The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Artisan Breads

Trishinomaha's picture

Have Failed Twice with Thom Leonard Country French Recipe

February 16, 2007 - 6:53pm -- Trishinomaha

I need some guidance please from all you master bakers. I made this Thom Leonard Bread last week-end and it was so hard and dense I ended up throwing it in the trash. I was home from work today so I started a new batch last night. I followed the instructions carefully and weighed the ingredients. This dough (after nursing it since late morning) was so wet it ended up in the trash as well. It stuck to the linen in the basket and was the stickiest (sp.) I've ever worked with. (Not that I have that much experience yet). I'm not giving up and will try yet again this week-end. Floyd or someone...can you give me a description for how wet the dough should be, ...what it should feel like? I guess this has been a good learning experience - I now know what too dry and too wet are. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

caryn's picture

Trader Joe's Honey seed bread

February 16, 2007 - 10:50am -- caryn

I offer a challenge to anyone on this site.  I am an avid baker like many of you and have had great success recently with sour dough starter breads- I think my best success was last weekend with the Thom Leonard's boule recipe from Maggie Glezer's artisan bread book.   It was flavorful and the crust was wonderfully crunchy.  (I still need to work on my shaping, however. It came out more rectangular than round!!)

JMonkey's picture

Well, I had mixed success with TomsBread's method. I mixed 450 grams of whole wheat flour with 388 grams of water (85% hydration) and just a pinch of yeast. I put it in the beer-cooler incubator at 85 degrees F for 3 hours, and than popped it in the fridge for about 15 hours. I then pulled it out, let it warm at 85 degrees for an hour, and tried my best to mix in 1 tsp yeast and 9 grams of salt. Wasn't easy, though, because the dough was very well developed by this point.

I then did a stretch and fold every half hour for a total of three, shaped it and let it rise for about 90 minutes. I forgot to slash the loaf, but I baked it in the cloche at 500 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, with 30 of those minutes covered.

The bread tastes great -- wheaty, sweet, a buttery after-taste with very little dry, bitter bran flavor. The texture is weird, though, which probably comes from my not mixing the yeast up well enough. Big holes in places with very dense sections elsewhere. "Fault lines" where the bread easily splits apart, as you can see on the lower left. I imagine thats from a layer of yeast that didn't get mixed. But I did learn that big (or moderately big) holes are possible and that 85% hydration doesn't have to mean flat bread. Next time, I think I'll try a combo of pain a l'ancienne with the NYT / Sullivan St. Bakery method. Mix up the full dough with cold ingredients and just 1/4 tsp of yeast. Pop it in the fridge for 12 hours or so. Then, pull it out, do three stretch and folds once per 45 minutes to an hour, shape and let it rise. Slowly.

Maybe I'll try it this weekend. If I do, I'll post how it went.

anawim_farm's picture


Using Daniel Leader's formula for Pain Au Levain for the last few bakings, making both torpedo and boulet shapes

Levain                                                  18 ounces

Sweet Well Water ;)                               18 fluid ounces

KA unbleached Bread Flour 

with 20% KA Stone Ground

Whole Wheat Flour                                24-29 ounces

Sea Salt                                               3/4 ounce

On my first attempt at this I used all KA unbleached flour which resulted in a very wet dough that didn't rise very well.  My 2nd and 3rd attempts were better. The 2nd was the torpedo shape followed by the round.

arhoolie's picture

Dough sticking to cloth when transferring to peel

February 11, 2007 - 4:28pm -- arhoolie

Hi folks,

This is my first post here, though I've been making Artisan-style breads, mostly sour-doughs, for little over a year now. The techniques I've picked up have been mostly from Reinhart's BBA. Here's my question. When I transfer the boule from the proofing bowl to my peel prior to docking and putting in the oven, the dough sticks to the cloth such that I have to very carefully peel it away. This is very tedious at best and frustrating to say the least. I have two cloths that I use: one is a flax couche that I got from Baker's Catalogue, the other is a cotton tea-towl (not terry cloth). Both have been sprayed with oil and then impregnated with flour to try and prevent this sticking, but I can't seem to figure what I might be doing wrong or how to prevent it.

grepstar's picture

Last weekend I took another stab at the Sourdough English muffins, going with some of the modifications that I suggested in my previous post. Here is my recipe for this batch with the changed ingredients from Nancy Silverton's original recipe in boldface:


18 oz White Starter
2 cups plain soy milk
7 oz unbleached white bread flour (high extraction - 14% protein) (I used 1 oz less)
3.5 oz dark rye flour

10 oz warm water (85 degrees)
0.3 oz of SAF instant yeast
1/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup rye flakes
2 tbs raw sunflower seeds
2 tbs raw pepitas
7 oz unbleached white bread flour
(high extraction - 14% protein)
1/4 cup (minus a smidge) honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 tbs kosher salt
Cake flour for dusting
Semolina flour for dusting

This time, I was able to make the muffins over the course of one day as the original recipe calls for. The sponge fermented for about 2 hours before I made the final dough which in turn rose for another hour and a half.


I decided this time that I needed more strength for the parchment paper rings and so I cut the pieces of parchment twice as tall and then folded in half. While seeming like a good idea, it ended up being more difficult to fill the rings since the dough got caught between the folded layers on a few of the muffins and the strength of the rings was no greater. Besides, I cost me double the amount of parchment paper.

The use of the cake flour for dusting the board became a real pain since the dough was more hydrated in this version than the last. Most of it clumped up and took some effort to brush off. In the end, using no flour at all and keeping my hands slightly damp to help handle the dough would have worked much better.

The muffins rose in the rings for about an hour and then I dusted them with semolina and tossed them in the oven.

I waited until the next day before tearing one open and they were much tastier than the last batch. The sweetness of the honey was much mellower than the agave nectar and the wheat germ and rye flakes added even more heartiness in flavor and texture.

Split muffin


My wife and I have been enjoying them as the base for fried egg sandwiches: toased muffin, 1 fried egg, 2 slices of facon (veggie bacon), a think spread of garlic herbed queso fresco from Shepard's Way and a smear of dijon mustard.

Wayne's picture

This was my first shot at making Essential's Columbia bread..................batards slightly deflated when they were scored...probably overproofed a little.  Anyway,  this is a very good bread.  Thanks Mountaindog for your wet starter recipe. 

bwraith's picture

how/where to get/work with flour fresh from the mill

February 6, 2007 - 9:54am -- bwraith

I've done a fair amount baking of sourdough hearth breads using standard recipes from Reinhart, Glezer, et al. I've always used standard flours from KA, such as their whole wheat, white whole wheat, rye blend, bread flour, Sir Lancelot high gluten, and others. Recently someone brought me some "sifted stone ground whole wheat flour" from Littleton Grist Mill in NH. I found I had some trouble with it that I suspect revolves around the need for malted barley flour addition, possibly aging, and possibly hydration differences, as well as needing to figure out the protein content and adjust for that, as well. But, it did get me thinking about exploring the availability of flours straight from mills in retail quantities and motivated the questions below.

crumb bum's picture

Degassing dough

February 4, 2007 - 9:38pm -- crumb bum

Hello Flour Fanatics

Just thought I would post a couple of thoughts and discoveries.  The first involves the gentle handling of the dough in order to not degas it.  I do my best to handle the dough as little as possible but now i'm not sure how much difference this makes.  I made pizza this weekend out of the same dough I use for my everyday bread.  I mixed, folded and proofed as usual.  I then rolled it out pretty flat before attemting to throw it.  Bottom line is I brutalized this dough by my standards.  I topped and baked and guess what happened?  You got it, tons of bubbles, some were quite large.  The edge of the crust was light and airy and full of irregular bubbles.  This was no ciabatta but if you saw the dough after the roll out you would not have thought there was a whole lot of gas left in it.  Me thinks I have been a little wimpy handling my dough in an attemt to get that crumb we all desire.  I therefore have to think that good crumb is more the result of good complete proofing rather than gentle handling?  I would be curious to know if any of you have noticed the same thing.


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