Tag Archives: bread baking

Orange Cranberry 50% Spelt Loaves

Today’s adventure in baking involved the rest of the spelt flour, some orange juice, buttermilk, cranberries and honey.   The 50% spelt loaf came out nicely so instead of leaving well enough alone and making another one, I decided to branch out.  I also wanted to use up the buttermilk and orange juice.

The recipe:

220 grams Spelt flour
220 grams KA Bread flour
200 grams levain
100 grams orange juice
100 grams buttermilk
100 grams dried cranberries
10 grams salt
6 grams SAF yeast

Soak the cranberries in the orange juice for 20 minutes and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Measure the spelt and bread flours, add the slightly warmed buttermilk, honey and prepared levain and mix well.  Allow to autolyse for 30 minutes.

Add the cranberries and juice, salt and yeast.  Mix well using your preferred method.  I used 5 minutes of slaps and folds.

I allowed the dough to rise in my warm microwave for 30 minutes…it was almost double…and then gently pressed it down and stretched and folded one more time before putting it into another 30 minute rise.

I then split the dough and allowed it to rest for 10 minutes before I stretched it and sprinkled some brown sugar on it and folded and rolled it up before placing it in parchment lined baking tins. Proofed to about 85% and then baked for 40 minutes at 375 dF after sprinkling a little more brown sugar on the top.

I also neglected to take any pictures of the preparation but the final result and crumb are pictured below.

And while not as pretty as other loaves I’ve taken from the oven, these really are tasty.  A hint of sour from the levain and buttermilk, a little sweetness from the honey and brown sugar and tartness from the cranberries.

IMG_0953 IMG_0955

Spelt….Part Deux…New World Style

After the disastrous adventure into spelt baking, I went back to the drawing board and decided that we didn’t especially like a whole spelt loaf.  Nick liked it because it was crunchy.  It does have a nice flavor though, just not for us.

This time I decided to make a 50% spelt bread and turned to Hamelman’s Bread for inspiration.  He has a honey spelt recipe that I Wendy-ized.

250 grams Whole Spelt Flour
250 grams KA Bread Flour
100 grams Wheat Starter
300 grams water
40 grams honey
10 grams salt
7 grams SAF yeast

Hamelman mixes his in a mixer but I did mine by hand, again following my usual sourdough method.

Mixing the starter, flours, water and honey, I let the dough autolyse for 30 minutes.  After adding the yeast and salt, I did six minutes of slap and folds on the counter….and no jokes about the shape!

The dough was feeling pretty good and shaped into a nice dome.  It was elastic and supple although wet hands did help with the handling.

Into the proofing bucket for a two hour bulk fermentation.  At the one hour stage the dough had almost doubled in bulk so I took it out…per the recipe….and did a few stretch and folds.  After gently degassing and pressing down, it went back into the proofing container for only another 30 minutes this using the yeast really speeds up the fermentation.

Lots of bubbles on the dough when I dumped it on the counter for shaping.  After a 10 minute rest I pushed it around a bit till it formed a nice dome and taut skin. IMG_0872Then into the oat lined banneton that I was inspired by a post on the forum to do.  IMG_0875

The final proof in the banneton only took as long as heating the oven….and the resulting loaf was not beautiful but extremely delicious with a slight sweetness from the honey.  A much more successful bake!



Erdinger Weissbier Bread

2015-05-05_12-26-22Having seen a few beer breads being bandied about on forum and web, I decided it was time to try my hand.  And, being that I’m married to a German, it seems appropriate that I stick with beer that adheres to the German purity law as well as being the household favorite.

The levain was built as follows:

100 grams Rodney rye sour
150 grams KA Pumpernickel
250 grams Erdinger Weissbier with hefe aka yeast

After fermenting for 18 hours or so the starter was bloated and floating…..it was time to put together the final dough.

Needed two good size loaves for dance practice tomorrow night….who else to enjoy this bread with….I added:

600 grams Erdinger
800 grams KA bread flour

I let it autolyze for 25 minutes and then added 20 grams of salt.  After slapping and folding it for five minutes and performing two stretch and folds 15 minutes apart, I left it to bulk ferment for about 8 hours.

IMG_0790I divided and conquered and set the dough for its cold, overnight slumber.  Another thing I’m trying when the dough is very wet is to sprinkle a little flour around the edge of the dough to try and keep it from sticking.

The dough came out of the fridge, was scored and plopped into the hot dutch ovens.    What came out was pretty nice and pretty tasty.



It also had a very nice crumb and was thoroughly enjoyed at dance practice that night slathered in lots of Kerry Gold butter.


Another Sourdough Heavy on the Pumpernickel

Today in addition to the Hamelman Challah, our rye starter was floating so we needed to put together bread.

Inspired by Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough with increased whole grains today’s dough is really a 1.2.3 with an emphasis on pumpernickel…simply because I didn’t feel like working at it.

384 grams of floating starter, 768 grams of water and @1100 grams of flour split:  200 Whole Wheat, 300 Pumpernickel and 600.  I actually dropped the bread flour a little because of the increased whole grain IMG_0764pumpernickel.

Did the usual, 20 minute autolyse, added my salt and because of the added whole grains I was tempted to put in a pinch of yeast..oh the horror!  But in the end I didn’t!

Love the slap and folds….they really work the dough into a workable mass although I tend to find pieces of dough in the weirdest places…stuck to the wall, the underneath of the cabinets  I then did some stretch & folds every 30 minutes for the first two hours with a total bulk ferment of 3.5 hours because we needed to leave the house for an event.  Into the bannetons for their overnight slumber “in zee külher.

TIMG_0767his morning I heated the oven, upended the bannetons onto parchment and scored.  I was a little worried about one of the loaves…
IMG_0770it looked like it flattened out and although the scoring was sufficiently deep, halfway through baking when the covers were removed, it looked like the weren’t going to split.  I helped it along and reopened those wounds…probably not the best technique but what the heck….this is all one big experiment anyway.

IMG_0777IMG_0771The loaves that came out looked pretty good.  The crumb really nice….But the flavor!

OMG…Ron is in heaven so much so he called Wolfie in  Germany to brag.  He says it smells like the air outside the brewery in his home town of Eschwege!  There are random yummy sounds coming from the family room.


Challah….No need to hit the Gym!

My go-to recipe for Challah has been the Ciril Hitz recipe we were given in our October bread baking class.  I even used it for the Easter bread basket.  Since I bought Hamelman’s Bread, I decided to use his recipe.

This recipe calls for high gluten flour which I actuallyhad on hand….if not I would have replaced it with bread flour.  Sir Lancelot was called to duty along with the bread flour, eggs and yolks, canola oil, sugar and an additional couple tablespoons of honey.  In actuality I should have replaced a couple of the sugar tablespoons with honey but I just added more…hey…food for the yeast and a slightly sweeter bread.

Hamelman’s recipe doesn’t require a sponge like Hitz so I piled all of the ingredients into the mixer bowl.  After the first three minutes on low I could smell the mixer bogging down.  I knew there was no way I was going to complete another five minutes on second speed.

I dumped out the bowl onto the counter and started working the dough.  There were still dried bits of flour and it was like trying to knead a deflated soccer ball and was very dry.

Inflexible dough...looks like a chicken doesn't it?
Inflexible dough…looks like a chicken doesn’t it?

I added another quarter cup of water to the dough and worked it….and worked it….and worked it….no need to go to the gym today!  What a work out.

I kneaded and pushed and pulled and slapped and whacked and beat the crap out of that piece of dough.  IMG_0748Eventually it started looking like what I was used to seeing and was stretching pretty good when slapped down.  This took about 10-15 minutes.

IMG_0749Into the proofing box….my microwave with a cup of boiled water.  After an hour I punched down gently per the instructions and left it for another hour.IMG_0751

At the end of the second hour, the dough was beg-ging to be let out.

IMG_0753 It was beautifully flexible, stretchy, golden and worth the work out!

The turned out extremely extensible.  After an initial rolling and then a rest, it stretched very well.

In Hamelman’s book he has a number braiding examples.   IMG_0757This one is called the Windsor but I decided to leave it flat. IMG_0758This used 6 strands and I took the other three, braided them and curled those into a ball.



Back into the proofing box for the requisite time while I run to the grocery store because I used up all the eggs!

Baked for 30 minutes at 380 turning and swapping the trays half way and we have some nice looking loaves.

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.

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.


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!