porridge bread, I felt like it could do with a little more textural contrast
  • Caroline (trailrunner) has been experimenting with bakes using unfed starter
  • my associate brought me a bags of T80 ("high-extraction"?) and T110 ("first-clear"?) from the country. No idea whether the stuff is stone ground, nor of the protein content
  • saw on some French site that adding 10% semolina helps strengthen a potentially weak dough.

So, where to start? Maybe with the levain. This do-nothing bread usually calls for 10-20g of starter, depending on ambient temps. Up until this week, I would obediently mix up a fresh batch, but always felt silly about just making 20g of the stuff, so always made about 150g, using the extra 130g for my yogurt cake. Because of Caroline's experiments, I decided to try using 23g of starter straight from the fridge (the extra three grams was for the porridge).

Caroline mentioned a double-boiler for the oat porridge, and all of a sudden I had this flash of a childhood memory of a lovely hotel cook stirring the stuff over a double boiler. So cooked 50g of whole oat flakes in 100g of water that way. I didn't get any sticking, but I didn't get creamy, either.

While the oats were cooling, I opened the cupboard and measured out the various flours. I didn't sift, but gave everything a good whisking with salt and seeds.Since I didn't know the protein content of the T80 flour, I only used 200g of that with 200g of T65 bread flour (12% protein). The fine-grind whole semolina was 12;4% protein, and the T110 was another unknown quantity. (In the lead photo, clockwise from bottom left: semolina, T110, black sesame seeds, T65, flax seeds, T80.)

I either forgot that I wanted to try something other than water, or decided that I'd already thrown too many unknowns together, so used just room-temperature water.

In the end, this is what got tossed together:

  • 23g whole-rye starter (100% hydration) from the fridge
  • 150g whole-oat porrdige (1:2 ratio)
  • 50g whole semolina (fine grind)
  • 50g T110
  • 200g T65
  • 200g T80
  • 17g black sesame seeds
  • 18g flax seeds
  • 350g water
  • 12g NaCl


  • Whisked together water and starter, then added the cooled porridge
  • Added this mixture to all the other stuff, gave a good mix to get a shaggy mess with no dry bits
  • Covered and left at room temperature for at least 12 hours
  • Actually, at about 12.5 hours, this batch was ready for shaping, but I needed to get lunch started, so popped the dough into the fridge for a couple of hours, then let it come back to room temp for about an hour
  • Preshape was sticky and slack, but I was ready for it and didn't panic.
  • Bench rested, final shaped, dipped in seeds and proofed in wooden bread molds for about 1.5 hours
  • Baked at 230° for 20 minutes covered, then 210° for another 20 minutes uncovered. Took the loaves out of their molds at the same time as removing the lid.
  • I left one loaf unscored and baked seam-side up; the other got the usual three diagonal slashes, but not deeply enough. The unscored one baked up taller and longer.

It occured to me after I removed the loaves from the oven that Caroline also uses her yeast water, which is something I need to get back to. I'm wondering if I could've pushed the final proof a little longer. Will know tomorrow when I cut one open. The other has been gifted.

Edit: crumb shot and taste report

Crumb is tighter than I'd have liked, which makes me think I could've proofed longer -- or taken Caroline's lead and used yeast water as part of the mix (I shall get around to making one). Or, just feed my starter before mixing into the dough.

Because of the oats, the crumb is soft, with little bits of nubbiness from the seeds. I like the taste of this one, so will probably rework this again, maybe starting tonight.



DesigningWoman's picture

Our very own Dan Ayo has organized another bakefest, so of course I couldn't resist. Especially since I've become a fervent convert to oatmeal soakers/scalds and have been wondering about the difference between pouring boiling water over oats and letting them cool overnight, and actually cooking a porridge. So this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Like Kat (NaCl), I looked over Maurizio's recipe, which got me thinking that I needed to hedge my bets. Maurizio's formulae tend to call for strong flours, much stronger than what I can get here. To make matters worse, the protein level in my go-to T65 bread flour -- from one bag to the next -- went from 12% to 9.9%! There was no way I was going to be able to hoist myself up to a 13% protein level with the flours at hand.

Not wanting to resort to VWG, I was already feeling kind of stuck, until I opened the fridge and remembered that I hadn't tossed the little lump of dough that I removed from the proofing stage of a midweek bake. So I decided to use that as a pâte fermentée, in the hopes of adding a bit of strength to the dough.

So that was hedge n°1.

Having read all the comments about the stickiness of the dough, and knowing from experience how absolutely gloppy a soaker dough can be, I opted to add the porridge at the same time as the salt, so as not to challenge whatever fragile gluten might have developed in the autolyse.

And there was hedge n°2.

Other than that, as we see so often on TFL, "I followed the recipe to a T".

Well, sort of. My oats, despite covered cooking over low heat, were quickly getting very dense and solid, and I was afraid to add more water. So they did not cook for the 16 minutes as directed.

Made my young levain in two stages, then "pseudo-autolysed" it with the flours and the water, holding back the quantities that Maurizio recommends.

Then came the final mix, with the salt and the porridge, which I first incorporated with pincering and folding and then did 20 minutes of SLAFs until the dough came together. Very sticky, very extensible, not elastic at all. Had I not already experienced what an oat soaker can do to dough, I probably would've started worrying.

But I let it sit and then did a first STAF at 30 minutes -- still very stretchy and sticky, with very little elasticity. I missed the STAFs at 60 and 90 minutes for scheduling reasons, then caught up with myself later on.

By the end of the five or six stretch and folds, it was getting on to about midnight so I decided to retard the dough overnight, then shape and bake the next day. I was also hoping that the dough would firm up a little to make shaping a little less tricky.

After being removed from the fridge, the dough sat out for a couple of hours, by which time it looked and felt like it might be workable. Did two preshapes and a final shaping. Despite the fact that the loaves didn't spread as much as I'd feared, I decided to do myself a favor by plopping them into low-sided wooden loaf pans.

Baked at 230° for 20 minutes, then 210 for an additional 10 minutes with cover. Don't you just love/dread that moment when you remove the cover from your roaster/DO? An additional 20 minutes uncovered at 200°C.

I was very eager to slice open a loaf this morning. The crumb is amazing; soft, supple, almost shreddable, with a wonderful, mild and wholesome taste. Crust is thin and crackly. I can (and did) eat this untoasted with nothing on it, it was that good!

I will definitely attempt this one again, maybe trying one loaf free-standing to see how badly it spreads.

Earlier in the week

Have become totally enamored of Wally's (Larry) rye loaf, I made another double batch, adding 10g of bread spices and swapping out 20g of T80 high-extraction flour in the bread-flour part of the formula. Just thought I'd document some of the steps, if anyone else would like to give it a try.

I love my starter. The rye sour had a nicer, rounder dome, but I dropped the bowl and sort of compacted things :-o

This is the clay-like dough after mixing

Scraped into pans and topped with seeds and flour

After an hour or so, almost ready for baking

After 75 minutes with steam, starting at 230°, then stepping down to 210° and 190° at 20 and 35 minutes.

They've been cooled and wrapped. One has been reserved and is in the freezer; I'm not sure when I'll cut one open, since I've got the porridge bread to eat too! But the kitchen smelled wonderful during the bake.


EDIT: Some newbie notes

I may be repeating/stating the obvious, but since I gather that I'm not the only one who's been intimidated by the prospect of making rye bread, here are just a couple of thoughts, based on a few bakes of this bread:

  • make the soaker in your final (so biggest) mixing bowl; that way, you can just add in the sour and mix till combined, then pour over your flours and go to town doing Rubaud. It's a work-out, for sure!
  • while clean-up is minimal (there's practically no bench work, if any at all), don't dawdle: once you've scraped your sour into the soaker, give the emptied bowl a quick swipe with a damp something disposable (I use the little kraft bags from the fruit and veg man, I believe Mini uses the plastic net used for packaging produce). Wheat flour, when dried, flakes off and cleans up fairly easily; rye turns into cement.
  • to figure out what to do once you've scraped your dough into their pans, Mark Sinclair's video can be extremely helpful
  • and all kinds of rye knowledge can be found on Mini's post for her 104% hydration rye

EDIT: Crumb shots

OK, it was too hard to resist, and I guess I'll just have to double up on my bread eating. I'm really happy with this crumb and the taste, love that I can slice this to about 1.5mm thin!

Those are black sesame seeds; I thought I had a bag of golden ones, but couldn't find them.

Now, how can I tweak this? Up the percentage of whole-wheat flour in the bread-flour part of the equation? Use beer instead of water? Once I get a YW going (when it gets warm enough), I might try that… Or should I not tweak?

Am now tempted to take a shot at Mini's 104% hydration all-rye

DesigningWoman's picture

I decided to take another shot at this lovely recipe from Wally, and made a double batch. Merely added 10g of home-made, improvised bread spice and followed recipe and timing.

The bread smelled lovely as it was baking, and it was so hard to cool the loaves and then swaddle them in linen for two days. But it was worth the wait. Crumb is chewy, moist and fragrant, with a delightful nubbiness from the seeds. Crust is crunchy-chewy, although I'm not sure how long that will last. For me, this recipe is a keeper!

Also made a Trevor Wilson sandwich loaf that went amok:

I'll have to try baking this one again to figure out what went wrong… I won't see this crumb unless Nina remembers to take photo.

DesigningWoman's picture

This is like the little black dress of cakes, although I think that technically it's more a quick bread than a cake. It's a French basic, typically taught by grandmothers to their grandkids. All measurements are done by volume, using a half-cup yogurt tub that is standard here. It's a nice change after you've cleaned up your bake and put the scales away.

Here's the basic recipe:

The dry

  • 4 tubs flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • .5 tsp salt

The wet

  • 2 tubs full-fat yogurt**
  • 1.5 - 2 tubs blond cane sugar (depends on taste and add-ins)***
  • .5 tub oil
  • 3 eggs


  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Dump one container of yogurt into a large mixing bowl, rinse and dry the tub.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, measure out your dry ingredients, whisk them together and put aside.
  • Back to the wet.
    Add your second tub** of yogurt, then the sugar and give things a good stir.
  • Then measure in your oil and your eggs, whisking between each addition
  • Now would be a good time to stop and oil your baking vessels. This recipe makes a batch that fills the 20cm loaf pan in the photo, plus a dozen very tall small cupcakes. Set everybody up on a sheet pan
  • Dump any add-ins to the bowl of dry ingredients and give them a toss to coat them in flour; this seems to help prevent everything from sinking to the bottom.
  • Tip the dry ingredients into the wet by thirds, mixing gently and making sure there are no bits of dry flour -- but don't work it so much that you get gluten development.
  • Fill your baking vessels 3/4 - 7/8 full and bake. Bake time will depend on your add-ins, but I set the timer for 30 minutes, by which time the cupcakes are usually done. You want them to pass the clean-skewer test. Usually, if the kitchen starts smelling like dessert, it's time to check.
  • Let cool on a rack and enjoy!


* While the "original" recipe calls for AP flour, I use just about anything I have at hand, which usually means bread flour and anything that needs to be used up. I systematically swap out one tub of flour for almond meal or grated (unsweetened) coconut. And here, one tub of flour was swapped out for a tub of cocoa powder.

** 130g of starter (even discard, if it's not too old and funky) can be swapped in for the second tub of yogurt. I've never tried this with a flavored yogurt, but if using grated coconut, a coconut-flavored yogurt could be fun.

*** You're limited only by your imagination: dried, candied, fresh or frozen fruit (no need to thaw if frozen, but extend your bake time); any kinds of nuts, chocolate or butterscotch chips, cocoa nibs, citrus zest, candied ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg… I've even chopped up a tired-looking apple and tossed it in.

A sprinkling of sugar just before baking will give a nice, shiny crust with just the slightest crunch to it. Otherwise, top with flaked almonds or walnut halves or whatever.

Please do report back with your variation!

Keep on baking!

DesigningWoman's picture

Starting with CedarMountain

Unfortunately, I don't seem to have made any notes of the fermented soaker bake. Pretty sure that I used my basic 70% hydration, white (with 10% whole wheat) loaf, 25% rye starter at 100% hydration. Probably about 150g of oat soaker at a 1:2 ratio, with a handful of seeds for good measure. Also sifted out 12g of bran from the whole wheat and added that with 9g of water to the soaker.

I do have a vivid recollection of many, many SLAFs (CedarMountain, you could've warned me!), trying to get the dough to come together. It finally did, just enough to liberate my hands, so I stuck the dough in the fridge overnight, hoping to firm it up a little. It did, sort of. But was still a very slack and tacky dough. Pre-shaped as best I could, bench rested, shaped, coated with flax and nigella seeds and plopped into their baskets.

They rose pretty well, albeit without ears. Crumb was soft (and stayed that way), crust was thin and crunchy, taste was mild and "wholesome" without feeling like it's supposed to be good for you. Obviously still need to work on my shaping!

Oat soaker in an Abe DNB

It looks like I baked these three days later, although have absolutely no recollection of the bread, except that I gave it away (but to whom?). Instead of fermenting the soaker separately, I made up the oat soaker a few hours before adding 350g water and 20g rye starter to it, mixing that up and pouring it over 500g of flour (10% T150 whole wheat) and 10g of salt and let the whole thing ferment for about 12 hours at room temp. It's so rare that I make boules, I should remember who these were given to, but I'm drawing a total blank.

But my big discovery was using sourdough instead of yogurt in my favorite yogurt cake recipe. This one got all kinds of things thrown at it: Swapped out half the flour for 25% cocoa powder and 25% ground almonds; replaced half the yogurt with 130g of starter, threw in some frozen cherries… it worked!

Then there was a quick visit back to the Hamelman five-grain levain, cocktail-sized! I tried an all-rye levain and it looks like I added a handful of cranberries. Love the taste of this one!

Adventures in rye

Having finally found a source for something called "dark rye", after so many months of being eager to try my hand (and taste buds) at a high-percentage rye bread, I was a bit disappointed to find that there were no "bits" in this supposedly whole-rye flour; the texture is desperately, uniformly fine. This leaves out something like the tourte de seigle, which specifically calls for T170 (in the French recipe), but perhaps gave me a little wiggle room for less-demanding recipes.

After scouring through the (too) many recipes bookmarked over the last year, I set my sights on Mark Sinclair's 100% rye for a number of reasons: he is extremely open as to what kind of rye flour is to be used; the levain is done in one stage and used fairly young; process sounded easy enough. And it was 100% rye; I figured if I was going to learn about the pitfalls of making rye bread, I might as well get my feet really wet.

It all went surprisingly smoothly; the video of the process was a great help and most reassuring. Of course, I did, once the loaves were shaped and in their pans, send a panicked message to Mini, who very kindly held my hand through the rest.

The baking loaves smelled absolutely wonderful. Taste and aroma are great, but I was disappointed in the crumb, which I found too dense and too uniform. I'm wondering if I should add more water, proof longer, or add seeds.

Bitten by the rye bug, I decided next on Wally's 72% rye with soaker, figuring that the 28% of a wheat flour would give me the loft and some of the openness I'd found wanting in the previous bake. I don't have high-gluten flour, so just used my usual T65 bread flour.

This was a very messy mix, and the first time in this year of baking bread that I thought wistfully about a mixer: I was up to my wrists in the stuff and wound up resorting to the Rubaud method to make sure all the ingredients were properly incorporated. This is indeed a pudding of a dough, that gets scraped/poured into its pan for proofing.

Things went rather well, but for the fact that I got into trouble with the descending temps every 15 minutes, so the top and bottom got a bit burnt, but I'm quite happy with the crumb (lead photo) and the taste. Will definitely be doing this one again. And, darn it, my parchment got stuck -- that's never happened before.

And a last oat-soaker Abe DNB

Just for good measure. Because I knew we were going to be out for most of the day, I mixed everything together and left it on the counter. I took a look at it when we got home and could probably have proceeded to shaping, but I needed to get dinner underway, so stuck the thing in the fridge until later on, then preshaped and bench rested. The shaping was a bit of a challenge, and I was afraid of frisbees, so I shaped as best I could, coated the loaves with seeds and plopped them into these Pani-bois baking forms, which I'd bought for the rye bakes.


Thank goodness that worked…

Now, what shall this week bring?


DesigningWoman's picture

As I mentioned previously, Abe taught me many months ago about do-nothing bread -- I think it was to help me get over (yet another) failed bake. This was ostensibly foolproof and painless. I believe it's based on Teresa Greenway's overnight sourdough, which in turn might have been based on Yoan Ferrant's do-nothing, 16-hour bread. In any case, Abe gave me an easy-to-remember formula, and I've used it faithfully for the occasional midweek bake, when running low on bread.

I'd been afraid to tweak, fearing dire consequences of any variation during the course of the 12-14 hours of bulk ferment, although occasionally swapping in 10-20% of something other than white flour.

But last week, I did make two changes at the same time: swapped in 10% whole wheat, and added a handful of seeds. While the loaf lacked in loft, the crumb was good, although less flavorful than, say, the Hamelman 5-grain levain. But also much less hands-on.

Having been recently converted to soakers, I'd wondered about, but was afraid of, adding a soaker into the mix. Wasn't sure what having the stuff ferment overnight in the dough would do.

Then CedarMountain posted his fermented oat loaf. Well, if he could ferment his soaker overnight, how terrible would it be to add a soaker that would ferment with the dough?

So I refreshed my starter and poured 100g of boiling water over 50g of rolled oats. When the fomer was nice and active and the latter had cooled, I took 20g of one and all of the other, mixed them up with 500g flour (T65 bread flour with 15% T150 whole wheat), 350g water and 10g NaCl, covered and left overnight on the counter, with one set of folds before going to bed about four hours after mixing.

Very poofy, proofy, sticky dough the next morning. Turned it out onto the counter and gave it a couple of sets of letter folds about 30 minutes apart. By then the dough became workable and tacky, rather than sticky. And too slack for me to shape as tightly as I would have liked. Gave the loaves a coating of nigella seeds and plopped them into baskets.

A couple of hours later, preheated the oven, turned the loaves out into the roaster, spritzed, slashed, spritzed and baked covered for 20 minutes, then 20 minutes open.

Like I said, I had trouble shaping these, but considering how slack the dough was, I'm pretty satisfied with them and will continue to work on shaping.

Next bake: something with a CedarMountain fermented oat soaker. And maybe some dried fruit and cinnamon…


DesigningWoman's picture

 It's been awhile, and this entry is more to try and keep track of what's been baked lately.

After my third shot at the Hamelman five-grain, I went back to my usual formula, but adding the Hamelman-style hot soaker. One of the loaves actually made it down to Burgundy, where spring had put in an early appearance, as in all of France that week.

Taking a page from Ian

Finding myself with a batch of overcooked brown basmati rice, I decided to try adding some to my dough, along with a grain and seed soaker. And because it seemed a natural thing to do with basmati, I also grated in some fresh turmeric, which gave the dough a lovely color and interesting perfume. I made two loaves, but never got to taste any, since grandson was not only heading off to Brussels to see his girlfriend, but also down to Lyon to see his brother. He was kind enough to send a crumb shot and to describe the crumb as "dense, but voluptuous". So, thanks Ian!

Revisiting an old friend

Many months ago, Abe taught me how to make a do-nothing bread, and it was one of those midweek, off-the-cuff bakes. I added a handful of seeds, but cannot for the life of me remember if I added a soaker. Probably not, since I was unsure of what would happen to it during the overnight, room-tempertaure bulk ferment.

Which brings us to this weekend's bake.

Camargue red rice with multigrain seeded soaker

Since I never got a chance to taste the rice loaf, I made some extra Camargue red rice a couple of nights ago, and actually wrote down what I was going to do:

130g of 3-stage 100% hydration WW levain, starting with 10g of rye seed at 66%

100g of cooked Camargue red rice

65g toasted multigrain flakes
20g flax seeds
15g nigella seeds
110g boiling water
2g NaCl

320g T65 bread flour
200g T150 whole-wheat flour

364g water

10g NaCl

I was curious as to what a "young" levain would do, compared to the usual "mature" one, so I did the first build on bake day -2, and made the soaker in the same evening. Sifted the bran out of the whole wheat (came to about 12g), and added it to the soaker, with 9g of water (that I forgot to deduct the next day when making up the dough!).

Bake day -1, built the second stage before heading to work, then stage 3 when I got home. Let that bubble up for about three hours, made the dough, mixed in the levain and let it sit for an hour or so. Then added the soaker, rice and salt. The dough felt lovely before adding in all of that stuff. Lots of pinching and folding before a long session of SLAFs.

Two sets of STAFs half an hour apart, then into the fridge (about 3:30am) for an overnight snooze.

(And while I was waiting around, decided that I'd also make a batch of yogurt cake with a tweak; I'd read somewhere that it was possible to swap out yogurt for starter. Since I had a little levain left over and a small handful of semolina that was bugging me, I made up 130g of semolina levain and put it aside.)

On bake day, removed the dough from the fridge and let it warm up for about three hours, turned it out onto the counter and did a pre-shape, 45-minute bench rest and final shape. Coated the loaves in seeds and plunked them into their baskets. The dough had been quite cold, so I reckoned that the final proof was going to need some time. I did remember to stick a small lump of dough into a little container to keep an eye on the rise.

In the meantime, made up the yogurt cake batter, then dithered about whether I should bake the cake first (which had the advantage of heating the oven partway and providing desert), or hold off on the cake until the bread was done, whenever that would be. Opted for the former.

Oh, the suspense! Would the cakes be baked and the oven heated up enough before the bread overproofed :-D

This batch made a dozen and a half of these little cupcakes; they were supposed to include toasted walnuts, too, but I ate them all while I was making the batter. And I simply forgot to sprinkle over spme flaked almonds or blond cane sugar… oh, well, we ate them anyway. The sourdough added a nice flavor to these apple/prune yogurt cupcakes.

The loaves finally went into the oven when the little lump of dough had risen by about 25%, I'll try going for longer the next time.

The flavor of the rice really comes through, especially when the bread is toasted. Crumb is soft and moist, crust is a little chewier than usual, but good. It'll be interesting to see the shelf-life of this loaf. One of the things I love about the soaker, aside from the flavors, is the fact that the crumb stays soft the whole week. Amazing.

Next stop, CedarMountain's fermented oat soaker!

While I was building the levain for this bake, CedarMountain posted a gorgeous loaf using a fermented soaker, adding
a bit of starter to a "standard" hot-water soaker. I'll try to keep notes this time!

Two questions

Can anyone help me figure out the hydration of this loaf, based on the numbers above? I get all befuddled when there's a soaker involved.

I have two sets of baskets, both of about equal width; one is about 24cm long, which works quite nicely for loaves of about 700-750g of dough, and a pair of smaller ones that work well with about 500-550g. These loaves were in the neighborhood of 630g and could have been smooshed into the smaller baskets, but I decided to give them room to grow and used the longer ones. Would proofing in the shorter baskets have forced the bread to rise higher once it hit the oven?

Just realized: my starter is a year old this weekend! Thanks, Debra Wink!

DesigningWoman's picture

Having pretty much healed from a lost argument with my mandolin slicer, I decided it was time to make another attempt at the 5-grain loaf and put into practice the kind advice given by the great folks here. 

So built the 3-stage levain, made the soaker (toasted 5-grain flakes, flax, poppy and black sesame seeds), mixed the dough as per the recipe, first whisking together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet stuff in another, then added the dry to the wet. Per Dan's advice, gave the dough two sets of 150 SLAFs, adding a few grams more water to make the dough slappable. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, gave the dough two sets of letter folds on the bench.

Retarded the dough overnight, then preshaped, rested and shaped loaves the next morning with sunflower-seed coatings before proofing in baskets for a couple of hours. Placed the 3 loaves (about 450g each) in the roaster, spritzed, slashed and spritzed, then baked covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for 20.

While I'm still a long way from the lacy, round slices that everyone else seems to have come up with, I'm pretty happy with the progress that's been made. I didn't get to taste these, they were given away, but have been assured that this is "great bread".

Skibum's Double-chocolate Biscotti

Well, then it was time for a little douceur. I could make my usual yogurt cakes, or try Skibum's chocolate biscotti, for which he generously shared the recipe. It didn't take long to decide in favor of the double chocolate. I swapped in a quarter-cup of chopped crystallized ginger with the chocolate chips; other than that, I followed the recipe as closely as I could (except that I didn't have an AP flour, so used half bread flour and half golden plain flour).

Edit: just remembered that I replaced the 6 T of butter with just under 5T  of coconut oil...

Once again, whisked together the dry in one bowl and the wet stuff in another. Added the dry to the wet in thirds. Tossed the choco chips and ginger in the last third of the dry (the little bit of flour coating helps keep the add-ins from sinking to the bottom).

The stuff felt like clay! I'd been wondering how I was going to shape a log, but it was pretty much the only thing that could be done with a dough that stiff. Ski says to form one 12x4 log, I opted for two 12x2. Easy peasy.

And, boy, are they good! I can see that I already need to make another batch.

Shiao-Ping's cashew, carrot and turmeric no-knead bread

Whew, time for something hands-off.

Shiao-Ping's cashew, carrot and turmeric bread was one of the first loaves I bookmarked when I discovered TFL. I've had the ingredients on hand for months, so finally decided to give it a go.

Mixed up the 81% hydration dough per her recipe and let it sit. And sit. She's right: it was too tempting: one has to fight the overwhelming urge to scoop up the mass of soup and try to give a few good rounds of SLAFs. But it would have been a very messy procedure  This was almost a batter, more than a dough. It smelled and looked lovely, so I just contented myself with a couple of letter folds about four hours into the bulk.

Oddly enough, the pre-shape went quite well, but I found it too hard to get good tension on the final shape. So wound up with a couple of flat loaves that have okay crumb and wonderful taste and texture.

This was excellent toasted, with just a scraping of butter! The nigella-seed coating works well with the turmeric and the cashews. Will be trying this one again, perhaps lowering the hydration a bit to get a more shapeable dough.

Edit: There were, in fact, two things that differed from Shiao-Ping's recipe: I used fresh grated turmeric, rather than dried. And instead of freshly extracted carrot juice, I used some organic stuff out of a bottle. I was chagrined to read -- after mixing the dough -- that there was an added acidifier: lemon juice! Whether one or both of these had an impact on the dough's soupiness, I may never know.

DesigningWoman's picture

And an experiment in scoring.

Having fallen in love with the taste of this loaf and avidly read all the accounts of the different experiences with this bake, I was ready to take another shot at it. Abe had suggested in passing that I try baking three loaves, each with different scoring.

Sure, why not?

I decided this time, too, to try doing the whole procedure from mix to bake in the same day, rather than overnight retarding.

Monday night

  • fed my rye levain 1:2:2 for the first build

Tuesday morning

  • built second stage of levain

Tuesday night

  • built last stage of levain
  • made soaker with pearl barley (this is a change), flax seeds, black sesame seeds (also a change) and pre-toasted multi-grain flakes
  • measured out flours (note: the previous bake used wonderful, strong whole wheat bread flour from Abe. This time around, I used up the last 33g of the stuff and topped off the WW portion with T110, which is like first-clear flour) and whisked them together with the salt

Wednesday mid-morning

  • measured out water, reserving 10% -- just in case
  • mixed everything together, first using pincer and fold and gradually adding all the reserved water, then a few SLAFs. 
  • let the dough rest for 30 minutes and did a first set of folds


  • after 45 minutes, was going to give a second set of folds, but it didn't seem necessary:


  • I let it sit out for another half hour, then tucked it into the fridge while we went to the movies. When we got home, this is what it looked like, so I removed it from the fridge to warm up for a bit while dinner was put together, eaten and cleared.
  • weighed and divided the dough, remembering to stick a little into my little jar (lead photo). In all, there is a difference of 5g between the heaviest and lightest round of dough, in the neighborhood of 450g apiece.


  • Bench rested about 40 minutes, then shaped into mini-batards and dipped in sesame seeds. Looks like a nursery, doesn't it?


  • Let rise for another hour or so and prehated the oven. The point of this exercise was to see the rise different types of scoring would yield, all other things being equal. Which meant baking them together. So here we are: a single score along the axis of the loaf, two diagonal scores and one unscored with the seam up

    As you might be able to see, in the time that it took to place the other two loaves and score the top one, the single-score loaf had already begun to spread. So shaping needs further work to create more tension across the top of the loaf.


  • Baked 25 minutes covered, 22 minutes uncovered.
    Fresh out of the oven:

    It's hard to tell from these bad photos, but the highest, roundest rise came from the double score, followed by the unscored one (far right). The single straight score definitely gave the lowest rise.
    BTW, these were looking a little anemic, so they got popped back into the oven.

What is also interesting is that while they lost a bit of weight during baking (about 70g), the one that lost the least amount was the one in the middle.

Now all I need to do is work some more on the shaping to get nice, round slices like Danny!

Edit: Crumb shots

Two loaves were given away and I kept and cut into the unscored one:

Fortunately, I like the taste and crumb on this one. Shortly after taking these snaps, got into an argument with my mandoline slicer and won't be slapping or stretching or folding for a couple of days!


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