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Ilya Flyamer's blog

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Ilya Flyamer

I guess I was due a pancake (almost)! Wanted to keep exploring the sourdough poolish idea after delicious (although ugly) ciabattas.

Decided to make a seeded sourdough with ~40% whole grain and a soaker, and made a preferment with all the whole grain in the recipe:

Probably overfermented the dough: flattened after scoring, and at the same time as I slashed the second loaf I noticed the skin was tearing in some places already, so I just shouldn't have scored it, and would have been much better, probably. Not used to such quick fermentation I guess! A lot of whole grain, and a very large inoculation.

Hopefully, it's at least tasty :) Will see when it cools.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Due to *life* my levain for Maurizio's "best" sourdough I wanted to bake got too ripe, so I improvised a different recipe: more wholegrain (using einkorn), slightly lower hydration:

Simple procedure: mixed, slap&folds, stretch&folds, bulk until increased volume and jiggly, shape, cover in sesame and poppy seeds, retard, bake.

Not huge oven spring, but sufficient to be really pleased with the look (got very nice surface tension by stitching, and scoring angle was on point, so a beautiful ear). Like the crumb as well, and tastes great.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

For a colleague's birthday made cardamom knots, but increased the amount of dough and filling to also give babka a go. Adapted the recipe from (except used all milk and no water in the dough). Here is the actual formula I used:

I think I didn't ferment the dough quite enough (difficult with enriched dough), but the result is good nevertheless.

Babka is not as rich as, I guess, it typically is.

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Ilya Flyamer

Wouldn't say it is very far outside my comfort zone, but still - as far as I remember, this is the first time I managed a loaf with high % spelt that didn't turn into a pancake a bit. Almost 40% spelt (just all I had left), total 60% whole grain - also unusually high for me, I rarely go above 40%. Also used some old stiff wheat starter (wanted to use it for another bake, and decided instead of discarding just to use it), and added a little fresh rye starter to ensure fermentation moves along. Here is the approximate formula (was adding things and weighing, and wrote down afterwards, so hope I didn't mix up any numbers):

Just mixed everything without any autolyse, did some slap&folds until partial development, then did some folds in the first couple of hours, and left to ferment. Perhaps because of high whole grain %, and addition of diastatic malt, bulk was done within 6 hours (total from mixing) despite low inoculation (<5% PFF). I kept it warm too. Might have been just a little overfermented even: was OK to shape, but just a tad more sticky than I expected. Coated in sesame seeds and retarded overnight. Baked covered for 20 min at 250C, uncovered until I liked the colour at 230C with convection (~15 min).

Not the tallest loaf, but I am very pleasantly surprised with the crumb for such high % whole grain! Don't often get it this open even for more typical for me formulas. Flavour is unsurprisingly very pronounces, but not overpowering. Sesame seeds as usual provide nice contrast.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Recipe from

It has very little semolina flour, so I decided not to post it into the semolina CB.

Used an overnight levain with bread flour based on my refrigerated rye starter. Followed the recipe exactly (halved though, for one loaf), even the timings seemed to be spot on. The only two minor issues were that I didn't break up the boiled potato enough and there were a few small lumps in the dough, and I didn't manage to develop a smooth and strong dough upfront with slap&folds, so gave it a couple of folds in the first half of the 6 hours bulk. It felt much wetter than what's shown in the video. However it turned into a really lovely dough in the end, very strong and puffy.

The size of the loaf turned out to be a problem: I usually use my 750g banneton for 900g loaves without issues, but here the recipe said it should double during final proof, and the benneton was almost full already in the beginning. So I had to improvise a couche-based proofing setup, which worked OK, but not great - I didn't manage to contain the loaf properly and it spread out during the proof, so it was on the flat side in the end.

Baked for 25 min with steam and until good colour without. Got appreciable oven spring, but since started from a flattish-loaf it's not very tall in the end.

The crust has a bit of that semolina colour and crunch, and the crumb is very soft. Tender and tasty.

However I am not sure about the crumb structure. It has very big holes, but with the length of fermentation that went into it (around 10 hours total, at ~23C), I can't believe it's underproofed. Is it possible that such structure can be caused by going through a flat stage, and some central alveoli merging at that point?

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Ilya Flyamer

Some time ago I ordered the real (Ukrainian) red rye malt through eBay. It's been a few weeks, and I finally got to use it, and of course I started with a Borodinsky. I used the Rus Brot adaptation of the 1940 recipe: I followed it as closely as possible, with just minor time adjustments to fit my schedule, and I had to mix (extra strong) bread flour and WW flout to approximate the Russian grade II flour (I guess it's same as first clear flour maybe? or high extraction flour?)

Anyway, everything went just as expected, dough was not particularly sticky, and was surprisingly easy to shape in the end. Proofed up like a balloon. Baked on a steel, I used semolina on the peel to load the loaf instead of rye bran (need to use up that non-durum semolina I got the the Indo-Pakistani shop!). Semolina worked well, clearly toasted up during the bake, but didn't burn. I was worried the bottom of the loaf would burn on steel without the light insulation of baking paper, and it's definitely on the darker end and very chewy, it's not burnt.

The bread is delicious! Less of a coriander flavour that I am used to, but more malty. The red rye malt certainly adds great flavour and colour!

The one weird thing is that soon after applying the corns starch glaze the crust got some strange bubbles, does anyone have any ideas? Very obvious here, when the bread is still hot:

Did the liquid batter I applied before baking bake unevenly, or something like that? It's pretty clear to me it's the top layer of wheat crust peeling off...

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Ilya Flyamer

Today is the day have been waiting for: homentaschen day! I already shared my sourdough adaptation of my grandma's recipe for homentaschen (, and this time I actually shaped them properly. As usual, I had more dough than poppy seed filling, and turned the extra dough into mini cinnamon buns.


Mini cinnamon buns:

I rolled the dough out thinner than I did previously when I made them with yeast ones, and pretty sure thinner than what my grandma does - and I quite like it! On top they get crispy, almost cookie-like, but still have a bit of softness on the bottom. The buns are very soft throughout.

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Ilya Flyamer

Just wanted to quickly share a simple recipe which produced delicious bread. I think I overfermented it in bulk a little, so oven spring and crumb structure are not very impressive, but in combination with sesame seeds the flavour is amazing. The crumb is also very soft, which interestingly I used to get a lot when I just started baking, and then lost. Not sure what happened, but I'm pleased to get such a soft texture again.

Here is the formula:

Includes an overnight levain build (using refrigerated rye starter) with whole wheat. Overall it contains ~40% whole grain, mostly wheat and a little rye, with 80% hydration. I did 30 min fermentolyse, then mixed in the salt with a little remaining water, developed the gluten a bit with slap&folds, then did 3x stretch&folds every 30 min, and left to ferment at 24C. I think I misjudged the end of bulk a little and took it too far, so the dough was a little sticky to shape, but manageable, and I even managed to coat it with sesame seeds quite well. Retarded in the fridge overnight, baked on steel, steam 25 min, without steam until the right colour.

The taste is incredible, deep but not overwhelming, and goes nicely with both savory (cheese) and sweet (nutella!) toppings. Rye doesn't come through as such, but this tastes better than just 40% whole wheat bread! So I guess it adds some complexity, and the nuttiness of sesame seeds elevates the whole experience.

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Ilya Flyamer

A while ago I found this very unusual and interesting recipe on Rus Brot's channel on YouTube:

"Swedish" bread based on a 1912 Russian recipe (so not actually Swedish). It uses 100% light/white rye flour, flavoured with bitter orange peel, aniseed and coriander seeds. The procedure is very unusual: 2/3 of the flour is "scalded" with a small amount of boiling water (too little water to even make it into a cohesive mass), then when it's cooled down a tiny amount of rye starter is added (just from the fridge is fine), together with the flavourings (bitter orange peel is dried, and then boiled before using), and a small amount of water as needed to make it into a stiff dough. Here, and later when mixing the final dough, the stickiness level is 11 out of 10, until everything is combined into a nice cohesive dough. And it's too stiff to use a dough whisk, possible only by hand. Then it's left to ferment for 16 hrs at 28°C. In the morning it smelled like panettone!

Then next day the remaining flour is added (during fermentation the dough becomes much looser, and still takes up lots of flour), together with salt, malt extract (or honey), and a tiny bit of CY (approx. 0.1% of total flour). After incorporating everything, the dough is left to ferment 2 hrs at 30°C (I did 2.5 hrs, since it took a while to come up to that temperature for me). Then it's shaped and proofed at at least 30°C (I proofed a little longer than in the video, around 1hr 40 min). It increased in size a lot during the proof!

Another unusual part is before baking it's brushed with a beaten egg - not the more common water or liquid dough. And then baked around 1 hr at relatively low temperature: 220°C in the beginning, going down to 200°C.

As you can see, it looks like I screwed up the last fold I did during shaping, and it created a dense line in the bread - and also caused, or amplified the cracks I got along the bread on the bottom. Typically, the reason for this is starting the bake when the stone (or steel, in my case) is not hot enough. And apparently, using baking paper (like I did) can also cause this, since it slows down heat transfer. So next time I would preheat the oven at higher temperature, and then drop it to 220°C when loading the bread, so the steel is super hot.

However I am pleased that I didn't have any cracks on top of the loaf! Those can be caused by more different reasons, and getting rid of the bottom ones next time should be more straightforward.

The flavour is really nice: indeed, sweet and sour, with slight bitterness from the crust and a very nice citrus-y note. The spices are not very prominent, but I am sure they contribute a lot of depth to the overall flavour. The crust is hard and thick, but the crumb is soft. Really tasty bread with an unusual flavour.

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Ilya Flyamer

Incidentally there have been discussions here recently about using "weak" or unfed starter from the fridge, and I just baked some bread like that yesterday.

Ran out of bread, and my plan for a specific bake yesterday was not meant to be (starter was not quite there yet). Didn't even have much of my normal refrigerated rye starter that I would use in a bread without issues. But I had relatively recent discard from the last week or two, a mix of whole rye 100% hydration and white 50% hydration stiff starter. I took all discard I had and some of the relatively fresh starter, mixed with some bread and whole wheat flour, salt, and water. I was roughly weighing ingredients, but I didn't know the exact hydration of the discard, and there was quite a lot of it, so I had to adjust the hydration by adding extra flour after the dough turned out to be way more liquidy than I expected from my rough calculation.

Here is the approximate formula, take the numbers with a grain of salt:

At first it appeared that everything was going well, I did some stretch&folds and slap&folds, it seemed to develop some strength. Then I left it to ferment for a few hours with occasional stretch&folds. However in the end the dough was weak and sticky, as if overfermented - although there were barely any signs of fermentation visible. I think the discard brought too much acidity and the gluten  never formed properly, or got degraded very quickly. So I just dumped the dough into two small tins (could have put in one, but I was worried it might decide to grow), sprinkled sesame seeds on top and left in the fridge overnight. Didn't notice much growth by morning, but when baked the bread had a nice oven spring, and generally looked good!

It is on the sour side of my typical bread, the crumb is a little moist, but soft. On the picture it looks a little better than it is for most of the loaf, for some reason it's more open close to the end, and a little more closed and dense inside - but it's still actually good throughout. The crumb tears just a little when cutting, like into shreds... A bit like rye bread with not perfect crumb does. But it's a very minor issue, which doesn't really affect the eating experience.

Overall, it's a surprisingly good bread!

Just wanted to share this as an example of baking with unfed starter, it can cause challenges, but bread can also turn out well!


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