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I have been maintaining two active levains. One white at a 1:1:1 feeding ratio and one Forkish style, 1:1:4:5 levain, ww flour, strong bread flour and unlike KF I like to go 100% hydration as it lends more to the sweet lactic acid side of the flavour spectrum. I like Ken's discussion on tailoring the flavour profile of your levains.

The first week or so with my new levains I fed daily. Then they both lived on the counter for 24 hours after feeding, then into the fridge for two days. I think my Forkish style levain is ready. I feed at 4 - 5 pm and in the morning this is what I had:

To hit the top and collapse this beast would have had to go more than 4x. I think this starter is ready! I think I need a taller starter container! Twenty our hours after feeding this levain I began the second levain build for this bake.

After my first KF style boule stuck to the brotform, I have taken great pains to use a LOT of rice flour, prior to adding the dough. Now my dough isn't sticking and the extra flour really puts some nice markings on the crust. I also love the organic bloom.


This formula worked rather well despite the high hydration @ 80%. I am getting better at Ken's wet hand S&F in the bowl technique and find that using an extra large bowl helpful.

This is a really tasty bread. The crumb has great chew and the crust snaps when you bite into it! I need to work on my shaping a little bit, but the holes where the baker sleeps didn't affect the taste and flavour one bit!!!

All in all a very satisfying bake.  A fun process and nice looking, great tasting bread. What is not to like? I am loving bread baking again now that I have natural levains. What a difference!

Oh yeah, it was like Christmas for this old ski bum today. A nicely turned out loaf and some soft PR style soft, pull apart dinner rolls. Stay tuned. I was so impressed with my fancy surgical steel bread knife I ordered their 100 year anniversary Chef's knife. Light and beautifully balanced with a 5" blade, this is easily the sharpest knife I have ever owned. A real pleasure to use!

Happy baking folks! Ski

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Well with a couple of fresh levains to bake with and feed, I thought I would try and use some of the natural starter discard in a traditional naan recipe. I LOVED the results!!! The recipe is super easy and with a little baking powder, you can enjoy the results fairly fast.


1/2 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to 90F

1 tsp sugar

30g sweet levain, 100% hydration

285g AP flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbs canola oil

31/2 Tbs full fat plain Greek yogurt

25g beaten egg

Mix well, then knead for 6 or 7 minutes and place in a covered, greased bowl to rise for about an hour. When doubled,m punch down and divide into 6 pieces forming tight balls.

Warm a griddle over medium heat. Lightly flour the balls and roll out into 7-8 inch diameter rounds. Cook on the griddle 3 minutes per side. When cooked, brush with melted butter.

You can easily double this recipe.

this is the perfect side to a nice hot Indian curry and rice!

Enjoy and happy baking! Ski


Skibum's picture

I am SO glad to have an active yeast water! The leavening properties of YW are pretty amazing. I have updated my recipe for this loaf after discovering a few errors in an older YW Pulla post, now deleted.

Here is the proofed loaf on the peel, ready to bake:

After baking for 29 minutes, steam for the first 12:


50g yeast water

50g strong bread flour

Allow 6 - 12 hours for this to double. I leave it on top of the fridge overnight.



3 Tbs sugar

5 cardamom pods, hulls disgarded and seeds ground

215g whole milk, scalded and coolled to 90F

175g strong bread flour

40g AP flour

I infuse the ground cardamom in the milk and dissolve the sugar in the hot milk. When the milk reached 90F, I add the levain and flours and mix well. After 3 or 4 hours the sponge should be starting to get pretty happy.

Final dough:


31g unsalted butter melted and cooled

75g beaten egg

3/4 t salt

315g AP flour

Although this is not tradition to Finnish pulla I added the following extracts commonly used in sweet doughs:

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp each lemon and almond extract

To the happy sponge add the melted butter and mix. Then add a cup of flour and the salt and mix, beating the dough until it is smooth and glossy. Begin adding the remaining flour until fully mixed. Rest 5 minutes and mix again. Rest 10 minutes, then do a series of 4 stretch and folds, with 10 minutes rest in between.

Let the dough double, 1 - 1.5 hours, then de-gas and do another couple of S&F's. Let double again.

Punch down and divide the dough into 3 and shape into balls. Let rest 5 minutes. Begin rolling out long tubes. I do this in 3 or 4 stages with 5 minutes rest in between. Braid the loaf, place on parchment paper and proof in a linen couche, covered with floured plastic crap. After 30 minutes bring the oven up to 400F with steam equipment.

The loaf was brushed with an egg glaze, sprinkled with ground almond and granulated sugar.

After about 55 minutes proofing and using the Forkish finger poke test to determine when to  bake, it is in to the oven for 12 minutes with steam, turn and bake another 12 convection, turn and finish with another 5 minutes and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.

This is the best looking and best tasting pulla I have ever made!

Happy baking! Ski

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I'm really not sure how, but sometime over the winter my venerable Henckels bread knife went missing. I bought this cheap orange knife, hoping the other would turn up, but no luck. 

Freshloafers, please do yourselves a favour and NEVER buy a knife like the cheap orange one. When I began baking Forkish style boules in the cast DO the knife would barely cut through the crust.

So I treated myself to a Global, a light, well balanced stainless steel beauty, Made in Japan. This is a beautiful kitchen tool and slices through the hardest crust with ease! Initially, I thought it too pricey, then remembered I paid $60 for my everyday chef's knife 38 years ago. Perspective. Worth every penny!!!


Happy baking, Ski

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Well this old skibum is a very happy baker, having both a natural levain and now a working yeast water culture. I used 50g of sweet levain and 50g of YW levain, both at 100% hydration in a mix with about 450g total flour.

I am AMAZED by the oven spring the YW adds to the bake. I bake pulla often, but have been stuck baking the commercial yeasted versions. The natural leavening simply produces superior crust, crumb and flavour!

With all of this fresh starter, I am back to baking something every day and my neighbours and I are loving the results!

Happy baking folks! Ski

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Wow is it ever grat to have a strong active sweet levain again! I have been feeding daily to help develop character and depth and also baking daily. I built a 1:1:1 levain with bread flour and 95F water as per Forkish and it doubled in three hours. for this bake, I used my sweet levain pulla dough and the chololate filling from ITJB and slivered almonds. YUMMM!!!

I gifted some of this and this morning's boule to my neighbours as a Mother's day treat. I have some happy neighbours!

Happy baking folks! Brian

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This bake was Ken Forkish's double fed sweet levain and I kept to his schedule as much as I could. I had to refrigerate the first build for a few hours and the second build overnight, so the flavour profile will be somewhat different, but this formula sure makes a nice loaf of bread. Great shreddy crumb and a nice crust.

I really enjoy how the loaf blooms open organically by proffing seam side down and baking seam side up.

This was also the first time I tried the stretch and fold in the bowl with wet hands and I really like this method of working dough. With wet hands, I would work the dough ball out of the bowl and let it's weight provide some of the stretch longways, while I stretched out sideways. This is now my preferred method of doing S&F's with high hydration doughs.

 I really like the idea of doing a long overnight proof and then baking from cold. Fire on the oven with the Lodge DO on a baking stone and 5 minutes after 475 is reached, bake it off. Very convenient!

I enjoyed this bake enormously and tomorrow will start another version, but sticking to Ken's levain schedule as close as possible.

Happy baking folks!  Brian

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WOW! Boy was it EVER nice to bite into a naturally leavened loaf again!!!!! The crust, crumb, chew and flavour are so much better!

Very nice to have an active levain started! My YW  starter is sparkling along on day four, so I am back in business. Now that I have a nice active levain and ski season is done, I am getting into the rhythm of baking bread again and lovng it again!

I scaled the recipe to half and it was still a large loaf and my neighbors are happy again as I gave them the big half. I have a Forkish double fed sweet levain just finishing bulk ferment. What a beautiful dough!

With the leftovers from his 2nd levain build, I again refreshed at 20:20:80:100: levain, WW flour, strong bread flour and H20. So now after two days, my starter is on it's 4th feeding and looking happy. I am happy!!!!!

Happy baking folks!

Skibum's picture

I killed off both my sweet levain and YW starters after lengthy travel last fall. I thought it would be easy to replicate -- NOT. Two fails with both Deb Wink's pineapple juice solution and dabrownman's YW. I gave up and didn't bake another loaf all winter. Just cookies, buns and muffins.

Well I now have a most active, young levain. There are two things I did to ensure success this time. Okay three if you count the time that I have to tend to things these days.

The first was I followed Deb's pina juice instructions to the letter, but went 3.5 days until feeding 50 g of the solution, 1:1:1 with WW flour. To back my chances, I transferred the remaining WW/pina solution to a clean container and again fed it 2 TBs pina and 2 Tbs WW flour. Now there was noticeable bubbling by day three, but the batch fed a fourth time had significant bubbling by day 4.5.

Now on day 3.5 I fed the starter 1:1:1  w/90F water. Sometime in the night, well after 12 hours it had more than doubled, hit the lid and deflated. This morning, I used the new starter to do another WW 1:1:1 and a second at 20g levain, 20g WW, 80g strong bread flour and 100g water @ 90F. I also used the 4x fed pina solution a 20:20:80:100 feeding, Forkish style.

The second thing I did was use small cooler with freezable water packs and loaded these with hot water, then added a pack heated in the mike:

This simple setup made it quite easy to maintain an 80F environment. After this mornings feedings all three builds doubled within three hours, with the last one more than doubling in three!!! The WW levain has stayed at double, but after eight hours the WW/BF build went to 3-3.5x volume. Keeping things warm this time really helped!

Well given my new found levain success, I have a YW build bubbling along happily now, a Forkish double fed sweet levain in the first starter build and a traditional lean loaf on the go. Baking bread in fun again.

Stay tuned, and Happy baking!


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Hi friends, this old ski bum had a busy winter baking mostly cookies and muffins and logging 100 ski days for the season in a difficult snow year. YAHOO!

I was going to bake baguettes, got lazy and decided to do a Forkish style proof and bake. Funny, I ate little bread over the winter and suddenly had a hankering for a fresh loaf. Mission accomplished! I also started a pineapple juice solution to get a levain going and in day 5, it looks like I have a successful starter!!!!! I Am also day two on a YW starter that is progressing well according to dabrownman's instructions.

Well now that ski season is pretty much over, back to the bread baking. 

Loaf shot:


I love Dad's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and googled a great knockoff recipe and the results are tremendous!!!

Happy baking folks!  Brian



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