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bottleny's picture

I have been baking every Saturday since last December. While browsing in The Fresh Loaf, I noticed SylviaH's posts about Scali bread and decided that this would be this weekend's task.

The recipe is from King Arthur (here is their blog post). I didn't follow the exact recipe because I prefer leaner bread.


  • AP flour 120.5g
  • Water 75 g
  • 1/4 tsp yeast (1)

Mix to form a ball, refrigerate over 24 hr and then continue at room temperature for 9 hr.

Final dough:

  • All biga
  • AP flour 241 g
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • Milk 153 g (2)
  • 1/2 Tb Olive oil (3)

Mix to form a ball. Following Sylvia's method, I did S&F three times with 30-40min apart. Shape. Rest for 1.5 hr. In the last 30 min, I brushed the egg wash (egg white + 1Tb water). Then baked at 425F, first 15 min with cover and another 15 min without.


(1) KA recipe said "pinch". I didn't know how much the pinch is. I then checked The Artisan's Bread Page and went for 1/4 tsp. breadcetera used 1/8 tsp and 12 hr. Next time I'll use 1/8 tsp

(2) I didn't have dry milk powder so I used 1% milk instead. KA's recipe calls for 157.3 g. I used less because breadcetera used only 145 g. However, after this trial, I would increase the water a little bit, maybe 160g.

(3) KA recipe uses 2 Tb, which would be too much for me. Initially just wanted to use 1 Tb but forgot the correct amount. Next time I'll use 1 Tb.

Before baking


It's darker than what I expected. So was the bottom. My bread didn't have smooth skin... (was like that before baking :-( )

However, the crumbs looked good. I wasn't confident in kneading. But this time it wasn't too bad.


This time it took much longer than my previous baking. Therefore by the time when the bread was ready for my lunch, it's already nearly 1pm! I did my best to be patient! My bread has thicker crust than the ones you find in the supermarket, but it's not too bad. The crumbs were soft but also quite elastic. The leaner taste suited me well.

Every time my bread comes out with a dark bottom. Next time I would reduce the baking temperature by 25F.

By the way, I often see this kind of bread in the supermarket. I thoght it's called Italian Bread. Are they the same?

PS: The remaining egg wash and egg york became scrambled egg with tomato and onion for my dinner, accompanied with this bread.

bottleny's picture

I had tried again baking these two weeks (I'm a weekend baker). My first goal is to bake a very good baguette like what I saw in the bread books and in France.

Failed sourdough baguette

Last week, I used Carl's starter and the no-knead bread recipe, but tried the baguette shaping. The later didn't go well as you can see below.

The recipe is similar to this one in breadtopia but use longer fermentation in the fridge (37 hrs), followed by 11-hr fermentation at room temperature.

Just mixed. At that time, I measured the flour by volume, since my digital scale had not arrived yet. When compared with the one below, I think this was wetter.

After the first rise, did the stretch & fold (very difficult because the dough tended to stick onto the chopping mat) and 2nd proof (1.5hr). Following Ciril Hitz's demonstration, I managed to have three long sticks.

Initially I proof them on the floured towel. But they were still very sticky and hard to handle, I then decided to rest them on the roaster pan .

Baked at 475F (didn't know the exact temperature in the oven then). I tried to create the steam by SylviaH's method. But most of the steam came out from the ventilation hole on the top of the oven.

When I took this photo, I realized that I forgot to score the dough! Not much oven rising either.

The sourdough sticks. The bottom(not evenly brown; the one in the center was darker)


As expected, the crumbs didn't have big holes.

The taste was very sour, a little over what I would like. I'm not sure whether that's normal since this was my first time to have sourdough bread. These were dryer on the 2nd day.

Kind of Successful Stirato

This week I decided to try Lahey's no-knead Stirato recipe. I thought I would have better chance to succeed with his method.

Besides, my order of some baking tools finally arrived, including the digital scale and oven thermometer. This time I used weight rather volum for measuring flour.

Just mixed (Lahey's recipe is 75% hydration). And fermented in the fridge for 11 hr and then at room temperature for 12 hr.

Again, it's very sticky (Question 1). I finally managed to create a rod and divided it into two.

After resting for 40min (Question 2), then stretched them about 13-14in long and put them in the preheated roaster pan (at 475F). I sprayed a little water on top and inside the Al pan (as cover). By the time when I closed the oven door, the temperature already dropped below 400F. :-( Well, I still need to practice more.

Baked with cover for 20 min and without for 10 min (at 450F).

I knew it's a success when I took them out.

The bottom was very dark (Question 3).


The crumbs

Very nice for sandwich for today's lunch

Thoughts & Questions

Lahey's "cover" method is easy to succeed even for a newbie. No matter what kind of tools you use for the cover, it works. I wish I can find a way to create enough steam in my oven. Before that, his method is the best I can get.

Question 1: How do you handle a very wet dough? Maybe I didn't put enough flour on the surface? Is it not a good idea to use chopping mat even sprayed with flour?

Question 2: This recipe (Stirato) is different from the basic no-knead bread. For 2nd rising time, Lahey calls 30 min for Stirato but 1-2 hr for the basic no-knead bread. Why is that? I didn't get the double volume for 40 min but I went ahead to bake anyway.

Question 3: The bottom of the bread came out very dark and thick. How can I make it not so dark?

bottleny's picture

This was my first time to use oven to bake bread (before used bread machine). I had been wanting to try the no-knead bread receipe since it came out in 2006.

I followed the original receipe but tuned it to suit my case. Since my order of the digital scale hasn't arrived, I could only use volume to measure the quantities:

  • 3 Cup flour (2 AP + 1 WW)
  • 1 5/8 tsp salt
  • 3/8 tsp active dry yeast (direct into the mix)
  • 1 5/8 Cup filtered water

After mixing, it looked pretty sloppy.

Then went back to look at the video and realized that it's 1 1/2C water used in the video. This dough was way too wet. Anyway, I still continued the process. Atfer two hours at room temperature, I put the dough (inside a plastic bag) into the fridge.

Here are a series of photos of the long cold-fermentation process.

With another hour at room temperature (total 58.5 hr), I streched and folded the dough. It's so wet that even with plenty flour it's very difficult to handle the dough.

I let it sit for 15 min and then transferred it onto a kitchen towel with flour & cornmeals. Covered for 2.5 hr for the 2nd rise. The dough did rise quite a lot (but in a flat round shape).

When I tried to put it into the big stainless stew pot (preheated in the oven at 500F), I couldn't let it slide into the pot. The dough was so wet that it sticked to the towel. I tried to use the chopping mat but it still sticked to that. In the end, I had to scrabed the dough down.

I was worried that this might delate the dough quite a lot. But when I removed the cover after 30min, I noticed the bread was all right. So happy that I forgot to lower the oven temperature to 450 until 8 min later. I let it baked at 450 for another 8 min before took the bread out.

It looked not bad right? Initially I shaped it into a round "disk" (it's too soft to be shaped into a ball), but it became oval when I tried very hard to let it slide into the pot. I even slashed the dough but it's all gone during that process.

Look at this caramalized crust!

I brought this bread for the Thanksgiving dinner at my supervisor's house. I had the honor to cut my bread and took the picture.

When I saw the crumb like that, I knew it's going to be good. And indeed, it's very chewy inside! I was very proud of my bread. Well, for a newbie, this was a big success.

If I didn't have the trouble of sliding this extremely wet dough into the pot, the bread would likely rise higher than the above.

I estimate the hydration in my dough was around 90%, much higher than Mark Bittman's in his later note (80%). Next time I would definitely lower the water amount. I would like to try no-knead bageutte. :-)

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