A Fermenting Story - JT's 85 x 3

shiao-ping's picture

John Tredgold (JT) is a member of Bread Bakers Guild Team USA 2010 (Baguette and Specialty Breads section).  He shared his [b]85 x 3[/b] formula from the Breads Draft Class at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco back in February.  I first read about this beautiful recipe at MC’s farine.com (please click [b]here[/b] for her wonderful post.  JT is Director of Bakery Operations at Semifreddi's in San Francisco Bay Area.  Founders of Semifreddi’s are German descents.) 


Basically, JT’s formula is a story of fermenting, employing three types of pre-ferments: biga, poolish, and levain, and using a specialty flour containing 0.85% ash content (Central Milling’s Organic Artisan Old Country Type 85 Malted Flour).  This is a high extraction flour, about 82 – 85% rate of extraction of wheat berries.  It is roughly equivalent to the French T80 flour which normally has ash content ranging from 0.75% to 0.90% according to Prof. Calvel’s [i]The Taste of Bread[/i], page 4.


I recently came across a South Australian organic miller, Four Leaf Milling, which produces an 85% Light Flour.  This flour is derived from whole wheat by removing approximately 15% of the bran.  I am in the process of finding out more information about it, but in the mean time I thought I would use my French T110 flour to try JT’s formula.  The French T110 flour generally has higher ash content (1.00 – 1.20%) and higher rate of extraction (85 – 90%).


For JT’s formula, please click on this [b]link[/b] to his spreadsheets, provided in MC blog above.  Thank you, MC, for a most inspiriting post.


I attempted this formula three times.  Each time I scaled his formula down to 5% for a 1 kg loaf.  Below were the photos of my sourdoughs.  I did not use any commercial yeasts as in JT’s formula.  For the portion that uses white bread flour, I used Australia’s Laucke’s unbleached bakers flour which has the same protein count as that of King Arthur's All Purpose flour (ie. 11.9%), which JT uses for his formula.


JT’s formula provided 1 1/2 hours first fermentation at roughly the dough temperature of 75 F (or 23.9C), and 1 1/2 – 2 hours proof at 75 – 80F (or 23.9 – 26.7C).


(1) The following bread was done with three hours bulk fermentation at 20 C and six hours proof at the cool overnight room temperature of 15 – 20C.






The flavour of this bread is exceptional.  As I took my first bite, the rich aroma hit me.  As I chewed, the flavour  continued to unfold and deepen.   All else being equal, I attributed this rich flavour to the favourable climate for making slow rise levain bread.  In Australia (or should I say, in Queensland where the winter is mild), the best time for making levain bread has arrived!


(2) The following bread was done with four hours bulk fermentation at 20 C and proof retard in the refrigerator overnight (10 hours).





(3) The following bread was done with four hours bulk fermentation at 20 C and two hours proof at the room temperature of approx. 22 C.  (The crumb shot below shows that the dough could do with a slightly longer proofing time as my temperature was a lot lower than that provided by JT.  On the other hand, this loaf had the highest volume due to the under-proof.)






I must be a person who is easily moved by people whose passion I can recognize.  I see in JT what I have seen in Gerard Rubaud.   I may be wrong, but some passionate pursuits are lone business.  




rossnroller 2010 May 16

And great to see you back innovating and experimenting...and reporting your findings! I use Eden Valley biodynamic/organic stoneground flours and am not sure of the protein counts or ash contents - but no matter. If you describe a bread as having 'exceptional' flavour, that's prompt enough for me to place it immediately on my must-try list and promote it to the front of the queue.

Just one point of interest: did you use stock standard supermarket wheat germ?


rossnroller 2010 May 19

...which of the three breads above did you assess as having the best flavour? Or were they all good without any being a standout?

shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2010 May 21

(1) and (2) are equally good; (3) is not so good as the other two.  The trick is keeping the dough temp low enough so that it can continue to ferment and ferment for a LONG enough time.   

rossnroller 2010 May 21

Well, they both look fabbo. Probably not cool enough here at the moment for an overnight proof outside the fridge, so I'll try #2 for now. Looking forward to this one - thanks again for the post. I don't think I'm the only one grateful to be in the slipstream of your restless pursuit of new and better breads.

MC 2010 May 22

 Thank you so much, Shiao-Ping, for trying out JT's formula and in three different versions, no less! I am very impressed by your results. I am just curious. When you say you used no commercial yeast, you mean in the final dough? Did you still make a traditional poolish and biga?

As you saw in my interpretation of his bread, I used a very minimal amount of yeast. I could have skipped it altogether but my house was very chilly and I thought it best to edge my bets.  Now that warm weather is upon us on this side of the planet, I will skip the yeast completely in the final dough.

And you are absolutely right about passion!

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

Yes, I meant that there was no commercial yeast in the final dough.  The (3) bread above was actually my first 85 x 3 and the (1) was the last.   About the Poolish and Biga, my first bread (ie, the (3) above) was the only one that I put in a tiny bit of commercial yeast.   Supposedly there needs to be yeast for fermentation to be happening.  But I find that, as long as my sourdough starter is very active, there is not much difference whether or not there is instant yeast in the Poolish or Biga.  

BackyardPermaculture 2010 July 27

Thanks for posting this - I had to try it 

Given various time constraints over last weekend, I made the 3 preferments on Friday night (improvising the flour by combining 20% wholemeal with Allied Mills Superb bakers flour). Mixed the final dough Saturday morning and gave it most of the day in the fridge for an evening bake in the wood-fired oven.

My 3kg of dough was divided into 4 x 750g boules - unfortunately the hydration was a bit too much and they slumped a bit on the peel. However, it was the best crumb I've had yet and really tasty bread. My hearth temp was uneven; still hot spots where the fire had been for the pizzas, so 2 loaves got some burnt patches underneath.

I'm planning on trying it again next week, with slightly lower hydration and hopefully some organic flour.



shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2011 January 6

(1) down the centre of the dough, not a straight line, more like a gentle curved line;

(2) taking the sharp knife at a 45 degree angle if you can; and

(3) score in a very swift, quick, non-hesitant motion. (With my knife in my hand, holding it at an angle I want to cut, I often have to "ponder," like I'm meditating my next move, before I actually do the swift cut.)

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