The Fresh Loaf

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Well, I did it. Another bastardized Vermont SD batard!

alfanso's picture

Well, I did it. Another bastardized Vermont SD batard!

Last week Stephen (Brotkraft) posted his first blog entry.  A short video on how he recommends getting an open crumb.  Okay, after a very few back and forth Qs & As with the engaging Signore Brotkraft, I decided to take the plunge.

His method generally involves a 3 hr undisturbed autolyse from shaggy mass to window.  I couldn't quite replicate his level of window, but it was successful.  At the same time, his second build of levain is timed to meet the 3 hours set aside for autolyse.  So, what did I do that was different from my standard Hamelman Vermont SD?  The first 4 on the list were my changes from my standard M.O.

  • Bumped the hydration from 65% to 72%, else the autolyse would be way too dry.
  • With no first build, used existing refrigerated starter.  Mixed all of the rye flour in the 100% hydr. levain to get a more active build within the target 3 hr. window.
  • Hand mix levain & salt to incorporate, 5 min rest.  40 French Folds, 5 min rest, 20 FFs.
  • Bulk Fermented for 2 hours with only a single Letter Fold at the 60 min. mark.
  • Retard.  Divide, pre-shape w/30 min rest, and shape somewhere in the middle of the 12-14 hr retard.
  • Bake w/ steam 460dF 13 min, rotate loaves, 10 min more, 2 min venting.

A different approach than my usual usual!  But for a first time out I think that the evidence is at least compelling to start. When I next replicate this method, I'll form a shorter pre-shape as the dough was quite extensible and just about rolled itself out.

The open crumb? The proof is in the pudding.  Or in this case, the bread...

Thank you Stephen, your input was put to good use within a week of your posting.


300g x 4 long batards.

At this rate, I might catch Benny!


Brotkraft's picture



alfanso's picture

invisible ink app! If you're asking for a loan, sorry, the answer right now is no...What to do, what to do, what to do.

Brotkraft's picture

LOL. That was my version of attempting to delete an accidental double post. An invisible ink app would be awesome:-)

Brotkraft's picture

Your sourdough baguettes look fantastic!  I'm happy it worked for you:-)

In case you were interested, for baguettes I follow this sequence:

DAY 1: levain build #1

DAY 2: levain build #2, autolyze, mix, bulk, pre-shape, retard (fridge overnight)

DAY 3: final shape, proove (80F/80%H), fridge last 30 minutes to ease scoring, bake






alfanso's picture

That is, leaving a pre-shape to retard overnight.  Is there an advantage to that other than that it may meet your scheduling needs?

My kitchen is "always" 78-80dF, and I just checked - the humidity this morning in the kitchen is just north of 80 as well.  However living in FL, the A/C is a vital tool to keeping me around with more than just my skivvies on!

Brotkraft's picture

Yes, the overnight retarded pre- shape fits in well for having baguettes the next morning.

That being said, whether the pre-shape is retarded or not, I find better results having the final-shape/proove/bake steps to occur in unbroken succession. This can help mitigate lateral spreading and flatter looking baked baguettes that could occur when retarding them fully shaped. 

Final note (I promise), sourdough baguettes with the retard tend to be more acetic, and without the retard more lactic.  

Final final note (broke my promise) - all of the above are just my personal empirical observations and preferences and not to be considered definitive in any way:-) Truth is I am learning much through these conversations. 

Benito's picture

Beautiful baking Alan, that crumb is superb, hard to improve on that.  You’ve already passed me.  And as I said in your other post, no one can beat your consistency with each and every bake, with coatings of seeds or with inclusions, you are still the master.

alfanso's picture

significantly upped the ante in virtually every category of baguette baking.  We all prospered, as well as anyone else on TFL wanting to increase their baguette skills.  I'll politely decline the term "master", which to me denotes exhibiting a true mastery of skill set.  Let's reserve that for the pros who do this day in and day out for endless years.  I've still a long way to go and running out of time, as I might have only two more good decades in me...

thanks, alan

gavinc's picture

I love the crust colour and shape of these baguettes. Nicely scored. The crumb is very good.

Like you, I love the challenge of taking on new recipes and processes. Experiments add to the baking interest and excitement.




alfanso's picture

over the other newly crowned baguette blokes on the CB is that I still have the edge on getting a good score and ear.  Can I explain why?  I don't really know since I don't think I do much different than the others.  

And although I am not a fan of inclusions - or at least too many of them, yeah - finding something interesting to do next is a fun part of the whole hobby thing.

thanks, alan


MTloaf's picture

 The color looks more vibrant and the crumb has attained a holiness worthy of worship. How was the taste and texture? After 8 pages of CB your method has evolved and come full circle at the same time. Autolyse, more water, less kneading and side loading has gone by the wayside. As they say in South Park after Kenny gets it "You bastard" Well done you may have to revisit your old posts and reapply the new version. That should fill up the next twenty years.


alfanso's picture

side loading and getting a 20-21 inch long baggie rather than my standard front loading 14-15 inchers.  Another tool for my batman utility belt.  For the most part I enjoy the "shorties" more, so I'll be remaining dedicated to them most of the time - we have a symbiotic relationship, ya know.

I'm still adhering to the minimalist side of French Folds, but for the bake as I was incorporating the levain post autolyse rather than adding it to the water before the flours, it took a bit more work to feel as though the two components had melded together well.

The taste might have come off a little flatter than typical, but since I've been baking breads with sparkle (Bouabsa) or amped up flavor (the berries), maybe my aging taste buds are less discerning than before - as if they ever had been all that sharp anyway.

If I'm lucky I might have another 20 years, and my preference is being Brian Griffin over Kenny, any day of he week!

thanks, alan

isand66's picture

Always nice to learn something new!  Look forward to seeing further experiments.

Happy baking!


alfanso's picture

getting antsy.  So we'll see where this takes me.  So far it looks like lightning did strike!

thanks, alan

Gadjowheaty's picture


Lots of new information for me as I go through your threads on this, and other related threads.  So many things to manipulate and so many flours to consider if looking for a base that more closely emulates French flours (researching everything here).

To keep as much as I can to simplify, following Hamelman exactly, except I'd like to FF.

- KA AP and local whole rye;

-16 hour levain build at 70F with 125% hydration;

-65% overall hydration, so as Hamelman indicates, 1 hour "autolyse" with levain;

- X French folds.  For a looser dough, I'm taking mariana's indication from somewhere, 150 FF's, rest 25, ad in levain, 200-250 FF's.  "Gluten needs to be developed before levain is added."  But I can't quite make out how many FF's you do, and when you do them relative to adding in levain (or just do in total, if levain was added in before mixing, per Hamelman).

Rest, pretty much as Hamelman.  So really looking at your FF approach here, and in addition asking if this can be applied more generally to stiffer doughs with mostly BF (and why, if you're so inclined and have the time).