The Fresh Loaf

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100% WW Cooperative Baking with Franbaker

texasbakerdad's picture

100% WW Cooperative Baking with Franbaker

franbaker and I are going to be baking the same recipes and comparing the results. My bake yesterday is the first of our cooperative bakes. We both attempted PiPs' "Home with Bread/Fighting Gravity" recipe. I am looking forward to see Fran's post about her bake day results.

franbaker's post about her bake:

100% WW Cooperative Baking with Texasbakerdad


Recipe (thank you PiPs!):

Home with bread / Fighting gravity


Cool things about this bake:

  • Proofing in my clay baker and cooking the dough without an oven preheat worked out quite well:
    • Pro - Saved electricity (No need to time the oven preheat with proofing completion)
    • Pro - Zero risk of deflating dough when transferring to final cooking vessel
    • Pro - No loading of dangerously hot vessels
    • Pro - The oven steam production was impressive
    • Pro/Con - The crumb was softer and the crust was softer and chewier, I think I can change my baking temps, times, and top removal to achieve a crisper crust and a dryer crumb.
    • Pro/Con - The Romertopf retained so much moisture that even after baking for 40 minutes with the top on, the dough's surface was still wet looking. This could be adjusted by soaking the romertopf lid less, or pulling the lid off earlier, or cracking the lid open earlier.
    • Con - You have to use parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking to the vessels. Not having to use parchment paper would be a perk.
  • Breaking the dough hydration into multiple stages seems to do wonders for gluten development.
    • This is the 3rd or 4th recipe I have made in which the water is added in multiple steps to the flour. It seems like gluten development happens on its own pretty much when you have just enough water but not too much. Once you have the developed the gluten structure, you can add more water while retaining the initial gluten mesh.
    • I don't understand why this recipe called for french folds, after the 1 hour autolyse, the dough was pretty well developed. A french fold at this point seems like it would have done more harm than good.
    • I need to play with multiple stage hydration some more and develop some confidence that it 'always' works.

For convenience reasons, my plan was to make the following tweaks to the recipe:

  1. Halve the recipe and bake entire 2kg in my large Romertopf clay baker.
  2. Use my Ankarsrum mixer instead of doing the recommended french folds.
  3. Do the final proof in the clay baker and load clay baker into cold oven with dough inside. Adjusting cooking times to compensate.
  4. Skip the fridge retard

What actually happened

  1. 2kg seemed like too much for my Romertopf, so I split it into two, 1kg went to the romertopf and 1kg went to a dutch oven.
  2. After the 1 hour autolyse, the dough felt great, and I questioned the need for additional kneading. After adding the leaven and salt water, the dough still felt great. So... I decided the Ankarsrum was overkill for this dough and ended up doing about 10 stretch and folds over 1.5 hours to get to window pane dough.
  3. I proofed half the dough in the Romertopf, the other half was proofed in a boule banneton and then carefully loaded into a cold dutch oven.
  4. I tried to skip the fridge retard, but I had to go run some errands and ended up retarding the bulk ferment for about 1 hour.

The Bake:

Hard Red Wheat Starter (4 hours):

I started the sourdough 24 hours prior to usage, with a seed of 25g 100% hydration hard red wheat. I added 25g hard read wheat and 25g water. 8 hours later, added 50g hard red wheat and 50g water. Then, stole 46 g of that starter as a new seed for my final starter build. 46 g seed, 93 g hard white wheat, 60 g water. Waited 4 hours until usage.

46 g seed 100% hydration hard red wheat
93 g hard white wheat freshly milled
60 g water

Autolyse (1 hour):

950 g hard white wheat freshly milled
800 g water

Mix 1:

1750 g Autolyse (84% hydration)
199 g Starter  (71% hydration)

4 Stretch and Folds, then, wait 10 minutes...

Mix 2:

1949 g Mix 1 (81% hydration)
55 g Water
44 g Salt

Final Hydration: 88%

Bulk Ferment/Shaping/Final Proof:

  1. 4 Stretch and Fold, then, wait 30 minutes
  2. 4 Stretch and Fold, then, wait 1 hour
  3. 4 Stretch and Fold
  4. Bulk Ferment for 1.5 hours
  5. Retard for 1 hour
  6. Bulk Ferment for 2 hours until dough felt airy, but not bubbly
  7. Divided into 2, preshaped, bench rested for 10 minutes.
  8. Shaped 1 batard and put into parchment lined romertopf, Shaped 1 boule and put into rice floured banneton.
  9. Filled inverted romertopf lid with water.
  10. Proofed for 4 hours until poke test went from firm to a little bit bouncy
  11. Transferred boule into parchment lined dutch oven.


  1. Drained romertopf lid and wiped off excess water.
  2. Using double oven, put one vessel in each oven and set temperature to 550 dF.
  3. At 35 minutes, reduced temperature to 460 dF.
  4. At 45 minutes, removed tops.
  5. At 65 minutes, removed bread from oven.
  6. Waited 6 hours before slicing.

Final Comments

  • The loaf cooked in the romertopf held onto its moisture much longer, I think that was due to soaking the lid. I am assuming why the romertopf loaf had about 20% more oven bloom than the dutch oven loaf.
  • The bread tasted great! Sort of a salty coffee flavor with a soft crumb and a chewy crust, it was really quite flavorful.
  • I like this loaf a lot. I would like to try this loaf with a harder crust and a dryer crumb. I would also love to achieve a lacy crumb at some point, because I want to know that I have learned to skills to do so.

Above: Dutch Oven Crust

Above: Dutch Oven Crumb.

Above: Romertopf Crust

Above: Romertopf Crumb

Above: Up close romertopf crumb


franbaker's picture

Mine didn't turn out anywhere near as nice as yours! I uploaded a bunch of photos with my post so that hopefully folks can help me figure out where I went wrong -- details there, it took me forever to try to get the photos and text to flow properly so that they made sense.

I just want to say, congratulations! You're very, very close to reaching your goal!

dabrownman's picture

With beautiful crust and crumb for this kind of bread  Well done and 

Happy baking

texasbakerdad's picture

Thanks for the compliments! I was very happy with these loaves. I really want to understand why this dough was so easy to work with compared to other similar loaves I have made. Was it the staged hydrations? Was it because my house was a slightly different temperature or humidity? Was it because I used freshly milled flour vs. store bought flour? Why was fran's dough so much different than mine when a lot of our variables were the same?

Very intriguing problem for me to solve.