The Fresh Loaf

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With all of the attention on the Miche breads of various members, I was motivated to try the one dmsnyder posted on. I was taken by the flavor comments and the use of toasted wheat germ. I took a stab at replicating the high extraction flour David used by combining 25% whole wheat flour with 75% Better For Bread (my stock AP). I use the fresh ground WW from Organic Wheat Products (flourgirl51) which is stone ground. She offers it ground fine but I have been using the more course ground product which you can see in the bread. David's photos seem to indicate a finer grind which would make the dough less speckled. Perhaps I'll run some of my WW through the mill to take it down a step in particle size. I think this would be a great excuse to order some Golden Buffalo high extraction flour.

I also took Davids suggestion with oven temperature and pre heated at 500F then lowered to 440F after loading and steaming. The vents were blocked for the first 20 minutes then opened for another 45 minutes. As you see, the crust is quite boldly baked. The areas of expansion are a lovely golden color. The singing is quite pronounced as would be expected with such a well colored loaf.

I think the next time I make this bread, I'll scale it up to 2kilo's as David suggested and shape it more oval. My dough weighed 1240 grams before baking and just 1002 grams after cooling for 30 minutes. The internal temperature was 205F when I pulled it from the stone. Normally I would dry out the crust by opening the door slightly after the oven had been shut down. In this case I thought the 65 minute bake was ample time in the oven to harden the crust.

I'm waiting for later in the day to slice this bread with dinner. Hopefully it will pare well with chicken piccata as bruchetta. I'll try to post a crumb shot later.


First I have to say this bread has taken me to a place I have not been before. Such simple ingredients are blended with time and careful handling to create a most wonderful eating experience. This is one of those times where the sum is greater than the parts. I believe David mentioned thinking that he thought the deep flavor was coming from the crust but in fact the soft, chewy crumb has this flavor all on its own. I don't profess to understand why the addition of a small amount of toasted wheat germ makes this flavor so unique (I'm guessing that's it) but I'm sold. Everyone loved the rich flavor of the crumb. The crust was shattering as I cut it, pieces flying everywhere even after 6 hours of cooling. My wife was not as fond of the crispy, crunchy crust on her teeth but the dog was happy to relieve her of the trimmed edges. I had made some dark turkey broth earlier in which I dunked some chunks of this miche. A perfect melding of flavors if I do say so. Just wonderful!

We ate the bread with dinner of chicken piccata and a tomato and onion salad with my custom dressing of abundant Gorgonzola cheese and spices. The salad is a bold side dish but believe me the bread held its own with the lemon from the piccata and also the garlic/onion/cheese dressing. A wonderful meal.

I might like to try this slightly less boldly baked for the general public. I do think the over all awesomeness (is that a word?) of this bread will be enhanced by baking as a larger loaf. I would love to make a huge 8 pounder. If only I can find a way to bake it. Hmmmm.


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Let me start by saying that I have always thought of my self as the kind of guy who when faced with a self made disaster, would take credit for it. My reply on another thread that I thought stove top baking in a dutch oven is possible, is why I'm posting my trial bake. Not everything I try is beautiful, as you can see. I think I learned enough to make corrections in the burner level and have a better result. Who ever said you can't really burn bread hasn't tried this method.

This is a 68% hydration French style Pain au Levain. I made enough dough for 2 loaves baked at the same time. The fire detectors didn't alarm, better check the battery!

Enjoy my disaster.

Cast iron trivet to hold dough off the bottom. Parchment to hold dough.

Slashed and ready to cover. Cover on holding 320F +~-

Tented to hold heat in on top. This seemed to work.

Parchment was scorched from medium burner heat. The crust is very thin and some of the color is from the burning of the bottom.

I made 2 loaves. One for the oven and one for the combo cooker. The bottom of the DO loaf was carbonized. Evidence of way to much burner heat.

The blackened bottom made the crumb inedible in a civil world. I am pleased with the crumb structure and over all profile.

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I have tried my hand at various recipes for Greek bread over the last couple years. People who visit Greece rave about the wonderful bread and I long to create such a loaf. David (Dmsnyder) has posted his latest improvement which I tried today with a couple of minor modifications. I won't re-post the recipe as David's is all you need to make this wonderful bread.

As David suggested, I lowered the oven temperature to 430F from the beginning. I made two full batches and on the second pair of loaves, I lowered the temp to 420 after 20 minutes and continued for another 20 minutes. After the 40 minutes baking time, I left the breads in the oven with the door ajar for another 5 minuets to harden the crust. The color is less dark, more towards golden although it looks darker in the photo. The crumb image is of the first loaf that was baked more boldly. The second two loaves are destined to be delivered to my son for his Greek dinner with friends.

The inclusion of Durum flour adds a very nice nutty note to the aroma. I almost feel as if I am smelling or tasting the sesame seeds on the outside. The Durum lends an unusual flavor. It is most delicious. The crumb is open well enough and the cells are gelatinous. The dough was 7.3 Lbs in total divided into 4 parts, mixed by hand and folded twice during the 2-1/2 hours of fermenting and proofed in round linen lined baskets. I pinched the dough while in the baskets across the sides to make them oval just before turning on to the flipper board. I spritzed the dough and sprinkled the seeds over all before slashing.

This is a terrific bread. The added honey helps it brown early. Next time I will start at 420F for 40-45 minutes to an internal temp of 205F.


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I mentioned this on another thread but thought I would give it life on its own here.

I gave my wife a copy of Sam Fromartz's new book Organic Inc recently. We live on a fixed income these days so I watch the food costs carefully and try to purchase local when ever possible. I hoped to learn more about the Organic food chain so I can make better decisions in the grocery store and subsequently stock our pantry with better quality foods. Sam is a very interesting fellow. He has written about his travels and taken up some rather challenging subjects. If you read his book, you will understand why it matters that you look for organic foods. Sam has taken it further and taught himself how to garden year around in a cold climate. This is limited to some degree but at least he keeps the garden alive, assuring himself quality foods at his finger tips.

The bottom line is that I know from my experience using flourgirl51's Organic fresh ground flours that the grain source is important. Not only for flavor which is superb but I know I'm not feeding my family pesticides. Organic Inc, is a good read that will help you understand the need to take seriously the risk to our health as global community and to you as an individual family. The instance of respiratory ailments and allergies is shockingly high compared to just a few decades ago.

Many of us are here at TFL because we wanted to learn to bake better breads for our family. Presumably we will be among the many who are proactive and take to heart the information available  and make changes that will stop the destructive process the factory food mills have thrust on us in the quest for higher production and profits.

This is  a good read. I'm no tree huger environmentalist but, I understand chemicals in my food. Priced so it is affordable for all at Amazon.


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I posted this on the end of Floyd's post on Panettone but I thought better of it getting more readers on its own. I could use some help.

My batch of Panettone smelled heavenly as it baked for nearly 2 hours. I checked every 15 minutes after an hour. i divided the recipe in Floyd's post in half and loaded it in two ornamental paper buckets. It was about 1/4 to 1/3 full. I let them proof for 3.5 hours at around 80F and I did use the osmotolerant yeast. They rose slightly and did dome some where I made a cross cut and plopped a dollop of butter.

I'm pretty sure the reason it took so long to get an internal temp of 185F is that the dough was so dense.

Looking at why it didn't rise well:
I saw on the Italian site that they use only egg yokes. Sooo, I figured that 2 egg yokes would be about the same as 1 whole egg. Later I checked and I see a yoke is around 18g where the entire large egg, minus the shell is closer to 50g. I was a little short of egg product it seems.

Thinking about how the dough felt, I think it may have been a little dry. I added the egg yokes to the booze and whisked them together. I added the butter to the flour and other dry ingredients and broke it up by hand similar to making a pie crust or biscuit. Now I'm thinking maybe I should have added it after the dough was combined and partially developed, similar to a straight brioche.

I just put together a batch of mid level brioche in my old KA mixer to see how it would compare in texture. It is a very nice dough of much better quality than what I did yesterday and I have no doubt it will rise perfectly later today and would be a good base for Panettone with the fruit additions.

I should say that my wife has been noshing all morning at my mistake and thinks I'm nuts. She thinks it tastes great. It's starting to look like the first 2 Lb loaf isn't going to last the day.:>) Yes, I know you are supposed to wait a couple days to cut into it.

Any of you Panettone experts out there, I'd be happy to hear your take on my door stops.


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The only way for me to make any relivent decisions about how best to use my new combo cooker is to bake the same basic formula repetedly, making procedural changes and noting the change in outcomes. So, this bake is another in a series of the Basic Country Bread from Tartine. I did make one small change in the formula to suit my personal prefrence in flavor. I really like the flavor of a French style bread with around 5% rye in an otherwise white bread flour mix. When you get the ferment right there is a great nutty after taste that is IMHO the essence of that great full flavor French bread.

My levain was made from 50g of AP and 50g of whole rye mixed with 100g of warm water. Left to ferment at 78F for 12 hours, it had a fruity fragrance and had just peaked I believe.

The dough was made with 950g of bread flour, 50g of whole rye, 700+50g of warm (80f) water and 22g of salt. The salt number is a reflection of taking into account the 100g of flour in the levain which Robertson forgot about.

I have been adding the salt to the last 50g of warm water but honestly, I find it hard to get it all out of the cup when I dump the water in as it isn't completely dissolved. I think I'm going to go back to adding the salt dry and pouring the water in over it.

The stretching and folding has become more relaxed as I get more comfortable with this process. I mix the dough well with my fingers cutting the last 50g of water and salt in. It looks and feels like I'm damaging the strands as the dough becomes a disorganized and chopped up mess. But 30-40 minutes when I do the first stretch, the dough has become connected and cohesive as a mass. I have been trying to stretch and fold in the container every 30-40 minutes with the exception that at 4 hours of fermenting when the dough is well aerated, I pour it out on a lightly oiled counter and do a standard tri fold both directions. I think the letter fold is less damaging to the structure and it gives me a chance to give it a good stretch and feel the development. Then after another 30 minutes or so, I divide and shape using a linen lined dusted basket.

The suggestion of the author is to pre heat the cast iron cooker at 500F. The oven is set at 450F after loading the dough. While it may be easier to load the dough in a cold cooker, I have found I like the crust and spring better using Robertsons suggestion of preheating. The change I made to the suggested procedure this time was to shorten the amount of time the top is on and baking covered. Robertson says 20 minutes covered and 20-25 minutes open baking at 450. My bakes have produced thin crusts using those times. This time I removed the cover at 15 minutes and for the second loaf, 12 minutes and open for 25 and 28 minutes respectively. At the end of the bake I opened the door a crack to help dry out the crust some.

My conclusion is that the 20 minutes of covered baking is to long for this high hydration dough. The crust is so thin and soft after the bread has cooled, slicing is difficult. You can see in my image taken when I removed the cover at 12 minutes, the dough is just starting to take on color and has started forming a crust after expanding. The crust then is more substantial having been exposed to dry heat for a longer time, making a crust that is still crisp in the morning after baking.

The oven spring was so great that the dough crested in the top of the cooker. You can see the flour marks in the cover where the top of the loaf kissed the iron top. Remarkable spring if I do say so.

My next effort will be to make a similar sized loaf but at a lower hydration.


Uncovered after 12 minutes. The spring hit the cover!

This is what it's all about. Just perfect!

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A few weeks ago I posted on Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread titled A Dissenting Viewpoint. Several other members have posted reviews about the book and their breads since then. One thing I didn't care for was Robertson's confusing and incorrect description of bakers math through out the book. It is true however that if you follow the directions, you will get a great bread, regardless of the math.

Aside from the above, there are a few interesting, and I would say ingenious details within the book that need to be discussed. First, I like the idea of with holding 50g of warm water in the final dough to be added with the salt, after the autolyse. I haven't seen this procedure suggested by any other authors and it works well. I have never been convinced that the salt is properly distributed and dissolved when added after the autolyse. The water helps dissolve the salt and get it incorporated into the dough. Robertson suggests using your wet fingers to cut the additional water into the dough. Again the use of fingers to cut the new water and salt in is a new procedure that is simple and works well. It feels a little funky at first but the dough comes back together in the bowl later just fine.

Another more subtle thing that the author suggests is using 80F water in the dough. It's a way to assure that the culture starts off in a temperature range that wakes the culture up and gets it started eating and multiplying and creating co2. The result will be a more airy loaf, earlier in the proof. Judging by the loaves other members have posted on, I'd say the warmer water is a good idea.

Then, the Lodge Combo Cooker. I resisted buying the suggested combo cooker and used instead a couple of my collection of DO's and a covered steamable pan that I use on the stone. That is until yesterday. I found the Lodge CC at my Ace Hardware on sale for $33. It isn't that I didn't get good results using my other covered baking solutions. But as they say here in Packer Football country, "Good is the enemy of Great". I see DMsnyder has posted about his first Combo Cooker bake also so I suggest you read his details about his use. After Sylvia and Franko showed us how beautiful their bread are using the CC, I started wondering if the proportions of the cooker were helping the spring. Also the idea of not heating the pan first is definitely worth checking out.

I was surprised at the size of the Combo Cooker. It is perfectly sized for a 2# loaf. If you cut the handles off it would fit inside most of my DO's.  At Sylvia's suggestion, I proofed the first loaf in the smaller component pan, covered with the deeper pan. I sprinkled some grits on the bottom before loading the dough from the banetton. No extra oil or parchment were used.

As for the actual baking. I thought the crust was to thin and after cooling, not crisp for my tastes. I followed Robertsons advice on this and left the cover on for 20 minutes followed by another 20 uncovered. I thought it was a little pale so I baked it another 5 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. The second loaf was placed in the still hot base with a small handful of additional grits under the dough first. The top was still slightly warm and I spritzed some water on the inside of the cover. At the end of the second bake, I shut the oven down and let the crust dry for an additional 5 minutes. I liked the second crust a little better.

The next time I use this method, I'll take the cover off after 12 minutes. This will make the crust a little thicker and crispier I believe. Here are my first 2 boules of Tartine Basic country Bread, using the Combo-Cooker.

Robertson has brought  several ingenious methods to light in his new book. I think it's worth taking a look at to learn and understand these unique hand methods.


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I have had my copy of Chad Robertson's "Tartine Bread" book for some time now and have read the posts here from those who have baked his breads. As has been pointed out by other posters, 100 pages are dedicated to recipes that use bread in them which is nice but isn't normally part of a "Bread Book". It is a beautiful book and the images take up many of the pages. The book was delayed in publishing for what seemed like forever. Several critics gave it rave reviews so I was hopeful.

The text is written like it is aimed primarily at new bakers or those who have heard about the bakery in California and want to learn to bake the Tartine breads. The author talks about how anyone can pick up this book and make good bread using just the chapter on the Basic Country Loaf. Robertson details his basic formula and attempts to de-mystify bakers math so you learn to "think like a baker". The working formula for building the leavan calls for double the amount needed in the dough build. Then his representation of the recipe or formula is in my opinion very non standard and confusing. Additionally the discussion of bakers percents and the listed percents do not add up correctly with the amounts in the formula. The total hydration of his basic country bread is off by the amount of the leavan. The total amount of flour is also off by the amount of the flour in the leavan. I wonder if he really understands bakers percent math. Small mistakes are one thing but any professional baker would be or should be embarrassed by this interpretation of bakers percent math. A new baker will gain nothing useful by the confusion created on pages 47) para 1. and page 48. In addition the percent for salt is shown to be 2%, which is a common ratio for that ingredient but then since the flour in the leavan isn't included in the total flour, the amount shown in under the salt column is off by 10%. That mistake won't ruin the bread but, the instructor/author should stay true to the universally accepted use of Bakers Math.

The concept of baking in a cast iron combo cooker is in my opinion, an accident waiting to happen. While covered baking has been demonstrated to be an effective way to avoid the venting issues in a gas oven, the weight of a dutch oven at scorching 450F heat being held upside down is very difficult to manage. Yes, it can be done but the results are attainable using any one of many far safer methods. Remember the book is aimed at folks who have never baked bread. Even the famed "No Knead" breads only have you removing a lid on a dutch oven.

The one redeeming component of the book is the discussion of managing fermentation to manipulate the outcome. The idea of using the leavan prior to it's maximum activity is interesting. I made the basic country bread yesterday and found it to be demanding. The fermentation time for my room temperature was 5 hours, during which I had to stretch and fold every 30 minutes to build the gluten strength. The proof time ended up being 4 hours before I finally called an end to the wait and baked it in 2 sessions under a clay le choche bell cooker. I left the second loaf in  the oven unmolested for the full 20 minutes after removing the cover and got a darker color. The first loaf, I checked a few times and rotated the loaf which looses a lot of energy.

I like the bread. A good crust and a moist crumb with mild sour flavor the first night. It's hard to say for sure but I'm not sure the starter feeding schedule lowered the sour notes. It's about the same as usual for my regular Pain au Leavan. I might do some further experiments with controlling fermentation and using the starter before it is at its maximum ripeness. This is the only area of the book where the method put forth is new and unique to me. This is an advanced technique in my opinion. It's difficult to determine how far along the activity has progressed by using your sense of smell. Waiting for it to begin to fall is at least a stage most people can understand, and knowing your starter will double or triple in a given length of time is quantifiable.

I don't want to be taken as a mean spirit here. But. I feel  a responsibility to speak the truth where it conflicts with normal conventions. I appreciate that it is hard to get a book published and off to market. In my opinion this book is not for a new baker and maybe not for anyone who is just learning to bake with sourdough. You have to be experienced enough to know on your own that the formulas are all wrong. At the least you have to know that every other bread author in the world uses bakers math in a different way to arrive at a final dough. The in depth description of all of the phases of baking are well written and helpful but the basic concept of using bakers math is flawed. There are many good books on the market to help aspiring bakers learn the basics. Reinhart's "Bread Bakers Apprentice" is one, and Hamelman's "Bread" is another to name the first that come to mind. Daniel DeMuzio's "Bread Baking" or Dan Lepard's offerings are some others who are well known and follow standard conventions. In conclusion, my advice would be to pass this book over. Its basis is factually sloppy and the method is unnecessarily difficult.I don't mean to be harsh but, it is what it is. Lots of good books out there to choose from.



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I have made this bread a few times. I'm a fan of savory breads and this one has everything I like. The Romano cheese is a strong component that can be adjusted to taste. I have backed off the percentage to allow the other flavors to survive and make themselves known. The celery is a surprise. The first time I made this mix I was expecting the celery to be crunchy after baking, but it wasn't at all. The overnight soaking of the flax brings a hearty flavor that is unique and delicious.

The original idea for this bread came from Graham at in AU. He was gracious enough to post pictures of the process which cleared up a few things for me. I added flax for the deep flavor they bring when soaked. Another fellow in the area also posted his results which are outstanding. Here is Johnny's post of the same bread. Truth be told both of these fellows made some great looking loaves to be admired. There are a lot of great bakers that contribute to this artisan bread site. A very talented bunch. Shiao-Ping also graces the pages with her artistry now and then. It's worth looking at.

Anyway I like this combination very much. Some day I'll get so I can do it as well as Graham and/or Johnny.


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A few Months ago, SteveB posted his work using Tahini in a bread to improve the flavor of sesame. His post on Breadcetra can be found here. As usual Steve does a great job detailing the procedure and makes a wonderful bread.

Steves formula calls for about 6% by bakers percent Tahini. My loaf was 400 grams of a combination of 5% WW and 10% Rye and 85% AP, to which I added 10% (40g) tahini paste. I used 2% milk for the liquid, warmed to arrive at a dough temperature of 76F. The IDY was added with the flours (1/2 tsp) and the 8 grams of sea salt was held until the dough had absorbed the liquid for 30 minutes. Mixing and folding was done by hand.

This dough was mixed to 70% hydration but with the whole grain flours it felt like a 65% mix. I was shooting for a soft crumb sandwich bread with a hint of sesame. I decided to leave the seeds off this first time so I could tell if the amount of tahini had any appreciable effect on its own. The oil in the tahini paste plus the use of milk made for a very nice soft crumb with just a hint of sesame aroma. Next time, I'll use seeds on the crust and get the full effect. I think I'll switch to using water instead of milk also as the crumb is softened by the oil in the paste.



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