The Fresh Loaf

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Franko's blog

Franko's picture

When Josh posted earlier this month on his bake of the Pan Maggiore I was instantly taken with it and decided right then and there to put it on my immediate short list of breads to try. Finally this week I was able to get a mix of it done and baked. If the loaf that came out my oven is like or close to Josh's version it's quite clear to me why he and his customers regard it so highly. I love these country style breads with combinations of rye and whole wheat but this is a standout in my book and has already been assigned a permanent spot in the old recipe folder. I copied the formula and procedure that Josh posted on his reply to dabrownman, taking the ingredient numbers given and plugging them into my formula scaler/spreadsheet to get a clear picture of the percentages.

Normally at this point I'm tempted to make changes to suit my own preferences but my intention from the outset was to try to make Josh's bread, or at least a close cousin, and not my own. There are some minor differences between the formula I used and the one given in that I only keep a 100%+ rye starter and some of the percentages have been rounded up or increased slightly but that's about it I think. As far as following the procedure I went right along with what had been posted regarding times and temperatures, doing a 1 hour autolyse, holding back 10% of water for bassinage, doing the stretch and folds every 40 minutes over 4 hours BF, shaping and finally retarding for just a little over 12 hours. Bake profile was identical to Josh's, same heat and time but I did leave the loaf on the stone with the oven off, door ajar, for 15 minutes. Unfortunately I didn't have the fresh ground flours that Josh uses, which I'm sure makes a noticeable difference in fermentation and flavour but I'm quite happy with the results I did manage to achieve on both those counts. The flavour of this bread is excellent, the rye and wheat components nicely balanced and the two leavens contributing what I'd call a mid to high tang to the overall. What I like most about this bread is how moist and supple the crumb is, carrying the flavour evenly throughout from first to last bite, and I expect the loaf will retain it's moisture over several days, assuming it lasts that long. In the meantime I'm looking forward to tomorrow's sandwiches featuring this lovely bread. Many thanks to Josh for sharing his formula and procedure for the Pan Maggiore, it's a keeper!



 For anyone wanting to make a larger or smaller loaf than the one in the formula below click *here* for an editable version.

Pane Maggiore%Kilos/Grams
Whole Wheat Leaven  
Whole Wheat Flour100.00%21
Mature Starter -rye 100%47.60%10
Total weight247.60%53
ripen for 14-18 hours  
White Leaven  
AP Flour95.00%20
Rye flour-dark5.00%1
Mature Starter -rye 100%50.00%11
Total weight250.00%53
ripen for 14-18 hours  
Final Dough 1000
AP Flour60.5%287
Medium/Dark Rye Flour17.5%83
Whole Wheat Flour22.0%104
Whole Wheat Leaven11.2%53
White Leaven11.2%53
Sea Salt2.2%10
Total weight210.6%1000
Hold back 10% of water for bassinage.  
Autolyse the flours and water for 1 hour. DDT-76F.  
Add salt and mix for 2 minutes on 1st. Add the levain in   
chunks while in 1st, then continue mixing on 2nd for 6-8 minutes  
or until dough is moderately developed and cohesive.  
BF for 4 hours, s&f every 40 min, shape then bulk retard overnight.  
Overall Formula Kilos/Grams
Total Flour100.00%528
AP Flour58.23%307
Dark Rye Flour17.91%95
Whole Wheat Flour23.85%126
Sea Salt1.98%10
Total weight/yield189.39%1000
Total Pre-fermented Flour10.07%53
Franko's picture

  First off I'd like to wish everyone at TFL a very Happy (belated) New Year and the best of health and successful baking for 2014 to all. So many fine looking breads, along with a wealth of informative discussion being posted it's hard to keep up with it all but I can see the year is already off to a great start. Although I have been doing quite a bit of home baking since the new year began, finding the time to actually write about it has, as always, been a challenge. This post is an effort at trying to rectify that situation. 

To begin my 2014 baking year I thought I'd make a couple of breads that I've never made before and one that I have made previously but with a savoury addition thrown in. 

Pane di Terni - Adapted from Carol Field's “ The Italian Baker”

Carol Field's “ The Italian Baker” is a book I've had and enjoyed for close to twenty years now, and though I don't refer to it as often these days as I do Hamelman's “Bread” or Suas' Advanced Bread & Pastry, it still comes off the shelf several times a year for a look through. The idea I had in mind when I thumbed through it recently was to find a simple, rustic type bread to accompany a smoked pork sausage I wanted to make. The bread I finally settled on, Pane di Terni is one I'm sure I've flipped through dozens of times but had never paid it much attention. The flour mix is pretty basic, with 64% AP and 36% whole wheat flour in the final mix, but with a whopping amount of yeasted biga, using 750 grams of it to the 500 grams of flour in the final mix. Since I'd already decided to use a natural leaven in whatever it was I chose to make, the idea of using it at 150% wasn't going to happen, but I did think I could go maybe 70-80% without it being too strong for my tastes. Instead of using white flour for the biga naturale I substituted whole wheat instead, bumping the overall ratio of flours to 44.92% white and 53.68 whole wheat + 1.4% rye from the starter. The changes I eventually made to Ms Field's original formula may have made this bread something other than what a Pane di Terni is supposed to be like but I can live with that considering the exceptional flavour this formula has delivered both times I've made it. When I had my first taste of the bread I fully expected it to be very tangy and was quite surprised at how understated the level of sour actually was for a mix with such a high percentage of mature, sour leaven in it.

Oh, and that smoked sausage I mentioned earlier, well I think it's one of the better ones I've managed to make so far for flavour, texture, fat and moisture content.

A couple of slices of sausage to go on top of the bread with some peperoncini on the side have made for some simple but savoury lunches that week.


Lavash- A Ciril Hitz Formula

Recently I found an article by Ciril Hitz on Lavash in a (2013- Volume 7 Issue 1) copy of Pastry & Baking North America that my friend breadsong had thoughtfully sent along to me in the mail to have a look at. It interested me because Lavash is something I've never tried, either eating or baking. I've tried a variety of flat-breads from different regions over the years but for some reason Lavash was never one of them. I scaled the formula:



Instant yeast-.6%



down to a small test batch of 600 grams just in case Lavash wasn't my thing. The mix itself is quite stiff but it doubles up nicely over three hours and then once the dough is divided and relaxed for 15 minutes it easily stretches over the back of an oiled cookie sheet. On my first taste I discovered that Lavash is most certainly my thing. Crunchy and toasty, with a little zing from the sesame and poppy seed topping combined with sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, paprika and cumin, it's just as Hitz describes it, “addictive” and very tasty indeed. For anyone who has a copy of Advanced Bread & Pastry by Suas, his formula and procedure are very similar to the one given by Hitz in the magazine. 

Francese with Guanciale- Adapted from Michel Suas' Advanced Bread & Pastry

During a visit to Vancouver just before the New Year to see a hockey game, Marie and I had a few hours to kill before game time and decided to pay a visit to the Granville Island Market in False Creek. While there I picked up a nice piece of guanciale,

a type of bacon made from pork jowl that I found at Oyama Sausage Company, one of the markets more popular vendors judging by the crowd surrounding their stand.

My original intention was to use the guanciale to make the famous Roman pasta dish of Spaghetti Carbonara but thought it could be used in a bread of some type as well. Of what kind I wasn't sure at the time but knew I'd find something suitable to use it in eventually. When we got back home I started going through some of my books looking for something appropriate, finally settling on the Francese from Advanced Bread & Pastry, a type of Italian baguette. I've made the Francese once before and liked it, but thought that some cured and slightly smoky pork wouldn't hurt it either. For anyone who loves bacon and bread this is one that combines the two in a wonderfully savoury and delicious way. Before the final mix was started the guanciale was cut into 1/4 inch batons and lightly browned in a pan then left to cool before folding into the dough once it had been mixed. The roughly shaped dough was fermented overnight in the fridge, then given a short final proof of 30 minutes... give or take, followed by a 25 minute bake at 485F with steam for the first 10 minutes.

After 4 hours of cooling on a rack I sliced it open and was happy to find lots of nooks and crannies of various sizes with some containing pieces of guanciale tucked inside.

The crumb was moist and soft, owing not only to the dough's hydration but as well to the small amount of pork fat rendered out during baking. The crust had a lovely crunch to it, providing the wheaty, nutty flavours one expects from these high crust to crumb ratio type of breads. The bread had a mild to medium sour note from the 12 hour fermented stiff leaven or biga naturale, and the 20% whole wheat flour in the final mix added a subtle whole grain flavour to the bread. This left plenty of room for the guanciale to show off it's smoky , peppery richness in the final overall flavour as I'd hoped it would.

At the time I couldn't think of a better way to enjoy this bread than with a few slices of ripe tomato. Come to think of it I still can't, but some dry aged provolone cheese is a great second choice for this as well.

To end on a sweet note after all this savoury content, a torte that was made the week before last for a family dinner and get-together.

The torte is composed of a lemon mousse, fresh raspberries, 2 layers of almond sponge cake, and a layer of almond Dacquoise, decorated with stabilized whipped cream and a few sugar dusted raspberries to top. I wish I had a photo of the slices to show, my apologies, but it sliced neatly and disappeared quickly, making a nice finish to a splendid family dinner that Marie had made for all of us that day. 

All the best,










Franko's picture

A couple of weeks ago I was reading through some pamphlets and brochures that my friend breadsong had picked up at the IBIE Expo in Las Vegas this past October and had thoughtfully sent on to me to have a look at. One of the brochures, put out by the California Raisin Marketing Board, had a number of interesting looking recipes in it, all having raisin paste as one of the ingredients in the mix, with a recipe submitted by Craig Ponsford looking particularly good. The bread, a Pumpernickel, used raisin paste, whole macerated raisins, rye sour (as well as instant yeast) along with the other usual ingredients one finds in a Pumpernickel type bread. Well OK, this sounds tasty, lets give it a try I thought. Other than the raisin paste, all the other ingredients I already had in stock but figured I could use my meat grinder to make a raisin paste with, instead of trying to track down a commercial product. With a pass through the coarse plate and another through the fine plate, the meat grinder did a fine job of rendering the raisins and in a few minutes I had a thick, dark mass of paste to use in the mix.

I followed Mr. Ponsford's formula, sticking to his percentages and procedure with the exception of including the instant yeast he calls for, wanting to use only a natural leaven for the mix. The loaf came out of the oven looking pretty good I thought but I wasn't thrilled with the texture or the flavour.

 I'm not sure if I made an error somewhere along the line or if this was the way the bread was meant to be. Whatever the case I decided to have another go at it but with a completely different approach from the original formula and procedure.

No doubt that in Ponsford's skillful hands this is a very good loaf of bread, but my first attempt at making it convinced me I needed to try another path to arrive at the flavour I expect from a Pumpernickel type bread. Still, I liked the idea of including raisin flavour in mix, feeling the sweet/sour combination held a lot of promise for the very complex and deep flavours I associate with Pumpernickel. Having made Jeffrey Hamelman's Horst Bandel Black Pumpernickel a few times in the past and enjoying the flavours that result from the long descending bake that he uses, that seemed like a good starting point for the next bake. 

With Ponsford's inspiration and the Hamelman/Bandel method in mind, along with a sponge technique for high rye breads that I picked up from Andy/ananda during my visit with him this past Summer, a formula started taking shape that I hoped would deliver the rich flavour of a slow baked rye bread with the added flavour factor of dried fruit. The percentage of raisin paste was increased from Ponsford's formula and sunflower seeds were added to the mix, as well as to top the loaf with. At the last minute I decided to macerate the whole raisins in amber rum instead of water to try and squeeze more flavour into the mix and jazz it up a bit.

When final mixing was complete, the dough/paste had a 40 minute bulk fermentation, then panned in a Pullman tin and on to a final rise of just around 2 hours. Total baking time was 13 hours, the first 4 hours of which were at relatively high temperatures starting at 400F and gradually descending to 340F where it stayed for 2 hours. Just before going to bed that night the temperature was dropped to 180F and the Pullman tin (lid on) was placed on a broiling rack over a shallow roasting pan partially filled with hot water. Then a deep roasting pan was placed over top of that to hold as much steam in as possible and off to bed I went. One of the things I like the most about these extended bakes is the lovely aroma that greets you when you wake up the next morning. It's difficult to describe the scent accurately but think caramel and fruit, and for anyone who's baked a similar type of bread they'll have a good idea of what I'm talking about. 

Once I'd removed the pan from the oven and slid the lid back I could tell immediately that the loaf was well baked as the sides had receded from the pan, and the colour was very dark but with no hint of the odour from over-baking. The loaf slid straight out of the pan with out any coaxing as well, and that's usually a pretty good sign that things have gone they way they should have.

 Next came the part I like least about making these breads and that's the long waiting period for the crumb to set up before taking the first slice, in this case more than 50 hours. What I found when I made the first cut however was ample reward for having waited so long.

This is easily the best tasting pumpernickel style bread I've made to date, no exceptions. The loaf is moist, but thoroughly baked out, leaving no smear on the knife when it's sliced other than from the whole raisins in the mix. The crust yields easily to the knife and the bread slices like a firm cheese, allowing very thin slices to be taken. The sweet/sour balance leans slightly towards the sweet side because of the raisins and needs a bit more sour next time I make it, but as it is the flavour profile is deep and complex. The initial texture is smooth but then it has some bite to it from the whole grains and sunflower seeds, giving it a variety of sensations and flavours as it's eaten, making for a very satisfying eating experience. The only two accompaniments I've had this bread with so far have been butter and a sharp old cheddar, but it's every bit as enjoyable just on it's own, the flavour is that good. Apparently a benefit to using raisins in a bread mix that I found on the California Raisin Marketing Board's website is their ability to inhibit the growth of mold because they “contain a naturally occurring organic acid called propionic acid”. This is good to know, but somehow doubt this loaf will be around long enough for mold to ever become an issue.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow bread-heads in the USA.



Link to Formula 

Link to Procedure


Dark Rye with Raisins and Sunflower Seeds%Kilos/Grams
Enter desired loaf weight in yellow cell.  
Pumpernickel Rye Meal20.00%8.56
Rye Flour -dark80.00%34.22
Mature Rye Starter-100%3.00%1.28
Total weight173.00%74
ripen for 12-15hrs at 75F  
Rye Meal Soaker  
Pumpernickel Rye Meal100.00%34
Soak overnight.  
Whole Rye Grain Soaker  
Whole Rye Grain100.00%69
Soak overnight, drain and simmer in enough fresh water to cover.  
Cook till soft. Drain and cool. The grains should be moist, not wet, and   
there will be extra left over that can be frozen for later use.  
Whole Wheat Flour100.00%102
Rye Meal Soaker72.72%74
Whole Rye Grain Soaker135.00%137
DDT 75F Bulk Ferment for 3 -4 hours at 75-78F.  
Final Dough 1350
Rye Flour -dark100.0%298
Raisin Paste33.0%98
Mixed Raisins32.0%95
Amber Rum *note* macerate raisins overnight with rum.11.1%33
Sunflower Seeds44.0%131
Sea Salt3.7%11
Total weight453.4%1350
DDT 78-82F Bulk Ferment for 30-45 minutes. Final proof for 1.5-2.0 hrs.  
See Procedure for baking times and temperatures.  
Overall Formula Kilos/Grams
Total Flour100.00%545
Whole Wheat Flour18.66%102
Pumpernickel Rye Meal7.74%42
Whole Rye Grain12.60%69
Rye Flour -dark60.88%332
Whole Grain Rye Flour-from starter0.12%1
Raisin Paste18.02%98
Mixed Raisins17.47%95
Amber Rum6.06%33
Sunflower Seeds24.03%131
Sea Salt2.02%11
Water 77.24%421
Total weight247.58%1350
Total Pre-fermented Flour45.39%247.52
Franko's picture

The bread I've been baking lately is one I ran across on Ross/rossnroller's latest blog back in September. The bread, a Wholemeal and Stout loaf enriched with egg and butter is one that Derek/yozza put together using his own home brewed stout and demonstrated to his students during one of his sourdough bread classes at the college where he works.

When I saw the photos of Derek's loaf (above) that he'd baked off at home the next day I was sold. It looked so good to me I knew right away that I had to give it a try. Derek was kind enough to share his formula on Ross' thread and answered a few questions I had via PM as well. My thanks go out to Derek for his inspiration and good advice in the making of this fine bread. 

The first attempt got off to a rocky start when I was scaling out what I thought was whole grain flour for the overnight soaking in stout. After I had the flour soaking and was putting the bag away I realized I'd used whole rye flour instead of whole grain wheat flour... yikes! That's what I get for starting a mix at the end of long day and for not accepting the fact I need to wear my glasses more often than I do. Fortunately I like rye breads, and other than the loaf not being what I'd intended, it turned out reasonably well. By the time I began the final mix 15 hours later, the levain I'd started the night before had over-ripened and I wound up having to add some commercial yeast to the mix in order to kick start it enough to get fermentation going.

This turned out to be a pretty tasty mistake, all things considered, and one I'd like to try again but next time with the intention of using rye flour.

The second attempt was better in terms of looks, but the flavour was lacking due to rushing the bulk fermentation. I needed a loaf for the next day and instead of giving it a long retarded BF, the dough was mixed quite warm with an increased leaven and overall hydration at 58% for a 2 hour BF at 78-80F with the final rise being approximately 3 hours. The loaf had terrific oven spring, producing quite a lofty, high profile bread, due in part to the lower than normal hydration. The soaker used for this mix was made with Cooper's bottle fermented Australian Stout and One Degree Organic Sprouted Whole Meal flour. I've wondered since if that may have had some impact on the overall leavening of the loaf, the soaker becoming a secondary levain of sorts. Overnight temperatures were in the low 70F range at that time, and I suppose it's possible but since I didn't do a float test on it I can't say with any degree of certainty.

The price I paid for using this abbreviated procedure of course was flavour. Not that it tasted bad, just rather ordinary. Considering the high quality ingredients that went into the mix it's a bit of a shame, but being that I pushed things along the way I did it didn't come as total surprise. In the end I was happy the ingredients didn't go to waste and that I had a loaf of bread to see me through the coming week.



For the third mix I allowed sufficient time to give the dough the long retarded fermentation that it needed to build flavour and stuck close to the Derek's original procedure but made a small addition to his formula by including 15-16% cracked wheat to the overall mix to give the loaf more body. The cracked wheat was added to the stout and soaked overnight along with the wholemeal flour. If there had been any fermentation going on in the soaker of the second mix I'm quite sure there was little, if any, this time around as overnight temperatures had cooled off considerably in the interval between mixes. Going by how long it took before the loaf could be baked off, I'd say the leaven did the job all on it's own this time. Hydration for this mix was increased to 70% and the leaven went back to 30% from the 40% of the previous loaf. Bulk fermentation was 3 hours with 3 stretch and folds at 45 minute intervals, then an undisturbed 45 minutes before rounding, resting, shaping and placing in the pan for the 24 hour retarded ferment. The final rise took over 5 hours in the B&T proofer at 78F before I thought it had a hope of doing anything worthwhile in the oven and even then it wasn't clear what I'd wind up with. When I checked the loaf after the first 10 minutes, removing the steam system at the same time, I could see it hadn't jumped as much the previous loaf, thank goodness, looking much more like the loaf that Derek had made, which was my goal from the beginning.

Total bake time was 40 minutes, initially at 485F for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes at 465F and the final 10 minutes at 440F, leaving the loaf in a dead oven with the door ajar for 20 minutes.

Third times the charm it seems as this turned out a very nice loaf, just rich enough from the butter and egg to give the crumb a soft and moist texture but not so much that the crumb is dense or cakey.

The sour level is in the medium range, appropriate for this type of bread I feel, with the flavour of the stout coming through slightly stronger, imparting it's malty characteristics to give the overall flavour some deep and delicious notes that make it hard not have just one more slice. For my tastes this is a bread meant for cheese and with that in mind and some leftover stout I decided to make a Welsh Rarebit to have it with. 

Straight from the broiler and piping hot, this may be the ultimate way to enjoy the combination of stout, sharp cheddar and good homemade bread.



Franko's picture

Continuing along using sprouted spelt flour as a key ingredient for the last few bakes, this time I decided to up the grain percentage by adding a soaker of cracked spelt to the mix. I'd forgotten I'd even had the stuff until I re-discovered it rummaging around in my storage bin of various grains for something else. The soaker adds more texture and tooth to this loaf over previous spelt loaves I've made, and is a step in the right direction for increasing the overall flavour as well. The mix is a pretty basic levain type with the exception of an extended (3-4 hour) autolyse. The long autolyse is just an experiment on my part to see what, if any benefits can be had from it. In terms of the crumb appearance it doesn't seem to have much impact, but the texture or mouth-feel is softer and creamier than similar type doughs made in the past using a much shorter autolyse period. Spelt tends to have a drying effect on the crumb, even at a relatively low ratio such as this loaf has, and my intention was to see if an extended period of water absorption for both the AP and sprouted spelt flours would mitigate the effect to some degree. Too early to say right now, but I'll monitor the eating quality over the next few days and see how it fares. As far as flavour, the bread has a medium tang to it, surprising given the nearly 16 hours the levain fermented for, but the overall the flavour is reminiscent of Hamelman's Pain au levain, with lots of toasty, wheaty notes to it, supported by the rich flavour of the crunchy crust. There really aren't any changes I'd make to this formula for the next bake, it's just a good everyday loaf of bread to use for sandwiches, and for toasting. Having recently received a gift of lovely homemade preserves from a good friend, this particular bake couldn't have been more timely.

Sourdough with Cracked Spelt%Kilos/Grams
Organic AP Flour100.00%99
Mature Starter -Rye-100%20.00%20
Total weight188.50%187
Ripen for 15-18 hours @ 72F/22C   
Cracked Spelt Soaker  
Cracked Spelt100.00%55
Total weight250.00%137
soak overnight  
Final Dough -enter desired dough weight in yellow cell 1000
Organic AP Flour60.0%249
Sprouted Spelt Flour – Organic40.0%166
Cracked Spelt Soaker33.0%137
Sea Salt2.8%12
Total weight240.9%1000
Autolyse the flours using all the water for 3-4 hours pre final mix.  
Bulk ferment for -2-2.5hours @76-78 with 3 stretch and folds.  
Overall Formula Kilos/Grams
Total Flour100.00%579
Organic AP Flour60.14%348
Medium/Dark Rye Flour1.71%10
Sprouted Spelt Flour – Organic28.68%166
Cracked Spelt9.47%55
Sea Salt2.01%12
Total weight/yield172.74%1000
Total Pre-fermented Flour18.83%109
Estimated Hydration64%368


  • Mix ingredients for the levain and ripen for 15-18 hours. Note: Whatever type of starter you have on hand can be used. The small percentage indicated in the formula will have little effect on the final flavour.

  • 3 to 5 hours prior to the final mix, autolyse both the flours of the final mix and keep covered at 70-75F-21/23C

  • Mix all the final ingredients except the salt until uniform, then add the salt and continue mixing on 1st speed, or by hand, until the dough is smooth. Mix on 2nd or 3rd depending on mixer speed until the dough has come together and clears the sides of the mixing bowl, or by hand, slap and fold the dough on the work surface for 5-6 minutes, or until a window pane can be achieved.

  • Bulk ferment at 75F/23.8C for 2-2.5 hrs with stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 90 minutes.

  • When the dough has fermented enough that it's gassy and has some spring to it, take it out of bulk ferment and round it gently, leaving it for 15 minutes to relax, covered with a bowl or sheet of plastic, cloth.

  • Shape the dough as desired, being careful not to de-gas it, at the same time drawing the dough taut.

  • Final proof at 75-78F/23.8-25.5C for 90 minutes with 65-75% humidity if possible. Proof to 10% less than double the original volume.

  • Preheat the oven and baking stone to 485F/252C forty five minutes prior to baking and have steam system ready.

  • When final proof is complete, slash as desired and load in the oven.

  • Bake for 10 minutes, remove steam system and vent oven. Continue baking for 8 minutes, then rotate the loaf/loaves for even colouring. Remove parchment paper if using. Check colour, lower oven temp to 460F/237C and continue baking in 8 minute intervals till the crust shows good colour and the internal temperature is 206-210F/96-98C.

  • Cool on a rack for 60 minutes, wrap in cloth, and let sit for 5-6 hours before slicing. 

The week before last my wife and I wandered up to one of our neighbourhood blackberry patches and picked almost a full bucket in 45 minutes, the brambles just teeming with beautiful, succulent, and free fruit for anyone who doesn't mind a scratch or two. While I was picking away I gave some thought to how I might use them, a tart perhaps? Hmm..., then I thought of the perfectly ripe and juicy nectarines we'd bought at the market earlier in the day and a visualization started to form in my head on how to combine the two fruits in a way to showcase their very different but complimentary flavours. This is what I came up with.

From the bottom up the cake is composed of a layer of almond sponge cake (Joconde), Bavarian cream flavoured with a nectarine puree and slices of whole nectarine. Next is a disc of almond Daquoise (thick, baked meringue with almond meal) topped with whole blackberries and then filled with a white chocolate mousse flavoured with Pisa , an Italian liquor that has similarities to Amaretto but not as sweet. The deco for the cake is made from almond nougatine, in essence an almond brittle that can be poured and shaped in a variety of ways. For the top deco, triangles were cut from a disk of nougatine, then laid pointy end towards the cake center and supported at the back by glazed blackberries. In a bit of a rush to finish it and get it over to my son and daughter in-law's, while my 11 month old Grandson wasn't snoozing, I regret not finishing it properly with one or more glazed blackberries in the center. Oh time.

Below is a smaller version of the same cake that my daughter and I shared after her visit and dinner together later that same week. Rebecca loved the crunchy nougatine, and we both enjoyed the light texture of the cream fillings with the pure and natural flavour of the fruit and berries at their peak.

Cheers all, and happy baking,


Franko's picture

Currently on vacation for two weeks and not travelling anywhere too far from home, I have the luxury to bake and post the results sooner than I've managed to over the last 6 months. The Czech type Rye bread that was shown in my last post was the most recent loaf made and it disappeared, ahem, rather quickly. It was such a nice bread I almost made a second loaf of it but decided to conserve the remaining bit of the Czech rye flour for other projects. It's been an interesting, and very satisfying experience over the last two bread bakes using the Gilchester's flour from the UK that Andy shared with me and the Czech rye I found in Prague, but now it was time to use some of the flours from my own country. 

The formula I put together uses organic whole grain Red Fife milled at True Grain Bakery here on Vancouver Island, along with One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour and Anita's Organic AP flour. The whole grain RF and the spelt account for just slightly over 51% of total flour in the formula giving the finished loaf a wonderfully robust and complex flavour profile highlighted by the slightly spicy character of the Red Fife and the toasty, nut-like contribution of the spelt, all complimented by the tang of a 16 hour sour leaven. The crust has a good crunch to it, offering notes of caramel to the overall flavour of the bread as well. The flours were given a three hour autolyse before the final mix which resulted in a remarkably soft, moist, and open crumb compared to similar type mixes I've made in the past. Somehow I don't think this loaf will have the opportunity to go stale and more likely it will disappear as quickly as the previous loaf did.

 Formula and procedure below.



51% Whole Wheat & Spelt Sourdough%Kilos/Grams
Bread Flour65.00%60
Whole Wheat Flour-Red Fife35.00%32
Mature Rye Starter- 100%8.00%7
Total weight218.00%200
ripen for 15-18 hours at 74-76F  
Final Dough 1000
Organic AP Flour45.0%214
Whole Wheat Flour-Red Fife31.0%148
Sprouted Whole Spelt Flour24.0%114
Barley Syrup-non diastatic1.6%8
Sea Salt2.5%12
Total weight210.1%1000
DDT-76-78F Bulk Ferment-1.5-2.0 hours  
Overall Formula Kilos/Grams
Total Flour100.00%571
AP Flour- Anita's Organics47.92%274
Sprouted Whole Spelt Flour-One Degree Organics19.99%114
Whole Wheat Flour-Red Fife- True Grain31.44%180
Dark rye Flour0.64%4
Barley Syrup-non diastatic1.33%8
Sea Salt2.08%12
Total weight/yield175.03%1000
Total Pre-fermented Flour16.69%95


  • Mix leaven ingredients and ripen for 15 to 18 hours at 76-78F

  • Add all of the water indicated in the final mix to all of the flours and autolyse for 3 hours. Add more water if needed to ensure there are no dry parts in the dough.

  • Final Mix: Add the barley syrup and leaven to the dough and mix till thoroughly combined then add the salt and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and cohesive. Five minutes on 2nd or 3rd speed depending on your mixer, or by hand for 8-9 minutes. Using the slap and fold technique is recommended. Test for a windowpane to ensure sufficient development before putting the dough into bulk ferment.

  • Bulk ferment for 90- 120 minutes at 78F giving the dough two stretch and folds at 30 and 60 minutes. Give the dough a third S&F if needed at 90 minutes.

  • When bulk ferment is complete, round the dough lightly and rest it for 15 minutes before final shaping.

  • Shape as desired and put the dough for a final rise of 60 -90 minutes. The spelt content makes this dough a fast riser and it should be monitored closely after 45 minutes.

  • Preheat oven and stone to 485F for 45-60 minutes.

  • Proof the dough to 10% less than double the original size. Have your steam system in place in the oven. Slash as desired and slide the dough on to the baking stone.

  • Reduce the oven temperature to 465F and bake for 10 minutes, then remove the steam system and allow the oven to vent. Continue baking for 25-30 minutes, rotating the loaf for even colouring and reducing the oven temperature if necessary for a well coloured loaf. Bake to an internal temperature of 210 F.

  • Remove the loaf to a rack to cool for an hour before wrapping it in cloth. Allow to cool completely before slicing, 5 hours or more.

Franko's picture

I thought I should clear out some old bread photos from the last few months that I never got around to posting, along with some more recent ones as well. All but one were taken this year, most have crumb shots, but some don't. Many of these breads were made with a yeasted preferment of some kind, either a poolish, biga, or Pate Fermentee. My starter had been put to bed for a few weeks, mainly to change things up a bit and to play around on the other side of yeasted leavening for a while. To keep this post from being even longer than it already is I've opted to leave out detailed formulas and procedures, so think of it more as a photo update than what I'd typically post.

 This Margueritte was made for a family dinner late in 2012 when I was still deeply entrenched in baguette mode. Being a first for me, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to shape compared to a baguette and that everyone at the table thought it looked cool. 

In a somewhat random chronological order, below are a few collages of various bakes done since the beginning of the year. 

After weeks of eating nothing but baguettes, my need for something with whole grains and seeds was first and foremost on my mind when this loaf was made. It seems to me it had rye, barley, whole wheat and a 7 grain soaker in it and was made with a Pate Fermentee. I do remember that it didn't last too long, starved as I was for a bread with flavour other than wheat. A very tasty loaf it was. 

Next up is a series of four Semolina loaves that were made with varying degrees of hydration, all of which were made with a yeasted preferment, either poolish or a biga that included a portion of the total semolina in the formula.

By the time this next bread was made I'd taken my starter out of hibernation and revved it up to deliver some tang to the mix. It's a very similar formula to the one above made with Pate Fermentee and the 7 Grain Soaker, but has toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds included as well. Two slightly different versions of this bread were made and I liked em both!

A Multigrain enriched sandwich loaf made the day before leaving for the UK and EU. A thank you! loaf for the nice lady who dog sits for us when we're away on vacation.

Bruschetta was the inspiration for the loaf below.

 A naturally leavened mix of polenta, AP flour, roasted/grilled corn and Parmigiano, with some roasted garlic paste thrown in for good measure, it sounded like a nice combination of flavours for grilling and topping with fresh tomatoes and herbs. Made just a few weeks ago, this was easily the most difficult loaf to deal with of all the ones in this post. It's impossible for me to say what the true hydration of this loaf was because of the polenta. How much it actually contributed to the final mix I have no idea, but my best estimate for total hydration is somewhere between 80-85%, with wheat and cornmeal at 80 and 20 percent respectively. Much kneading, many, many slap and folds, andat least 4 stretch and folds were needed just to achieve some semblance of development in the dough. Let's just say expectations were not running high when I finally got it in the oven. The result was not what one could call a lofty loaf by any means, but hey, waaay better than I ever expected. Far from being thrilled with it, I was relieved it was at least useable, and in fact it was well suited for grilling. Soft, with a nice chew and mild smoky flavour from the roasted corn, this bread has some definite potential for future mixes. When I sent a photo of the crumb to my friend breadsong she encouraged me to post it, I'm sure because of the holey crumb. At the time I thought I'd wait and do a second bake to see if I could get something closer to what I'd had in mind. After a bit of deliberation I decided to include it in this photo post. It may not be the loaf I wanted at the time but perhaps someone would enjoy taking the basic polenta & flavour idea of the bread and bring it to it's full potential with their own interpretation.

The last bread to show is one made with some organic rye flour I brought back from last months vacation in the Czech Republic.

Since visiting the Czech Republic two years ago I've been trying to reproduce a bread I'd had there that had been served alongside a huge portion of delicious smoked ham from one of the street vendors.

The flavour of that bread was OK, like a typical light deli rye with a hint of caraway, but it was the spongy texture of the crumb that appealed to me the most. I've made several attempts at duplicating it since then but the texture I've wanted has eluded me till now.

 With the inclusion of a rye scald in this latest mix I finally have something I'm very happy with in terms of crumb texture and mouth-feel, with the added bonus of having a much better flavour than the vendor bread because of the 3 stage sour used in this mix. Now that I have the inside of the loaf the way I want it, I'll see if I can't shine up the outside a bit as well. After that it's just a matter of brining and smoking a fresh ham in the Prague style, and a cold Czech Pilsener to wash it all down with. That should tide me over till the next time I can return to that lovely city of spires.

 Although my wife Marie is the one who makes almost all of the desserts and sweet things around our house, sometimes I like to get into the pastry side of things as well, especially when our backyard berries are ready for picking. This year the raspberries arrived first, due to our early warm Spring temperatures here on Vancouver Island. Nothing inspires me more to roll up my sleeves and get busy making pastry, cakes and confections more than raspberries do. The tart below was made with a few of the berries from the first picking.

A few scraps of frozen puff pastry, thawed, stacked and rolled out to a disk then cut to size. Baked blind, then baked briefly again with a flour thickened lemon curd in the center and topped with raspberries dusted with confectioner's sugar. Quick, easy, delicious. 

The next one, a Lemon and Raspberry Charlotte Royale is a bit more involved.

With all the various components and their separate procedures, I wont go through them all here. Briefly, it's made with a sheet of almond spongecake divided in four, spread with seedless raspberry jam on three of the cake pieces then all four stacked one on top of each other. The jam sandwich is divided in half then stacked together to make a total of eight layers. Freeze, then slice off 3/8” strips of the sandwich lengthwise to line a ring mold. 2 disks of biscuit culierre (ladyfinger batter) for the base and middle layer, a lemon curd flavoured mousse stabilized with gelatin to fill, and a raspberry gelee for part of the top decoration. Leave overnight in the fridge to set the mousse, then finished the next day with stabilized whipped cream piped around the edges and garnished with glazed fresh raspberries. The nice thing about making this type of cake is it can be done in stages over 2-3 days, or longer if you like. On the whole the cake is deceptively light and not overly sweet, the lemon mousse helping to balance out the sugar of the berries and jam. A delicious way to use some of the backyard harvest we've been waiting for all these months.

Best of the Summer or Winter to TFL'rs around the world.






Franko's picture

This past June I had the pleasure of paying long time TFL member Ananda/Andy a visit for a few days at his home in Powburn,Northumberland , UK. Any of you who have read his most recent blog post Fresh Loaf Visitor will know this already. I floated the idea past Andy back in the Fall of 2012 after I'd learned my wife Marie would be attending a four week professional development course in Prague CR. We'd decided to take our summer vacation together in the Czech Republic after her course was finished so I thought that as long as I'm hopping the pond anyway why not take a slight detour to the UK and have a visit with Andy. Andy's immediate response was something like Yes, absolutely, come on over and we'll do some baking together! Over the next few months we confirmed dates and arrival times etc and chatted about what we might bake. As it so happened the first Saturday of my vacation time coincided with The Hexham Farmer's Market that Andy and his partner Nigel bake for on a regular basis using Nigel's large wood fired oven. I'd been hoping to have a chance to see this massive WFO that Nigel built, since seeing it featured in one of Andy's blogs a year or so ago. Now I'd have the opportunity to actually see it in action. If timing is everything it seems that I nailed it! 

Getting there

The journey from Vancouver Island to Powburn was epic, taking 3 planes, 1 train and 1 automobile. One short hop from the Island to Vancouver Airport, then an 8 hour layover before the 9 hour flight to Amsterdam with an hour + there. Then a 1.5 hour flight to Glasgow, followed by a 2 hour train trip to Almouth Station. Bleary eyed and somewhat worse for wear and tear I stumbled off the train to be warmly greeted by Andy. We tossed my luggage in the back of his car and drove on to his home in Powburn. A long journey but worth every minute of it! 

After a delicious meal (and a few fine British brews) with Andy and his charming wife Alison, I was fading fast. We had a full day of baking ahead of us the next day and I was desperately in need of a good nights sleep, so said my good-nights and hit the sack for an unheard of 11 hours! 

Baking with Andy

By the time I joined Andy the next morning he was already hard at work mixing dough, and prepping the work area for production.

After a chat over coffee we got right to it, making a variety of loaves, some of which were made using flours I'd brought over for Andy to try.

See the first photo HERE

and the paragraph below it for a complete description of all the breads we made.


One of the things I was most interested to see was how Andy makes his rye paste for his spectacular 100% rye breads, specifically the consistency or viscosity of the paste. In my own mixes of 100% rye paste I've had some good results but have also had an awful lot of poor ones as well. My hope was to learn first hand what sort of feel Ishould be looking for in a 100% rye paste. Hydration percentages are all well and good to put you in the ballpark for mixing a dough or paste, but no substitute for being able to actually feel what a properly hydrated and mixed one is like. I believe I have a much better idea now and hopefully I'll be able to achieve better, more consistent results in my own high ratio rye breads thanks to Andy's expert guidance.


We had Andy's WFO loaded up somewhere around noon as I recall but I was still quite jet lagged so I can't say for sure.

Andy had some calls to make so I headed down the street to the pub for a pint and to write some emails. When I returned we pulled some of the loaves from the oven and Andy slid in a pan full of various vegetables he'd chopped up and drizzled with olive oil to roast for our dinner that night. Top baker and a great cook as well! Later on, after we'd cleaned up the kitchen and all the loaves were out of the oven and cooled, we took them outside on the sunny patio and had a photo op of our days work.

We were both pretty happy with how things had gone and felt we'd made a good start on the production for the Hexham Farmer's Market. On top of that we'd enjoyed working alongside each other, almost as if we'd been doing it for years instead of hours. Andy is a very easy and amiable fellow to be around. Thoughtful, and with strong opinions on a variety of issues, we had some interesting conversations, bread related and otherwise, that day and throughout my visit. 

Production Day at Nigel's

Early the next morning we were back at it getting things ready to take to Nigel's. There were a couple of problems we had to sort out first involving a levain that was past prime, and an uncooperative spelt dough, but we had those fixed soon enough and began loading up the car with the doughs, soakers and various bannetons, tins, etc that we'd need for that day, then set off for Nigel's.

Meeting people for the first time one can never be certain how they'll be received, but if I had any doubts they vanished within the first few minutes of meeting Nigel. Nigel is one of those people you meet and feel comfortable with right away. Friendly, great sense of humour and bit of a raconteur, I enjoyed working and chatting with him a great deal. He and Andy had a brief conference on the production plan for the day while I got the car unloaded and ran some items down to the oven enclosure. Basically the day went like this; Nigel and I divided, scaled, and rounded/shaped all the doughs, getting them into bannetons and tins while Andy was back up in the kitchen mixing. When the various doughs were ready for baking I took a position just inside the door so that Nigel had plenty of room to swing the peel when he needed to and then watched as the other two bakers loaded the oven. To watch these two fellows work together is like seeing a well oiled machine in operation. Perfectly synchronized, with no wasted movement and effortless speed, I'm kicking myself now for not taking a video of it to show here. Nigel would lay the peel on the outer hearth, sprinkle it with semolina, immediately followed by Andy tipping a loaf on to the peel and giving it 3 quick slashes. As Nigel was placing the dough onto the hearth floor Andy was reaching for the next basket to tip on to the peel, having it ready by the time the peel was on the outer hearth again and then the sequence would repeat itself. My best estimate for their loading cycle is10 seconds or less.

Very enjoyable to watch this process done so quickly and efficiently and quite clear to me that the two of them have made and baked a lot of bread together over the last few years. One hundred and thirty loaves later, followed by a shop cleanup, Andy announced we'd finished in record time, so I was quite pleased to have made a small contribution to that, and to the product we turned out that day. The oven is impressive, not only for it's size but how well it does what it's supposed to do. Since I was the designated un-loader, I was able to see every loaf as it came off the hearth, marvelling at the consistently even colour of all the loaves. No scorching or mottling to speak of no matter what area of the hearth I pulled them from. Nigel told me he'd spent 2+ years building this beast to have it the way he wanted it. Apparently all his hard work has paid off in spades, the end result being one helluva nice piece of baking equipment.



We packed up and left Nigel's for a drive through the countryside before picking Alison up from work, then picked up some fish and chips for our dinner that evening. I guess Chef needed a break from the oven for some reason or another. No complaints from this diner though, the fish and chips were delicious! 

Market Day

On Saturday morning we packed up the car again, this time with the breads we'd made on day 3 along with baskets for displaying the breads and the pieces for setting up the stand once we arrived at the market square in Hexham. Nigel arrived with the breads we'd baked the previous day and stayed for a few minutes to chat, then was off on another errand after wishing me a happy vacation and safe travels.

The weather was iffy, with some dark clouds lurking around but some sun coming through as well. We set up the stand and put out the breads for display but the first hour sales were slow, just 3-4 loaves as I recall. However once the sun began to show a bit more so did the crowds and things got busy pretty quickly.

It was interesting to see people approaching the market, looking around, then zeroing in on Andy's stall as if to confirm that yes, he was open for business and once again they could purchase his bread, or perhaps seeing his booth for the first time and being drawn to the variety of gorgeous hand crafted breads he had on display. Whatever their reason was, I can tell you that his breads are extremely popular with the market clientele, a good number of people buying 2 or 3 loaves at a time, some saying they freeze the loaves to tide them over till the next Market day. The pitch for anyone on the fence about buying was “The loaves are made from all organic grains and flours (local when possible), natural leavens, hand crafted and baked in a wood fired oven”. Some folks would have specific questions of course, usually regarding sugar and fat content, but for the most part the breads sold themselves. Not sure, but I think we sold the bulk of the stock in a little over an hour, with people coming in waves every 15 minutes. I haven't done any one on one selling like that since my bar-tending days back in the eighties and it took a while to get back in the groove but I managed to get by alright. The toughest part for me was making change with an unfamiliar currency, having to look at every coin to make sure I was giving correct change. I'd smile, tell them I was visiting from Canada, they'd smile back, often welcoming me to the UK and then wait patiently while I put their change together for them. Luck for me Andy has very polite clientele.

Well eventually we sold all but one loaf, a miche, which Andy traded with the artisan cheese maker nearby for a round of goat cheese. I bought some amazing Italian dried sausage, Coppa, from the artisan charcutier immediately behind us, and the two of us chatted at length about making air dried and fermented sausages, something I intend to start making for myself in the next year. Since we sold out before anyone else we were the first to pack up and leave the market, driving straight back to Powburn.


After 3 days of making and selling bread it was time to kick back and enjoy some down time. We had a little lunch of bread, goat cheese and ale on Andy's terrace with the sun beaming down, talking of the days sales and of his plans for his proposed bake shop location, just a five minute walk away from where we were sitting. I fully expect that by the time I'm able to return for another visit in a few years time his shop will be a well established presence in the community and surrounding area.

That evening Andy, Alison and I drove to the shore for a walk along the beach, a long and splendid beach, the ruins of a castle perched on a bluff jutting out in the distance. A magnificent photo op if only I'd remembered to bring my Iphone. Fortunately Alison had her phone and got a couple of good shots that she forwarded to me. We wandered off the beach in to a nearby pub for what was one of the best meals of my entire two week vacation. The pub brews their own very good ales and the dinner menu focuses on local products from the fields, farms and the sea. We did have some excellent meals while in the Czech Republic, but this meal stands out as being the freshest and most flavourful one I had the pleasure of eating while away.


On to Prague

The next afternoon after saying goodbye to Alison, Andy drove me to the airport in Newcastle where I would catch my flight to Prague and join Marie after 5 weeks of being away from each other. Time to move on, but in the knowledge that the last 3 days had been an experience of a lifetime which I'd long remember. It had been everything I'd hoped for, fun, interesting, productive and a tremendous learning experience being able to work alongside Andy, and then both he and Nigel, and of course the wood fired ovens. The commitment to build my own WFO has never been stronger than it is now but unfortunately it will have to wait till next year due to some unforeseen expenses cropping up. I've put it off so many times already, one more year isn't going to make a difference one way or the other. 

Below is a bread I made recently using some of the Gilchester's Farmhouse Wheat that Andy was kind enough to share with me before I left. My first notion was to use it in his formula for Gilchester's Miche, but decided to try and stretch it out and to make the flour last longer. The amount I was able to bring back was limited, and as it was I just squeezed under the baggage weight allowed by the airline.


Instead of using 75% Gilchester's that Andy's formula calls for, I reduced it to 50% overall and added 38% AP and 11% Red Fife whole. A slight change, but enough to allow me to make a couple of more loaves using the Gilchester's than would have been the case at 75%. The bread turned out well and has excellent flavour from the Gilchester's-Red Fife combination. When I run out of the Gilchester's I may try sifting some RF to use in it's place. Although I know the flavour won't be quite the same, it'll have to do until I can get back to Northumberland. 

Formula below.



Gilchester's Farmhouse Sour %Kilos/Grams
Organic AP Flour100.00%65
Whole Wheat Flour-Red Fife100.00%65
Mature Rye Starter8.00%5
Total weight408.00%266
ripen for 11-14 hours  
Final Dough 1000
Organic AP Flour35.0%155
Gilchester's Farmhouse Wheat65.0%288
Sea Salt2.6%12
Total weight225.6%1000.00
DDT-76-78F BF for 3-4 hours at 78F  
S&F as needed to develop a springy dough.  
Overall Formula Kilos/Grams
Total Flour100.00%576
Organic AP Flour38.24%220
Whole Wheat Flour-Red Fife11.31%65
Whole Rye Flour0.45%3
Gilchester's Farmhouse Wheat50.00%288
Sea Salt2.00%12
Total weight/yield173.54%1000
Total Pre-fermented Flour23.08%133










Franko's picture


This post is really more of a test with the new site than anything else. I wanted to see what, if any, differences there were between posting on the old site V the shiny new model Floyd has come up with. I was curious if the edit bar would show up when posting since it's been missing more often than not at this end over the last 24 hours. I began to wonder if posting a blog entry along with photos would have to wait for a time until things with the new site config was sorted out but as soon as I clicked on the text field the edit bar appeared and everything has worked just fine so far, just as it did on the old site. Clicking around the site just now I see the edit bar has reappeared on top of all the text fields for comments so it looks like Floyd and Dorota are getting things in order pretty quickly. Thanks you two, nice work!

The bread is a couple of Ciabatta made last weekend that I hadn't intended on posting but they were handy enough for a quick post here.  

The formula is based on Hamelman's Ciabatta with Stiff Biga from "Bread" that has been slightly adapted for hydration, one of those rare occasions that I actually lowered the water content, in this case from JH's 73% to 65%, which with the flour I'm using (Anita's Organic AP) has given me a better final result overall.


Ciabatta with Biga-adapted from Hamelman's "Bread"   
Bread Flour100.00%130.9 
ripen 12-16hrs @ 70F   
Final Dough  1100
AP Flour100.00%524 
Sea Salt2.50%13 
DDT- 76F BF-1.5hrs with 2xSF in bowl @30&60 minutes   
S&F on counter before overnight fermentation   
Total Formula   
Total Flour100.00%654 
AP Flour100.00%654 
Sea Salt2.00%13 
Total % and Weight168.08%1100 
Total prefemented flour20.0%131 

If anyone has had concerns with the new site about issues with inserting photos or pasting in formulas and such, all I can say is I didn't run into  any  problems whatsoever with this post, it worked perfectly. FYI- My system is Windows 8 64 bit and my browser is Chrome.

Happy baking and posting!



Franko's picture

50% Rye with 3 Stage Sour

 These latest bakes brought me back to trying to reproduce a Czech Rye I'd had in Prague two summers ago, which I first posted on back in December 2012. 

The loaf from that bake turned out well and had great flavour but it didn't have the spongy, small celled, uniform crumb that I'd found so appealing in the bread I'd had that warm Summer afternoon in Prague. Amongst the many responses I received on that post, two of them were from members who live in the Czech Republic, catch_up or Ales, and ouhrabko or Zuzka, both of whom kindly shared their local knowledge with me on the type of bread I was trying to make. One of several ideas that Ales suggested was to use a 3 stage sour for the leaven and a 50-50 mix of rye and strong wheat flour to achieve the smooth crumb characteristics of this particular type of Czech Rye. The formula that I came up with utilizes a 3 stage sour but when it came time to do the final mix on this first loaf I realized I only had enough light rye left to make a 40% mix. Rather than run up to the store for more rye flour I quickly adjusted the formula to work with the flour I had available. The wheat flour I used is a B.C. milled flour from Rogers, one they call "Best for Bread" and the flour I typically use when making rye bread because of it's high gluten strength. Unfortunately I forgot to follow Ale's advice on keeping the hydration level in the mid to high 60% range, instead going with a 77% hydration. I've become so accustomed to pushing the water content in rye breads because of the way rye flour sucks it up, I neglected to take into account how this would work against the type of crumb I wanted for the bread. If I'd been going for some other type of medium ratio rye bread the crumb result from this loaf would be just fine with me and from the perspective of eating quality it still is, however I was somewhat disappointed when I took the first slice. Instead of seeing something like this,

I wound up with this.

The bread tasted great, with a good chew to it, flavourful crust, and other than the fact it wasn't what I intended it was perfectly acceptable. Well fine I thought, it could be worse and at least I've got a decent bread to eat while I adjust and plan for the next bake.

Scheduling a 3 stage sour is a bit of a trick for me during working days but it can be done on the one day of the week that I work a short 5 hour shift. By the time I get home from work the sour has had it's 15 hour 2nd stage, and 3-4 hours after that the 3rd stage is complete and it's ready for the final mix. 

The 3 stage sour was built based on Hamelman's ratios and times for the Detmolder Method described in “Bread” pg-204 for his Three Stage 80% Sourdough Rye. The results from the first loaf were excellent in terms of leavening power and the flavour contribution hit all the right notes for me with just the right level of sour I remember from the bread I'd had in Prague. Nothing to change there but I decided this time to use a different combination of flours than I used on the previous loaf. In one of our local supermarkets bulk section they have what they call a high gluten flour that I believe is meant for using with bread machines. There's nothing saying what the gluten content actually is but having used it 2 or 3 times in the past I know it's pretty strong stuff. My hope was that the extra boost of gluten would help give the dough a tighter, smoother texture, but knew I needed to be careful with the amount as well to avoid giving the crumb a rubbery texture. With the new formula I kept the high gluten flour to an overall 15.5 %, which was pure speculation on my part I admit, but it seemed like a relatively safe amount to go with. As it turned out I wasn't horribly wrong, in fact it was well in the ballpark for the crumb texture I was aiming for, a smooth, uniform crumb along with a spongy texture to soak up meat juices. The meat I had in mind would be a ham slow cooked over a wood fire, similar to the one I'd had in Prague that's mentioned in the original post.

This bread is slightly more tangy than the first, accentuated by the lower hydration perhaps or the sour itself, I'm not sure. Both sours were identical in proportions and fermentation times before including in the final mix, however the second loaf did have a 30 minute longer bulk fermentation than the first loaf and this may account for the increase as well. Whatever the reason, the flavour is very good and no complaints from me whatsoever. The only thing I will change on the next bake is lowering the high gluten flour percentage to 10% to try and open up the crumb just a bit more. Other than that I feel this bread is a close cousin to the bread I had in Prague two summers ago.

50% Czech Rye Bread with 3 Stage Sour%Kilos/Grams
Light/Medium Rye Flour100.00%3.51
Mature Rye Starter -100%50.00%1.75
Total weight300.00%11
% of full Sour3.24% 
DDT- 77-79F 5-6 hrs  
Basic Sour  
Light/ Medium Rye Flour100%43.86
Freshening Sour24%10.53
Total weight200.00%88
% of full Sour27.02% 
DDT 73-80F 15-hrs  
Full Sour  
Light/ Medium Rye Flour100.00%118.43
Basic Sour74.10%87.76
Total weight274.10%324.61
DDT 85F 3-4hrs  
Enter desired final weight in yellow cell 1000
Final Dough  
Bread Flour62.00%201
Hi Gluten Flour28.00%91
Light/Medium Rye Flour38.66%125
Sea Salt3.10%10
Total weight308.06%1000
DDT—80-84F BF-90-120 minutes  
Final Proof—80-F 45-55 minutes  
Overall Formula Kilos/Grams
Total Flour100.00%584.31
Bread Flour34.44%201.26
Hi Gluten Flour15.56%90.89
Light/Medium Rye Flour50.00%292.16
Sea Salt1.72%10.06
Total weight171.13%999.95
Total Prefermented Flour28.52%166.67

Link to scalable formula *HERE*

Link to procedure *HERE* 


While I was waiting for the bread to ferment I remembered that I had a piece of puff pastry sitting in the freezer from several weeks before and decided I might as well use it up. When it comes to puff pastry I don't need much of an excuse to do something with it as it's long been a favourite of mine to work with. It's incredibly versatile for savoury or sweet items, enjoyable to make if you like using a rolling pin, and most importantly it tastes fantastic. If my conscience allowed I'd have it more often than I do. 

The recipe I've been using for the last year is one using the inverse method of lamination I found on Chef Eddy Van Damme's site *here* Inverse puff pastry had always seemed a bit daunting to me in that one laminates the the butter over the dough, rather than enclosing the butter block in the dough then rolling and folding the butter in. I've discovered that inverse puff isn't any more difficult to make than the standard version as long as I'm careful with the temperatures of the dough and butter block, keeping the dough in the 55F-60F range and the butter block slightly colder in the 50-55F range, the aim being to have both components at roughly the same level of consistency for easy laminating. The butter that I use is a local product that's available in the supermarket, not the European style butter that Chef Eddy recommends. Because of the local butter's high water content it needs to be mixed with 40% flour first before shaping into the block prior to laminating. The piece of puff I had wasn't very large but I thought I had enough to make a dozen +/- butterfly cookies or papillons, something I haven't made in ages, requiring a look at Healy & Bugat's “Mastering the Art of French Pastry” to refresh my memory on the procedure.

Procedure as follows: 

Dust the work surface and the pastry generously with sugar and give the dough two turns/ single folds and rest it for 30 minutes in the fridge. 

Roll the dough out to a 6” width and a whatever length you like rectangle, and to a thickness of 3/16ths on a sugar dusted counter to keep the dough from sticking. 

Trim the edges so that the dough is square on all corners then cut the dough in three equal size squares. If the dough is a little short to divide equally just roll it out till it's the right size.

With a rolling pin press down on the center of one square to form an indentation along the length of it. Brush the indent with beaten egg and stack the 2nd square on top, repeating the indentation and brushing with egg. Finally add the last square and indent it but don't brush with egg. Lightly roll along the stacks length to seal the stack and trim with a sharp knife if necessary to square it up on all sides. 

Place the stack in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. After resting cut the stack perpendicular to the indentation in 1/2” strips. Pinch the center of each strip together and holding each end give it a half twist. Place the strip on a parchment lined baking sheet and press the center of the strip onto the paper. Gently spread the 3 strips on each side apart equally and repeat the procedure for the remaining cookies, spacing them 3” apart. Rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Note: oven temperatures and times will vary per individual ovens. 

For baking, the recommended temperature from the book is preheat to 425F and lower to 400F after the cookies have gone in the oven. The first batch I baked over-caramelized and were too dark, still quite edible but not attractive. For the second batch I lowered the preheat to 385F and then 365F once the cookies were in. After 10 minutes check the cookies for colour, rotate the pan and continue baking for 8-10 minutes, checking the colour frequently. When the colour becomes medium golden and the cookies have partially set, flip the cookies over with a spatula and continue baking until the sugar is evenly caramelized and the pastry is baked through. Remove to a wire rack and cool thoroughly.

Crunchy, buttery, and sweet with caramel I wouldn't have had any problem eating them all myself. My conscience prevailed however and I took most of them over to our son and daughter in-law's to share. Being the busy new parents that they are they don't get too much time to bake for themselves and the Papillons were happily received by them both. Our Grandson isn't quite ready to start eating puff pastry yet, much as he'd be willing to try, but I'm looking forward to the time when he and I can have a day in the kitchen and do some baking together. 

Best wishes to all and a Happy Easter,



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