The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


dabrownman's picture

After our recent experiments with 100% whole grain bread, and DaPumperizing some of them, we found out that our limited supply of what we call white breads was exhausted.  These ‘white breads’ still have 20%-30% whole grains in them so they have some decent flavor and healthfulness.


We thought we would go Italian for this bake because of the sneaky ricotta, goat cheese and citrus cheese cake my apprentice baked while no one was looking.   It had also been awhile since we had done a chacon shape too.  We could have done an Italian shape like an Altamura but these shapes usually need some durum flour in hem and we are saving the last of Desert Durum for something else.


Instead of out usual pesto, parmesan and sun dried tomato Italian bread that we like so much we decided to go in a different Italian direction by using figs, hazelnuts and ricotta cheese to go along with the 22% whole grain Rye, spelt and WW that was mainly used in the levains.


Yes, we had 2 levains for this bake but they were both of the SD variety instead of YW we usually use for 1 of them.  We used out Rye Sour and our Not Mini’s Ancient WW starters for this bake.  We love what both of them do for bread so why not combine them and see what happens.


So not to have enough to do for this bake we also decided to use whey water for some of the liquid and do a Tang Zhong with 25 g of the dough flour with an additional 125 g of water not included in the liquid amounts in the formula.


We thought about throw in some of our aromatic seed mix but the apprentice nixed that at the last minute wanting to know what was German about this bake anyway?  For being mainly nutzoid when it comes to breaking the bread mold, she can be traditional when you least expect it – usually right before doing a nose rip on you – which is also not expected.


These levains built themselves up to doubling in 4 hours so only one build was needed to get them full strength.  We did not retard the levains when built as is our usual practice of late but we did do a 4 hour autolyse of the dough flours with the malts, VWG and Toadies.  We kept the nuts, figs, cheese and salt out.  Usually we put the salt in the autolyse so we don’t forget it but thought we try to have Lucy remember to put it in later.

After the 2 levains, the Tang Zhong, ricotta cheese and autolyse came together, we mixed it withy a spoon for 1 minute and then did 4 minutes of slap and folds before adding the salt.  This dough feels much wetter that the just short of the 69% total hydration with the add ins.  This is due to the Thang Zhong and the cheese. 

After the salt went in, we did another 8 minutes of slap and folds before the dough finally came together fore a 20 minute rest.  We then did (3) sets of S&F’s on 15 minute intervals and incorporated the nuts and re-hydrated figs in the 2nd one and by the 3rd one they were well distributed.   The wet figs also added some more unaccounted liquid to the mix. 


After a hours worth of ferment on the counter the dough was bulk retarded for 12 hours, ala Ian’s typical retard mastering.  In the cold it had risen to the rime of the bowl and after 1 ¾ hours on the counter the next morning it has risen above the rim of the bowl .

We then divided it and shaped the knotted rolls; one each for the bottom of each basket, and shaped the twisted rope in addition of the oval basket so these Chacons wouldn’t end up looking too similar after baking.   So no braids, balls or other intricate shapes and designs in the bottom of the basket were used in keeping with this simple Italian bake.

After 2 hours of final proof on the counter in a plastic bag, they were ready for Big old Betsy that had bee preheated to 500 F with one of David Snyder’s lava rocks in a large cast Iron skillet along with a large size one of Sylvia’s steaming pans with 2 rolled up towels in it.  Both were put into the oven half full of water when the 40 minute preheat started and they supplied their usual mega steam.  We also used top and bottom stones as we always do since they never come out of the oven.

My apprentice thought that the loaves were over proofed again when the came out of the bag since the dough jiggled like jello or a croissant and the dough had risen above the rim of the baskets.   But, since Chacons do not need to be slashed, they went straight into the oven on the bottom stone after un-molding onto parchment paper and peel.  They still managed to spring nicely anyway and my apprentice’s over proofing fear was as unfounded as her legal immigration status.

After 2 minutes the temperature was turned down to 460 F and then after a total of 12 minutes the steaming apparatus came out of the oven and the temperature was turned down to 425 F , convection this time.  The loaves were rotated on the stone every 5 minutes for 15 minutes when they tested 205 F and were removed from the oven to a cooling rack.

The loaves cracked well on top as they should and they ended up being nicely browned,  crisp but un-blistered despite the long retard and mega steam.  They are awfully nice looking loaves none the less and we can’t wait to cut into one to see what the crumb looks like.

The crumb turned out fairly open, glossy and super soft.  The Tang Zhong really came through as it always does.   I like to use it on whole grain, multi-grain breads since we discovered that it does the same thing for these breads as it does for white breads.  Now we know it isn't just the YW that makes the crumb soft.  We like this bread very much and it is worth the extra effort required to pull it off. 


WW and Rye Sour Levain

Build 1



WW SD Starter




Rye Sour Starter








Whole Wheat




Dark Rye
















Levain Totals




















Levain % of Total








Dough Flour




Whole spelt




Dark Rye








Dough Flour












Whey 200 Water100




Dough Hydration








Total Flour




Soaker Water 300 & Water




T. Dough Hydration




Whole Grain %








Hydration w/ Adds




Total Weight








Add - Ins




White Rye Malt




Red Rye Malt








VW Gluten




Ricotta Cheese




Adriatic & Mission Figs
















Weight of figs is pre re-hydrated weight




linder's picture

I finally got around to making Eric's Rye Bread.  I've been wanting to try out this formula ever since I saw it posted here on TFL.  It is a wonderfully fragrant loaf of rye with sourdough, onions and caraway.  I sauteed two medium sized onions in about 2 TBSP of olive oil and added them to the final dough along with all the other ingredients.  The dough smelled sooo good even before it was baked.  The bread is light and fluffy.  I baked the second loaf about 10 minutes more for a total of 50 minutes since it was a 2 lb. boule.  The batard loaf could have stood a little more time in the oven but it still is baked enough in the middle. 

I made this bread to take to a potluck on Thursday.  There will be a hearty soup as part of the potluck so I thought this rye bread would work well.  I'm definitely making this again for us to have with some pastrami and homemade sauerkraut.


Crumb close up

maojn's picture

This is the result of my weeks of practice making baguettes. I posted a question in the forum and thanks to everyone who provided help. I have finally nailed down the problem and have made 3 consistant good batches. Turned out my problem is not only at scoring, but also the fermentation time, my oven temp,  and steaming duing baking.

The story started at my first post and here is the quesiton I posted. 

To summarize:

- The bulk fermentation should be much longer so the volume at least 3x

- The final fermentation takes 1 hour, instead of 30 min

- My scoring was indeed too deep, should be shallower like trying to make a flip. With the combination of enough fermentation, right scoring and right temp/steam, the ears will stand up themselves!!!

- put my stone at the bottom near the heat source which is 290C, preheat at least 1 hour, lava stones in cast iron tray under it preheat together. Once the dough in, add two cups of boiling water over the lava stone and keep the temp at 290 for 5 min, then drop to 240C. Take the lava stone out after 10 min and continue 240C for 10min

I am very happy with my current baguettes. I did modified my previous recipe a little bit and use only SD without instant yeast, also did autolyse during bulk fermentation.


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Sometimes you pause and wonder why it took so long to do some things.

In the last week, I finally gathered some important tools that for no reason other than being busy and perhaps lazy, completed my home bread baking needs.

I had been struggling with scoring, more specifically the lack of blooming and ears.  With some help from David Snyder and these new tools, it looks like I have finally overcome these issues.

These are the three items I picked up.

1. Unglazed Quarry tiles:  Till now, I had simply been baking my breads directly on my trusty roaster pan.  I was not getting the proper burst of surface heat required for a proper bake.  $3.50 at a local tile supplier.  I hope in the future to find a larger square and have it custom cut to fit the roaster.

2. Razor Blades:  Till now, I was using a utility blade to score my loaves.  I realize now that the utility blade was much too thick compared to these Wilkinson Sword blades.  The scoring came effortlessly and helped in producing a nice swift, clean cut.

3. Local mill organic bread flour:  Till now, I was using Robin Hood Bread Flour.  A brand similar to King Arthur Flour in the states.  I finally picked up some good quality, freshly milled bread flour.  I will never go back to brand name, store bought flour.  Flavour was FAR superior and price cheaper per pound.

For many of you, these items are nothing but common sense and obvious items for successful home bread baking.  For me, it now a revelation and a must.

Here is today's bake that utilized these new tools for the first time.  It started out as Vermont Sourdough, but due to mishaps in the mixing stage, I made all kinds of additions and deletions to the original formula that I decided to call it a Vancouver Sourdough.  No offence to the JH original.

My trusty steaming method of a roaster, with 4 6"x6" stacked, and a tin can to hold the boiling water.

Marc Brik's picture
Marc Brik

I was curious (again) .... I was wondering if pepper, if baked, would hold its flavour and heat... well it holds it heat a little there is a nice tinge on the tip of the tong after a few bites. But I was supprised what a nice flavour black pepper actually has. 

The bread is light,soft with a nice crumb. So; all with all, it worked really well.

Black pepper bread

You can make this dough without the sourdough starter, remove the sourdough and increase the dried active yeast to 20gr. The sourdough just gives that nice extra flavour.

Almond ground raw                             20 gr

Black pepper corn toasted                    10 gr

Anise seed toasted                                 5 gr

12% white flour                                     850 gr

Rye meal stoneground                         50 gr

Semolina                                              100 gr

Gluten flour                                           25 gr

Water luckwarm                                  650 ml

Yeast active dried                                  10 gr

Sourdough starter 60% hydration      107 gr

Salt                                                         20 gr

a)      For a starter: mix rye, semolina, water, starter, yeast, 300 gr flour. Activate to double volume

b)      Meanwhile: dry toast pepper &  anise seed, cool and ground in spice grinder

c)       Once the starter has reached the volume, quickly mix ALL ingredients together

d)      Auto lease for 20 minutes

e)      Kneed to fine window pane test, this takes a while

f)       And yes the dough is sloppy

g)      Let it rise to double to triple the volume.

h)      Divide in 450gr portions

i)        Round up, roll out, roll up, quarter turn, roll out and roll up

j)        Place on baking tray, I use baking paper

k)      Preheat the oven to 200°C, top and bottom heat no fan

l)        Make incisions  any pattern you like, dust with rye flour

m)    Cover with a light cloth, and rest until double in volume

n)      Pre-steam the oven with a spray bottle and a little container of water in the oven for 2 minuteso)     

o)      Bake the loafs for 20 minutes

p)      Check by tapping the baked bread on the bottom, it needs to sound hollow

q)      Cool on a cooling rack

r)       Very nice with some old cheese, like mature Gouda.

s)       “Eet smakelijk” 

kolobezka's picture

Milk or other liquid for preparing sourdough starter overnight

March 27, 2013 - 4:20am -- kolobezka

Would it be possible to make a sourdough starter ("biga") for bread or something sweet with milk instead of water? Wouldn't milk (pasteurised or ultra-heated) go bad overnight? And how about bear, grain coffee, whey etc.?

Any ideas or experience?

Thanks, zdenka


Subscribe to RSS - Sourdough