Tag Archives: Starters

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.

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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.


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.

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!



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.

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!

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 goodcooking.com.  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.

How It all Started

The bread baking that is….

I recently made a foray back into the kitchen.  Being semi-retired I do have a bit more time on my hands.  Add to that Knitting Club’s attendance at a bread baking class and Viola….another hobby!

We started with a sourdough loaf and Challah both of which came out fantastic.  Half of the sourdough still resides in the freezer for later enjoyment…the Challah is gone….the last few slices dipped in egg, fried and smothered in Ron Wenzel’s famous maple syrup…yum!







Next I started a quest to find recipes for the breads like we always get in Germany….a nice sourdough rye and brötchen, especially the ones with seeds in and on.  So far I’ve found three keeper recipes:  Weizenbrötchen, Schwarzwalder Kruste and Bauernbrot.

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I have been going full bore with the baking.  And am now trying to perfect the art of making the perfect artisan sourdough loaf.  We are up to our asses in fresh baked bread and I spread it around to family and lucky friends.