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A recent comment by Michael Lily regarding dough bulk volume increase got me thinking about a topic I have already given a lot of thought to - volume increase during bulk and it's effect on the final bread.

In that post Michael suggested a bulk volume increase of 20% to improve oven spring, which I would agree with, but I think there may be a downside in terms of flavour development.

I'm coming to the conclusion that low bulk volume increase, eg 20-40%, gives good oven spring, good ears, good loft, good open crumb, but maybe a lack of lactic flavour deveopment. Bulk volume increase of 60-100% gives good lactic flavour development, but poorer oven spring, poorer ears, lower loft and a more closed, regular crumb - "frog spawn crumb", as I have christened it.

This can be quite well tracked by measuring the pH of the final bread - mush up 6g crumb + 40g distilled H2O and take pH.

More musings may follow!



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I recently bought some French Foricher T65 flour whilst shopping for some other flours.

I hadn't got a particular recipe in mind when I bought it, but then it became obvious that the first thing to try was an authentic "pain au levain".

I became rather interested in the original method for making pain au levain which dates from 1778 (or earlier) as detailed in Parmentier's "Le parfait boulanger, ou Traité complet sur la fabrication et le commerce du pain (Éd.1778)". The method is known as "travail sur trois levains", or work on three levains.

Basically it's a way of building up a levain in 3 stages and is similar in concept to the German Detmolder  Dreistufenführung method for rye bread.

Anyway, I digress! The first thing I needed was a starter. Although I already had one, it seemed appropriate to make a proper French one - ie French flour, low hydration. A book from M. Calvel provided a suitable method, as detailed in this table:

I shrank the quantities down as detailed here and had a working starter in about 3 days. An interesting starter - 50% hydration and salted from the start (to reduce proteolysis).

So I went to on to make the pain au levain; sadly it wasn't that good! - rather bland and with a tight crumb.

I know it's heresy to say it, but I've decided I don't actually like T65 flour very much! It makes a sticky dough and I think it's too weak for sourdough use - best results I've had are with a poolish. Maybe it's just the brand I've used (though it's well respected....).

On the other hand, I've ended up with a great starter! - it has become my main starter and gives great rise and good flavour. Previously I could see my loaves spreading when I put them in the oven, but not now.

I usually do 3 levain builds - 4pm (1/1/0.5 25C), 10pm (1/6/3 25C) and a "booster" at 8am the morning after (1/1/0.5 29C), all salted at 1%. I do the builds with strong Manitoba flour to minimise gluten degradation.

I use the levain at about 33% of main flour with a minimal autolyse of about 10 minutes.

Not much to see in a starter (apart from those overflowing jar photos....), but here is mine when I'm taking a bit out to use - peeling back the crust (a bit like a bound lievito madre):

Only 30g in that jar - my normal weekly refresh.

And here's a loaf I made recently with this starter:



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I chanced upon some interesting YouTube videos of the JWU Bread Symposium 2021. One of them was a prebiotic bread by Michael Kalanty He uses a sourdough leavened soaker of home milled wheat grits, oats and flax seed to develop prebiotic bacteria.

It sounded interesting so I decided to give it a go and (painfully!) transcribed most of the recipe from the video and guessed a few missing bits.

It went something like this:

Prebiotic Bread Michael Kalanty



Prebiotic bread by Michael Kalanty JWU Bread Symposium 2021

Prebiotic soaker 16hrs at 22C


Overll bread hydration 72 %

DDT 25 C

Lev qtty: 350 French, salted, 50% hydration

Build 1: 7e5.15 8/8/4/0.08 25c

Build 2: 7e10 14/84 Can BF/42/0.8 25c tot 140

Build 3: 8m8 135/150 can bf/75/1.5 25c tot 360


Soaker make 7e9

Mulika wheat MockMilled coarse grits with flour 128

Pinhead oatmeal 67

Flaxseed, coffee grinder milled 45

Refreshed liquid starter 24

Salt 3

Malt 0.45

Water 330

total 598


Flours in main dough

Carrs BF 682

Soaker grains & seeds 252

Malt 3

Lev flour 233

Total 1170



Total 842

Autolyse water 320

Lev water 117

Soaker water 342

Bass 63



1.6% 13.3

Lev pH 4.6

M8 soaker pH 4.8

E12.40 soaker ph 4.15. lev ph 4.60


Main Dough

Autolyse with soaker

duration: 10m


3m ls

1.75 hs

2 rest

1.5hs w bass

15m in bowl rest

All in e1.35 dt23

Take pH 4.76!!!!!  Acid must have leached out of grains

Dough weight 2035


1 x bowlfold 

Bulk 2hrs 10m

Rise 54%, take ph 4.52

Scale: 2 x 850 bat and 1 small tin

BR no

AP no

Frij e4.15

Bake 9m8.30

Quite a lot of spread

Quite open crumb and tasty, some nutty texture from the grits

Low loft

Good enough to make again though!






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The quarter sponge system was a method of professional breadmaking developed in Scotland and was designed to produce tall, airy tin loaves with the minimum amount of yeast possible. The quarter refers to the fact that a quarter of the total recipe water is used in the first sponge.

I've tried it a few times before, but the loaves were never as tall as they should be and lacked oven spring.

Not liking to give up on my breadmaking missions, I decided to have another go.

I have two recipes, one from Manna, by Walter Banfield (1946), and the other from The Modern Baker from John Kirkland (1911). Both recipes are pretty similar and this time I went with the Manna recipe. I upped the hydration from the original 55% to 61%. These old recipes always have low hydration - I guess it was because of the wheats used in those days.



Previously I think I've followed the recipe times too closely and not fully taken account of what was actually going on with the dough.

The recipe starts with the Quarter Sponge (a stiff sponge):

229g Canadian bread flour

134g water

1.8g salt

1.35g fresh yeast

DDT 24.5C

Made in the Kenwood with the dough hook with some gluten development and stored for 14 hours at 25C

After 14 hours this was well risen and starting to drop. Time for the next stage, which is the batter sponge:

Batter Sponge

All the stiff sponge, chopped up

357g BF

5g malt

393g water

6.3g salt


Made in the Kenwood with K beater

Well mixed at moderate speed to give good aeration

Stored at 28C

This is allowed to rise fully and is then ready for use when it starts to drop. This should take an hour, but actually took 2hrs 40mins!

Batter songe dropping:


Main dough

All the batter sponge

314g BF

100g white wholemeal, coarse bran sifted out

83g water

11.5g salt

10g glucose

Mixed in the Famag with 5 minutes high speed


Punchdown and knead when well risen - 1hr 20mins, then fermented for another 1hr before turning out. (The recipe time for bulk is just 1 hour.)

Scale and bench rest 20 mins

Dough degassed by pinning out into squares and then shaping and placing into tins.

Final proof lasted 1hr 40mins, until dough had reached the shoulder of the tins

Ideally the loaves should be baked in wooden frames, (the loaves are then called Scottish plain loaves), but my wooden frame experiments are over, as I don't think they are suitable for a home oven. So I baked in tins. I do have one big tin that approximates pre-war tins in size and shape so I used that. It has tapered sides which I believe give better rise than straight sided tins.

Masterclass large bread tin used:


The result

Much improved compared to my previous efforts! Good oven spring and a soft fluffy crumb. And very tasty, helped by the 22 hour fermentation. It's incredible to think that the yeast rate was only 0.135% fresh yeast!








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This is a follow up to my post  in the "Besuschio - The Definitive Panettone" thread, with a bit more detail.


I decided to make a fresh starter for my LM - probably not necessary, but never mind! I followed the instructions at 

using a homegrown organic apple, flour mix of Marriages organic BF and some Italian Manitoba flour (+ a little malt) + spring water.

I left it at 28C and it had doubled in 24hrs, so I followed the next few steps in Dietmar's instructions and after a day or two developed a routine of 50 starter/50 Marriages Manitoba/20 spring water at 28C. This fits nicely in a 300ml cream pot (dry storage), covered with a shower cap. I roll out and roll up the dough about 5 times, shape into a ball and put into a clean pot.

I do this at about 9am and 9pm every day, now with a bit less flour to reduce waste: 40/40/16. pH ends up pretty consistently at 4.1.

After 2 weeks the LM seemed pretty active, so I did the 3 refreshments at m9, e1 and e5. Final pH was a bit high at 4.5, but Dietmar gives a range of 4.3-4.4, so I didn't worry too much.



So next I made the primo in the Kenwood Major with the spiral dough hook. I would have liked to use the IM5, but there wasn't enough dough.


The recipe I followed said to mix the LM with the flour (Marriages Manitoba again) and water and develop gluten. Then add the sugar, then butter, then the yolk. The trouble with this method is that the initial dough was very stiff, so kneading generates a lot of heat and also it is extremely difficult to then incorporate the butter/yolk.

Much better I think to mix LM + flour + water + enough yolk to give a kneadable consistency, knead, then add the rest of the yolk bit by bit and then all the butter, piece by piece.

All in pH was 5.59. Temp was a bit low because of our cold kitchen - about 22C. Even if you attemperate everything, the dough loses heat in the mixer.



I made the secondo the next morning at m11.20 - it was well risen and had a pH of 5.15. Bulk was slow and I eventually baked at e10. I'd put 290g in 300g cases, which I think should have 360g dough in them, so I think I was waiting for some extra rise that was never going to happen.



A couple of sites I like the look of:


That's it - till my next attempt!




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A simple yeasted roll recipe from King Arthur with 67% whole wheat content.


I made this recipe recently when I needed a quick bake and I was really surprised at how well they turned out. A nice fluffy, soft crumb and pleasant mild wholewheat flavour.


A few recipe notes:


I used 7g IDY, mixed with the flours

Bread flour - Marriages organic strong white

White WW flour - Marriages golden wholewheat - the only white wholewheat flour you can buy in the UK

47g butter, 10g EVOO

I had a spare blood orange, so squoze this for the orange juice

I didn't have potato flour, so I used potato starch

honey reduced to 44g

made in the Kenwood with the spiral dough hook

develop gluten before adding the butter/oil until the dough leaves the bowl sides

add the softened butter bit by bit until all incorporated

scale at 100g

mist with water and sprinkle on sesame seeds prior to baking

bake with steam for 10mins, vent and bake for 7 more mins






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Inspired by a picture of Derek's (Yozzause) recent Chelsea bun bake and also by some Fitzbillies of Cambridge UK buns that our daughter sent us, I thought it was time to try my hand at them.

Similarities to cinammon buns of course, but a surprisingly steep learning curve to get them right. I will need a couple more bakes to get them nearer how I think they should be. But I'm happy enough for a first attempt.

The Fitzbillies have a sugar glaze top and bottom and I prefer this to the iced version we usually see. Also I used Derek's trick of soaking the dried fruit in fortified wine to soften it up a little and give a good flavour - a spot of cream sherry in this case, as I was out of tawny port.


Ready for rolling up:





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There are lots of different ways to make chapatis; this is how I do it.

Here's my equipment:

I'm lucky enough to own a vintage Indian chakla, but of course any smooth flat rolling board will do



and a belan/rolling pin



A tawa for cooking the chapatis



Chaba for keeping warm and serving




Very simple. I've been using Sharbati atta - whole wheat flour grown in India and very finely stoneground. No visible bran. I don't know how they get it so fine. It's very weak, so I like to add 20% medium strength bread flour, otherwise it tears easily.

I keep the hydration low - 62.5%. I used to go higher, but it makes life more difficult; the dough tends to stick to the chakla and tawa if you aren't very careful.

For liquid I use half cold milk and half boiling water. I put the flour in the mixer bowl, push it to one side and pour in the milk to the other side. Then I put the water into the milk pool, and knead the dough in the Kenwood with the spiral hook for about 5 minutes.

To make 4 chapatis - good for 2 people, I use:

  • 200g sharbati atta
  • 50g bread flour
  • 78g cold milk
  • 78g boiling water
  • no salt

Cover and rest for 20-30mins.



When ready to make, divide the dough into 4, press by hand to discs and roll out to a good size. Best to get rid of any excess flour as it burns and spoils the look of the chappies.

One of these is very useful:




Cook the chapati on the preheated tawa, both sides



When done, briefly hold the chapatti over an open gas flame, if you have one; it will char and puff up nicely.



Store the chapati in a tea towel on the chaba.

And here they are, ready to eat with your favourite curry!






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Otherwise known as South Tyrol Farmers' Bread

I made this a while ago but it wasn't entirely successful, turning out a bit "solid". The recipe calls for Austrian T960 flour which I think is the same as German T997.

The first time I made it I used home milled wholegrain rye sifted at #50. This time I had planned to use Shipton Mill T997 light rye, but it was out of stock and I was sent Doves Farm white rye as a substitute - a bit whiter, but close enough.

I now realise that it pays to take note of the rye flours used in these Austrian and German recipes. If T997 is specified and you use stoneground flour, even if sifted, you may well end up with a brick.

Anyway, this is the recipe I used:

I tweaked the flour bill slightly and used:

  • 100g Shiptons T997 (I had a bit left)
  • 200g Doves Farm white rye
  • 400g Lubella T550
  • 100g Caputo Manitoba Oro
  • 100g Millers Choice heritage wheat fresh milled, sifted #40

Apart from that I pretty much followed the recipe. I did add 20ml extra water as bassinage as the dough looked like it would easily take it.

I was concerned that the overnight levain hadn't risen much, but the pH was 3.95, so I reckoned it was good to go.

Loaves were proofed in bannetons and dusted with white rye flour prior to scoring.


I'm pleased with how this bake turned out; the crust is nice and crispy and the crumb is soft and flexible for a rye bread - and with a bit of that elusive "shiney" appearance. Much better than I recall it last time I baked it.



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I have been struggling with crumpets for a while. I've tried several recipes and always ended up with blind crumpets (no holes).

So I gave up for a while but not liking to be beaten, I decided to have another go. This time I tried Andy's (Ananda) TFL recipe from way back.

To my surprise I had success! Nice tasty crumpets with open holes, crispy exterior and good flavour. One thing that stands out with Andy's recipe is the large amount of yeast used - 6%! But it does seem to work.

Note that this is 6% fresh yeast. I used fresh yeast. If you ever try this recipe and use IDY, multiply the yeast quantity by your favourite factor - I use 0.4X





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