1.2.3 Sourdough….Easy as…well….1.2.3!

As I surfed the bread websites to further my knowledge of artisan bread baking, I stumbled across the 1.2.3 Sourdough method of Flo Makani, a french baker.  Her site is in French but Google will translate it.  I also read about it in a thread on the The Fresh Loaf in depth and on the Artisan Baker’s facebook page.

And of course, I just had to try it!  It is the easiest way to make an artisan loaf of sourdough bread ever!  I did apply many of the techniques I’ve been practicing for the past few months in my journey to master the art.  I have now made this recipe twice with perfect results each time.

The first batch of 1.2.3 Sourdough baked into one large boule.

The method is simple:  one part levain or starter, two parts water and three parts flour.


Now that I’ve given a brief explanation of the process, let me tell you how I made the loaves.IMG_0719

I fermented 250 grams of mature levain:  This consisted of 25 grams of my mature rye starter that I keep in the fridge combined with 100 grams of rye flour and 125 grams of water.  This sat out at room temperature overnight.   It was ready when doubled and bubbled and a little bit of it dropped in a glass of water and floated.

I added the levain to 500 grams of 95 dF water to dissolve it and then added that to 750 grams of flour:

500 grams King Arthur Bread Flour
150 grams Hodsons Mill Rye Flour
100 grams King Arthur White Whole Wheat

Mixed it well with my hands and let it sit for 20-30 minutes in an autolyse phase.

I then added in my 12 grams of salt and mixed and pinched some more as well as stretching and folding the dough.  I performed this stretch and fold every 30 minutes for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation.  The longer you bulk ferment, the deeper the flavor of your bread.

And at this point you can take your dough and put it into your proofing basket/banneton and let it rise till about 70 percent double in bulk and then bake it, either in your dutch oven or on your baking stone in a steamed oven.  Since I started using dutch ovens, that is all I use now for these types of loaves.

I let my dough bulk ferment for about four hours.  It was about 1.5 times the original size.  I poured it out on to a lightly floured counter, stretched and folded it into a boule shape and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

After this bench rest period, I stretched and folded it gently some more and shaped it into its final boule shape, placing it into my well floured bannetons.

These loaves got an overnight cold proof.  I placed my bannetons inside plastic bags and put them into the fridge.

The next morning I tried the finger poke test and the hole did come back very very slowly, most likely because the dough was so cold retarded.  I let them sit at room temperature while the oven/dutch ovens heated to 475 dF.

The loaves were unloaded onto the floured counter, scored…which was easier on a cold loaf, and gently lifted into the extremely hot dutch ovens very carefully and covered.  IMG_0724

After 20 minutes the covers were removed to reveal nicely springing loaves.  Baked for an additional 20 minutes until the internal temperature was 200+ dF and two lovely loaves were done.

Another day, another bread…or two

Still working on my technique, today’s bread is based on the Field Blend #2 as far as types of flours with a little change up.  I started with my total wheat starter,  feeding it whole wheat flour and water twice and letting it ferment each time for about 12 hours reaching a weight of about 200+/- grams.  This morning it was nicely doubled and bubbled.

For the final dough I mixed up the flours:

550 gr. KA Bread
200 gr. KA Pumpernickel
100 gr. White Whole Wheat

Trying for a little lower hydration I started by adding 500 gr. of 90 dF water only to find the dough was very dry attributing that to the Pumpernickel flour, so I added in another 150 gr. and while I thought this was going to be a wetter dough then I was aiming for, after autolysing and adding levain and salt, the dough feel is very familiar!

While the sourdough bulk ferments, I decided it was time to replenish Ron’s staple breakfast food:  Raisin Cinnamon Bread.  He’s been complaining that the bread falls apart where the cinnamon and sugar swirl through the bread so this time I’m going to add less.

Apparently cinnamon and sugar swirls aren’t the only thing I’m adding less of…when I remembered I only had one egg…and the recipe calls for three!  After an internet search for substitutes, I decided on one egg, a little water and a 1/4 cup of canola oil.

After mixing the dough, I felt pretty good about how it was looking and set it to proof for the required amount of time.

Meanwhile the sourdough loaf is bulk fermenting and every 30 minutes or so for the first two hours I’m giving it the requisite turns and folds….I know its healthy because when I take it out for one of the turns, there a big ol’ bubble on the surface!  After about 4 hours its increased in volume at least 50% and ready to be shaped for baking.

IMG_0712And apparently the lack of eggs didn’t seem to affect the cinnamon raisin bread.  Fresh from the oven it looks lovely and with less swirly filling it should stay together better when cut and toasted.


The sourdough loaves came out nice…only nice…not as nice as I would have hoped as I think they were slightly underproofed since I erred on the side of caution….IMG_0713

Kaisersemmel aka Kaiser Rolls

Stumbling across a video from Der Back Profi making Kaisersemmel, I just had to try them.  The recipe is posted on his website along with a video of how to shape the Kaisersemmel, but I needed to make a few minor adjustments for my kitchen.  It is very similar to the Weitzenbrötchen recipe which has been a staple in our house.

500 gr. Tipo 00 Flour
10 gr. Kosher or Sea Salt
10 gr. Barley Malt (I used non diastic)
5 gr. sugar
40 gr. butter, softened
7 gr. dry active yeast
60 gr. milk
180 gr. very warm water

Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer.  Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes till all the ingredients are incorporated.  Continue to mix 4-7 more minutes at medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of bowl, sprinkling a little flour in if the dough is too moist.

Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.  Pull off a small piece and perform a window pane test…the dough should be soft, supple and able to pull thin.

IMG_0687After 15 minutes rest, divide the dough into 12 pieces of approximately 80 grams per piece and form into balls.

IMG_0688 IMG_0689Take each ball and form into a kaiser shape by following the instructions here.  Place each roll upside down on a cookie sheet lightly dusted with flour.

Allow to sit under a tea towel for 25-30  minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 475 dF with a pan in the bottom for steam.

Carefully turn each roll over onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  Before placing in the oven, spray the rolls liberally with water.

Place the pan in the oven and immediately pour hot water or drop a handful of ice cubes into the steam pan.  I used ice cubes this time.  After 3 minutes turn the temperature down to 425 dF.

The recipe calls for keeping the oven steamed.  Since I don’t have injection in my oven, I kept an eye on it and after baking for 10 minutes I turned the baking tray for even baking, and added more ice cubes.  Total bake time is 18-20 minutes.

This first time out I feel they could have proofed a bit longer or even been cold retarded 6-12 hours, similar to the Weitzenbrötchen recipe.  I may try that recipe with this shaping technique.  IMG_0693

Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough

It was time to try my hand at another loaf of sourdough bread.  The freezer was stuffed but we’ve had a chance to eat a little bit and I’ve found another place to lose loaves.

Today’s bread is Vermont Sourdough from Jeff Hamelman’s book Bread.  In his book, all the recipes are written in bakery sized formulas along with a home version which is written in pounds and ounces so I needed to convert them to grams.  I also upped the rye a slight bit and added a little whole wheat but kept the formula in the same balance as he.

75 gr mature starter
125 gr. warm water
125 gr. whole wheat flour

Allow to ferment at room temperature or above (I like to warm my microwave with a boiled glass of water) for 8 to 12 hours until bubbled and risen.

600 gr bread flour
80 gr whole wheat flour
100 gr rye flour
419 gr water
17 gr salt
325 gr levain

Mix all of the ingredients together except the salt and leave to autolyse for at least 30 minutes.  You can leave it for up to an hour according to his book.

Mix in the salt well and allow to bulk ferment for 1.5 to 2.5 hours.  Again in the microwave with boiled water.  After 30 minutes I stretched and folded the dough, reheated the boiled water and put it back in the microwave.  It now being 11:00 at night….why do I get these urges so late? …I decided to perform one more stretch and fold and put it in the refrigerator for a cold overnight bulk ferment.

IMG_0672This morning it had nicely risen in its container.  IMG_0673This dough is slightly dryer than some of the breads I’ve been making recently and contributes to making it easier to split and prepare for the bannetons.


Another recommen-dation I decided to try today is taking a small bit of the dough and placing in in a shot glass to monitor its rising.   It is just about an inch deep in the glass coming to the top of the word Berlin so by my calculations it IMG_0676should be ready for the oven when it reach the yellow part of the coat of arms design.  This took about three hours.  I plan to use this technique going forward.

I’m still working on my slashing technique and am thinking my homemade lame is not upto par.

IMG_0677I took the little proofing ball of dough and threw that on foil and tossed it in the oven.  It was ready after 30 minutes and was a nice little preview of what  hopefully was contained in side those full sized loaves.

Forty minutes later out come these beauties!IMG_0679














IMG_0686And the crumb shot….nice slightly sour tang, crispy/chewy crust….definitely a winner!

And this is a shot of the wheat loaf I made yesterday.

IMG_0675I knew I was rushing to starter and the rising but I needed to do it anyway.  It takes good and everyone liked it but it was not up to the standard that I am aspiring.


Bacon and Cheddar….who doesn’t love it?

This recipe is based on Ken Forkish’s Pain au Bacon.  This time I reduced the amount of bacon and added shredded cheddar and a little mozzrella for decoration.

200 gr. shredded cheddar (shredded and chilled in the freezer while preparing the dough)
200  gr. cooked bacon, crumbled, with 2 tbsp reserved bacon fat ( I actually only had 150 gr. of bacon because somebody who shall remain nameless ate some!)
800 gr. bread flour
100 gr. ww flour
200 gr. levain
650 gr. water
20 gr. sea or kosher salt
Optional: 2 gr. dry active yeast

Mix the flours with very warm (90-100 dF) water and allow to autolyse for 30 minutes.

Add the salt, yeast and levain and mix thoroughly using wet hands, pinching and lifting and squeezing the dough to incorporate the ingredients.

Bacon and Cheddar incorporated and ready for bulk fermentationAllow the dough to rest for 10 minutes then add the 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, the crumbled bacon and the cold cheddar, and mix again till incorporated.  Pinch, stretch & fold till the dough is full of cheese and bacon and smooth.  Wet hands help.

Place in the proofing box (microwave with a cup of boiled water).  Initial dough temp was 67.5  dF probably due to the ice cold cheddar cheese being added.  After the first stretch and fold the dough temp was 74dF so definitely the cold cheddar.

Stretch & fold the dough every 30 minutes for the first two hours.  Then wait until it is almost double in bulk before dividing and preshaping.  Allow dough to rest 10 -20 minutes on the counter and final shape the dough creating into boules to place on a cookie sheet or heated stone, or in bannetons.  This dough was very malleable and less sticky than some of the others I’ve made.  Well floured hands helped.

The dough will probably be ready for baking in one hour if left at room temperature but keep your eye on it and don’t let it overproof.  You can also place in the refrigerator for 12 hours although I haven’t tried this method for this particular bread but it is pretty much a standard.

This time, I put the dough in the refrigerator for the 15 minutes it took the oven to heat up to 475 dF, then slashed it and sprinkled it with shredded mozzarella. IMG_0653 I’m still working on my slash technique…I made my own Lame by taking a razor blade and sticking a chopstick through each end.  Makes a nice curve on it…but be careful….its very sharp…I speak from experience….forefinger slashed first time.

BIMG_0654ut remember YMMV…your mileage may vary depending upon your own climate conditions so you need to use your brain a little bit.

That is something I am learning slowly with all of my experimentation.  And yes, it has provided us with bread up to our eyeballs lately but half the fun is in creating these delicious recipes and the other half is the delight of taking them out of the oven, seeing their wonderful, golden brown and properly risen results and especially, eating them!



Trying to get a Rise..in search of elusive oven spring

This recipe is based on the Field Blend #2 recipes in Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. I have been concentrating on this particular recipe for consistency while I determine the best method for me to achieve the elusive oven spring. Forkish adds a tiny bit of yeast that the purists in artisan bread baking eschew.  Once consistent results are achieved, the next step is to eliminate the yeast from the formula. Meanwhile, my goal is to find the right blend of technique, I.e., levain prep, percent of water, combination of grains, length of bulk ferment and length of proofing of the final loaves without overdoing it in my quest for better height in my loaves as well as better scoring before baking.  And let’s not forget the baker’s percentage formula….gotta figure that out too because I don’t think I’ve been deducting the levain flour from the total dough flour….that’s for next time…which means this formula is a little higher percentage flour than 100%.


75 gr. Rye Sour
25 gr. Wheat Sour
100 gr. 90 dF Water
100 gr. WW Flour

Ferment for 12 hours.

650 gr Bread Flour
100 gr. rye flour
150 gr. WW flour
650 gr. 90 dF Water

Autolyse for 30 mins.  Add 21 gr. salt, 2 gr. yeast and 200 gr. prepared levain.

Pinch and squeeze it all together.  Mixed dough temp is 75 dF.  Place in proofing box.  This is my microwave with a measuring glass of water immediately boiled inside.

Stretch & fold dough every 30 minutes for the first two hours.  Bulk fermentation to almost double only took 3 hours at which time I transferred it to the lightly floured counter for dividing and preshaping.

After bench resting the dough for 30 minutes, it was final shaped and put into two bannetons and left for 1 hour at room temperature.

After scoring the loaves, always a challenge, they were baked in covered dutch ovens heated to 475 dF for 30 minutes, then 20 minutes uncovered.

Two lovely Field Grains #2 loaves compared to yesterday tasty, but less than spectacular loaf.
Ain’t that gorgeous!

And a successful bake it was!

By the Numbers

My life is now ruled by numbers.  Since sourdough takes time, I have to calculate when I want to bake my bread, count backwards by the approximate time it takes to do each step:  prepare the levain, autolyse the dough, bulk ferment with stretching & folding, shaping and into the bannetons and then how long to proof the loaves…do I have time to proof it warm or do I need to put it in the fridge and bake in the morning….will I have time to do in the morning or do I need to stretch that time till later…..oyyyyy….my brain hurts!  This isn’t supposed to be work!  It isn’t really…its something I’m loving doing so it really is fun and challenging to figure it all out.

And preparing the dough….numbers rule there too.  By following the rules of the baker’s percentage, the amount of different flours to use to achieve the right flavor as well as the correct amount of water to achieve the appropriate amount of dough hydration.  I feel like I’ve gone back to school…and in fact, I think I have….the baking school of Wendy!

IMG_0635And how many books have I borrowed from the library….I currently have 6 sitting in the kitchen right now….and have returned about an equal amount.  I’m still trying to decide which if any I want to buy to keep on hand as reference books.

Training Wheels – Off!

Almost double in bulk…starting point marked with a piece of tape.

Hopefully the training wheels are off. Another total sourdough dough has been put into its chilled resting place for the night. Started yesterday with a small preferment begun with Rodney and assembled into a sloppy, doughy mess to bulk ferment in the proofing box around 5 p.m. today.

The resting phase…still having a problem getting them to firm up….perhaps they’re not ready????

Four hours later and the dough had almost doubled in bulk and was ready for the baskets.

This style dough is very wet and can be a little difficult to handle but its getting a little easier each time.  There are videos out there showing how to handle it.

Tucked into bed for the evening
Plastic bagged and cold proofing

After shaping and placing in the bannetons, it was into the fridge for an overnight retardation.

IMG_0762Baking was early the next day as I had to leave the house for my monthly breakfast meeting with my former co-workers. Ron finished the final baking and the loaves came out to quote “baked to a golden perfection.”

Obligatory Crumb Shot

The loaf on the left went in a little crooked but recovered quite well.  On the right is the signature t-rex slash that when turned upside is a “W.”  Below is the recipe I developed for these loaves.

 Artisan Sourdough Rye (Makes two loaves)

 Build #1:

10 gr. Rye
10 gr. Bread Flour
5 gr. Whole Wheat Flour
20 gr. Water

Mix together and leave in a warm spot to ferment for 12 hours. It should almost double in bulk.  I already have a well developed rye sour, Rodney, so instead of creating the builds, I take 100 grams of Rodney and mix it with 100 grams each of whole wheat flour and water and let it sit till almost double.

Build #2

All of Build #1
50 gr. Bread Flour
50 gr. Whole Wheat Flour
50 gr. Warm Water

Mix together and leave in a warm spot to ferment for 12 hours. It should double in bulk.

Final Dough

All of Build #2 (or a fed levain of 200 grams)
650 gr. Bread Flour
150 gr. Rye Flour
50 gr. Whole Wheat
600 gr. Warm Water
21 gr. Kosher or Sea Salt

Mix all the flours with 600 gr. of very (about 90 dF) warm water. I use either a spatula or my new Danish Dough Whisk.

Autolyse 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle the salt and add 50 gr. of water. Mix well with your hand like a pincer and stretch and fold also.

Put in a warm place (I used my microwave with a measuring cup of water full of boiled water to get it toasty) and perform stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first two hours. Bulk rise 6-12 hours or at least until double in volume.  This time it only took about 4-5 hours…Rodney was very frisky.

Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a dough scraper or knife, work some flour around the edges of the dough gently lifting and folding the dough,  being careful not to degas it too much.

Divide the dough and using the dough scraper or knife, pre-shape each piece into a round by gently lifting and folding the edges like an envelope and then pulling the dough toward you to form a taut skin….easier said than done but I keep practicing.

Lightly dust the top of the dough, cover with a towel and let rest for 20  to 30 minutes.

Final shape the dough and put into well floured bannetons or towel lined bowls. Place in plastic bags after lightly flouring the tops of the loaves and refrigerate for 6 – 12 hours.  You can also dust the loaves with semolina or cornmeal.

Pre-heat your oven to 500 dF with the dutch oven inside. Remove the bannetons from the refrigerator, turn over the bannetons over the pre-heated dutch oven and let gravity do its thing.   I’m still trying to get them perfectly centered over the dutch ovens.  Slash the loaves, cover and reduce the heat to 475 dF.

Bake 20 minutes at 475 dF. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes until golden brown. The loaves are done when they reach an internal temperature of 200 dF plus/minus.

If you watch any of the Ken Forkish videos, he takes the bannetons and dumps them on a floured counter and then gently picks them up and puts them in the dutch ovens.  Some folks also put the loaves into cold dutch ovens…I may try that at some point.  I could not have reached this point so quickly without the help of great folks on The Fresh Loaf forum!


Mr. & Mrs. Dove

IMG_0616 For the past three years, we have had a dove couple nesting in our bedroom window box.  I don’t know how to tell if they are the same couple but they always two eggs.  We get to watch the babies grow until they are ready to leave the nest.

IMG_0622And while we’re on the subject of birds, Ron found this little guy in the back hallway.  Apparently they have navigational issues when they leave the bird feeder and sometimes fly in the open back door.  So he has the bright idea to mark the woodpecker with acrylic paint.  Someone seeing this little guy will certainly wonder what strange type of woodpecker he is!

Spammers Still Suck

When I first started this blog, I posted about this same subject.    Since I recently started baking bread with a vengence and blogging about it, I decided to allow comments again on my pages.  Its only been a few days and they are at it again.  At least 6 per day.

I’m going to keep track for a while and see what the volume is.  Chances are….comments will be disabled again and you will need to email me at wendy at intelab dot com to let me know you were here.