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dmsnyder's picture

San Joaquin Sourdough, updated


The "San Joaquin Sourdough" is my own recipe. It evolved through multiple iterations from Anis Bouabsa's formula for baguettes. Most of my deviations developed in discussion on TFL with Janedo, who first suggested adding sourdough starter and rye, and, then, leaving out the baker's yeast and making it as a "pure" pain au levain.

I have tried many modifications of ingredients and procedures. The current formula uses the ingredients specified below.

Those who have followed the evolution of this bread will note that I have increased the levain from 20 to 30 (baker's) percent. I have also switched from a 75% hydration levain to a 100% hydration levain, reducing the water added to the dough to keep the overall dough hydration about the same.

Originally, all gluten development was by the “stretch and fold in the bowl” method. I have added a couple folds on the board and lengthened the bulk fermentation prior to cold retarding the dough.

These changes result in a somewhat tangier bread. I don't think they have changed the crust or crumb structure noticeably.

I made two other modifications of my procedures for today's bake: First, I employed the oven steaming method recommended for home bakers by The San Francisco Baking Institute.

The oven is not pre-steamed (before loading the loaves). A cast iron skillet filled with steel pieces (nuts and bolts, rebar pieces) is pre-heated in the oven along with two baking stones. One stone is placed on a rack above the stone and rack on which the loaves will be loaded. When the loaves are loaded, a perforated pie tin filled with ice cubes is set atop the skillet. As the ice melts, water drips through the perforations and turns to steam when it hits the metal pieces.

I deviated from the SFBI-prescribed method in two particulars: I used only a single baking stone, and my cast iron skillet was filled with lava rocks rather than steel pieces.

My second procedure modification was to open the oven door for a few seconds every 5 minutes during the final 15 minutes of the bake. This was to “vent” the steam rising from the loaves themselves in the hope this would result in a crust that stays crisp longer. It did result in less softening of the crust as the bread cooled. Methods to vent the oven and dry the crust during the last part of the bake warrant further exploration.




Active starter (100% hydration)

150 gms

KAF All Purpose flour

450 gms

BRM Dark Rye flour

50 gms


360 gms

Sea Salt

10 gms



Mixing In a large bowl, mix the active starter with the water to dissolve it. Add the flours and stir to form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let rest (autolyse) for 20-60 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Using a plastic scraper or silicon spatula, stretch and fold the dough 30 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 3 times more at 30 minute intervals.

Fermentation After the last series of stretches and folds, scape the dough into a lightly oiled 2 quart/2 liter container and cover tightly. (I use a 2 quart glass measuring pitcher with a tightly fitting plastic lid manufactured by Anchor Glass.) Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes with a stretch and fold after 45 minutes, then place in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours.

Dividing and Shaping  Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. Divide as desired or leave in one piece. To pre-shape for a bâtard, fold the near edge up just past the center of the dough and seal the edge by gently pressing the two layers together with the ulnar (little finger) edge of your hand or the heel of your hand, whichever works best for you. Then, bring the far edge of the dough gently just over the sealed edge and seal the new seam as described.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 60 minutes, with the seams facing up. (The time will depend on ambient temperature and how active your starter is. The dough should have risen slightly, but not much.)

To shape a bâtard, fold the near edge of the dough and seal the edge, as before. Now, take the far edge of the dough and bring it towards you all the way to the work surface and seal the seam with the heel of your hand. Rotate the loaf gently toward you 1/4 turn so the last seam you formed is against the work surface and roll the loaf back and forth, with minimal downward pressure, to further seal the seam. Then, with the palms of both hands resting softly on the loaf, roll it back and forth to shape a bâtard. Start with both hands in the middle of the loaf and move them outward as you roll the loaf, slightly increasing the pressure as you move outward, so the bâtard ends up with the middle highest and the ends pointed .

Preheating the oven One hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack and put your steaming apparatus of choice in place. Heat the oven to 500F.

Proofing After shaping the loaf, transfer it to parchment paper liberally dusted with semolina or a linen couche. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel or a fold of the linen. Proof until the loaf has expanded to about 1-1/2 times it's original size. (30-45 minutes) Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!

Baking Pre-steam the oven, if desired.

Slip a peel or cookie sheet under the parchment paper holding the loaf or transfer to a peel, if you used a couche. Score the loaf. (For a bâtard, hold the blade at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf. Make one swift end-to-end cut, about 1/2 inch deep.)

Transfer the loaf (and parchment paper, if used) to the baking stone. Steam the oven. Turn the oven down to 460F.

After 12-15 minutes, remove the loaf pan and your steaming apparatus from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is browning unevenly. Close the oven door.

Bake for another 12-15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Check for doneness. (Nice crust color. Internal temperature of at least 205F. Hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.) If necessary, return to loaf to the oven to bake longer.

Cooling Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.



Submitted to YeastSpotting


Buttermilk and Honey Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread

Buttermilk Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

This is one of my favorite breads. The honey adds a touch of sweetness while the buttermilk gives it a slightly tangy flavor. It’s great for toast and sandwiches. And, as Laurel Robertson (whose recipe I’ve adapted) in “The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book”  wrote, “It keeps well, when hidden.”

Whole wheat flour: 100%
Salt: 2%
Instant yeast: 0.6%
Water: 38%
Buttermilk: 38%
Honey: 8.4%
Unsalted butter: 2.8%


Whole wheat flour : 500 grams or about 4 cups
Salt: 10 grams or 1.25 tsp
Instant yeast: 3 grams or 1 tsp
Water: 185 grams or ¾ cup + 1 Tbs
Buttermilk: 185 grams or ¾ cup + 1 Tbs
Honey: 42 grams or 2 Tbs
Unsalted butter: 14 grams or 1 Tbs

Add the salt to the flour. Mix them thoroughly and then add the yeast, also mixing. Melt the butter (or, if you like, work it in later while kneading) and add the water, buttermilk, melted butter and honey to the flour, mixing well until everything is hydrated.

Dough development

You’ve got several choices on how to develop the dough.

  • Traditional kneading: Let it rise 2 to 2.5 hours in the bulk rise at room temperature.
  • Stretch and fold: After the final stretch and fold is finished, give it 2 hours at room temperature.
  • French fold: Give it two hours after the French fold is finished.

If you’re not retarding the bread, deflate the dough after the first rise with a stretch and fold, and let the dough rise once more before shaping. It’ll take about 1.5 hours or so.

This dough makes a great sandwich loaf, and I usually bake it in a greased 8.5” by 4.5” bread pan.

I’ll often make the dough after dinner. After the first rise is complete, I’ll shape it, put another pan on top and then place it outside if the temperatures will get down into the 45 to 55 degree range. If it’ll be colder than that, I place it in our “cold room” which is unheated, but rarely gets below 40 degrees.

If it’s going to be a hot summer night, I’ll pop it in the fridge, but that usually means that I’ll need to let it warm up for 2-3 hours in the morning. I’ll sometimes speed up the warming by putting the pan on an upturned bowl at the bottom of a picnic cooler, throw a cup of boiling water in the bottom of the cooler and then close it up quick.

Scoring and baking
I usually score the dough with a single slash down the center, but it’s not necessary. I bake at 350 degrees F for about 55 minutes. If you like, you don’t even need to preheat the oven. Just pop it in cold and turn the oven on.

zolablue's picture

Thom Leonard's Country French

I'm posting this recipe for discussion as we have been talking about it on the Glezer firm starter thread.  I have made this bread often with variations because I did not have the high-extraction flour yet.  I recently purchased the Golden Buffalo flour from Heartland Mill in Kansas and it was superb.  I didn’t take photos of those so will next time I make it.


The one pictured here was made using Hodgson Mill WW graham flour sifted for the WW portion (250g) and mixed with the 750g King Arthur bread flour.  I’ve also made it sifting the King Arthur traditional and organic WW flours but I like the sweetness of the graham flour.  Still, I think after using that high-extraction flour the flavor was so extraordinary I would choose to make it that way more often.


Mountaindog has also posted her variation on this bread here and she makes beautiful loaves of it.

This is a great recipe to play around with and it always comes out fabulous bread.  Another note – I generally like to make four smaller boules but when I made them with the high-extraction flour I made two boules and they were large and fantastic. 


Here are the some photos of the ones I made a few months ago (more photos here: ) and the recipe follows:

Thom Leonard’s Country French Bread - © Maggie Glezer, Artisan Baking  

Makes one 4 pound (1.8-kilo) loafTime: At least 18 hours with about 30 minutes of active work 

Much of what makes this bread so special is the high-extraction flour used in it.  This is a bolted whole-wheat flour much lighter in color and sweeter in flavor than a whole-wheat flour (at 100% extraction), but much darker and more flavorful than a white flour (at 72% extraction).


The method I give here for making your own high-extraction flour will work best on coarsely ground whole wheat flour.  If you already have a good high-extraction flour, substitute it for the whole-wheat and bread flour in the final recipe.  Thom also includes a little of his sourdough rye starter in the dough, but it is such a small amount that I have bumped up the levain slightly and added rye flour to the final dough instead.

RECIPE SYNOPSIS The evening before baking - making the Levain: 

25 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons or 0.8 oz) fermented firm sourdough starter refreshed 8 hrs before (17%)

140 grams (2/3 cup or 4.9 oz) water, lukewarm (100%)

140 grams (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon or 4.9 oz) unbleached bread flour (100%)


Dissolve the sourdough starter in the water in a small bowl.  Add the flour and beat this batter-like dough until very smooth. Place in a covered container and let it ferment overnight for 8 hours, or until fully risen and just starting to sink in the middle.

Bake Day – Mixing the Dough: 

350 grams (about 12 oz or about 2 1/2 cups) Coarsely ground whole-wheat flour, preferably milled from an organic, hard winter wheat (eventually 25%)

750 grams (26.5 oz or 5 cups) unbleached bread flour, preferably organic (75%)

30 grams (1 oz or 1/4 cup) organic whole-rye flour (3%)

660 grams (24 oz or 3 cups) water (66%)

Fermented levain (30%)

23 grams (0.8 oz or 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons) salt (2.3%)

Preparing the flour: 

Sift the whole-wheat through your finest sieve or flour sifter.  The large flakes of bran should be caught in the sieve (use them for flouring your peel or for muffins).  Measure out 2 cups 3 tablespoons (8.8 ounces, 250 grams) sifted flour.  Mix this dark flour with the bread flour and the rye flour in a large bowl or in the work bowl of your mixer.


Add the water to the fermented levain to loosen it from the container.


Mixing the dough: 

By hand:  Pour the watered levain into the flours and stir with your hands or a wooden spoon just until a rough dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto the unfloured work surface and continue kneading until the dough is very smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes.  This is a lot of dough and will take some muscle.  Sprinkle on the salt and continue to knead the bread until the salt has fully dissolved and the dough is very smooth and shiny.


By stand mixer:  Add the watered levain to the flours in the work bowl and stir the dough together with a wooden spoon or your hand (this will make the mixing go more quickly).  Using the dough hook, mix the dough on medium speed for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth and almost cleans the bowl.  Add the salt and continue mixing until the dough is much tighter and cleans the bowl, about 5 more minutes.

This should be a soft, sticky, and extensible dough.  

Fermenting and turning the dough:  

Place the dough in a container at least 3 times its size and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until it is airy and well expanded but not yet double in bulk, about 3 hours.  Turn the dough 3 times at 30-minute intervals, that is, after 30, 60, and 90 minutes of fermenting, then leave the dough undisturbed for the remaining time.

Rounding and resting the dough: 

Flour the surface of the dough and your work surface and turn the dough out.  Tuck the edges of the dough in to tighten it, round it, and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.  Let it rest until well relaxed, 10 to 15 minutes.  While the dough is resting, sift flour over a linen-lined basket or line a large colander with a well-floured tea towel.

Shaping and proofing the dough: 

Shape the dough into an even and tight round loaf without deflating it.  Place the dough topside down in a linen-lined basket or large colander, lightly sprinkle it with flour, and cover it well with plastic wrap.  Proof the dough until it is well expanded, about doubled in volume and remains indented when lightly pressed with a floured finger, after about 4 hours.

Preheating the oven: 

At least 45 minutes before the dough is fully proofed, arrange a rack on the oven’s second-to-top shelf and place a baking stone on it.  Clear away all racks above the one being used Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

Baking the bread: 

If desired, just before baking the bread, fill the oven with steam.  Turn the bread out onto a sheet of parchment paper or a floured peel and slash 3 to 4 diagonal slashes and 3 to 4 horizontal slashes into the top.  It will look like a skewed grid with diamond-shaped openings.  Slide the bread, still on the paper, onto the hot stone and bake until the bread is dark and evenly browned all around and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, 70 to 80 minutes, rotating it halfway into the bake.  If the bread is browning too quickly, reduce the oven temperature to 400°F (205°C), but still bake the bread for at least 70 minutes.  Let the bread cool on a rack.


The Fresh Loaf
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When I tell people I am into bread baking, people often respond by telling me that they wish they could bake bread but it just seems too complicated. I find this discouraging, because baking a basic loaf of bread is about the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. Once you understand what is going on in a simple loaf of bread you should be able to look at 90% of more difficult bread recipes and have a sense of what that loaf will taste and feel like.

Bread, at its core, is just four things:


That's it. There are even methods to cut out at least two more of those (yeast and salt), but the end product is unlikely to come out tasting like a typical loaf of bread.

Each ingredient and step in the process of making bread serves a distinct purpose. Once you understand what role each ingredient performs and what is occurring in each step of the process you will feel liberated to experiment and create your own recipes.

Understanding the Ingredients

  • Flour. There are a million different types of flour. Among them are those made from different grains, those made from different types of wheat, bleached and unbleached flour, enriched flour, blended flours, whole grain flours, and on and on. Don't let this intimidate you! Realize that your standard grocery store, All-Purpose Enriched Unbleached Flour that comes in a ten pound bag for under two bucks is good enough to produce an excellent loaf of bread. It is probably higher quality than the flour that 90% of bakers throughout history have ever gotten their hands on. Ok, you are unlikely to win the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (The Bread Baker's World Cup) using it, but that isn't what most of us are aiming for.

    Flour forms the basis for your loaf of bread. No flour, no bread.

  • Water. You can probably find some of this around the house, can't you?

    Water activates the yeast and dissolves all of the other ingredients. Adding more water results is a stickier, flatter loaf with less regular holes in it, like a Ciabatta. Too little water restricts the expansion of the dough and results in a tight, dry, hard loaf.

  • Yeast. Once again, basic Instant Yeast (also known as Bread Machine Yeast) from the grocery store that comes in those little packets is good enough for all but the most elite baker.

    Active Dry Yeast, another kind commonly found in grocery stores, needs to be activated by pouring it in warm water prior to mixing it into the dough. So read the back of the packet before adding it to your mixture.

    Yeast is what causes the dough to rise. Adding more yeast will cause the loaf to rise more quickly. Adding too much yeast can cause a beery, off taste in your loaf. A teaspoon or two of yeast per loaf is typically called for.

  • Salt. Table salt works well enough. The kosher salt or sea salt that most grocery stores carry tastes a little better, but it isn't worth picking any up just for baking your first loaf: use whatever you've got in the house.

    Salt retards the yeast and helps control the fermentation process. It also adds flavor that most of us expect in even the simplest of breads.

These are the fundamental ingredients for making a decent loaf of bread. Additional ingredients add flavor or complexity to your bread. These will be discussed in a later article.

Once you understand the way these four principle ingredients function, you can look at any recipe and realize that the basic rules of how bread works don't change.

Understanding The Process

For a basic loaf, all you need to do is put the ingredients together in a large bowl, mix them together with a wooden spoon, and then knead the dough on a hard surface for approximately 10 minutes.


before rising

Kneading is more than just stirring: kneading actually releases and aligns a protein in the flour called gluten. Gluten strands are what allow bread to form irregular pockets of carbon dioxide. Without this step your bread will have uniformly small holes, more like a muffin or loaf of banana bread.

As long as you aren't tearing or cutting the dough it is hard to go wrong with kneading. Squish and roll, squish and fold, applying a fair amount of pressure on the dough, is a basic kneading technique.

At some point, typically around seven or eight minutes into the process, the consistency of the dough will change. It'll become silky and smooth. You should feel it change. This is a good sign that you've kneaded enough. I typically give it another 2 or 3 minutes before calling it quits.

At this point, drop the dough into a bowl (it's helpful if the bowl is greased to keep your dough from sticking to the bottom - regular spray oil will usually do the trick) and throw a towel over the bowl, and leave it alone to let it rise.


after rising

Status check: by the time you are ready to let your loaf rise the yeast should be activated and the gluten should be aligned. The yeast does what any organism does after a long nap: it eats. The yeast feeds on the simple sugars that occur naturally in the flour. The yeast then releases carbon dioxide, which causes the bread to swell and form pockets.

If you have kneaded properly the dough will form long strands of gluten which allow large air pockets to form in your loaf. If not you will end up with numerous smaller holes. No holes in your dough means your yeast failed to activate.

The loaf must rise until it is approximately double in size. This typically takes from 45 minutes to a couple of hours, all depending on how much yeast the recipe called for. Temperature too is a factor: the warmer the room is the quicker the yeast will rise.

Punching Down and Shaping

shaped loaf

Some recipes call for one rise before shaping the loaf. Other recipes call for punching down the loaf to allow two or more rises. Punching down means simply to squish the risen dough down and re-knead it so that it is smaller again.

The purpose of punching down is to free up more food for the yeast. The longer the yeast feeds, the more complex the flavor of the loaf. Too many rises, however, can result in off flavors, such as bitterness and a beery flavor, to occur in your bread. As well as carbon dioxide yeast releases alcohol and acids. Too much acid in your loaf can actually cause the yeast to die off.

You do not shape the loaf until you are ready for the final rise. Either you place the loaf in a loaf pan or you shape it into a baguette, batard, round, or whatever shape you want. Then you give it another hour or so to double in size again.

scored loaf

Scoring the bread is just slicing it. You'll want to use something really sharp so that the dough doesn't fall and collapse again. A razor blade does the trick if you don't have fancy knives. The purpose of this is to release some of the trapped gases in your loaf so that it doesn't tear open while baking. It also makes your loaf look nice.


In the first five minutes in the oven your loaf will have one last growth spurt. This is called oven spring. Think of it as the yeast feeding itself quicker and quicker as it heats up until the rising temperature finally kills it off.


Many bakers use baking stones, which retain heat, to try to maximize the oven spring. This is helpful but not necessary when starting out.

Let's Make a Loaf!

OK, now that you have the basic idea, let's try it out with a really simple basic recipe. I tried this one today while stuck inside during an ice storm. This worked out well, since the freezing rain hit before we had realized that our refrigerator was lacking eggs and milk, along with a variety of other grocery items!

A Generic Recipe

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/8 cup water

Mix everything together. If it is too wet and won't come free from the sides of the bowl or keeps sticking to your hands, add a little more flour. If it is too dry and won't form into a ball, add a bit of water.

Knead it for 10 minutes. Cover and set it aside to rise until it doubles in size, approximately 90 minutes. Punch it down and let it rise again. Shape it, either by putting it in a greased loaf pan or by rolling it out into a long loaf and putting it on the back of a cookie sheet.

Ready to eat!

After it has risen to twice it size again, another hour or so, put the loaf into a preheated oven at 375 degrees. Let it bake for 45 minutes and then pull it out. If you made it into a long skinny loaf, it may cook 5 or 10 minutes quicker, so adjust the time based on what shape you chose. I baked the loaf in these photos for 40 minutes). 350-375°F for 45 minutes is typical for a loaf in a loaf pan.


Wrap Up

Well, how was it? It may not be the best loaf of bread you've ever had, but it ain't bad.

There are many additional ingredients and techniques that are used in creating world class breads (some of which I will talk about in future articles), and each step of the process that we discussed (kneading, rising, shaping, scoring, baking) can be further elaborated on, but the approach used in this recipe is at the core of almost every other recipe you will encounter.

Continue to Lesson Two: Adding Something More to Your Loaf.

Your First Loaf - A Primer for the New Baker

Danni3ll3's picture

European Peasant Bread

European Peasant Loaf


I am continuing my quest, as one of many others, for getting better oven spring and open crumb. This is my adaptation of Trevor’s European Peasant Bread.




150 g freshly milled spelt

150 g freshly milled rye

150 g Arva Mills whole wheat flour

820 g unbleached flour

50 g freshly ground flax

850 g filtered water

23 g Himalayan pink salt

30 g kefir

280 g 100% hydration levain (procedure for this is in recipe)


  1. Mill spelt and rye and sift out the bran to feed the levain (as per Dab). Sift out the bran from the whole wheat flour. As an aside, I am surprised that I sift out much more bran out of the commercial flour than out of my own home milled. Weigh the bran and set aside. Mine ended up weighing 35 g. Reserve the sifted flour in a large bucket or bowl.
  2. Weigh out the unbleached flour and remove enough from this amount to add to the bran in order to equal 140 g. In this case, I removed 105 g and set it aside for the levain. The rest of the flour joined the sifted flours in the bucket.
  3. After refreshing my starter 2 or 3 times, I build the levain in 3 stages: Stage 1 - 10 g starter, 20 g water, 20 g bran. Stage 2 - 40 g water, 15 g bran/25 g flour. Stage 3 - 80 g water, 80 g flour. Each stage took about 8 hours except for the last one that I used after 6 hours. Once again, the first build with only bran in it, had no rise but the levain rose just fine once unbleached flour was added in. 
  4. Autolyse the mix of flours, the ground flax and the water for about 4 hours. Add in the pink salt, the kefir and the levain and mix well. Use folds and in bucket kneading to make sure that everything is well integrated. Let rest for a few minutes and do another set of folds.
  5. Fermentation was 3 sets of folds 30 minutes to 45 minutes apart and one last fold an hour later. Bulk fermentation took 4 and half hours and the dough rose about 30%. This is where I began to doubt myself. I had lots of bubbles on the edges right from the beginning but there didn’t seem to be a lot of large bubbles through the wall of the container. I traditionally have waited until the dough doubles but that was before doing folds right through the bulk. The last few weeks, doing folds through the bulk, I still waited till the dough had risen almost to 50%. My dough is usually like a bowl of jello. Stopping the bulk earlier gave me a dough with air in it but not what I am used to so I almost put it back in the bucket. I went back and checked out Trevor’s videos and mine was still poofier than his so I decided to just forge ahead.
  6. Lightly flour the counter. Now that was a change for me as well. I normally use lots and lots of flour for shaping. I am trying to cut back on this habit.
  7. Do a very light fold and remove the dough gently from the bucket. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Preround the dough with a scraper. Trevor, if you are reading this, I have to say I hate you for making it look so easy. Imagine trying to round 6 boules on a counter that is 24 by 30 or so and part of that counter has a built in trash container. Oh and I forgot, the scale has to have a spot too on here. Well the dough was sticking to the scraper, to me, and to the counter! I tried to be twinkle finger like Mr. Trevor but I am sure he would be killing himself laughing at my ineptitude. Well long story short, I did get them somewhat rounded. Nothing like those nice little boules he gets but at least, they weren’t pancakes AND I didn’t deflate the dough.
  8. Let rest for 20 minutes and then do the final shape. I did Trevor’s cinching method which is something I hadn’t tried before. I usually end up degassing the dough quite a bit. This time, there was no degassing whatsoever except for the part where you roll over and pinch the dough gently to hold it. Check out Trevor’s videos on cinching on Instagram. That seemed to go a lot better for me than the rounding. I plopped the boules into the bannetons seam side down even though they were not perfectly round. I figured it was better to preserve the air in the dough than worry about perfectly shaped boules. 
  9. Then cover and put to bed in the fridge for the night. The next morning, the dough had risen a bit but had flattened out somewhat. I was sure that I was in for some flat, flat, flat loaves. 
  10. Heat the oven to 475F with the dutch ovens inside for at least 45 minutes. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots and gently place the dough seam side up inside. My feeling of getting flat, flat, flat loaves was reinforced when I turned out the dough and picked it up to put into the pots. It was definitely not firm like I am used to. It was soft enough to bend in the middle when I picked it up by the edges. So it was a quick movement from the counter to into the pots. I resigned myself to 12 flat, flat, flat loaves. Did I say that they were going to be flat? 
  11. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids…. and surprise!!!!! I got great oven spring, great ears and just awesome loaves! Wow, who would have guessed that! I dropped the temperature to 425F and baked for another 22 minutes.
  12. Cool, admire, do a happy dance, decide that Trevor knows what he is talking about and enjoy!

As a side note, the second batch of 6 loaves (I make 12 total for those who don’t know and one batch makes 3 loaves), the bulk ended up much closer to a 50% rise by the time I got to it. I remembered reading that if you get closer to 50%, do not do a fold to remove the dough. Just remove it as gently as possible, with a scraper in order to not deflate it. The second batch turned out just as well as the first.


Batch #2

 Batch #1

I am very curious to see what the crumb looks like but the loaves are still hot. Crumb shot to come later.


drogon's picture

Easy Sourdough - Part 1

Decided to do another easy sourdough post - did one a while back on my own site, but after some discussion here where I posted a recipe which the person who started that thread had a bit of a disaster with, decided to give it a go with photos as I went.

So... Sourdough - I do not think there is any magic to it. I see and read many articles on how you need to look after the starter, nurture it like a child or pet, feed it, and so on. Continuing on, I see techniques for "building the starter" - extra feeds and discards at fixed time and temperature intervals, then continuing on, kneading, wetting, stretching, folding with again, more regimented intervals before shaping, proofing, scoring to a set of rules and baking it using a dutch oven, cloche, baking stone, etc. before leaving it 6 hours to cool and fully set before daring to take a knife to your item of beauty that you've sweated blood and tears over...

Here's my take; It's just bread. Get over it and just do it.

Sure - you can apply rules, you can take far more care with it that I appear to do, you can regiment the process and create rules - if what you're after is something extra special. The one loaf a week you make and you want to take pride in it and make sure its the best there is. And that's fine. I'm making basic daily sourdough bread here and for that, there is nothing special. No tricky processes, no strict timings or (within reason) temperatures.

OK - The starter. This will take you a week or so to get going from scratch and make sure it's working for you. My starters are well established and they live in the fridge. I have separate wheat and spelt (made with white flour, kept at 100% hydration) and rye (made with whatever rye I have to hand and kept at 150% hydration). I take them out of the fridge, use some directly from the jar, or use some from the jar into a bowl when I add more flour & water to make a "production" starter. Some days I need 3Kg of starter, so I have no choice...

Last night I needed 150g, so I used some directly from the jar. The jar was then topped up (75g flour, 75g water) and left in the bakehouse while I prepared the dough then put in the fridge.

This is the recipe for my Buckfastleigh Sourdough. It's a daily bread which I bake five days a week and make and sell about 25 of them a week in local shops.

  • 100g stoneground wholemeal flour (organic; Marriages)
  • 400g strong white flour (organic; Shipton Mill No. 4)
  • 150g starter at 100% hydration
  • 285g water
  • 8g salt

It's Sunday evening about 9pm.

I used the starter from the jar out of the fridge. If I didn't have enough, then I'd have started with 30g starter from the fridge, added 60g flour and 60g water and left it for a few hours.

This is the dry stuff in the mixing bowl. I just separated them so you could see - wholemeal on the right, white on the left and salt in the middle. (500g flour + 8g salt) Mix these up and measure out the starter:

Add the water:

Maybe not exactly 285g but close enough. The water was directly out of the tap - my water here is chlorinated but that's fine. It was a little chilled so I added some hot to it (from the tap) I didn't check the temperature, but it felt slightly warm. (Oh look, the starter isn't floating, oh well)

Mix that up and tip it onto the bench and push it about a little more to make sure it's properly mixed and use a scraper to pull it into one shaggy blob:

This is then left, covered with the bowl for 30 minutes. Note: No kneading has happened yet.

Lets not forget the starter, so stick the jar on the scales, zero the scales and add 75g flour:

and water:

This was then stirred up and I left it in the relative warmth of the bakehouse for the next hour just to let it warm up a little to let the yeasty beasties get to know their new food source and start to get to work before I put it back in the fridge. (Incidentally, I'm making this on Sunday evening and the last time the starter was used was on Friday afternoon when I used some to create the 3Kg I needed for the Friday night knead)

Half an hour later, I take the bowl off the shaggy lump, use the scraper to tease it out to a longer "log" then knead it for about 30 seconds. Yes, 30 seconds - it's a push away with my thumbs, then roll back with fingers operation. It takes 3 or 4 of these to turn the vertical sausage into a horizontal one. I pick this up, turn it 90° and do it again. I do it 3 times in total then chaff it into a boulle shape then plonk it back into the bowl. This really did only take 30 seconds.

I stuck the thermometer into it so you could see.

That's taken less than 45 minutes with a big half hour gap in the middle. Low impact, very easy to do. I then covered it with a shower cap and left it in a (relatively) cool place in the downstairs kitchen - which was at about 18°C.

I split this into two blog entries just to keep the size and loading time down - on to part 2!


baybakin's picture

Graham's Brown Bread

With the new office job, I find myself making more pan breads, perfect for a sandwich to take to the office.  I have tried many a recipe, ended up building from my Vienna Bread recipe's formula, replacing ingredients, and tweaking percentages around.  I finally landed on this bread, exactly what I wanted in a brown bread.  This bread makes for great sandwich bread, toasted and dipped in runny eggs in the morning, made into toast points for spreads, and with cheeses for mid-day snack on the weekends.  The use of a yeast instead of sourdough, along with all of the whole grains in the preferment helps a clean wheat flavor come though as the major flavor in the bread

Graham's Brown Bread:

Preferment (~12 hours):

  • 100g Water
  • 100g Graham Flour
  • 20g Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour
  • Pinch of Instant Dry Yeast

Final Dough:

  • All of the Preferment
  • 130g Water (Warm)
  • 40g Egg (Save the rest for egg wash)
  • 20g Lard (If you're scared of lard, use shortening)
  • 5g Mollasas (Blackstrap, if a ligher grade is used, add a little more)
  • 15g Golden Syrup (Honey will do)
  • 250g Strong Flour (I use Central Milling Type 70)
  • 15g Potato Flour
  • 6g Salt


  1. Mix Preferment about 12 hours before final dough.
  2. Stir in Water, Egg and Sugars together until homogenous
  3. Mix in Flour, Fat, and Salt until shaggy dough is formed
  4. Rest for 20 mins, kneed until gluten is well developed
  5. Bulk ferment for 2 hours, folding ever half hour.
  6. Shape, place in greased tin (scaled for 4x8)
  7. Proof until 3-4 inches above sides of tin, apply egg wash as needed to keep top from drying
  8. Bake in pre-heated 400F oven for about 20-25 mins, or until top reaches a dark chestnut color
  9. Remove from tin as soon as possible, cool on rack completely before slicing.

Hope you enjoy this bread as much as I do!



Noah Erhun's picture
Noah Erhun

Onion, Poppy seed and Turmeric


Thought it was time I join the yellow mellow bandwagon, at least with one yellow add-in, with little flavor impact. 


200g white starter (100% hydration)

400g flour     200g guisto's bakers choice 200g BRM spelt

400g water

11 hr RT ferment @ ~71F

Final dough:

1000g leavin (all of the above)

1240g cool water 

2000g guisto's bakers choice

50g salt

25g EVOO

25g poppy seeds

10g Turmeric

175g finely minced red onions 

45 min autolyse (flour water leavin and onions)

2 hours bulk with S/F every 30 min @ 73F

3 hour retard in the fridge @ 36F

Scaled, shaped and tranfered to proofing baskets.

19 hour cold ferment @ 36F 

Baked for 30 minutes with steam (THANK YOU Sylvia) @ 465F lowered to 450 for around 15-20 minutes. 

For steaming I used Sylvia's towel method with three loaf pans, producing a wondeful blistered crust.

Although well balanced, I think the flavor would have beinfited from twice as much onion and a few cloves of garlic along with 5-10% dark rye in the leavin. 

 I'm still working on/playing with different scoring, the simple single slashed loaf came out the best. 







dabrownman's picture

Fig Water, Multigrain, Apricot, Walnut, Whole Wheat Sprouter

I'm sorry about the pictures on this post.  We can't get them to line up no matter what my apprentice does :-) 

Sometime things just happen because they are triggered subtly and naturally by our senses.  We are reminded of something and then these thoughts lead to other unrelated ideas.  Next thing you know you have a new bread formula designed by the simplest of things - in this case smell.


After our; very tasty and soft crumb, not to mention good looking, fig, hazelnut, Tang Zhong, Italian bread,  we kept and froze some of the fig soaker water for a future bake to use as part of the liquid.  We didn’t want to use figs again, but the smell of the juice made us immediately think of dried apricots so the fruit decision was made.


While looking for the apricots we noticed a little bit of some buckwheat flour that we had purchased for sweetbird’s beautiful, hard cider, Buckwheat Bread.   My apprentice had reminded me to use up long ago – so it would have to go into the flour along with our usual spelt, rye and whole wheat multigrain mix.  We wanted to double up the whole grains from the last bake and get them closer to 50% than 25% too.


Instead of a whole berry scald, this time we decided to do a 48 hour WW sprouting of 100 g of WW berries.  It has been a while since we made sprouts for bread and this was the perfect time to get back to them.


sweetbird’s bread has a light purple cast to the crumb because of the buckwheat and knowing we couldn’t use hazelnuts two times in a row, we immediately thought of Phil’s purple and green Walnut and Sage Super Hero Bread we like so much.  We love the purple color the walnut paste gives to the crumb so 25 g of walnuts a 12 g of walnut oil were crushed together in a mortar and then we decided to use 75 g of quartered walnuts in the dough too.


To try to duplicate the soft crumb that Tang Zhong provides we decided to use some yeast water in the levain.  Yeast water provides a similar soft, moist crumb.  This time we decided to build one levain in 3 stages using all 3 of our wild yeast starters; the WW and the rye sour to go along with the YW.  This levain was very active doubling in 4 hours after the 2nd build.  We fed it the all flour 3 build and let it sit on the counter for an hour before retarding it overnight. 


When the starter came put of the fridge the net morning we also started the 4 hour autolyse of the fig juice, water, salt, flours, malts, VWG and Toadies.  We micro waved the chopped apricots in water to get them re-hydrated and then prepared the walnut paste in the mortar and chopped the add in walnuts to get them to a more manageable size.


Once the autolyse met the levain we did a quick hand mix with a spoon in the bowl before doing 10 minutes of double slap and 1 folds.  We made this dough a little stiffer than normal because the apricot soak and sprouts would give the dough a little more liquid than the hydration calculations take into account.


We incorporated the sprouts apricots and walnuts on the first of 3 sets of S&F’s that were started 15 minutes after the slap and folds and 15 minutes apart.  By the end of the 3rd set the add ins were thoroughly incorporated and the dough felt like it was at 75% hydration instead of the 72% in the formula.


After an hour on the counter, we put the dough in the fridge for a 15 hour retard.  In the morning we let it sit for 30 minutes before dividing the dough in half, shaping and placing each in a rice floured basket.   We proofed them for 3 hours   in a plastic trash bag before firing up Big Old Betsy to a 500 F pre-heat.


We haven’t tried shaping cold dough so we thought we would give it a try and see if it affects how our normal bread turns out in any way.   After another 45 minutes the oven was ready.  We upended the baskets onto parchment paper on a peel, slashed them with a paring knife (tough going for breads like these) and chucked them onto the bottom stone.


A nice YW pancake with sausage and egg.

We had another stone on the top rack of the oven and steam was supplied by a Sylvia’s large size steaming pan with two towels in it and a 12” CI pan that has lava rocks in it, ala David Snyder.  Each was filled half way with water an placed in the oven at the beginning of preheat.


We turned the oven down to 475 F when the bread was loaded in and we steamed them for 12 minutes.  After removing the steam, we turned the oven down to 425 F, convection this time.  We rotated the bread 180 degrees on the stone every 8 minutes.  The bread tested 205 F and was deemed done 16 minutes after we removed the steam. 

We let the crust crisp on the stone with the door ajar and the oven off for 10 minutes and then removed the bread to a cooling rack.  It came out if the oven nicely browned, hardly blistered and crispy.  The crust went softer as it cooled.

The crumb had that purple tinge we like so much.  It was fairly open, moist and soft.  The taste is unique, earthy and hearty.  Everything works well together from a flavor perspective too.   It is fun bread to make and well worth the effort.  We will be making this again.  Thanks to Phil and sweetbird for the fond memories of their great bread.


WW SD, YW and Rye Sour Levain

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



WW SD Starter






Yeast Water






Rye Sour Starter












Dark Rye






Whole Wheat






























Levain Totals






























Levain % of Total












Dough Flour


















Dough Flour


















Fig Water 175 Water 200






Dough Hydration












Total Flour






Fig Water 175  & Water






T. Dough Hydration






Whole Grain %












Hydration w/ Adds






Total Weight












Add - Ins






White Rye Malt






Red Rye Malt












VW Gluten






Walnut Oil












Walnuts 25 g in walnut oil paste


















Weight of apricots is pre re-hydrated weight

















Whole Wheat






mcs's picture

Potato Rolls - video

OK TFLers,
I know it's been a long time, but here I am with a new video from the new bakery.  This is a pretty simple Potato Bread recipe of mine that I mix by hand and shape into rolls.  It's a decent high quality soft bread that makes tasty burger buns, dinner rolls, and also works well for filling with stuff like chicken teriyaki :)  I use an overnight bulk fermentation to add some flavor and keeping quality, plus I use the yellow/golden potatoes that add a buttery, smooth texture to it.

Enjoy the video, the recipe is at the end.