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.

True Sourdough and a Cheater Harvest Grain


Applying what I learned when I went back to basics, I mixed up a total levain based sourdough.  Of course during the rising period I had my doubts and although I have a multitude of patience being married to Mr. A.D.D., I get impatient watching the dough rise!

I had started with a very small build in the morning of 10 gr each rye and bread flour, 4 gr whole wheat and 20 gr. water.  That night I mixed with 100 gr each of my wheat sour, rye sour, WW flour and water and let it ferment and boy did it do well overnight.  Of course this made twice what I needed for the final dough but about that later.

Next morning I mixed up 200 gr of the levain with 800 gr bread flour, 150 gr rye, 50 gr whole wheat and 700 gr water folds every 30 minutes for the first two hours and then left it all day in the microwave reheating my glass of water every few hours to keep the inside nice and warm.  I’m still learning the % method and this of course contains more than the 100% with the levain but that’s ok….I’m getting it.

That night (actually last night), it had slowly doubled in volume and I dumped it out and started gently shaping.  The dough was really wet and I wasn’t sure I was doing it right but I let it bench rest and then shaped it again…still really wobbly and jello like…I really had my doubts this was going to work.  Put the shaped pieces into floured bannetons…and I mean really heavily floured.   I got rice flour and mixed it with bread flour…I don’t know about you…but my kitchen has a permanent light dusting of flour over everything these days!

Put the baskets in the fridge in plastic bags last night and hoped for the best.  They really didn’t look that much bigger this morning but reacted nicely to a poke.  Dumped them in my preheated dutch ovens and lo and behoild, I have some nice looking loaves…..signature t-Rex slash included.

Last night, affter I had stashed these loaves in the fridge, I still had the other half of the levain left over and trying to be frugal…besides hubby wouldn’t let me toss it….I decided to try another “formula.”
This time I pulled out my bag of KA Harvest Grains mixed in 100 gr of that with my levain and water mixture let it sit for a few minutes and then along with the various flours ( I won’t bore you with the details but I did calculate all of the ingredients this time…hopefully correctly….and to assure I would have success, added 3gr. of yeast.  And success it was…I had to stay up to midnight last night baking it and hubby just had to have a piece before going to bed but I ended up with 2 nice loaves…one I forgot to slash but it didn’t burst and is nicely rounded.








So the point of this post is the say…yup…I think I’m getting it….oh and….anyone need a loaf of bread!!! LOL!

And if you’ve read this far, I just want to say a few more things….equipment….its a slippery slope and I keep adding to my arsenal.  We joined Restaurant Depot and I have to say….wow….what a difference in price!  Luckily I have an upright freezer to store my extra flour.  I got bowl scrapers and these cute little 1 liter plastic containers for holding my sours.  Rodney Rye on the left is extremely vigorous…he was at the half line yesterday.


I’ve been complaining to the hubby about my minor burns and the need for a pair of oven gloves.  What sweetheart…he went to Home Depot yesterday and found me a pair of welding gloves!!!

Back to Basics: Tartine Sourdough Practice

After my less than spectacular Forkish Country Brown….good flavor, not as good oven spring as I would like, I decided to go back to basics.

I made the basic recipe out of the Tartine book but to assure success I added 3 gr of yeast to the dough.  Left on the counter for an overnight fermentation, shaped and refrigerated in the morning for an afternoon bake.  Pretty happy with the way they came out.  One boule stuck to the banneton and looked like a disaster when I covered it in the DO and one my husband missed the mark and went in crooked.  To my surprise they both recovered to make pretty nice loaves although I definitely need to practice my slashing technique.


Rodney is my sour rye starter created at the end of February 2015.   I used my wheat sourdough starter and mixed equal amounts of the wheat starter, water and rye flour. I sprinkled a layer of rye flour over the top and let that ferment overnight until the rye flour sprinkled on top started separating and forming cracks.    After 2-3 feeding cycles he was ready for baking.

IMG_0383I keep Rodney in the fridge and take him out and feed him occasionally and he is extremely frisky!

Frisky Rodney…there’s no holding him down. I press him down to the 1/2 liter line and just springs right back!

When I need a levain, I take a small amount, add equal amounts of rye flour and warm water and put it somewhere warm….usually my proofing box, aka, the microwave and let nature take its course.

Everyone has their own special way they care for their starter.  I rarely discard….I just keep feeding and take what I need when I’m ready to bake.

Challah Easter Basket or a Melding of Cultures

Not one to refuse a challenge (unless it has to do with heights) I accepted the challenge recently posed by a Facebook friend to create an Easter Basket out of bread!

IMG_0580Using Challah dough, which is a similar texture to playdough,  I calculated how many ropes I would need to make my basket and divided the dough on the scale.  Good in theory…not necessarily in practice.  After starting the weaving I realized that I didn’t need all of the dough for this basket….but about that later.

With help from Ron, we wove the ropes onto a small metal bowl sprayed with olive oil….and in retrospect, I should have followed the advice on the website to use a layer of aluminum foil instead.


When done it was looking pretty good although I’m not sure the bottom is flat enough to stand on its own.

The instructions called for making another braid to attach to the top of the bowl for a nice looking appearance so I rolled that out and laid it on a piece of parchment that had the size of the bowl traced on it.  I then made the basket handle by laying a braid over another bowl with a strip of aluminum foil sprayed with olive oil.IMG_0583

IMG_0586Covered everything with plastic wrap and let them proof at room temperature.  The house is still on the cold side so I let it proof a little longer than the recipe stated.

IMG_0588So now what to do with all that left over dough?  Create!  We made mini braids in different shapes….upper left is the squid while upper right is a ?  Ron’s shape is below

IMG_0590If I had know before I would have made little bunnies out of the dough!  A few days after making the baskets, a post on The Fresh Loaf included a link that showed how to make them.  This dough would have been perfect.

Overnight Country Brown with Rodney

Today’s bake is Overnight Country Brown, a Ken Forkish recipe.  This time instead of making the full amount of the levain as I did in the Field Blend #2, I decided to scale down his recommended ingredients for the levain for whatI actually need to make the recipe.

IMG_0579I bulked up Rodney, aka my rye sour, overnight and used him for the levain in the appropriate amount and put the rest back in the fridge.

The rest of the ingredients were the same.  After a few stretch and folds with wet hands over the next hour, the dough sat in the proofing box till 8 p.m.   Its a very wet dough and was not the easiest to divide and conquer and put it into my two highly floured bannetons for the overnight retardation.

IMG_0597The next morning the loaves had not rising significantly and were still pretty wobbly but I decided to bake them anyway as they passed the poke test.  Getting them out of the bannetons was a nightmare and used my hands to coax and then scoop some of the dough out.


They baked up reasonably nice and with a good crumb structure although not as high as the loaves that were helped by a little yeast.

And I guess since I used Rodney instead of the levain in the recipe, I can’t really call it an Overnight Country Brown but rather Overnight Rodney Brown!

Field Blend #2….Variation on a Forkish

I recently started actively posting on The Fresh Loaf, taking advantage of the friendly and knowledgeable group of bread enthusiasts more than willing to impart their vast universe of knowledge.

IMG_0565As I’ve said, I find myself on a slippery slope…Amazon Prime is my friend as I arm myself with all of the tools of the trade.  Already possessing a vast array of the necessary tools including a Kitchenaid Pro Line mixer thanks to my generous brother-in-law a few years back, I now own various other items like bannetons, a Lodge cast iron dutch oven, Danish bread whisk, various plastic proofing and bread storage containers, and am furiously borrowing books from the library, trying to decide which, if any, are worthy of my hard earned dollars when the internet gives me info for free.

Enter Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish….I like this book and am probably going to drop some bucks on it along with Baking Artisan Breads by Ciril Hitz which is the source of the Challah bread recipe given to us back in October when Knitting Club attended a bread baking class.  Ciril Hitz has a facility in Massachusetts, closer than King Arthur in Vermont, and I’m seriously thinking of signing up for one of his sessions….but that’s for another day.

Having had a great success with the Pain Au Bacon recipe from the Forkish book, I decided to take the new dutch oven for a test drive using the Field Blend #2 recipe.  So I studied the recipe trying to decide on a way to bake it the Wendy way.  One other thing that has puzzled was the Baker’s Percentage formula but I think the lightbulb finally lit and I understand it.


50 gr Wheat Sourdough
50 gr Rye Sour
400 gr KA Bread Flour
100 gr KA White Whole Wheat
400 gr Water

IMG_0566I mixed it all up in my 2 quart container and put it in my proofing box, aka the microwave.  The next morning it was all nice and puffy having more than doubled in volume.  One thing I realized is that Ken Forkish has you make huge amounts of levain and toss most of it away….next time I’m going to scale the levain for the recipe…in the meantime I did something dangerous…I used the entire amount of the levain, lowering the amount of water and slightly increase the bread flour and in my unscientific way, I ended up with a 74% hydration dough….his is 78%!

For the final dough I decided to skip the Whole Wheat and use all Rye flour since we always like a good rye bread…the final dough mix:

600 gr KA Bread Flour
250 gr Rye
600 gr Water
ALL of the levain
20 gr salt
7 gr yeast (more than he called for….cockpit error on my part…but what the heck).

I mixed the flours and water and let it autolyse for 30 minutes, then added the levain, salt and yeast.  I put it back in my proofing box and and every 20 minutes for the next hour and a half I pulled it out and stretched and folded it in the 6 quart container.

Back  into the proofing box and bulk ferment until 2.5 times its original size.  This took about 3.5 to 4 hours.  It was quite fluffy and bubbly.

IMG_0569I poured the dough out onto a well floured counter and worked it with the dough scraper lightly, splitting it into two and gently working each half into a boule.  After a five minute rest, I reshaped each boule and gently placed it into one of my new, well floured bannetons,.  Each dough filled banneton was then encased in a plastic bag and placed into the refrigerator for what I hoped would be a lengthy overnight retardation.

Checking on the refrigerated loaves at 9 p.m. I realized they were not going to make it the entire night and were overflowing their bannetons due to my mucking up the quantities in the recipe.

I baked them in their dutch ovens after gently coaxing them out.  In retrospect I should have scored them a little as the seams I had hoped would bloom had apparently sealed shut from the wetness and weight of the dough in the baskets.IMG_0570

Removing the covers after about 20 minutes they were rising and browning up nicely and one had a bit of a split.IMG_0571



And upon removing them from the oven, they had the nice circular design from the bannetons and were a rich, golden brown.

Impatient after 30 minutes to check the crumb and taste the bread, I cut into one of the loaves to reveal a nice crumb structure and a sour rye flavor which….to quote Ron….was phenomenal!  Guess its a keeper.

IMG_0572I plan to make this bread again with a slightly dryer and lesser amount of dough so it doesn’t overflow its containers!

All in all it was a successful bake even though I did my best to muck it up!

Cutting into the loaves revealed a nice crumb.

Pain Au Bacon

I’ve been taking books from the local library to see if any are worth spending money on.  Since there is a wealth of information on the internet, I hesitate to spend money until I know whether or not it will be a useful reference.  One of my recently borrowed books is Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.  The Pain Au Bacon recipe caught my eye so I decided to bake it the Wendy way…meaning take a recipe for a guide, and adapt it to my way of baking and hope for the best!

Last night I created the levain/starter as follows:

7:00 pm.
100 gr Wheat Sour Starter
100 gr. Rye Sour Starter
200 gr. Whole Wheat Flour
200 gr. Water

Mixed it all together and let it ferment and at 11:00 p.m, I added 50 gr. WW flour and a splash of water, mixed it and went to bed.

This morning it had almost doubled in volume and looked pretty lively.  I then put together 600 gr. of KA bread flour with 300 gr. warm water and let it sit for about 30 mins.  I then added the starter, 12 gr. of salt and 12 gr. of yeast, mixed it in the Kitchenaid until incorporated and let sit another 10 minutes before I added a pound of bacon, minus 3 slices that Ron ate, that had been cooked crisp and chopped up along with two tablespoons of the bacon fat.  I then mixed it again in the mixer until it started to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  You could see the strands of gluten developing though it was still quite sticky and moist.

I tipped it out onto the floured counter and kneaded it until smooth and covered it with a bowl for 15 minutes.  I then did a stretch and fold every 15 minutes for an hour before splitting the dough between two bowls that had been lined with flour dusted towels.  I let the loaves proof a little less than an hour using the finger poke test.

Today I had to make do using an aluminum Calphalon dutch oven.  I have ordered a Lodge and 2 bannetons.


I wasn’t thrilled with the smell when the DO was heated but I went ahead anyway.  And since the recipe made two small loaves, I cooked the other on a heated stone to see how the two compared.

I set the oven for 475 degrees f and  heated both DO and stone together.  I tipped the DO loaf out and put it in and covered it.  The other loaf was put on a cornmeal strewn parchment covered cookie sheet and slid onto the stone, parchment and all.

Cooking time was 30 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered.  Stone loaf was done in 30 minutes and the DO loaf was done in about 15 more minutes….doneness checked with a thermometer.  The Calphalon performed very well.

IMG_0557Meanwhile Ron is salivating and hovering over the bread with the knife.   When we finally cut into the loafs, the one done in the dutch oven was much loftier with an incredible crispy crunchy crust…and while both loaves were really excellent the loaf on the stone while extremely nice and tasty, paled in comparison.

IMG_0560This was a real successful bake and I’m very pleased with the results.

Sour Jewish Style Rye

We used to get our rye bread from the Brooklyn bakery out of Waterbury at our local German butcher, Adolphs.  But since the bakery stopped delivering and Adolphs stopped going to pick it up, a wide gap appeared.

And…since I got heavily into baking last fall, I have been experimenting with various recipes to try to reach a similar bread.

Today, I think the formula has finally been reached.  I’ve been hanging out on a forum called The Fresh Loaf and found a recipe for Jewish style sour rye that I used parts of along with another recipe posted by  After some trial and error, today the bread came out almost perfectly…I’d like it a little higher so maybe I’ll proof it a little less.


Just out of the oven and gorgeously golden brown.  The flavor has lots of sour but I think the next time I make it I’m going to back down the caraway seeds to a single tablespoon.


The recipe:

Sour Jewish Style Rye Bread

1.5 -2 cups warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. yeast
700 -750 grams Rye Sour*
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
¾ cup Potato Flour
1 cup Rye Flour
1.5 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. caraway seeds
4.5-5 cups Bread Flour

1 egg, beaten with a little water for brushing or cornstarch glaze*

In a mixer or by hand combine 1 cup warm water with sour starter, sugar and yeast, mix and let sit for 10 minutes.  Add the potato flour, whole wheat flour, rye, salt, caraway seeds and 2 cups of the bread flour.

Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes with a dough hook, adding additional bread flour while increasing the speed to medium and mix 6 minutes longer, until all the flour is absorbed into the dough to form a sticky, slightly stiff dough.

Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to a floured surface and knead a few times with a few handfuls of flour. The dough will be quite soft and sticky so use wet or floured hands. Transfer to proofing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 2 hours @ 70 Degrees F. or until doubled in size.

Divide dough into two pieces (or one large depending on your choice) and shape into oblong loaves, place on parchment covered baking pans that have been sprinkled with semolina flour or fine cornmeal . Cover and let rise for 40 minutes at @ 75-80 Degrees F.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the loaves have been fully proofed, carefully remove cover. Slash the dough 3 times across the top with a very sharp knife or razor blade about 3/4 of an inch deep and then brush the dough surface with the egg wash or cornstarch glaze. Pour a cup of boiling water into a pan that has been placed on the oven’s bottom to create steam. After 2 minutes, place the loaves into the oven. After 10 minutes reduce the oven to 375 degree F. Continue to bake for 30 minutes or until center is 190-200 degrees F. turning the loaves after half the baking time for even baking. If making one large loaf increase baking time to 45 minutes or until center reaches appropriate temperature. Remove to cooling racks and wait at least 1 hour before slicing.

*Rye Sour – If you already have a wheat sour, you can use it as a base for the rye sour. Feed a cup of wheat sour equal amounts of rye flour and water 2-3 times a day for 2-3 days, sprinkling the top with a layer of rye flour after each feeding, until it has at least doubled in volume and the top forms cracks and little islands.   You can keep this sour in the fridge. The night before baking, remove a cup and feed it with one cup each of rye flour and water. Before bed, feed it again with 1/2 cups of rye flour and water, again sprinkling the top with rye flour and leave overnight. It should be doubled in volume the next morning, ready for the bake and be the correct amount for the recipe.

**Instead of the egg wash, you can also use a cornstarch glaze:

Add 1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch that has been dissolved in ¼ cup of water into 1 cup of gently boiling water, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until slightly thickened (a few seconds, only!) and remove the pan from heat. Set it aside.

Brush the loaves with the cornstarch glaze before placing in the oven, once again when turning the pans halfway and once again after completely baked. Cool the bread on wire racks for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Pumpernickel Bread X2

Tuesday is recording day….my husband is part of a duo that plays German music in the area and they are recording their second CD. Our son, who is also a musician and is graduating from college with a degree in Music Production Technology, is recording them. Consequently, I get to feed them. My husband’s partner loves Pumpernickel bread and is always requesting it….so today I’m baking two different recipes. Oh and in addition we will be having Weitzenbrötchen. A trip to the German butcher will round out the menu planned for “Abendessen”.

First up is a pumpernickel recipe that David (Snyder) posted and I used as a guide. I love the Rye sour from his Jewish Sour Rye and built it up yesterday so that today it was perfect for baking…risen three times its original height, very fluffy and lively and lots of continents.

David uses caramel color in his recipe. We like the taste of the Molasses so I’m giving that a try.  Here are pix of the sour fermenting;









The only significant change I made to David’s recipe was to use 2 tablespoons of Molasses  instead of the caramel color) but I did use caraway.

IMG_0518I think I pretty much overproofed this loaf so I punched it down an additional time and let it rise for another 30 minutes.I did get fairly good spring out of it but its not as pretty as loaf number 2.


According to my panel of independent taste testers, this loaf was more like a traditional Jewish Pumpernickel Rye, which I think was the original intent and it was well liked.

Next up on the baking schedule was a recipe that came from and I’ve made twice before with good results. This time I modified the recipe just a tiny bit…


I put in a cup of rye sour, used the KA Pumpernickel instead of my usual rye, a teaspoon less salt and I baked it on a stone.  IMG_0514I also brushed the outside with beaten egg instead of the butter the recipe called for. I modified the baking a little too, starting out at a higher temperature for a five minutes and adding in a little steam. I think it looks gorgeous.

It apparently was still slightly warm inside when cut.

The loaf was delicious and moist inside and what my husband said was like a more traditional German pumpernickel.



I plan to make these another time to refine what I did and make sure I get consistent results the next time.

Wendy, your Adventuress in Baking