The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Franko's blog

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 Ciabatta is another one of those breads that falls into the category of ones I seldom make, much like the baguettes I made recently and posted on in the [last entry] to this blog. Having had varying degrees of success and failure over the years, along with the fact Ciabatta isn't a particularly useful bread for my day to day sandwiches, I tend to give it a pass when deciding what to bake next. The baguette making I've been doing over the last few weeks however has given me some insight into working with our higher protein (13.3%) Canadian AP flour to achieve results similar to Ciabatta made with softer US AP or European flours. A very gentle hand in mixing, using a scant amount of yeast and a lengthy (22-24 hour) overnight cold fermentation have produced some good results so far. 

When I say “a very gentle hand in mixing” I mean almost a no knead type of mixing, combining the ingredients just enough to form a loose dough, with a few stretch and folds in the bowl during the doughs initial 1.5 hour 76F fermentation, and finally a light S&F on the bench before going in the fridge for the retarded fermentation. The dough was extremely slack after mixing, gaining some slight but noticeable strength during the S&F sessions. After the dough's 23 hour session in the fridge it was tipped out onto a well floured counter and allowed to warm up for an hour before scaling and shaping. From here on the procedure used for shaping and final proof were much the same as per Hamelman's or Suas directions, the dough placed in floured linen and left to rise for 90 minutes in the B&T proofer at 76F-78F/24.4C-25.5C . In the past I've always used silicone paper to transfer the loaves to before peeling them onto the stone, deciding this time instead to dust the peel with cornmeal in order to have as little as possible come between the sole of the loaf and the 485F stone. After the first 10 minutes of baking the oven was vented and steaming apparatus removed. The loaves had jumped nicely as hoped and looked well on their way to becoming decent Ciabatta. The oven temperature was lowered to 465F and the loaves rotated periodically for even colouring over the next 25 minutes before removing to a rack for cooling. The great thing about these types of breads is they're ready to eat just hours after baking, unlike sourdough/levain style breads or rye breads that often need a minimum of 24-30 hours cooling to properly set the crumb before slicing and allow flavours to develop. The volume of these loaves is deceiving compared to it's weight, which started out at roughly 550 grams and ended up at 348 grams, resulting in what I'd describe as air, contained within a bubble of gelatinized starch and coagulated gluten. This particular mix of ciabatta literally steamed itself from the inside out, creating a shiny open crumb to a degree I've never managed in the past. The flavour of the bread is good, quite good in fact, considering that I normally prefer breads with a more assertive flavour than an all white wheat mix can offer. The biga preferment used in this mix, along with the extended cold ferment contribute a faint sour background note to the overall flavour profile, without which I don't think the bread would be nearly as enjoyable to eat as it is. The texture of the bread I feel is it's strong point. With a crunchy, fly away crust and chewy crumb from the gelatinized starch, it's ideal for layering other flavours on top of. A good olive oil, ripe tomatoes, sharp cheese and salami are some obvious choices that come to mind, but good with so many types of food it's not surprising Ciabatta has become as popular as it is over the last twenty years or more. 

Additional photos and links to formula and procedure below.

Note: We'll be away for a few days visiting the wild West Coast of Vancouver Island and unable to respond to any comments after tomorrow and until we return on Thursday.




Link to working spreadsheet for Ciabatta with Biga Formula [here]


Link to procedure text for Ciabatta with Biga [here]

Franko's picture


A few months back while I was browsing some Vietnamese food sites, particularly [this one] I found myself lingering on the pages featuring Bahn Mi sandwiches with all their various fillings, the most common being pork in some fashion, fried, grilled, pulled etc, as well as ones using chicken, prawns, crab, there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rules when it comes the protein component of the sandwich. However the only bread to use for making them is a typical French baguette, a bread I seldom bake at home, mainly because of their very short shelf life. I love a fresh baguette just a few hours out of the oven, but if I can't finish it in a day, well... not so much. Regardless, I was determined to make the bahn mi using a fresh baked demi baguette and deal with whatever leftovers remained as best as possible. The first item on the agenda was to pickle some thin slices of carrot and daikon for garnishing the sandwich. I wasn't in any rush so they had a good 3 weeks pickling away in the garage before I was happy with the flavour. The next item was to get in some practice actually mixing and hand shaping baguettes. We used to make our own baguettes in our shop years ago but they were always shaped using a molder so my hand skills definately needed some upgrading. I decided to use Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette from "Bread" for the first mix since I've always found his formulae so reliable. The results were just OK, a fact I chalked up more to my lack of experience with the process than Mr Hamelman's formula. The crumb was too tight, lacking the larger irregular sized holes that it should have, but it tasted allright, considering. I should note that the flour I was using was Canadian Organic AP flour, a generic brand from the local supermarket, but more about that later on. For the second batch I went with the poolish baguette formula from Michel Suas' "Advanced Bread & Pastry", which resulted in almost the same type of crumb as the one from "Bread". The shaping was better, it tasted fine, but not there yet. Next I tried my own version using a levain with 100% rye starter that had a great flavour, not like any French style baguette I'm familiar with, but tasty and with a better crumb structure than the previous two. Still not what I wanted for the bahn mi though.Not one of the demi baguettes made so far had been used to make a bahn mi with, instead used for sub sandwiches which I eventually grew tired of. The project was put on hold while I did some other things and in the meantime gave some thought to blending a softer (10%) Cdn. pastry flour with the AP to see if that might help things along. Our Canadian AP flour typically has a protein content of 13.3% so a little higher than U.S. AP flour, and higher still I'm guessing than French flour or whatever type is used in Vietnam. Based purely on speculation I used a 75/25% blend of AP and pastry flour in the next mix, this time using Steve B's Baguettes a la Bouabsa from his very good site [].

That the formula uses a straight mix, retarded for 21 hours, held a lot of appeal for me schedule wise, being able to mix it an hour or two before going to bed, and have it ready for shaping an hour after getting home from work the following day. The only changes I made to the formula/process were to substitute the AP/Pastry blend for Meunere Milanese flour in Steve's formula, and to give it two stretch and folds on the bench over it's one hour bulk ferment, rather than the 6-8 in the bowl every 20 minutes Steve calls for. This time all the pieces came together to produce something I was happy with, a light,crusty loaf with a toasted wheaty flavour and enough irregular holes in the crumb to do the sandwich justice.

Many thanks to SteveB for making this recipe available!

From here on it was easy. Two small pieces of pork shoulder, say 60-65 grams total, pounded very thin with a mallet or rolling pin, marinated in lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, and sweet dark soy sauce for 1-2 hours, dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried till crispy. Toast or grill the bread, spread with a lime flavoured mayonnaise, add the pork and sprinkle with course sea salt, top with fried shallots, a [Vietnamese Slaw], and fresh pea or sunflower shoots, a sprig or two of fresh coriander perhaps...and that's it!

Some of the items mentioned above such as the pickled carrot-daikon, and fried shallots aren't visible in the photo, but they're in there somwhere, just buried under everything else. 

I know it may sound like a lot of time and effort to go to just to make a sandwich, but take my trials and tribulations of making the right sort of demi baguette out of the equation and it's no more trouble than making many of the world's great sandwiches. Give or take a few minutes, it's right up there with the likes of such classics as the Rueben, Cubano, Croque Monsieur, Porchetta, Philly Cheese Steak and Lobster Roll, to name just a few. Now that I have a baguette formula and process that I'm happy with, this sandwich goes on my All Star list of street food to be made again.



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This is a Tarte Tatin made last weekend that I hadn't gotten around to posting till now. Tarte Tatin is a favourite of mine to make for it's delicious combination of baked apples and caramel, all sitting atop a base of buttery pastry. I've been making the tarte for many years, always using a shallow glass pie pan to bake it in. This time I decided to use an 8" cake pan to make it a bit higher to improve the overall appearance. Something else I altered from my usual method was to use an even richer caramel sauce for the coating rather than the simple sugar, water, and cream caramel sauce I've used in the past. The new sauce recipe is from Suas' "Advanced Bread & Pastry" which uses glucose, (I used corn syrup instead), sugar and water for the syrup, with the incorporation of butter and cream once the syrup has caramelized, a small change but with much better flavour and texture. The pastry used were some scraps of puff pastry I've had in the freezer for a few months. In fact it's having the scrap that quite often gives me the notion to make one of these in the first place as I can't think of a better way to use it up. If the scraps have been stacked together before freezing they should give adequate lift for this application. The apples and caramel tend to compact the pastry eventually anyway, so I've always thought using regular puff a bit wasteful for something like this, but no reason it couldn't be used. Once the sauce was made and had a chance to cool slightly it was poured into the pan and swirled around to coat the bottom and sides as evenly as possible, then thick slices of peeled Granny Smith apples were overlapped around the sides, interspersed with pieces of dried apricots to add some chew. The center of the pan was filled with more overlapping apple and apricot and a second layer was built on top of the first to fill the pan, pressing the apples down into the caramel. Out of personal preference I sprinkle some lightly toasted almond slices and cinnamon on top of the apples at this point for extra flavour and texture. The cold pastry was rolled out to slightly larger than the pan then draped over the apples, rolling the edge up all around and tucking it in around the sides. A steam vent was cut and the tart was baked at 350F/176C until the pastry was golden brown, then allowed to cool for 2 hours. After a 5-10 minute warming in a 200F/93C oven it was inverted onto a serving plate. If there is any residual sauce left on the plate it can be served with the tart immediately, or poured off and reserved to serve separately at a later time to keep the pastry from becoming soggy. Using the cake pan and the caramel sauce made a major improvement to the Tarte, resulting in a much better presentation and richer flavour compared to ones I've made previously.



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The Rye & Barley Mash Bread I've posted on previously has become one of my favourite breads over the last few months for it's pronounced sour and deep flavour characteristics, much of which I credit to the fermented mash/soaker of whole barley and rye kernels included in the mix. With this latest bake I thought I'd try a lighter version by reducing the rye to 40%, and go with organic white All Purpose for the remaining 60%, eliminating the barley flour altogether, but include a fermented soaker of cracked rye and wheat.

Using the Rye Barley Mash formula as a template I deleted a few things such as the altus and barley flour and changed some percentages to come up with something I thought might work. The soaker had been fermenting away in the Brod & Taylor proofer for 3 days developing a fairly tangy sour note to it indicating it was ready to use, so late Monday afternoon I mixed up the levain in preparation for the final mix the next morning. By the time the 1 hour autolyse was complete the levain had been fermenting for almost 14 hours and looked quite healthy, strong and ready for prime time. The mix proceeded along fine until I added the rye/wheat soaker, after which the mix wasn't looking so fine anymore. I realized the dough was going to be fairly wet because of adding extra water to the soaker to loosen it up a bit, but this was quite a bit wetter than I'd anticipated. Hmm, OK, I'll just get it into bulk ferment and do some stretch and folds in 30 minute increments to build some strength and see what happens.

I like a well hydrated dough but this one was so sloppy that even after 3 stretch and folds it showed very minimal development over the course of almost 1 1/2 hours bulk fermentation. Going back over the formula to see where I'd gone wrong I realized I'd neglected to adjust the overall hydration down from the original formula to compensate for the reduced rye flour and omitted barley flour. A few choice words were muttered, all directed at myself, none of which bear repeating here, but I knew at that point I'd need to make some corrections in order to save this bowl of goo and have it result in something resembling bread. An additional 60 grams of AP were added, adjusting for salt and adding 1+ grams of instant yeast to give it a boost. That little bit of extra flour made all the difference, turning a soupy mix into a very loose but workable dough that could be molded for panning. After rounding the dough it sat on the counter for 30 minutes before molding into a log for panning in a Pullman tin and final proof. After 2 1/4 hours in the proofer at 76F it had risen 3/4's of the way up the pan and appeared to be worth putting in the oven. I decided not to press my luck by scoring the loaf, opting for baking it with the lid on, hoping at the very least it would give the loaf a uniform shape. Lo and behold after almost 70 minutes in the oven, with gradual reductions in heat, it turned out a reasonable looking loaf considering how it started out.

I took the first slice today after letting it cool overnight, wondering what I'd find. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a moist, even and open crumb, with a nice crunchy crust as a bonus.

The flavour has a lot of similarities to the Rye Barley Bread, though not near as tangy as it was, but overall a very tasty loaf of bread. The formula has since been adjusted for hydration, but rather than share it now I'll test it out a few times until I'm confident it can be reproduced reliably and post the results and full formula at a later date for anyone interested in trying it out.

Seafood Sausage en Brioche

This is something I did a couple of weeks ago that turned out nicely and is absolutely delicious! Saucisson en Brioche is normally made using a savoury meat sausage wrapped in brioche dough but I wanted to try it using the recipe for 'Shrimp & Scallop Sausage' from Michael Ruhlman's book 'Ratio'. Making a seafood  sausage is considerably quicker and easier compared to one from pork or veal since no curing is needed, and all you need is a food processor and some plastic wrap to make a casing. The sausage, very basically is a mixture of cold egg white, cream or heavy cream, seafood, and seasonings blended until it's smooth, uniform and thick enough to shape. For this sausage some of the shrimp were coarsely chopped and folded in at the last to give it some added texture.  Tightly wrapped in plastic, then poached until the internal temp reaches 155F. Let the sausage cool slightly and have a brioche dough rolled out and ready for final proof. From there it's a matter of wrapping the sausage in the dough as tightly as possible (which I need to do better next time) and proofing it for 30-40 minutes. Egg wash, and bake in a 360F oven for 20-30 minutes depending on the size. Allow it to cool slightly and firm up (10 minutes) before slicing. The sausage was plated with a cucumber salad vinaigrette, deep fried parsley and caper berries, sauced with a lemon chive beurre blanc. A little elegant compared to my typical dinner choices now days, but sometimes you need to shake things up a bit to get out the food rut many of us fall into. 




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Late in 2010 I posted on a bake of James MacGuire's Miche, Pointe-a-Calliere from Jefferey Hamelman's "Bread" *here* This is a bread I've been meaning to do a re-bake of for some time now, but for one reason or another hadn't gotten around to it until yesterday. Varda's recent post of her lovely high hydration Miche *here*, and that my flour stock includes some Central Milling Organic Type 85 Malted high extraction flour gave me the inspiration to finally have another go at this wonderful bread. The CM high extraction flour came to me because of breadsong's generosity in sharing some of what she picked up last year while in the Bay Area. Thanks again breadsong!

A miche size loaf isn't a terribly practical bread for me to make considering I'm the only one in our house other than our dog who eats wheat, and anything over a 1.2K loaf size is more than I can reasonably eat over a 7-10 day period. Practical or not, I decided to make it in the size it was intended to be and give enough away to friends and relatives that none of it would be wasted. Now that I've had a chance to taste it I'm seriously reconsidering that strategy. 

Having made this bread previously with good results I didn't see any reason to alter any of the formula percentages or procedures other than a minor change to the initial oven setting of 440F by increasing it to 460F in order to compensate for the temperature recovery time of a domestic oven ( or at least our particular oven) with a large dough like this. The dough was scaled to yield 2K, which by the time it went for bulk proofing was just around 70 grams less than that due to waste from stickage. At 82 % hydration this is indeed a sticky one at first, but it does become quite manageable after it's 1st of 3 stretch and folds, and as the author mentions, liberal dusting flour is needed during this part of the procedure. By the time it was ready for final molding the dough was soft and supple but with enough strength to easily shape it into a boule for it's final rise in a floured banneton. Because I'd managed to keep the DDT, bulk and final fermentation temps within 1 degree +/- of the recommended 76F, the final proof was almost bang on at the prescribed 2 hours, always a good sign.

The last time I baked this bread I used Sylvia's wet towel method for steaming, but this time I was concerned that too much steam with this very soft dough might hinder good crust development. The dough was quite a bit slacker than I recall the previous one being, and after a brief debate with myself I decided I'd be better off just spraying the oven before and after loading and let the moisture of the dough do the rest. Whether my thinking was entirely correct on this or not I can't say for sure, since the loaf did in the end develop a satisfactory crust, however I do think it's time I invested in a second stone to put in the rack above the loaf for more even top heat.

The low profile shape of the loaf is fairly close to the one pictured in "Bread", but the crumb doesn't have the "large interior air holes" Hamelman refers to in his side notes, at least I haven't encountered any yet. The crumb is moist and chewy with a pleasantly mild wheat flavour and just a trace of sour at this point. I'd be quite happy with the flavour if it remained the way it is, but I know from the last loaf that it will become stronger over the next few days, which is fine with me as well so long as it remains fairly moist.

A very tasty lunch today of home made country pate, sharp cheddar, pickles, with Maui onion mustard and thick slices of the miche.



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Country Loaf with Mixed Grains & Seeds

It took a little while, but eventually I got tired of eating the same bread week after week for my sandwiches and decided to change things up a bit. For over 3 months my 'go to' bread had been a Country Style Bread/Pan de Campagne that I adapted from Chad Robertson's 'Tartine Country Bread' back in November of last year and posted on in early January of this year.  A very good bread, but enough is enough.

By adding a 7 grain soaker, some toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and an extra flour (barley) to the Pan de Campagne formula, I came up with something I hoped would have the same reliability as the Pane de Campagne, but with additional body and flavour. With a bit of tweaking in the first two mixes the third bake resulted in what I'd imagined from the beginning,which was a crumb that would stay relatively moist and chewy from the first slice to the last. The high hydration in this formula is a major factor in this of course, but I discovered that the final dough weight and how my oven works is a big part of the equation as well. After experimenting with different dough sizes, it became clear that the sweet spot for my oven and the type of texture I was after resulted from doughs weighing between 900-1000 grams. The shorter bake time that I can get away with on the smaller size loaves leaves just the right amount of moisture in the crumb to give it a good chew and mouth-feel. The texture alone makes it a very satisfying bread to eat, with the mixed grains and toasted seeds adding plenty of flavour to the mild/medium sour background. The bread is quite filling, so I tend to slice it on the thin side, finding that a 900 gram loaf will meet my needs for an entire week of sandwiches and often a bit more.

 This is a very wet and sticky to work with during the initial development stage, but it does get easier to handle after the first of it's 3 stretch and folds. If you can avoid the temptation of dusting it down with additional flour, and work it through a few minutes of slap & fold to a medium development, the payoff in the final result is worth the effort.

Although the dough could be mixed, fermented and baked in a day, for convenience sake I do the primary 3 hour bulk fermentation in the Brod & Taylor proofer, then round the dough loosely and put it in the fridge for anywhere up to 20 hours before it's final shaping, proof, and bake. All the mixes I've made of this bread have performed reliably, resulting in a full flavoured loaf with good eating and keeping qualities, putting it high on my short list of everyday breads.

Procedure for: Country Loaf with Mixed Grains & Seeds 

  • Levain

  • Mix 1/2 of the AP flour and remaining ingredients for levain and ripen for 12-15 hours @ 70F/21C, feeding at midway point with the remaining AP flour. 

  • Final dough:

  • DDT-76-78F/24-25C

  • Autolyse the flours and water for 1 hour. 

    Mix all ingredients except the salt, soaker and toasted seeds on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes until dough is uniformly smooth. Add the salt and continue mixing for 7-8 minutes on 2nd speed until the dough has come together, although it will only show slight development. Scrape the dough from the bowl to an unfloured or very lightly floured surface and work the dough using the slap and fold technique for 4-5 minutes, or until you notice the dough beginning to tighten and become moderately developed. Important not to develop past this stage for best results in the baked loaf. Press the dough out to a disk and spread the seed soaker and toasted seeds evenly across the dough. Fold the sides of the dough over the seeds and gently work them into the dough with a kneading action until evenly distributed. 

  • Bulk ferment at 76-78F/24-25C for 3 hours giving 3 stretch and folds at 60,120 and 150 minutes. After the last S&F relax the dough on the table for 30 minutes then round loosely and put in a bowl and cover with plastic. Place the dough in refrigerator over night, or for up to 20 hours. Remove from fridge and leave the dough to sit at room temp for 45 minutes. 

  • Whether shaping as a batard or boule, shape as tightly as possible without tearing the dough. Place in a floured banneton or brotform or free shape, then transfer to a proofing box. 

  • Final rise of 2-2 1/2 hours @ 78F/25C, or until slightly less than fully proofed. 

  • Place on a parchment covered peel, score as desired, and bake in a preheated 500F/260C oven with stone, using preferred steaming method.

  • Reduce oven heat to 460F/237C after 10 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus, vent the steam and continue baking for 20 minutes, rotating the loaf periodically for even colouring. Check the colour and reduce the heat if necessary, baking to an internal temperature of 208-210F/97-112. * Note* heavier loaves of 1200 grams or more will require longer secondary baking times.

  • Turn the oven off, prop the door open slightly and leave the loaf in the oven for 10-15 minutes to cool gradually.

  • Wrap the loaf in linen and place on a wire rack for 12 hours or longer before slicing. 

 Rye & Barley Mash Loaf- revised

The day before I baked the Mixed Grain & Seed loaf, I did a second bake of the Rye & Barley Mash Loaf that I first posted on in the link above, something I've been meaning to do since eating the last slice of this delicious bread. I love this bread for its assertive, complex, and long lasting flavour, the way it makes the house smell as it's baking, and that it's a pleasure to eat just as is, without toppings. With this latest mix I made two changes to the formula by adding a dark chocolate coloured barley malt and increasing the overall hydration. I haven't noticed any significant difference in the flavour from the added malt, but it did give the loaf a darker colour that I feel it needed. The increased hydration was to see if it would help open the crumb a bit more than the last loaf, which it did to some extent. The loaf had 48 hours rest before the first slice was taken but the crumb was still very moist, not gummy, but not fully set either. Two more changes are in order for the next bake of this bread, the first will be to bake it for a longer time at a lower temperature to see if that will help with the crumb set-up, and for better caramelization. The second change will be to use the largest Pullman tin I have for all future bakes, considering how quickly this bread seems to disappear. Just as size was an important factor in the Mixed Grain & Seed loaf, so it is with this bread, albeit for entirely different reasons.

Links to revised procedure and spreadsheet formula for Rye and Barley Mash Loaf below. 

 For procedure click here  For formula spreadsheet click here




Franko's picture

A book I've owned for many years and still one of my all time favourites for Italian cooking is Carlo Middione's 'The Food of Southern Italy'. Middione's Sicilian Bread Roll in the Old Style or Nfigghiulata Antica he believes may predate calzone, going back to the Saracen occupation of Sicily in the ninth century. The preparation of this dish takes slightly more time than a typical calzone or pizza but it's a nice change from the norm with the variety of meats and vegetables Middione uses in his recipe, and the fact that tomatoes, so typically found in these types of dishes, is not a component. Other than the exclusion of tomatoes, there doesn't appear to be any strict guidelines to what you might use as a filling, but I stuck close to the recipe given, with a few minor additions of my own. The filling in this roll was ground pork and veal lightly sauteed, sauteed onions and fennel, blanched chard and cauliflower flowerettes, black olives, julienne strips of salami and small cubes of provolone cheese.  My own inclusions were the fennel, some ground black pepper, scant amount of salt, some oregano and grated parmagianno . The dough can be whatever your favourite pizza dough happens to be, but recommend keeping the hydration to somewhere in the low 60% area to make the dough strong enough to hold the filling without tearing when it's rolled up. Roll or stretch the dough out to a rectangular shape as for cinnamon buns and brush all but the bottom 2 inches with olive oil. Spread the filling evenly over the dough and roll towards you tightly as you would for cinnamon buns.

Once rolled, ensure that the seam and ends of the roll are tightly sealed so that the filling wont leak out during baking, transfer to a paper lined cookie sheet, seam side down, and brush with olive oil. Gently bend the roll in a wide curve or crescent, the crescent shape being an important symbol in Saracen culture. While Middione doesn't mention this in his recipe, I took some scissors and snipped small steam vents along the length of the roll to keep the roll from getting soggy during baking.

Proofing time was 30-35 minutes at 75F/23C, and best to have the roll slightly under proofed to keep it intact during baking. Bake in a pre-heated 350F/176C oven for 15 minutes, brush with any oil that may be in the pan or use fresh, and continue baking and brushing with oil periodically until it takes on an appetizing colour and there is some evidence of melted cheese. Baking times are approximate based on the size of the roll made, so your senses and individual preferences are the best guides to use for when it's time to remove the roll from the oven.

Let the roll cool for 15-20 minutes to firm up before slicing, make a salad in the meantime, pour a glass of wine and enjoy!



Franko's picture

Earlier this month my wife Marie and I took a welcome break from winter for a week of sun and relaxation in Maui. Nothing like a good dose of sun, surf and fabulous beaches to help shake off some of the winter blahs. The weather during our stay was perfect,with average temps in the mid 70'F -21C range, clear blues skies and gentle trade-winds throughout most days, keeping even the mid afternoon heat tolerable. The only specific item we had planned during our time on Maui was a morning tour and lunch at an organic farm in the up-country area of Kula, about a 45 minute drive from where we were staying in Kaanapali in West Maui. 

O'o Organic Farm is located in the Waipoli (Misting Forest) district of Kula at an elevation of 3500 feet.  The 8.5 acre farm is owned and operated by a local restaurant group to provide organic vegetables, herbs and fruit for it's three dining establishments in Lahaina, I'O, Pacifico, and The Feast at Lele, as well as their speciality food shop Aina Gourmet Market in the Honua Kai Resort near Kaanapali. Have a look at the short video here for a more in depth description of the farm and how it provides the three restaurants the ability to offer a true "farm to fork" dining experience for their guests. 

If a visit to Maui is in your vacation plans, the tour of O'o Farms is an experience I'd recommend to anyone interested in organic farming methods and practice, or just food in general. Our guide Ansel, who is also the farm's Orchard Manager, made the entire 2 hours we spent in the orchards and fields with him and the other members of our group a wonderful learning experience. Ansel's engaging and friendly manner, along with his extensive knowledge of horticulture and sustainable farming practice kept us interested throughout our tour. As well as showing us what the farm was growing we also had the opportunity to taste some of the various produce as we toured the fields, one of which was coffee. Ever had a ripe coffee berry picked right off the bush? Well neither had I and was surprised to discover that they have a somewhat sweet outer fruit to them, not at all what I expected and quite pleasant tasting. The farm is in the early stages of growing coffee plants, with an eye towards eventually producing enough to make it a commercially viable crop. At the moment they are buying beans from a larger local grower and roasting them on site for sale at the farm and the groups Aina Gourmet Market.

 Before we'd started the tour Ansel informed us that James McDonald, Executive Chef and partner of the restaurant group was on site that day and would be preparing lunch for all of us at the end of the tour. O'o Farm has an outdoor kitchen with a commercial range/oven, wood fired grill, a rotisserie or tourne-broche, refrigeration, preparation and serving tables, all set under a canopy and shade trees.

Lunch consisted of salad with a variety of freshly picked greens and edible flowers, sourdough bread (from Boulange in San Francisco, fabulous bread!), and two choices for the main course, pan fried tofu with fresh herbs and sauteed/stir fried vegetables, or fresh local fish with roasted vegetables. Fresh fruit and hand made chocolates for dessert. My description of the preparation may not be entirely accurate and my apologies to Chef McDonald if that's the case. Simple menu perhaps, but skillfully prepared and cooked to showcase the bounty of O'o Farms, Chef McDonald is clearly a proponent of the 'less is more' approach to cooking, allowing the high quality of his fresh ingredients to speak for themselves. There were more than a few appreciative comments from around our table for how flavourful everything was and I think most of our group went back to the buffet for a second helping. At the end of the meal we were invited to sample some of the various Aina Gourmet coffees roasted on site and to purchase some to take home if we liked. Whenever I'm in Maui, bringing home a few bags of Kona Coffee is always a must for gifts and myself, but after tasting the Aina coffee that's all changed. As rich as a good Kona can be, I've never had one as well balanced or with such depth of flavour as a brew from these roasts. Four bags of Aina Gourmet Coffee somehow managed to find precious space in our luggage for the flight home.  

Later in the week Marie and I decided to stop in at Pacifico Restaurant in Lahaina for lunch and take the 'farm to fork' experience full circle. We enjoyed a lovely meal on their beach level terrace overlooking the channel between Maui and the Island of Lanai. The day was glorious, with sunny blue skies, surfers rolling in just up the beach from us, and two or three whales off in the distance spouting and breaching, and who seemed to be enjoying the day as much as the families playing in the surf just a few yards away from our table. To begin our lunch Marie ordered the Roasted Maui Onion and Goat Cheese salad and I opted for the Tropical Ceviche du jour, both of which were a beautifully presented and appetizing first course to our lunch. For our main courses, Marie had a “tower” of spicy grilled tofu with ocean-seaweed salad, tropical salsa, jasmine rice, ginger ponzu sauce and wasabi aioli.[pic] I had a flat bread brushed with Kabayaki glaze, then grilled and topped with fresh tuna carpaccio, grilled pineapple, and a variety of sprouts and fresh farm greens, with a drizzle of wasabi aioli garnishing the side of the plate.

The preparation and presentation of our meals was considerably more elaborate than what we'd had at the farm, but the same bright flavours of O'o farms produce were evident in every bite. The tuna carpaccio was so fresh I'm sure it had been caught within hours of landing on my plate, meltingly tender, and accented with a bit of heat from the wasabi aioli, it was a brilliant composition of flavours, texture and colours. Marie's Leaning Tower of Tofu was pronounced delicious from start to finish, high praise indeed from someone not as inclined to comment pro or con as I am when it comes to food.[ Insert pacifico food] Service was friendly, attentive, and well paced, something that can be an issue at times in Lahaina restaurants during lunch service. All in all it was an excellent meal, complimented with great service and the tropical ambiance of Pacifico's beachfront setting. Kudos to Chef James McDonald and his crew for a memorable experience, certainly one of the highlights of our time on Maui.

On the flight home I spent some time thinking about what I should make for the coming weeks bread needs. My bread of choice for the last 2 months has been the Pan de Campagne I posted on a few weeks back. Time to try something just a little different I thought, something with seeds and mixed grains perhaps? A little thought was also given to how I might use the Aina coffee in some sort of pastry or dessert as well, but more about both these ideas in a future post.



Franko's picture


Pane de Campagne with Red Fife 75% sifted and Rye Bread with Barley 

The bread I've been making most often over the last month or so is a Country style bread similar to Robertson's Tartine CB that I've adjusted to suit my preference for a more sour flavour than his formula results in. The percentage of leaven is 15% greater than Robertson's 20%, and instead of using just white and whole wheat flours, it has a mix of AP, Red Fife 75% sifted, and Dark Rye flours, all of them organic. The combination of these three flours in the respective percentages of 75%, 15% and 10% seems to be the sweet spot for my tastes and makes for a well rounded flavour profile that I enjoy eating on a daily basis. Mostly it gets used in sandwiches but I like it for toast and preserves as well, making it a versatile bread for my everyday use. The dough has a 2 1/2 hour bulk ferment in the Brod & Taylor proofer at 76F/24C, with a stretch & fold at 60 and 120 minutes. After it's rested for a 1/2 hour it goes into the refrigerator covered until I get home from work the next afternoon, about 20 hours later. I have previously made this bread in only one day but the flavour result is nowhere near as deep or complex as when it's left for the long haul. That this long cold fermentation also accommodates my work schedule is a huge bonus for me since I don't always have time to bake on my days off. Other than that the procedure is much the same as for Tartine Country Bread, though I don't necessarily use a Dutch Oven when baking it off, simply because I don't always want a boule shaped loaf. The batard shaped loaves won't develop the nice dark caramelization that they would in a DO environment, but sometimes a batard shape is preferable for sandwich making. I guess I'll have to wait until I can build or buy a WFO to have it both ways. Until then, baking directly on the stone delivers a well flavoured crust, that if I've taken it at the right point (slightly less than full proof), will send shards of crust flying as soon as the knife bites into it. So far my brother, step-son, and his father-in-law have all tried it and loved it, but that's sort of like preaching to the converted since they like their bread on the sour side anyway. The Red Fife sifted used in this formula I realize has limited availability to most folks, but I think that a high extraction flour or a sifted whole wheat would work just fine. Having enough of the bran in small particles gives this formula a good deal of it's flavour, but doesn't create a coarse texture and mouth-feel, which I feel gives the bread a broader range of appeal...if you like your bread tangy to begin with.

 Procedure for Pain de Campagne with Red Fife 75% sifted 

  • Mix all ingredients for levain and ripen for 14-18 hours @ 70F

  • Final dough:

  • Autolyse the flours and water for 1 hour.

    Mix all ingredients except the salt on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes until dough is cohesive. Add the salt and continue mixing for 7-8 minutes on 2nd speed until the dough is uniform and well developed.

  • Bulk ferment at 76F for 2 hours giving 2 stretch and folds in the first 2 hours. Place dough in refrigerator over night, or for up to 18 hours. Remove from fridge and bring allow the dough to sit at room temp for 90 minutes.

  • Round lightly and rest for 20 minutes.

  • Shape as desired.

  • Final rise of 2-3 hours @ 78F or until slightly less than fully proofed.

  • Place on a floured or parchment covered peel, score as desired, and bake in a preheated 500F oven with stone or Dutch Oven. Use preferred steaming method if baking on a stone.

  • Reduce oven heat to 460 and bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the loaf for even colouring ( remove the lid if using a DO) and bake for 25-35 minutes longer. * Note* heavier loaves of 1600 grams or more will require longer baking times as will higher hydration loaves.

  • 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 12 hours or longer before slicing.

    The formula spreadsheet can be found through the link below.

 This next loaf is one of my bread experiments gone uncharacteristically right on a first try for a pleasant change. Elizabeth David's 'English Bread and Yeast Cookery' is a book I've been reading off and on over the Fall, which I think had a lot to do with finally deciding to make a bread that uses barley as part of the grist. I've consumed a fair bit of barley over the years but mostly in liquid form, so shortly before the week of Christmas I picked up some whole barley grain at the local organic store to see if I could come up with a way to use it in a sour bread of some kind. The 'barley project' needed to be put on hold till after Christmas, as other more Seasonal matters took precedence, giving me some time to think about how to use the barley. Taking inspiration from some of Andy's/ananda  posts where he utilizes a “boil-up” as he calls it, for softening various grains before adding into his bread mixes, I thought this would be a good place to start. At this point I hadn't formalized a recipe, nor did I have an entirely clear concept of what I wanted or how to go about it, other than the boil -up. It's funny how sometimes it takes forever to come up with a formula concept, while at other times it can just come to you while watching a pot of water come to a boil. While I was watching the water and barley simmering away, softening and opening, I thought to myself that this eventual mash would be an excellent medium to grow wild yeast for beer perhaps? One of those light bulb moments for someone who doesn't brew beer. Once the grains were soft enough to mash with a fork and had cooled to room temp, mature rye starter, along with a scant amount of salt was added to the mash. The plan was to let the mash ferment slowly over the course of a few days to build flavour, the addition of salt would help keep it in check and hopefully prevent a runaway fermentation. After 4 days at 70F in the B&T proofer, the mash had developed a distinctly (or stinky according to my wife) sour nose to it. Rather than push it any further and run the risk of contamination the mash was transferred to the fridge for safe keeping until I was ready to use it in the final mix. Including an altus in the mix came to me just the day before I'd planned to make the bread when I ran across a heel of Horst Bandel Pumpernickel in our freezer. I remembered having saved it for this very purpose and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it up. The mix itself went as it would for a typical high ratio rye bread, with little gluten development and a sticky paste to work with. With some minor adjustments for hydration it formed a slightly wet paste, but came together without too much effort. Bulk ferment was around 80 minutes at 81F/27C, then shaped, using the wet hands/scraper method to form it into a log shape then deposited into a 4 1/2”x 9 1/2” Pullman tin, sprinkled with barley flakes, lid on, and set in the B&T proofer for a final rise of 2 1/2 hours at 81F/27C.

Full formula and procedure below.

After 20 minutes in the oven the bread was giving off a noticeably beery aroma that gradually changed to a rich, roasted fragrance of grain and malt over the remaining course of the bake. At first taste the bread is just inside my sour tolerance level, but the flavour is fantastic! Malty, sweet & sour, with a moist, chewy bite to it, it's the sort of bread that delivers on all levels. I expect it will pair well with other foods once it's mellowed over the next few days and the initial sharpness has come in to balance with the other ingredients, but my guess is I'll be eating most of it just for it's flavour alone.


Wishing everyone the very best for the New Year!






Combine the water and whole barley in a heavy bottom pot and bring to a slow boil, cooking and stirring till the grains become soft. Add the rye meal and salt, stir and allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the rye and barley mash 4-5 days in advance of the final mix and allow to ripen at room temperature 70F/21C for the first 48 hrs, then keep in the fridge or at a temperature of 50F/10C max until ready to make final mix. Allow the mash to come to room temperature before including in the final mix, or gently warm on low in the microwave. The mash should have a strong sour smell when ready to use and longer ripening times may be necessary.



Mix the mature sour with all of the water and 50% of the rye flour and ripen for 14-18 hr at 70F/21C with the second feeding of rye flour at the midway point of the ripening period.



Soak the old rye bread in hot water and leave overnight. Squeeze as much water as possible from the bread, reserving the water for the final mix. The old bread should be of a high percentage rye bread, the darker the better.


Final Mix DDT-81-84F/27-28C

Combine all the ingredients except the sour and mix till thoroughly combined. Add the sour and continue mixing till the paste is smooth and uniform. Using wet hands and a scraper, work the paste on the bench by scraping and folding it over itself for several minutes, adjusting hydration as needed to achieve a medium consistency. The dough should be slightly on the wet and sticky side. Place the paste in a bowl and begin the bulk ferment.


Bulk Ferment

Ferment the paste for 60-90 minutes. Times will vary according to individual conditions, but the paste should show a small increase in volume during this period.


Shaping and Final Rise

Form the paste into a log shape and deposit in a 4 1/2” x 9 1/2” paper lined or well glazed Pullman pan. Smooth the paste evenly into the corners and along the sides creating a slight peak from the sides to the center of the surface. Sprinkle the top evenly with barley flakes, brushing with water if needed to make them stick. Begin the final rise at a temperature of 82F/27-28C with some humidity present. Allow the paste to rise to within 3/4”-1/2” of the top of the pan before sliding the cover of the Pullman over top. The final rise may take upwards of 2 1/2 hours and should be monitored every 30 minutes to avoid over-proofing.



Place the closed pan on a baking stone in a well preheated 500F/260C oven and bake for 10 minutes before lowering the temperature to 460F/238C. Continue to bake for 45-50 minutes then lower the heat to 375 for an additional 15-20 minutes. Check the loaf to see if it has pulled away from the sides of the pan. If not continue baking till it has. Remove the lid from the pan, turn the heat off and leave the loaf in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pan before de-panning to a wire rack. Wrap in linen and cool for 12-24 hours before slicing.

The formula spreadsheet can be found through the link below.


Franko's picture

This is an 83% rye bread with a whole and chopped rye soaker and leavened with a ginger beer barm. As part of the total hydration it includes water that has been infused with fresh ginger to lend an accent of fresh ginger throughout the bread.

Ginger/water infusion

Ginger is something I use quite often in my cooking but until now have never used it in bread. The idea of adding some ginger, fresh or otherwise, to a high percentage rye bread I'm sure has been done before but darned if I could find anything in my searches that really matched what I was looking for. What I wanted was a formula for a dark, high ratio rye with a balance of sweet and sour and an accent of fresh ginger, not a gingerbread made with rye flour, which was mainly what I found in my searches. I decided I'd have to wing it and see if I could come up with something on my own. The idea for using a barm occurred to me when I discovered that one of the microbreweries here on Vancouver Island makes a true ginger beer. It seemed like such a natural fit for this bread that I wanted to include it and I'm glad that I did. This is the first time I've used a barm and I'm happy with not only it's leavening ability, but the malty undertone it contributes to the flavour of the bread. Whatever ginger flavour this particular barm adds is difficult to say as the ginger infusion is the primary source of that flavour, but I feel the bread would not have been as good had I used a typical levain. I'd like to mention at this point that Shiao Ping's post on making 'Dan Lepard's Barm Bread' was the guide I used for making the barm, and many thanks to her for making that information available to use as a reference.

Once the barm had become active and bubbly (approximately 15 hours) it was mixed with the other ingredients and the dough bulk fermented for 50 minutes at 82F inside the Brod & Taylor Proofer. It was then shaped and panned in a 9x4 Pullman tin, and placed back in the proofer for a final rise of almost 2 1/2 hours. There was a point where I wondered if the dough would rise enough to even bother baking off, but was confident the barm had been strong and lively when it was added to the mix, so I waited...and waited. My assumption was the ginger infusion was retarding the yeast activity as spices often do, but felt the yeast cells would eventually work through it, which they did. The pan went into a 485F oven with the lid in place and baked for 10 minutes before the temperature was lowered to 450F for the remaining bake time of 45 minutes, with an additional 30- 40 minutes in a cooling oven. When I removed the lid of the pan a caramel and ginger scented waft of steam rose up from it that told me in part that I'd had some measure of success. The loaf had slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan making it very easy to remove the bread, literally dropping out of the unlined pan into my hand. It looked good, with a uniform shape and rich brown, slightly soft crust. When tapped it sounded well baked with no soft spots or cavities that I could detect and it smelled wonderful! The bread was wrapped in linen and left for over 24 hours before slicing to allow what would hopefully be an even celled crumb to set up. Happily the crumb did not disappoint as it's the most open, even celled, high ratio rye bread I think I've achieved in a long while...if ever. The flavour has a good balance between the sweet and sour, with the ginger adding a slightly spicy background note to the overall flavour, rather than predominating, which is what I was after from the start.

The dough was intentionally scaled on the small side for the size of pan used since I didn't want a full size loaf of this bread for two reasons. The idea from the beginning was this bread would be used as a base for canapes or small portions of meat, fish, or cheese. More of a cocktail bread than one meant for typical sandwiches was my intention for it. The other reason is that one of the flours included in the mix is a lovely Central Milling Organic Pumpernickel that breadsong brought back from a recent trip to California and thoughtfully shared a portion of it with me. The stock is limited and I'm doing my best to make it last for some other breads I have in mind.

Photos, formula and procedure posted below.



 A few slices with smoked tuna rillettes made earlier in the week.


If a true ginger beer is not available, substitute any strong to medium flavoured beer or ale of preference.

The ginger infusion/water was made with 120 grams of fresh ginger cut in large pieces, skin on and combined with 270 grams of water in a heavy stainless steel pot. Bring slowly to a simmer and cover with a lid for 60-90 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep overnight before using. The ratio of ginger to water was an estimation based on the level of flavour I wanted for this bread. Adjust accordingly to personal preference.


Final rise times are approximate. The ginger water infusion seems to retard the yeast activity during this time and patience is needed for an optimum final rise.


The dough requires a sealed pan of some kind for baking to keep the baked loaf moist. A standard loaf tin covered with a sheet pan should work in place of a Pullman tin.




Heat the ginger beer to 158F/70C and add 50% of the rye flour blending thoroughly. Cool to 68-70F/20-21C before adding the mature starter. Keep the barm at 70F/20-21F for 15-18 hours, adding the remaining rye flour at around the midway point. The barm should be quite active and bubbles breaking the surface before incorporating into the final mix.



Make the soaker during the same time as the barm and leave at room temp until final mixing.


Final Mix and Shaping-

Add all ingredients to the mixer (or bowl if hand mixing) and mix on 1st speed for 4-5 minutes (7-8 minutes by hand) until a uniform and smooth paste is achieved. Bulk ferment for 45-50 minutes at 82-84F/27-28C. Using wet hands and a scraper shape the paste into a rough log shape 9 ” long and place in a 9x4 Pullman tin. Firmly press the paste into the four corners of the pan and along the sides, making sure it's as square to the corners as possible and the top is flat or very slightly peaked.

Final Rise-

Final rise/proof temperature is 82-84F/27-28C for 1-2 hours.


Bake at 485F/251C for 10 minutes in the Pullman pan with cover on for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 450F/232C and continue baking for 40-50 minutes. Slide the lid back and check to see if the bread has pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan. Turn the heat off and leave the bread in the oven for an additional 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully de-pan the loaf to a cooling rack and wrap in linen. Cool for a minimum of 24 hours before slicing to allow the crumb to set.

83% Sour Rye with Ginger Beer Barm%Kilos/Grams
Input desired loaf weight in yellow cell.Input desired %'s in green cells.Do not alter white cells.


Dark Rye Flour100.00%114
Mature Rye Starter-100%14.00%16
Ginger Beer125.00%142
Total weight239.00%271
ripen for 14-18hrs at 70F/21.1C

Rye Meal Soaker

Rye Meal 50.00%31
Rye Berries50.00%31
Total weight230.00%145
Keep at room temp until final mix

Final Dough
Bread Flour-strong25.0%90
Central Milling Organic Pumpernickel Rye35.0%127
Dark Rye Flour60.0%217
Ginger water50.0%181
Rye Meal Soaker40.0%145
Blackstrap Molasses8.0%29
Sea Salt2.9%10
Total weight317.9%1150

Overall Formula
Total Flour100.00%548
Bread Flour16.51%90
Central Milling Organic Pumpernickel Rye23.12%127
Dark Rye Flour60.36%331
Rye Meal/Rye Berries 11.49%63
Mature Rye Starter-100%2.90%16
Blackstrap Molasses5.28%29
Sea Salt1.92%10
Ginger water33.03%181
Water/Ginger Beer52.08%285
Total weight210.00%1150
Total Hydration71.62%392
Total Pre-fermented Flour22.18%121.47
DDT 82F-84F



Link to working version of spread sheet-


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