The Fresh Loaf

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Franko's blog

Franko's picture

Like many members of this forum I have a lengthy to do list of breads and pastries that I intend to make at some point in time. Making a focused effort at baguettes has been on this list for far too long and I decided late last year it was time to finally do something about it. Baguettes aren't my first choice for a daily bread because they stale so quickly, but they are great to serve just a few hours out of the oven when we have friends or family over for dinner. I've never been truly satisfied with the results of the baguettes I've made in the past, primarily because of the poor crumb, but shaping and slashing were factors that needed attention as well .

Off more than on over the last few months, this project has taken longer than expected for a number of reasons, work, vacation, etc, but over the last few weeks I've managed to get back on track with it and make what I feel is some progress. The formula I was using was based on Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette from his book “Bread”, (pg 101) the one minor change to it initially being my addition of a small percentage, (6%) of either light rye or whole grain spelt to add a bit more overall flavour. After two mixes following JH's procedure the crumb was slightly better than any previous result I'd had but nothing close to what I'd hoped for.

 JH's procedure doesn't include an autolyse in it and I wondered if that might help loosen things up a bit. The next mix was given a 60 minute autolyse which did help open the crumb, showing a few more holes of various sizes, still not as many as I wanted, but better. The white flour I use is from a company here in B.C. , Anita's Organics which is milled from spring wheat and has a protein content of 13.3% with a fairly strong gluten level. I felt this was the most likely suspect for the crumb/hole problem I was having and my suspicion was confirmed after reading Hamelman's section on wheat, specifically paragraph 2-page 36 of “Bread” where he says (paraphrase) that high gluten flours (from spring wheats) in general do not support the long fermentation associated with hearth breads. For better or worse this is the type of flour I had and somehow I needed to find a way to make it work as best as I could. Thinking back to some breads I've made using this flour that had a wide open crumb I remembered that they'd either had a long retarded ferment or high levels of preferment included in the mix. The bread that came to mind first was Hamelman's Pain Rustique, a bread that uses 50% of it's flour in prefermented form and has a crumb with lots of random sized holes and excellent flavour. Since I wanted to avoid an overnight fermentation if I could, I decided for the next mix that I'd increase the poolish from the 33% I'd been using till now, up to 50% and see if that helped in generating more holes. It was one of those classic Aha! moments when I took a slice off the top of a loaf from this new mix and found holes...lots of nice holes! This is better I thought, but just to be sure I did another bake later that week using the same formula and procedure as the last one.

The crumb result was basically the same but neither of these loaves or the ones from the previous bake (top 2 photos) had the right look to them, which I chalked up to not having developed the dough enough during mixing and through bulk fermentation. I'd been doing just light stretch and folds in the bowl during bulk fermentation thinking it would be enough but clearly a better workup was what the dough needed. 

For this latest bake (pictured in the photos below) the dough was kneaded on the counter till smooth and slightly springy before going into a 75 minute bulk fermentation with 2 full stretch & folds on the counter at 30 & 60 minutes. This made things a little easier for molding, and allowing me to get a slightly tighter skin on the shaped dough making for cleaner slashes than on the previous loaves.

 The crumb turned out nicely, creamy, soft, and porous, and it tastes great. Lots of the toasty, nutty wheat flavour that people crave in a baguette, and highlighted by the small percentage of whole spelt included in the mix. The crust has good colour, splinters when sliced and crackles loudly when eaten. I can't ask for more than that.

Ham Hock Terrine with fresh baguette, grainy mustard and cornichons.

Recipe for the terrine from Raymond Blanc's recipe site 

This project is now at the point I can say I'd be happy to serve this loaf to my family and friends, but know that when it comes to bread making these projects are seldom ever finished for me. I'd like to try gradually increasing the level of preferment over a series of bakes to see if I can find the sweet spot, assuming it exists, that will yield a slightly more porous crumb than the one above and with enough dough strength left for proper molding. For the immediate future though I'm planning on making something completely different. As enjoyable and interesting as this project has been, I desperately need to get back to eating bread that has something more substantial to it than flour, water, salt and air. 

Below is copy of the formula that was used, as well as a link to a scalable version of it, and one more link to a detailed description of the procedure for making the baguettes.

Cheers to all,


Link to scalable version of the formula HERE

Link to procedure for Baguettes with Poolish and 6% Spelt HERE

Baguettes with Poolish & 6% Spelt   
Bread Flour100.00%201
ripen 12-16hrs @ 70F  
Final Dough  
Bread Flour90.00%181
Spelt Flour-One Degree Organics12.50%25
Sea Salt4.10%8
DDT- 76F Scale at 340 gr.
Total Formula  
Total Flour100.00%407
Bread Flour93.82%382
Spelt Flour-One Degree Organics6.18%25
Sea Salt2.03%8
Total % and Weight176.78%720
Prefermented Flour 49.36%


Franko's picture

Tom/ recently posted  *here* about a new organic sprouted whole wheat flour he'd run across in his local market that is produced by One Degree Organic Foods. I was delighted to learn that One Degree OF is located here in British Columbia Canada, not far from Vancouver in the city of Abbotsford. One of our local supermarkets carries two of their products, the Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat flour that Tom featured in his post, and an Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour milled from grain grown in Lumby, located in the Southern Interior of B.C.

A rare treat indeed to have a locally grown grain to use and since I haven't baked with spelt in over a year the decision was an easy one to make. When I think of spelt breads, particularly100% ones as these loaves are, the nutty flavour of the grain is what first comes to mind, and not far behind that is the fragile nature of the dough due to it's lower protein content. What spelt flour lacks in gluten strength, aptly described by as wheat's “poorer cousin” is more than made up for by its earthy, well rounded flavour that compliments a wide variety of toppings and accompaniments. Toasted almonds and dates were included in this mix along with honey and a touch of apple-cider vinegar. Increasing the dough's acidity just a little goes a long way toward strengthening a dough made from spelt or durum flour, both of which typically have low or poor quality gluten content. Although the One Degree flour shows a protein content of 13.3%, how much of that is gluten based isn't clear. If this mix had included a sour leaven of some kind I wouldn't have bothered with the vinegar but since I was using a spelt pate fermentee as the preferment I decided to hedge my bets by including it. Between the preferment, vinegar, or the flour itself I'm not certain which contributed more to the overall strength of the dough but it resulted in a mix that showed very little of the tearing so common with high ratio spelt doughs.

The loaves took on a rich brown colour during baking and I detected a whiff of the cider vinegar as it baked off but no evidence of it upon tasting. The primary flavours are those of the grain and the toasted almonds accented by a touch of sweet from the dates and honey. The crumb is fairly soft and moist with a very nice texture compared to other 100% Spelt breads I've made. Overall I'm quite happy with the final results of this bake and the performance of One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour.

Best Wishes,



Other than the six hours it took for the pate fermentee to dome, indicating it was ready for final mixing, this is a relatively quick bread to make.

DDT 76-78F/24-25C 

  • No autolyse needed, just dump all the ingredients except the fruit and nuts in the bowl and mix by hand until the dough comes together. Knead for a few minutes (less than 5) until the dough begins to build strength and becomes smooth. If the dough begins to tear stop kneading and let it rest for 5 minutes before resuming.

  • Cover the dough and rest it for 15 minutes, then press it out to a disk and cover with the fruit and nuts. Fold the dough over and slowly work the fruit/nut mixture into the dough until evenly dispersed. The dough has 2-3 stretch and folds during bulk fermentation so any clumps of fruit or nuts tend to even out by the time it's completed BF.

  • This dough had 70 minutes BF time at 76F/24C with a stretch & fold at 20 and 40 minutes. After bulk was complete the dough was rounded lightly and rested for 15 minutes before scaling at 740 grams per loaf, then shaped and put for a final rise of 60-70 minutes. 

  • Preheat the oven and stone to 465F/240C. Watch the final proof very carefully during the last 20 minutes as an all spelt dough can over-proof quite quickly. When the dough has a little less than doubled remove it from the proofing environment and let it air dry for a few minutes before slashing.

  • With preferred steam system in place and oven vent blocked, slash the loaves as desired and place in the oven. Lower the temperature to 440F/226C and bake for 10 minutes, remove steam system, vent the oven and bake with convection on for a further10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 430F/221C and bake for a final 15 minutes, rotating the loaves if necessary for even colouring.

  • Check the loaves to ensure full baking either by tapping the bottom for a hollow sound or use a thermometer looking for an internal temperature of 206-210F/96-98C. Cover and cool on a rack for 6 hours before slicing.

Link to working spreadsheet *here*

Franko's picture

It's around this time of year that I tend to make rye bread of some kind more often than not. For me the flavour and texture of a hearty rye bread helps to dispel at least some of the cold and damp days we have and will continue to have for the next few months here on Vancouver Island.


This latest rye bread started out to be Dan Leader's Light Silesian Rye from his book “Local Breads” which he discovered on a visit to the Czech Republic. After entering his formula into my spreadsheet format to have a better look at it I began tinkering around with it a bit... and then a little bit more...

Well I tinkered so much that in the end I wound up with something quite different from Leader's original formula. My initial intention was to make just a few minor adjustments to it by slightly increasing the rye content, adjusting the salt, and hydration levels, but the more I played with the formula the higher the percentage of rye became. It seems that what I really had in mind was the type of rye bread that has a smooth, and very even cell structure to the crumb, reminiscent of one I had in Prague two summers ago.

That bread was almost certainly a mass produced commercial product which I probably wouldn't find as tasty today as I remember it being then, but in fact the texture of it was what I enjoyed more than anything. The bread was what a street vendor used to stack thick slices of smoky ham on top of, glorious huge hams that had been cooked over the wood fire right next to the stand, then sliced from the bone to order. The bread did such a good job of holding the ham, mustard, pickles and fried onions together in a coherent package as we wandered around Old Town Square, it was really the perfect medium for a big juicy sandwich like that.

 Leader's formula comes in at roughly 18% rye content, and confident this wouldn't give me the texture I wanted it was eventually increased to 68%. With the higher percentage of rye some extra water would be needed to achieve the smooth even crumb I was hoping for so the hydration was bumped to 76% over the original formula's 67%. The commercial yeast included in Leader's formula was turfed in favour of an all rye sour leaven and an addition of non-diastatic malt powder was added for flavour and colour. Since I like seeds in my rye bread, toasted pumpkin seeds were added to the mix along with wee bit of ground caraway to round things out. For a high ratio rye bread like this the procedure would need to change as well, primarily with the bulk ferment and final proof times and temps being warmer and shorter respectively than those for a lighter ratio rye bread. Mixing time went from 10-12 minutes down to 5-6, ample time to develop the gluten in the 32% ratio of bread flour used. Not even close to Mr Leader's formula any more, but I do have him to thank for the inspiration, and for reminding me of the bread and the wonderful sandwich I enjoyed with it that afternoon in Prague.

Although I didn't manage to get exactly the type of smooth and even crumb I'd hoped for, it came fairly close. The flavour is mildly sour, with a pleasant after taste accented by the toasted seeds and hint of caraway. I can't say for sure how much influence the malt had on the flavour but tend to think it contributed to the overall balance of it.

I'm kicking myself now for not putting a ham in the smoker to have with this loaf but I'll make do with some smoked ham from the deli and make a note to self for next time.

Link to spreadsheet *here*

Link to procedure *here*




Franko's picture

Yesterday I had the chance to do a bake of Eric's Favorite Rye following Floyd * Baking Eric's Favorite Rye * and Andy's suggestion *here* that it would be a nice way to honor the memory of Eric Hanner. Eric was a great guy and friend so of course I wanted to make any sort of contribution I could towards that. Reading through Eric's formula and procedure for the first time in quite a while I remembered why I'd never baked his bread before....caraway...lots of it! Nevertheless, this bread was going to be made, I'd just dial the spice back a bit to suit my tastes. Other than that I wanted to stick as closely as possible to the original formula and procedure and produce what I feel is a classic deli style rye bread. In the original post Eric leaves no doubt as to how he intended to use the bread, namely for corn beef sandwiches and I'm sure his home cured and smoked pastrami as well. I can tell you that now I've made the bread and made a CB sandwich from it I'd be hard pressed to come up with a better bread to use for stacking warm slices of corned beef on top of. In fact I couldn't. This is incredibly tasty bread, with a soft but slightly chewy crumb and crust, and loaded with flavour from the preferment, the onions, and yes the caraway. I like  Eric's Rye so much I've decided it will be the bread for my corned beef and pastrami sandwiches from here on. 

Thanks Pal!




A few notes about the formula (below) and procedure:

As mentioned I stayed as close as possible to the original formula and procedure, trying to make the bread as Eric outlined in the link above. There were a few minor exceptions however that I want to mention.

  • Because of scheduling the preferment was left for longer than the 8 hours indicated in the original procedure, going for 12 hours total. The bread didn't taste overly sour to me, just slightly tangy.

  • The onions used were fresh, slightly caramelized on low heat in a covered pan. I don't have anything against dried onions, I simply didn't have any on hand.

  • Before the final mix the bread flour and water had a 40 minute autolyse.

  • The caraway was reduced to 1.8% from 2.5%

  • The baking temps and time varied slightly in that I started the bake (with steam) at 450F/232C for 10 minutes, reducing the heat to 385F/196C for the remaining 25 minutes. The bread was baked to an internal temperature of 210F/98.8C.

Other than the autolyse I can't think of anything that would improve upon the original procedure that Eric wrote up, so as a good friend of mine says "not for changing!"


Link to working spreadsheet *Here*





Franko's picture


In the first week of October we began a complete renovation of our kitchen with the idea that should the local real estate scene ever return to a seller's market, an up to date kitchen would be necessary if we wanted to list the house and draw acceptable offers for it. The other side of the coin was that if we opted to stay put, at least we'd have a kitchen that would serve us well for the next 10 to 15 years. The reno took just a shade over 4 weeks to finish, the end result we feel was well worth the inconvenience of doing without a kitchen for what seemed a very long month.

 Before we sold the old oven I managed to get one last bake in to tide me over for at least some of the time while the renos were in progress. Jeffrey Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough from “Bread”, my go to loaf of late, produced two good loaves for me and I was happy to see the old oven go out on a high note of sorts. I love the classic flavour of this bread with it's subtle rye and sour notes giving it just the right flavour to enjoy as Hamelman suggests, everyday.

 That oven turned out a lot of bread, pastries and cakes over the years and had always preformed reliably for my wife and I so I was a little sorry to see it go...but only just a little. The new oven we selected is from the same Sears Kenmore line as the previous one but with a convection function and a few other whistles and bells included that the old one didn't have. Besides having convection, one of the features this oven has is a top range of 550F/287C whereas the old one topped out at 500F/260C. For pizza and some breads I like having the option of using the 500F+ temps for a short period to maximize the jump and/or for crust colouration.

 The very first item baked in the new oven was a pizza made from approx. 220-250 grams of dough that went in at 525F, lowered to 460F and baked in convection mode. The pie baked off in just under 9.5 minutes coming out with a little char around the edges but leaving the bottom crust an even coloured light brown, something I rarely managed in the old oven and never in less than 10 minutes.

This looks promising I thought, but knew I'd have to keep a close eye on things until I became familiar with this much stronger oven.

A few days and feedings later my rye starter had come back to life after it's month long hibernation and  put to work making a levain for another loaf of Vermont Sour. As with the pizza I started the bake at 525F but kept it going for the first 10 minutes (with steam) before lowering the heat to 440F with convection on and removing the steam tray. I stayed in the kitchen for the entire time monitoring the bake as it progressed and it's a good thing I did. The loaf coloured up rapidly, probably 5-10 minutes faster than what I'm used to. I found I had to lower the heat down to 400F and change it's position several times to get an even colour during the final 10 minutes while the internal temp of the loaf came up to 210F. In total the entire bake time came to 40 minutes for the 1,050 gram loaf, roughly the same time it took the old oven to do at a steady average temperature of 460-470F.


For the next bake I wanted to try something different and settled on Hamelman's Potato & Roasted Onion Bread from “Bread”, one I've been meaning to make but hadn't gotten around to yet. It seems I've been missing out on a real treat for all this time. The bread is a joy to eat, very moist for a lean bread and with great flavour from the roasted potatoes, and with roasted leeks that I substituted for the onions. I've made two of these loaves in the boule shape so far, attempting to get the Fendu style loaves shown in photo # 12 of “Bread” with no success. I've come to the conclusion that the doughs I've made are too large for the brotform I have. Next time I'll try it in my large banneton and hopefully the extra room will allow the crease to open up the way it should.

Earlier in the week I'd made some Maple and Black Pepper cured bacon that I thought would go nicely with toasted Potato Leek Bread in a BLT....

and it turns out I was right! 

The recipe below is my adaptation of Jeffrey Hamelman's Potato Bread with Onions -Pg- 120 of “Bread A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes 

Link to Procedure *Here* 


There is another bread that I've made recently but I think I'll save it for another post, this ones become an epic. 

Cheers to all and a very happy Thanksgiving Day to all my fellow TFL members in the US















Franko's picture

Despite a late start we've had glorious summer weather this year here on Vancouver Island and the South Coast of British Columbia, with only a few cloudy days and no rain to speak of. Our garden has done extremely well as a result, producing Red Fife wheat, golden flax, quinoa, garlic, onions, potatoes, all kinds of herbs, raspberries and buckets of cherry tomatoes just to name a few. But by far our biggest crop is blueberries.

At the back of our yard we have two medium sized blueberry bushes that seem to produce more and more berries every year no matter how poor the growing season. That two average sized bushes can produce such a staggering amount of fruit so consistently just amazes my wife and I, challenging us to find ways to make use of them all before the cold weather sets in. I think we still have a bag or two of berries near the bottom of our freezer left over from last year's harvest. I'm not sure because now there are even more bags of berries from this year stacked on top of what's already in the freezer. If we don't use those up before next summer it may be a while before the ones below see the light of day.

Between the two of us we've made tarts,

 pies, jams, sauces, syrup and salsa, put them in salads, cereal, over ice cream, lemon sorbet and yogurt. I think Marie even blended some into her cassis that she makes every year from our black currant harvest, another one of our bumper crops. Naturally I've been planning to use them in a bread of some kind but have been holding off till the berries were at their peak of size and flavour. After checking them out this past weekend I decided it was time to get something going in that direction, deciding on a brioche loaf for this bake. The formula I used is from Advanced Bread & Pastry for “Brioche with Prefermented Dough”pg. 363 because of it's relatively lean butter content of 28%. Having made this dough before, I like that it's easy to handle and that it has enough butter in the formula to carry other flavours such as fruit or nuts without dominating the overall flavour of the finished product. The preferment helps to keep the doughs sweetness in balance, making this formula a good one to use for savoury applications as well. Blueberries being as delicate as they are, a very soft dough is my preference for incorporating them into the final dough with as little rupturing of the fruit as possible. Blue dough isn't particularly attractive or appetizing to me, so I try as best I can to be very gentle when mixing in the berries to keep smearing to a minimum. While it's no guarantee to avoiding the dreaded blue dough, if you're careful the crumb will have two distinct colours to it rather than a uniform and ghastly shade of blue.

An hour before I planned to mix, the blueberries went into the freezer to firm up, making them easier to incorporate into the dough once it was mixed without them breaking apart completely. This is a very easy brioche dough to make by hand because of the small amount of butter it calls for, but I use a mixer for brioche dough regardless simply because it's quicker to clean up afterwards. Once the dough was about 90% mixed it was finished off by hand and allowed to relax for a few minutes before gently stretching it out and laying the berries evenly over the surface, then gathering the dough and frozen berries up with a plastic scraper and slowly working them into the dough by hand until they were evenly distributed. With this mix I didn't follow the AB&P process exactly, deciding to bulk ferment at room temperature for 1 hour instead of putting it into the fridge directly after mixing. I also left it overnight for a retarded ferment of 12 hours rather than the recommended 30 minutes before shaping and final rise for scheduling reasons. The dough seemed quite healthy and I wasn't overly concerned about how it would preform after it's overnight stay in the fridge, in fact I feel that the flavour and crumb result is notably better than previous bakes I've done of this dough when I've followed the process. The 825 gram dough was divided in three, and very lightly rounded on a floured counter, placing the pieces in a 4.5x 9.5 inch Pullman tin for a final proof of 2.5 hours. The loaf came up the tin about 3/4 of the way before I decided it was ready, but could have/should have left it another 10-15 minutes longer due to a very minor break on one side. Brushed with egg wash and baked in a 385F oven for 25 minutes, then at 360F for 10 minutes and finally left to cool in a dead, open door oven for a further 15 minutes. The loaf jumped well and browned up nicely, just as a brioche should, filling the house with a wonderful aroma of eggs, butter, caramel, and cooked fruit.

 After 5 hours of cooling I took the first slice, finding the crumb to be soft and even, with a slightly open cell structure for a rich dough, and a pale yellow colour to set off the deep blue of the berries. The flavour was what I'd hoped for, just rich and sweet enough to compliment the delicate flavour of the blueberries but still with all the flavour qualities of a typical brioche.

 The bread goes well with roast chicken or turkey, the photo above showing it toasted on a plate with smoked turkey breast, Port Salut cheese, sliced pear and a green salad. Before it's all gone though I'll have to try it as French Toast with some recently made sage and ginger breakfast sausage and a drizzle of blueberry syrup. 

I thought I might as well include a few photos of some San Fransisco Sourdoughs made back in August that used fresh milled Red Fife flour from Cliff Leir's Fol Epi Bakery in Victoria. The loaves didn't quite achieve the profile I'd hoped for but the exceptional flavour of the Fol Epi flour more than made up for that. I found the flour to be quite a bit softer than other Red Fife flours I've used in the past, requiring less hydration than the formula from “Advanced Bread & Pastry” called for. Perhaps a fourth set of stretch and folds would have helped for a higher profile but for a first time using this high quality flour I was quite happy with the loaves it produced. A stop at Cliff's bakery for more of his lovely flour will be at the top of my shopping list next time we're down in Victoria.



Franko's picture

Semolina Levain with Roasted Garlic, Black pepper and Provolone

Incorporating black pepper into a bread is something I've wanted to try for a while now, finally deciding last week to have a go at it. What I wanted was a bread for grilling to use for bruschetta, with black pepper, roasted garlic and cheese meant to provide a bit more zing than your standard white Italian of French loaf offers. Using Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe for Semolina Levain from "Bread" as my starting point I took my best guess as to what percentages of pepper, garlic and cheese to add to his formula to achieve the flavour I was looking for. In the end I think I came pretty close, although next time I'll cut back on the black pepper just a touch and use either a sharp, dry aged Provolone or Pecorino Romano for a more assertive cheese flavour.

NOTE: Formula below and in the link have been adjusted accordingly.

After the loaf had cooled down and the first slice tasted, I was slightly disappointed with the flavour since neither the cheese or roasted garlic came through as much as I'd hoped for, although there was no mistaking the presence of the black pepper, every so often hitting a pocket of it that definitely got my taste buds attention. Fortunately my disappointment didn't last long once I'd fired up the BBQ and grilled a few slices (brushed with olive oil) over a bed of hot coals.

The subdued garlic and cheese flavour from my previous cold tasting were now right up there with the black pepper, creating a very good balance of flavour with the durum and wheat flours of Hamelman's base formula. Without the high ratio of durum flour used in the mix I think the flavour and crumb texture would not have been as good as one made with standard wheat flour. Durum flour has such a unique and subtle flavour to it and the crumb seems to retain moisture better than standard wheat flour, possibly why the flavours released as well as they did once the bread had been heated. Just a theory, but something I've noticed with high ratio durum doughs I've made in the past. At any rate, the grilled slices were perfectly suited to pairing with the fresh taste of chopped tomatoes and basil from our garden that I made for the bruschetta topping. My best recommendation for using this bread is to either toast, grill, or fry it in some fashion to really let the flavours come to their best. Served warm to dip in EVOO, mixed with egg and cheese for a savoury [Strata] or simply to make croûtons with, just a few of the possibilities that come to mind for enjoying this bread at it's best.


Extra fancy durum flour can sometimes be difficult to find and costly, depending upon where you live. Durum Atta Flour could be substituted for X Fancy Durum, or even a 100% hydration, coarse semolina soaker used at a 20-40% ratio would likely make a good substitute to use in this formula.


The very best of the Summer to all,


 Link to working spreadsheet [here]

Procedure for Semolina Levain with Roasted Garlic, Black Pepper and Provolone


Roasted Garlic Paste:

Make the roasted garlic paste the day before the final mix and keep covered in the refrigerator. Two heads of garlic should be adequate for a single loaf of 1.150K. Roast the garlic at 325F in an oven proof dish with a 1/4 C of water, covered in foil for 30-45 minutes or until the garlic is very soft. Cut in half and squeeze the paste through a strainer or run through a food mill to ensure that the paste is smooth.

NOTE: This a method for garlic paste that I've been using since first reading of it in Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's book "Charcuterie" [ ] The addition of water produces a braised paste that has fewer of the bitter flavours encountered in a typical roasted garlic preperation. 


Mix all the ingredients for the levain to a temperature of 70-71F/21C and let sit for 12-15 hours. 

Final Dough:

Scale out the black peppercorns and roast at 350F/176C for 15-20 minutes. The peppercorns should have mild to medium aroma to them. Allow to cool, then crush with a mortar and pestle or a heavy pan. Cut half the cheese into 1/4" dice, shred the remaining cheese and toss all of it with the crushed black pepper. 

Add the water to the Semolina flour and All purpose and autolyse for 40 minutes.

Add the levain and combine with the flours thoroughly, then add the salt and garlic paste and knead to a medium development. 

Allow the dough to relax for 5 minutes then gently stretch it out to a disk. 

Spread the cheese and pepper mix evenly over the dough. Fold the sides of the dough disk to the center then fold the dough in half and slowly knead the cheese/ peppercorn mix into to the dough using wet hands, until thoroughly combined. DDT of 76-78F/24-25C 

Bulk ferment at 76-78F/24-25C for 90-120 minutes, giving the dough 2 stretch and folds at 45 and 90 minutes. 

When bulk fermentation is complete round the dough lightly, dust with flour and cover with a cloth or plastic, resting for 15 minutes before shaping. 

Shape as desired and begin the final proof at 76-78F/24-25C for 75-90 minutes. The dough should spring back slowly when pressed with a finger.


Bake with steam in a 475F/246C oven with the vents blocked for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes vent the oven and remove the steaming apparatus. After 20 minutes rotate the loaf for even colouring and continue baking for a further 15-25 minutes. Check the colouring during this time and if necessary adjust the oven temperature to prevent the loaf from over browning. Baking times will vary depending on the weight of the loaf but a 1 to 1.5K should take between 35-45 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 210F/98.8C. At this point remove the loaf from the oven, wrap in cloth and cool on a rack for 8-10 hours before slicing.


NOTE: Use the bread toasted, grilled, or fried for best flavour.


Franko's picture

The photo above is of historic [Watson's Mill] located on the banks of the Rideau River in Manotick Ontario, just a few kilometers south of Ottawa. The history of this 1860's heritage mill goes into greater detail in this [Wikipedia] entry for anyone who may be interested. My wife and I had a chance to visit the mill in late June while we were back in Ontario for a few days of sightseeing and to attend our niece's wedding. I'd done a little research in the weeks prior to our trip and discovered that Ontario has a good number of old mills that have been preserved over the years,Watson's Mill being one of the few (or only one) that still produces flour. We'd driven down from Ottawa that Wednesday morning having spent the day before on a fascinating tour of our national capital's historical sites and museums. We arrived at the mill about 30 minutes before it was due to open so put the time to good use exploring the area and taking a few exterior shots of the mill and it's lovely surroundings on this sunny, blue sky, perfect summer morning.

 The mill offers the option of a guided tour, or if you prefer you can just browse around on your own. We decided to do our own thing since every section of the mill has information boards posted explaining how the different stages of the milling process take place and the machinery employed. We started out on the lowest level where the river runs under the mill to power the turbines that run the mill are located, then worked our way up floor by floor to see how the grain progresses through the mill using a belt and gear driven conveyor system.The grain travels up and down several times over 3 floors with various parts of the process taking place at each stage. [ Here is a link] that explains the process in better detail than I'm willing to get into here but the illustration doesn't come close to describing the elaborate set up of all the various milling components and how they function together as one large machine. I would loved to have seen the mill while it was running to get a better sense of this, but production is limited to one day a week (Sunday) during tourist season.

The last stop on our mill tour was the gift shop to pick up a couple of bags of the freshly milled flour to take home for myself and a friend.

They had an open bag of the flour available that one could reach in and sample the texture of before purchasing, which of course I did. The flour is milled from Ontario Red Fife wheat, a much softer variety than the prairie grown Red Fife that I'm familiar with and has a very silky feel to it, reminding me more of a whole wheat pastry flour than a bread flour. Just around the time I started asking questions of the lady behind the counter regarding the flour, one of the millers happened to stop by for a break from his morning run and was quickly directed over to me. He told me that they typically will sift off 30% of the bran and re-mill it back into the batch, which along with the softer nature of the grain would account for it's fine texture. He went on to assure me that the flour does make very good bread and hoped I enjoyed working with it. Much as I would have liked to have stayed and chatted with him a while longer, we had to be on our way as we still had a long drive ahead of us to get to our destination of Port Hope on the shores of Lake Ontario where the wedding was to take place. 

When we arrived back home from Ontario and had unpacked and settled in I began looking through some of my books for a recipe to use the Watson's Mill flour in, deciding to try Dan Leader's Poilane inspired Whole Wheat Sourdough from “Local Breads” that uses an 80% ratio of whole wheat in the formula. The first mix didn't produce the kind of results I was after mainly because of my impatience in wanting to get some bread made that I could have for sandwiches that week. The levain I'd made using the Watson's was extremely lively but the dough hadn't been developed sufficiently, nor had the bulk ferment been long enough for a full and even fermentation.

The loaf made the following week was better developed and fermented, with a mild sour flavour and slightly sweet background to it, that if I hadn't known better would have guessed contained some honey or sugar in the mix. Generally, I thought the loaf was OK but somehow it wasn't hitting any high notes for me either.

By the time I was ready to mix a third loaf using the Watson's flour the appeal of a high ratio whole wheat bread had paled and instead I chose to make a basic country loaf vaguely similar to Chad Robertson's Tartine bread. Starting with an all white flour 100% levain fermented for 8 hours, it was then converted to a stiff 50% levain for an additional 8 hours before adding it to a mix of 83/17 percent White AP to WW flour. 

This produced a bread that fell right into my preferred flavour range with the kind of medium sour tang I love, complimented by the same hint of sweetness noted in the previous loaf. The contrast of handling and flavour characteristics between the Ontario grown Red Fife and Saskatchewan RF is significant in my opinion. The soft Ontario flour requires a much more aggressive approach when it comes to developing a high WW ratio dough during the initial kneading, with several stretch and folds needed throughout the first 90 minutes of bulk fermentation, while the prairie grown RF might need only one or two . In terms of flavour and fermentation the Ontario grown grain has a milder, sweeter profile to it than it's spicier, more herbal flavoured prairie cousin. Both flours ferment readily, producing very active and healthy leavens in short order, but lend distinctively different flavour nuances to the finished loaf. For the relatively small amount of Watson's Mill flour I have left remaining,this recipe or similar low ratio WW flour formulae...perhaps some scones as well, will be how it's used in order to stretch it out as much as possible, our next visit to Ontario a few years away.  Recipe for the Basic Country loaf [HERE] and Procedure is [HERE]

Best Wishes,


Franko's picture

Earlier this week while rummaging around in our local cookware store looking for unfluted French tart rings I spotted this nifty looking 18" long baguette style brotform.

I've seen them online in the past, never paying them much attention for some reason, but knew as soon as I picked this one up for a closer inspection I wouldn't be leaving the store without it. The idea of a dark, crusty loaf full of mixed grains and seeds contrasting with the white pattern of the brotform immediately came to mind rather than using it for a typical white baguette. While I continued my search for the tart rings I started considering possible recipe sources to use for the loaf I had in mind, thinking I'd likely find what I was looking for in Jan Hedh's “Swedish Breads & Pastries” or possibly Dan Lepard's “The Handmade Loaf“. After finally locating the one and only straight sided tart ring in the entire store, I drove home with the new purchases and immediately started going through my baking books looking for the type of bread I'd envisioned. Dan Lepard has a good looking formula for a Sunflower bread in his book that I almost went with, but it called for a levain and I'd already decided that I wanted to use a yeasted preferment of some kind for this loaf. As is often the case I found what I was looking for in Jeffrey Hamelman's “ Bread”. The two recipes I drew inspiration from were the Five Grain Bread with Pate Fermentee and his Sunflower Seed Bread with Pate Fermentee, on pages 129 and 131 of the book. Between the two, I opted for the higher percentage of pate fermentee he uses in the Five Grain Bread, swapped out the malt syrup used in his Sunflower Seed Bread for honey, and used an 80/10/10 combination of white AP flour, whole dark rye, and barley flour for the final mix.

 The percentages used in the initial formula came fairly close to giving me a workable mix, but needed a few adjustments for hydration, reflected in the formula below. The mix should be fairly slack, but not so much that developing it over the stretch and fold sessions becomes a matter of having to scrape it off the counter after the first S&F. The bread isn't as crusty as I'd hoped for, likely due to the higher percentage of honey used in the final mix, but I can live with that given the slightly sweet flavour and soft chewy texture of the crumb. For the next bake of this bread I'd like to include some of the   black currants we dehydrated last year in the mix to add a note of tart to the flavour profile. I'm sure this bread would lend itself to savoury additions such as cheese, fresh herbs or roasted onions as well. Formula and procedure included below. 

Best Wishes.


Procedure for Multi Grain Baguette with Seeds and Pate Fermentee 

  • Mix all ingredients for pate fermentee and let sit in a covered bowl for 14-16 hours @ 70F

  • Mix all ingredients for the multi grain soaker at same time as pate fermentee and leave in covered container at room temperature. 

  • Final dough:

    Mix the flours and pate fermentee with the water, adjusting for hydration if needed. Autolyse for 40 minutes. 

  • After autolyse is complete add the salt and instant yeast and mix till the dough is slightly developed. Add the grain soaker and honey and develop by either doing stretch and folds in the bowl or slap and folds on the counter until a slight windowpane can be achieved. The dough should be slightly sticky and moderately developed. 

  • Bulk ferment at 76F/24C for 90 minutes giving a full stretch and fold every 30 minutes.

  • After the last S&F round the dough to medium tight ball, cover and allow 15 -20 minutes for the dough to relax before shaping. 

  • Shape as a baguette or batard, and place seam side up in a floured brotform. 

  • Preheat the oven and baking stone to 485F/251C for 45-60 minutes prior to baking. 

  • Final rise of 45-50 minutes at 74F/23C covered with plastic sheet. 

  • Tip the loaf on to the underside of a parchment covered 18 ”/45cm long sheet pan or a peel if shaped as a batard. Score as desired, and slide loaf onto the preheated stone, with steam system in place and oven vents blocked. 

  • Bake at 485F/251C for 10 minutes, unblock the oven vents, remove the steam system and lower the heat to 465F/240C. 

  • Bake at 465F/240C for 10 minutes, rotating the loaf periodically for even colouring. Bake a further 10-15 minutes at 455F/235C or until the internal temperature is 210F/98.8C 

  • Turn the oven off, prop the door open slightly and leave the loaf in the oven for 20 minutes to cool gradually. 

  • Wrap the loaf in linen and place on a wire rack for 4-5 hours before slicing. 

  • NOTES: The bake times are based on a 680 gram loaf. Longer bake times will be needed for larger loaves. For transferring the loaf to the oven I recommend using parchment paper to avoid any likely sticking. The dough is soft and difficult to handle in a baguette shape. After the first 10 minutes of baking the parchment can be removed easily from beneath the loaf.

    Link to full sheet [HERE]



Franko's picture

 Back In early May I posted on a 40% Rye with a fermented soaker that I had to try and save because of miscalculating the hydration. The save was short lived unfortunately. After three days the crust became so tough from the extra flour added to the dough I couldn't eat it for fear of cracking a tooth. The formula has since been adjusted for hydration and two bakes of the bread have been done over the last few weeks with much better results than the original. The first loaf of the new mix worked out well, the dough consistency being what I expected, well hydrated but not to such an extent it was difficult to develop with a few stretch and folds. This time instead of baking it in a Pullman tin, the dough was shaped as a batard and placed in a brotform. The bread was to be part of a buffet table at my wife Marie's recent birthday party and I wanted it to look a little fancier than a regular tinned loaf. The loaf baked up nicely with a cracking crust, evenly open crumb, and well rounded flavour with a pleasant sour note from the soaker.

 One of our guests told me that she's usually not a fan of either rye bread or sourdoughs but that she enjoyed the flavour and texture of this bread more than any she'd had in the past. This was reassuring to hear and good to know that other people could enjoy it since to that point I'd been the only who'd tasted it. 

Last week we took a mini 3 day vacation out to the West Coast of Vancouver Island for a little R&R. On our way out to the coast we made a stop at Vancouver Island Grain and Milling, in the city of Port Alberni. VI Grain & Milling, a relatively new enterprise, came to my attention when Marie brought home one of their pamphlets from a local Farmer's Market. The proprietor, Wayne Smith runs the facility on his home and farm property located just a short drive from the main highway through town. At the moment the various organic grains he carries are kept in three, temperature and humidity controlled semi trailers situated near the front entrance of his property, with construction of a permanent storage facility getting under way this summer. One of the trailers has a small milling area equipped with four Nutrimills that he uses to produce retail size (2K) bags of flour for a number of health food stores here on the Island.

Wayne told me he doesn't anticipate installing a full size mill anytime soon as the investment cost and profit margin wouldn’t justify it at this point in the business, but that he'd be happy to mill whatever I needed on short notice. What a find! I asked him if he would mill up a slightly coarse rye flour for me while I was there, and a short time later Wayne presented me with 2 kilos of the best looking rye flour I think I've ever seen.

This is the flour I used in a second bake of the 40% rye. It preformed beautifully throughout the mixing, fermentation, shaping and baking, giving the bread an even better depth of flavour than the previous bake. The fermentation properties and flavour of fresh milled flour compared to pre-milled is so superior, I'm finally persuaded to invest in a flour mill for my home baking. Much as I'd prefer a stone mill similar to the type [Phil/Pips] uses, I've decided the size and cost of the impact type Nutrimill is a better fit for my storage and budget limitations right now. Once the existing stock of wheat and rye flour I already have has been used up I'll be looking forward to milling all my own flour with grains from Wayne Smith's VI Grain & Milling. 

The second bake of the 40% Rye was slightly different in that the soaker was all cracked rye instead of 50/50 cracked rye and wheat, but other than that the rest of the formula remained the same as per the previous mix. Since I've started using a fermented soaker in some of my sourdoughs I've discovered how much easier it is to fine tune the level of sour in the  loaf, rather than having to rely entirely on the levain to contribute the bread's sour component. Cracked or whole grains ferment quite slowly compared to flour, allowing for greater control over the strength of the sour flavour than I feel I have with a typical 12-18 hour levain. With the soaked grains adding texture to the loaf along with added flavour, it's proven to me to be an effective technique for enhancing the overall quality of the finished loaf.

After pulling the loaf from the oven, de-panning, and wrapping in linen, it was left to cool for 48 hours. This was difficult! I was tempted to take a slice the day after baking but I'm glad I gave it one more day. The crumb, after 48 hours had set completely, allowing for clean even slices to be taken, minus the usual residue left on the knife when I slice a rye bread after only 24 hours.

40% Rye with Fermented Soaker




Mix all of the flour needed for the levan with mature 100% rye starter and water and ripen at 70F/21C for 14-18 hours.

Cracked Rye and Wheat Soaker

Pour the boiling water over the two cracked grains and salt and allow to cool to ambient temperature. Add the mature 100% rye starter, mix thoroughly and ferment at 70F/21C for anywhere from 3-5 days depending on the level of sour flavour desired. Note: The amount of water needed may need to be adjusted to achieve a slightly loose consistency. The soaker is not hydration nuetral and should contribute a small amount of hydration to the final mix.

Final Mix (by hand)

Combine all the flour and water to a shaggy mass, adjusting for hydration, and autolyse for 40-60 minutes. Add the levan and incorporate thoroughly, then add the salt and honey and mix until the dough is moderately developed. Finally add the fermented soaker and continue mixing until the soaker is evenly distibuted throughout the mix. Turn the dough onto the table and use the slap and fold method until the dough is smooth and cohesive but not fully developed. DDT is 78F/25C.

Bulk ferment the dough for 60-90minutes at 78F/25C. Bulk fermentation times will vary and the dough should be monitored closley to ensure it receives adequate fermentation time.


Turn the dough onto the table and give it a stretch and fold. Cover the dough and rest it for 30 minutes. Shape as desired.

Final Proof and Bake

After shaping, give the dough it's final rise in a covered 78F/25C slightly moist environment for 45-60 minutes. Again it should be closely monitored, as times will vary. When the dough is slightly springy to the touch remove it from final proof to the counter allowing the skin to dry if necessary before slashing. Slash as desired and bake in a 500F/260 oven, vents blocked, with steaming apparatus in place, for 15 minutes. Unblock the vent, remove the steaming apparatus and lower the temperature to 465F/240C, continuing the bake for an additionl 45-55 minutes (lowering the temperature if needed to 450F/232C) until the internal temperature reaches 210F/98.8 . Cool on a rack for 24-48 hours, wrapped in linen, before slicing.  



The flavour is noticeably better than the previous bake, which I credit to the fresh milled rye flour from V.I. Grain & Milling used in the mix and certainly one the best flours I've had the pleasure of working with.





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