Exploring Bread

LeadDog's picture

 I had some left over bread flour so I thought I would make a loaf of bread that was just flour, water, and salt.  The hydration for this loaf was 67% since I wanted to use my plastic proofing basket.  I heard that dough that is higher in hydration sticks to the basket so I figured that maybe 67% would be the secret to making this work.  

The resulting bread ended up being so good that I was left wondering why, I really hadn't done anything that seemed that much out of the ordinary.  I started looking in books trying to figure out what all the strange bread names mean since I have no understanding what they meant.  That is when I stumbled across  a couple of things that I did to this dough that just made it wonderful.

First off it is winter here and gets down to about freezing most nights, we don't heat the house at night.  The water is cold too.  I made the bread with cold water and left it out on the counter all night.  When I had gone to bed it looked like it hadn't started fermenting at all.  The next morning it had fully risen.  This is like the Pain a l'Ancienne from BBA.

Next thing I did that impacted the bread is I ran out of bread flour so I put in some home ground whole wheat flour to get the flour up to the amount that I needed, around 10% to 15%.  I looked in BBA at Pain de Campange and it is made with bread flour and some whole grain flour.

I shaped the dough and place it in my proofing basket for a couple of hours in a warm spot.  When I turned it over to bake the bread the dough just fell right out.  The bread was baked for 45 mins at 460°F and it is just great.  I ate a slice and found myself craving another slice right away.  The crust is nice and crisp and crackly.  The crumb has nice big irregular holes in it and even three days latter is still a moist.  I'm loving it a lot.  I have to try this again it is so good.

Exploring Bread



rossnroller 2010 January 1

Interesting that you accidentally ended up with a pain de campagne, LeadDog. That happens to be my favourite bread, also, along with Hamelman's Vermont SD. 

I base my pain de campagne on a recipe posted by someone on TFL. They used a dry yeast spike as well as SD, and I modified mine to be 100% SD. It's the first formula I've arrived at myself (although not from scratch - I remain indebted to the poster of the original recipe for the basis of the recipe), and I find myself repeating this one again and again. Will post the recipe and some pics separately - been meaning to do that for some time, and you've just given me the inspiration to do so. You might be interested to compare your formula with mine. I'd like to do so, in any case. I'm very happy with the way mine turns out, but am always open to looking at ways to improve. Would like to try yours anyway.

Cheers, and Happy New Year to you and all other folk on this forum.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 3

 I made this bread again today and it looks great, I'll cut it tomorrow.  I added one more element to this bread to see what happens.  When I was reading "Local Bread" Leader attributed the following concept to Max Poilane.  

Max explained how slow, steady kneading gently conditions the gluten to create an extensible and elastic dough.  The modern practice of high-speed mixing while hurrying along the process, oxygenates the dough too much and bleaches it out, causing the bread to lose flavor and character.

What I did was take my mixing bowl off of my Bosch mixer and turn it by hand.  This gets the dough all mixed up pretty fast anyway doing it like this.  I left the dough roughly mixed up like that for an hour then I placed it into an oiled bowl and added the salt.  The dough was fully developed before the salt was fully kneaded into the dough.  This made a very nice dough, I'm going to try this again.  The dough did the long cold fermentation again so now I'm curious as to how this bread is going to taste.  There might be a followup report with pictures tomorrow.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 4

 I'm officially addicted to the flavor of this bread.  The combined methods makes a bread that I really like in so many ways that I'll be making it a lot.  I'm most likely going to try to adapt the methods to the bread I make for my lunch.  Here are a couple of pictures.  

Exploring Bread

Exploring Bread Crumb

Good thing I went for a bike ride today as I have had many slices of this bread.

rossnroller 2010 January 7

LeadDog, I wonder if you would mind posting your recipe for this one? I think you did give your dough in terms of bakers' percentages, but I can't find the relevant post. As mentioned, I do a pain de campagne that is one of my favourites, but I'd like to try yours, too, and compare. Mine uses rye rather than w/meal flour, so it is obviously quite different.

Also, if you wouldn't mind outlining your timeline and the basic directions that would be great (although if this is too much of a pain, I'm sure the process I usually follow will work).


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 7

 I'm going to make it again and take notes this time.  I'll post directions after I get done making that loaf.  The timeline I think is important to this one so I want to make sure I get that right.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 15

 Here is the latest version.  I will cut it tomorrow and take half of it to work for the tasting test.  I'm very excited about how it turned out.  It looks just beautiful to me, and smells great too.  It is so hard waiting.


dimitry1 2010 January 16

Reading all the posts on this site just inspires me to go out there and make up something of my own. For some reason wen I bake bread I cant follow a recipe I always change something. But I guess that's how we all come up with these wonderful breads. Great bread  thanks for sharing.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 16

 Bread Crumb

Ok the taste test was just great.  This is really great tasting bread.  I still have to pinch myself that it was by accident that I ever made bread this way.  You take a bite of this bread and you taste a very nice flavor.  Then you start chewing on the bread and the flavor gets richer and better, it seems like it is swimming around your tongue.  The bread isn't even chewed up yet enough so that you can swallow it so you chew on it some more and the flavors get richer and bolder, seems like the flavors are swimming in between your taste buds.  It is so wonderful you want to eat another slice but don't because you would eat it all up and not have any left.  I'll write up a recipe for the bread but wanted people who have been interested in this thread to know that these techniques work.  You can make really great tasting bread with just flour, water, and salt.

rossnroller 2010 January 16


   You can make really great tasting bread with just flour, water, and salt.[/quote]

Oh, indeed! All my favourite breads have only these ingredients - this is, for me, the wonder of bread! And extracting maximum flavour from those simple ingredients is the quest I'm sure many of us are pursuing. It sure sounds like you've developed a great technique here, LeadDog. Can't wait for the recipe! Thanks, as always, for sharing.


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2010 January 16

An example of how seductive flour+water+salt can be. LD, your taste description is mesmerizing.

Eagerly waiting for the recipe too.   

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 16

Three votes for the recipe?  It is up now.

TP yes I tasted the bread this morning at work and had all day to work on words to describe the bread.  There were tons of more words/ideas I had during the day but simple is best.  I did forget one thing, when I set out trying to duplicate the bread I used 10% whole wheat the first couple of times.  This time I increased it to 15% that makes a big difference.  The rich full flavors I believe come from that whole wheat that is added.  The whole wheat that I use is made from a local Califonia Central Coast Red Winter Wheat.  It does have more flavor than the Red Winter Wheat that I got from Montana.  Lots of different flavors to explore in the whole grain part of this bread.

eyendall 2010 January 17

You seem to have arrived at the right formula. I do the same with no kneading: I let the bread mixture rise overnight then just gently fold the dough over itself a couple of times followed by a rise each time, and baking it in a covered pot at high heat for the first 30 minutes. But I don't get as beautiful a crust as you have. What do you do to get that crust?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 18

 The 4th post in this thread explains why the crust ends up that color.  The color is a result of extra sugar that is released from the starch before the fermentation starts.  Baking caramelizes these extra sugars in the crust.  It does make a rich rich brown doesn't it?  It tastes wonderful too.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 22

 I tried a little bit different idea on my last bread and thought I would just add it to this thread.  The flour was changed to 3% Spelt, 15% Whole Wheat, and 82% Bread Flour.  The Spelt and Whole Wheat were milled by me.  Spelt makes a very light and fluffy flour and that is how this bread turned out.  Nothing exciting about the taste so I'm making a dough with 11% Whole Barley Flour 4% Whole Wheat and the rest Bread Flour.  I ground the Barley flour my self.  When I did the first stretch the dough had a very noticeable aroma to it.  I hope that is a good sign.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 25

 Ok the bread with the barley flour is done.  This made an interesting impact on the bread.  The crust is noticeably crunchy.  The barley also has added a very nice flavor to the bread.  I get the flavor of brand flakes that some cereals use. The bread is still being made the same way I made the first one I just changed what flour it is being made with.  I know you need picture so here they are.

Bread made with Barley flour

Crumb of bread made with barley flour.

rossnroller 2010 January 25

Looks very very good, LeadDog.

As stated, I tried your original version next bake. What I learned is that it's not appropriate to apply the method you've described (in another post) in hot summer conditions - duh!

And I mean hot. I had to stop baking altogether during the recent heatwave. It was 42 degrees INSIDE in the top bedroom, and only a few degrees 'cooler' in the kitchen. My starter was climbing the wall 2 hours after being fed, so I tucked it away in the fridge and abandoned baking until the conditions were less extreme...

It was still 32C+ inside when I decided to try your bread. I knew it was not the right time, but was too eager to try this one, so gave in. I did make some obvious and necessary changes given the conditions, so the bread I ended up with was not the one you've posted about here.

Did the build as directed, then used ice-cold filtered water to mix the dough, and retarded overnight in fridge with a couple of S&Fs, as per your method. The next day was when I had to deviate from your method, because of the heat. Skipped the step where you left the dough out of the fridge all day while you went to work (no choice there - would have been horribly over-proven). Instead, bulk-proved 4 hours (too long!), shaped, and proved 2 hours (again, too long). When I tried to get the dough on to the peel it had gotten so sticky and unhandleable, even though it is not a high hydration dough, that I messed it up at that stage and ended up losing some dough that stuck to anything and everything. Slashing was out of the question, and sliding it off the peel a major challenge, even though it was well sprinkled with semolina. Should have used parchment paper. Anyway...

The news is not all bad. Predictably, the dough spread quite a bit on the pizza stone early in the bake, so I ended up with a flattish loaf. It did rise, though and - here is the good bit - the flavour was, indeed, GORGEOUS. Lovely crust, and a sort of creaminess and deep, complex crumb flavour that is unlike any other bread I've done so far. The loaf was a bit of an ugly duckling, sure, but the flavour was so good that I am certainly going to give this one another try in winter, when the conditions are closer to those you baked under.

The lesson for me here was not to try to force a method to remain true to the original recipe while largely ignoring very extreme differences in ambient temperature. Obvious in hindsight, and I did make adjustments, but not enough. My intuition was screaming to me to cut down the bulk proof and proving times, but I overrode it. Still, far from a disaster, and thanks again for this technique, LeadDog. Looking forward to winter!


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 25

 Hey Ross at least winter is good for something.  I gave up along time ago on following the times used in recipes, you just have to bake the bread when it is ready.  Glad you got the flavor part of the experiment successfully done.  I'm still amazed at the flavor a person gets by doing bread this way.  I think I'm going to do the Barley flour one again but up the Barley to 15% of the flour.  I just can't get over what using Barley flour does to the bread.  I would have thought more people would have been writing about Barley flour if they had tried it.  I wonder what I'm going to do when summer gets here?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 29

 Ok time for the report on the bread with 15% barley flour in it.  When it came out of the oven the crust was rock hard.  I though oh well if you don't experiment you will never learn anything new.  Today when it was sliced the crust had absorbed moisture from the crumb and was pliable.  The crust was a little bit thicker that what this experiment has been making and was nice and chewy.  It was a very nice loaf overall but I don't see a need to use 15% barley flour to do what I want it to do.  The next loaf is going to have 5% barley flour and 10% whole wheat.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 January 31

 Here are the pictures and report on the loaf with 5% barley flour and 10% whole wheat.  The barley really does make a different crust.  When the bread came out of the oven the crust was hard again.  I cut the bread 4 hours later and the crust was nice and pliable.  This is a very nice tasting bread, I think I'm very close to where I want to be with the flavor of the bread.  I gave a slice to a person who works for us and after she had eaten it all she said it was so good she was looking for crumbs to eat.  Anyway here are some pictures.

Light Barley

Barley Light Crumb

I went back to using my whole wheat starter that I store at room temperature.  I use a bit from that and used bread flour to build up my preferment that was at 50% hydration.  I increased the hydration in the dough so that the overall hydration of the bread would be the same.  Next time I'll use some rye but I'm not sure how much yet.

shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2010 January 31

That is very nice looking bread.  Thank you for uploading the photos.  I can smell the aroma!  The crumb looks very flavourful.  I am not sure if this is due to your flour combination, or simply that you're just doing so well.  Given a different flour combination (as long as it is  kept to 15% in other wholegrain flours), I wonder if your result would be equally good. 

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 1

 Shiao-ping I have been wondering about the crumb also.  All of the breads in this thread have been made with 15% whole grains except one, that was the 3% spelt and 15% whole wheat.  There is another flour change in the above bread, it is made with mostly unbleached AP flour.  My intuition is that I'm proofing these breads much longer than I normally would.  My brain says that they have to be over proofed but the bread isn't falling in on itself so I just keep repeating the long fermentation.  The above loaf was made with winter cold tap water and left to ferment in a cool room for 19.5 hours.  I can do a build for preferment, 50% hydration, in the same room with the same flours and in eight hours it has tripled in size.  This makes me thing about salt and that is under 2% for the total loaf so nothing really out of line there and it is the same salt I have been using for a long time.  I'm puzzled as to why the crumb is turning out like this but my mouth is enjoying it.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 11

 I think I have finally come to an end in my experimentation of exploring bread for now.  I need to make some croissants.  Here is the last loaf that I made.  I'm not sure if this is good or bad but I think it will taste good.


Multi-grain side view

I might take a crumb shot if there is any left after I cut it.

rossnroller 2010 February 12

[quote=LeadDog] might take a crumb shot if there is any left after I cut it.[/quote]

Hey, LeadDog - take that crumb shot before you scoff it all down! Think of your mates! I, for one, wanna see that crumb shot. The breads looks delicious, and I can tell from the slash marks that you got some mighty nice spring there. So don't be mean with the crumb shots...I can only imagine how open and creamy the crumb is, but imagining is never enough - you know that!

Ross :)

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 13

 Ross I really thought you would be tired of this bread experiment by now.  ;-)

This by the way is my perfect tasting bread.  The last little tweak made the bread just the way I like to taste sourdough.  The crust on this bread is a little bit thicker than the previous loafs and is nice and chewy just the way I like it.  The sour flavor seems to come from the crust part of the bread too.

Ross I couldn't believe the spring I got on this loaf.  The one picture makes it look like the loaf blew its top part way off.  I took the loaf to a pot luck we were having at work and got lots of good complements.  Lots of people were surprised that I made the bread.  I'm going to write up the formula for this one and call it a multi-grain sourdough.  Here is the crumb shot that you wanted to see.

Multi-Grain Crumb

rossnroller 2010 February 15

 Looks tremendous, Duane. Always into trying new breads - looking forward to your posting the recipe/directions for this one!

shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2010 February 15

Great looking breads and crumbs.  What was roughly your cool room temperature where you said your loaf was fermented for 19.5 hours (your 1st Feb comment)?



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 15

 Oh I forgot I was going to post the recipe/directions for that loaf.  Right after I made that last post the site said I didn't have permissions to access the site.  I just now got back on the site.

Shiao-ping you know I'm a bad scientist because I don't know what temperature of the room is.  There are other issues like it heating up in the day time and cooling down at night.  Oh I just had an idea.  My weather station also keeps a record of the internal temperature.  The average temperature I would say was 60°F.  The min on Feb 1st was 58.6° and the max was 63.7°.  This last loaf was a 23 hour fermentation.  I have not heard of anyone fermenting bread for this amount of time but I really do like how the bread is turning out.

Seems spring is here now, the almond trees are blooming and the house is warming up now.  The dough for  croissants is under way.

shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2010 February 23

That is very low average temperature!  No wonder you can do 23 hour fermentation on the counter!  And no wonder the bread is beautiful.  I think the dough really likes the long fermentation at mildly low temperature.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 24

 Shiao-ping I agree with you that the dough likes the really long fermentation at mildly low temperatures.  I have been in baking haven for two months doing these long fermentation and having a blast.  The flavors have been wonderful so I saw no need to use warm water in mixing up the dough to hurry the process along.  I'm afraid Spring is here and it is time to move on but I look forward to next winter.  Our Almond trees are in full bloom and there is the sweet smell of nectar in the air.

Almond Bloom


shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2010 February 24

I once saw the almond tree flowers in a cookbook of mine (that's how often - once - that most of my cookbooks get read).   When I first read your reply above (without seeing the photo you attached), I thought I would ask if you wouldn't  mind showing me a photo of it, so I came to the website; and there is the photo!  Thank you.   They look a bit like flowers from my Hong Kong Orchid tree, except that they are white.  Thank you.


rossnroller 2010 February 25

Greetings to you, and hope the reno is on the way to completion. And that the WFO is still included in the plans!


What choice country (and a beautifully composed shot)!  We're thinking of making a move to a less urban environment...as with Shiao-Ping, your pic struck a chord with me.

I watched a series on US wine production recently, which took in Paso Robles as well as higher profile areas like the Napa Valley. Looks like mighty purty country indeed, and your pic adds to that impression. Also seems that, as might be expected, the Californian wines have much in common with Australian wines, both being categorised as 'New World' producers. I prefer the big bold fruity tones of our wines over the more subdued trad French drops, to be honest - but it's all about what you're used to, no doubt. And I hastily own up to making a generalisation that is only that. Would love to visit your area some day. 


shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2010 February 25
I’d like to share a photo.  It is Édouard Loubet's almond pastis from his A chef in Provence (page 182). They drink this pastis in springtime when the almond trees are in bloom. [IMG] almond flowers almost look like cherry blossoms to me.I once did a semi impression of one of his recipes from the book (I posted on here).  I did a terrible job with all that bacon and bread stuff and I often wonder whatever got into me to post such a bake.
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 25

 Ok thanks for the comments about the picture.  There is a story behind it of course.  Way back when Almonds were king here in Paso Robles people would come to our Ranch and take pictures of our trees when they were in full bloom.  This picture is of our Ranch taken by someone else and that was made into a postcard.  I would love to find out who took the picture so I could give them credit but I have no idea who it was.  We do have lots of pictures of the blooms and the trees in full bloom but this picture is just extra special.  I can still walk right to the spot where that picture was taken.  It is a very nice spot in the orchard.

Shiao-ping cherry blossoms look just like Almond Blooms to me also.

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