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After taking a go at an olive polenta loaf a few weeks ago, I wanted to try the saccharification process highlighted by Benny in his loaf that's currently featured on the homepage.  I didn't have diastatic malt powder on hand, so I used honey as it's supposed to also have amylase.  The polenta definitely seemed a little sweeter after the process, but then again, I added honey to it, so it's a little hard to attribute the source of the change.  Pretty straightforward approach otherwise.


350g (77%) Bread Flour

100g (23%) Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour

330g (73%) water

50g (11%) starter


3 tsp salt


45g Cateto Orange polenta from Red Tail Grains

150g water

= ~190g (42%) cooked polenta


-Mix starter + water, dissolve, add all flour, mix.  Let sit for 1 hr.

-pinch in salt

-over next 3 hrs. stretch and fold ever 30 min. (room temp. probably high 60s-low70s)

-after first 1.5 hrs. stretch out dough and spread polenta all over surface, fold up, continue stretch and folds

-finish bulk fermentation 7 hrs. at ~60 degrees

-shape, retard in refrigerator for around 10 hrs.

-Bake: 500 22min, uncovered 10min, 450 30min.


Result:  This was one of my best porridge type loaves, yet I think.  The fermentation seemed right about on point (thanks to the tip about corn accelerating fermentation) resulting in a nice oven spring and good crumb.  The crust is good too.  The flavor seems a little different than the previous polenta loaf I did, lending credence to the saccharification process perhaps.  Using a bit lower % of polenta, the crumb was a nicer balance between airy and creamy.  The polenta definitely adds a nice subtle flavor- not as distinct as barley, but more than oats.   

I think having a substantial portion of the flour be whole wheat (perhaps even higher than this loaf) is nice as the bitterness of the hard red whole wheat is balanced by the sweetness of the polenta. 

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I've been needing to re-stock on whole wheat flour for a while, but I haven't been able to a good a good whole wheat flour from a local or regional small farm/mill.  After a number of weeks getting by without, doing a lot of porridge loaves for something interesting, I caved and bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat to tide me over.  It seemed a good occasion to try another whole wheat heavy loaf.

I've heard that spelt ferments fast, so I though perhaps adding it in later might be a good idea.


300g (50%) Bob's Red Mill hard red whole wheat

150g (25%) Redtail Grains Sungold Spelt

150g (25%) bread flour

480g (80%) water

55g starter (9%)

4 tsp salt

1 tbsp fennel seeds

2 sprigs of tarragon


1. mix all of whole wheat flour with 280g water, autolyze 1.5 hr (room temp. high 60s/low70s)

2. mix starter with 100g water, mix in all of bread flour, pinch bread flour into whole wheat flour. "autolyse" 1 hr.

3. pinch in salt- stretch and fold every 30min, 1.5hr

4. mix all of spelt with 100g water.  stretch out whole wheat + bread flour dough, spread spelt dough over it, fold 

5. stretch out dough sprinkle fennel seed and tarragon over dough, fold.  continue stretch and folds over next 1.5 hr

6. continue bulk ferment overnight 9 hrs. (temp. low 60s) 

7. shape

8. retard in refrigerator 12 hrs.

9. Bake: 500 20min., uncovered 10 min., 450 40min., let cool in turned off oven


It's been quite a while since I've worked with a mass market whole wheat flour. I was surprised at how strong of a dough it formed just by itself, even before adding the bread flour.  I guess I've gotten used to lower gluten content stone milled flours that are a bit more finicky to work with.  I was pleased with how manageable this dough was.  

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I've long wanted to try my hand at an imitation of this excellent loaf I had from one of the best bakeries I've tasted bread from: the, sadly, erstwhile Scratch Bakehouse of Syracuse, NY.  

I recently got an order of grains from Redtail Grains, a neat small-scale organic grain farm in NC that focuses a lot on heirloom varietals.  Among that order was some cateto orange polenta which is supposed to be particularly creamy and well-suited to polenta.  So here was my go:


bread flour: 360g (80%)

Sungold Spelt from Redtail Grains: 90g (20%)

leaven: 50g (~10%)

water: 335g (75%)


salt: 2tsp


Polenta made with Cateto Orange corn from Redtail Grains: 225g (50%)

Kalamata olives: a handful (maybe a 1/4 cup?), chopped

Process- Pretty much my standard process of late

mix starter + water, stir, add flours.  "Autolyse" 1 hr @ room temp. (probably around 65-70).  Add salt, pinch in.  Stretch and fold over the course of 3 hrs at room temperature (same as above more or less).  Add in the polenta and olives about halfway through stretch and fold period.  Continue bulk fermentation overnight (room temp probably in the mid 60s), about 8 hours in addition to the 3 hrs. of folding.  Shape.  Retard in refrigerator for around 8 hrs.  Bake @ 500 20 min, uncover, 10min, reduce to 450, 30min, let cool in turned-off oven.

Notes:  The dough came together nicely, and the polenta didn't cause it to get too unmanageable during the stretch and fold phase, but as with a few other porridge loaves, it was quite wet and sticky at the end of the BF when time to shape, thus my shaping job was rather loose.  Cornmeal/polenta, even when well cooked, seems to retain a grittiness that seems to hinder the gluten structure more than other cooked grains/porridges.  It also seemed to add a lot of water to the loaf; this was maybe one of the wettest feeling loaves I've baked, and even after the long bake, the crumb was still glistening (fortunately not gummy though).

    The crumb was super soft and the crust very robust, creating a nice contrast.  The polenta flavor added something, though perhaps not as distinct as other porridges.  I think I added too few olives and chopped them too small- their flavor didn't come through much.


  Made a grilled cheese with some slices- maybe one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever eaten thanks to that soft rich crumb getting griddled.  

The shape of the loaf was nothing to sing about, but just about all other aspects, especially a nice rich flavor, put this up there with some of my favorite of my creations.  I don't know that it equaled the Scratch Bakeshouse loaf though, but that's a pretty lofty standard to chase.  

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Further explorations in porridge loaves.  I'm currently out of interesting flours, so it seemed a good time to try something new in the porridge category.  Oats are pretty much always at hand.


Spec.'s: (I think)

350g bread flour

75g white spelt

25g peanut flour

338g water (~75% hydration)

~1tbsp salt


180g quick oat porridge with ~tbsp lavender a dash of salt and a glug of cane syrup


Standard procedure.  It's been getting cooler here at night recently, so I left the dough out at room temperature (rather than putting it in the 60 degree root storage room).  I though that at around 70 degrees for about 7 hours (+3 hrs of stretching and folding) it would be fine, but when I came back to it in the morning to shape it, it was quite sticky and hard to handle even though it had been quite smooth and easy to handle in the evening.  I'm not sure if this is over-fermentation breaking down the gluten or if it is the porridge slowly hydrating the dough and the effects setting in after I finish with the stretch and folds.  The only reason I might consider the latter is that I've had this experience before with porridge loaves.  

Result:  It definitely was a bit of a loose loaf, but it baked up alright thanks to my batard-shaped dutch oven preventing it from spreading too much.  It was also a very moist loaf; I baked it for a total of, I think, 45 or 50 minutes, and it probably could have benefitted from another 15 or more.  


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I've been way behind about typing up notes on my past few loaves.  A couple were nothing new and worth making notes on, but two are worth jotting down even if I've forgotten the details.

Lavender Loaf

This loaf was pretty bread flour heavy.  I think it was maybe 80% bread flour and 20% white spelt flour.  The notable aspect of this is that I incorporated a pretty good amount (maybe 20g) of lavender (some fresh, mostly dried), probably a good bit more than the two or three previous times I've tried adding lavender.  For the first time the lavender flavor came through distinctly- a very nice but not overpowering flavor. Paired nice with cheese and the fresh figs that were ripening then.

 Brown Rice Loaf

Other notable loaf was a brown rice loaf.  I regret that I forgot to weigh the cooked rice before I added it, but I used 1 cup if cooked brown rice.  I think I was a 600g loaf, with some rye and some whole wheat.  I was pleasantly surprised that the rice did not seem to change the moisture and handle-ability of the dough when added anywhere near as much as with other porridge and soaked grain additions.  The flavor was quite nice and the texture excellently creamy. 

One thing I did for both loaves was coat the outside in cornmeal rather than flour.  I really like the result: a bit more texture and the crust seemed to come out crunchier.

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Maybe one (well two) of my best loaves ever, I think.  I was really happy with these, especially because I made them for a family gathering, and I'm always afraid of making loaves to share that don't end up turning out to be up to my personal standards.


While searching for injera bread last week, I happened upon some roasted barley at an Ethiopian grocery and bought it thinking it might make a richer variation on my experimentation with barley porridge loaves.


Roasted barley- 250g

water (with a little yogurt mixed in)- 500g + extra 

soaked for 3 days



Bread Flour- 700g (70%)

Red Fife Whole Wheat (home milled by friend)- 150g (15%)

Dark Rye Flour- 100g (10%)

White Spelt Flour- 50g (5%)

Leaven- 100g (10%)

Water- 750g (75%) *plus water contributed by prooidge addition

Salt- ~6 tsps



-Mix leaven and water, add flours, mix until incorporated, autolyse for ~1 hr (room temp. ~mid 80s probably)

-After atolyse, add salt, pinch in

-stretch and folds every 30ish min for 3hrs.  Incorporated soaked barley after 2nd set of folds (stretched out dough, spread barley across surface, fold, repeat)

-move dough to refrigerator for about 1 hr cool down dough and slow fermentation

-move dough to "root storage" walk-in (~60 degrees) to continue bulk fermentation overnight (~6.5 more hrs)

-divide dough, pre-shape, wait 15min or so, shape, wait, 10 min or so, stitch up, let sit at room temp (~mid70s) for another 30 min

-move to refrigerator for cold proof (~8 hrs)

-Bake: 500 covered, for 20 min, 500 uncovered, 10min, 450 uncovered for 20 min.  Take out batard, continue to bake miche further ~20 min (I might have further lowered temp. t0 425 or 400 for this part)


I think reducing the Tartine formula from 50% porridge to 25% porridge made for loaves that were much easier to shape and get an airy crumb. (And 25% still feel like a lot of add-ins).  The roasted barley smelled nice and added a rich flavor, but it was a bit acrid.  I think cooking it would have been a better approach flavor-wise, but I don't know if the crumb would have been as airy.

It had a nice crunchy, crusty outside and a good soft, airy inside- pretty close to ideal, especially working with the barley add-ins.  Still, the mythical flavor of my first barley porridge loaf eludes me, but this was closer and structurally much better.  


Sitting, watching the sun rise over the marsh, fresh bread, peaches, and hot coffee- that's damn near heaven.


Round 2:  Cooked Porridge

I wanted to try the above idea again but cook the barley instead of soaking/fermenting.  The cooked porridge looked fairly similar to the soaked grain, but the resulting loaf had a much creamier crumb. 

Pretty much same approach, temperatures, and timing.

Dough make-up: 10% white spelt, 30% red fife ww, 60% bread flour.  Also 5% wheat germ.  Otherwise same as above.

Structure was a bit saggier than first loaf, probably due to cooked porridge contributing more water, though the non-white bread flour percentage was also slightly higher.  This loaf isn't quite as exciting, but the creamy porrige-y crumb is very enjoyable. 


3rd Iteration

The goal with this one was to take a 100% bread flour dough and add the porridge to that to see if the greater dough strength would take the porridge and still yield a nicely structured loaf.  Answer: yes, but I don't think the flavor or texture was as good, though it did look quite nice.


450g bread flour

20g wheat germ

333g water (~75% hydration)

3 tsp salt


~280g roasted barley porridge with ~tbsp each of fennel and flax seed  (I'm not 100% sure on this weight- I started around 60g or dry barley I believe, and then I cooked it into a porridge adding water as needed and seeds in the process, and then I arrived at the final weight by weighing it in the pot and then subtracting the weight at the pot, which should work but 280g was a bit higher than I expected).

pretty standard routine as detailed above.

result: very nice structure, elegant ear.  The flavor was nice, but not as rich as I expected with all the strong flavors of the porridge.  Also, I think the roasted barley is just too bitter tasting; regular barley is a much better choice

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I got a bag of Rouge de Bourdeaux (85% extraction) flour from Dayspring Farms recently and have been wanting to test out the flavor of it.  Here's a quick write up of my first go-rounds with it.  


My first attempt was a purist attempt to get an unclouded sense of the flour:

100% Rouge de Bourdeaux flour (85%) extraction

80% hydration

standard process and timing (as much as this current heat will allow) except for a slightly longer autolyse

I was anticipating doing 85% hydration, thinking that a whole(er) wheat flour should be able to handle that.  I added all but 5% of the water, with the intention of adding the remainder with the salt.  But it became apparent that even at 80% I was bordering on more water than the flour could handle.  While it would feel like I was developing gluten doing stretch and folds, the dough would never hold shape.  I was able to somewhat shape it and do a cold proof, which made it somewhat possible to get the dough into the dutch oven with some structure.  Surprisingly, it baked up ok, with a decent (very wet) crumb.  Pretty good flavor, no bitterness.

Round 2 involved taking a Tartine No. 3 recipe for Wheat-Rye loaf with coriander and carraway.

Central Milling bread flour- 45%

Dayspring Rouge de Bourdeaux- 45%

Dark Rye- 10%

Wheat Germ- 7%

Water- 85%

Leaven- 5%

Salt- ~2%

Fennel Seed, Coriander Seed, toasted, rough ground- ~ 1tbsp each


Standard process.  Despite higher hydration, dough was much more manageable.  I expected a better crumb based on the feel of the dough as it developed, but the final bread was a little lackluster- a little dry.  Crumb not especially open, nor especially chewy.  Flavor pretty good.  The seeds are a nice flavor without being overpowering.   Weird note- partway through baking, I think sometime after I dropped the temp down to 450, I ran out of propane and had to switch out tanks.  While that should have been after the critical oven-spring period and not affected it too much, it probably had some less-than-ideal impact.  


All in all, I'm not super excited by this flour.  Maybe I just need to feel it out more.  Maybe going back to a more standard bread flour heavy loaf might provide a good comparison point.  

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While bread dreaming about the pages of TFL, I came across a forum about a rye loaf with carrots.  I loved the idea and still had a few pounds of mini winter carrots needing to be used up, so I went for it.  I don't make rye heavy loaves often enough (though I should because I love them) to have a set recipe.  Rather than do the wise thing and research, I did the lazy, middle of the week thing and just made it up as I went along.

300g dark rye flour

300g water

some ground flax seed

some whole fennel seed

50(ish)g leaven

mixed and let sit ~18 hours @ room temp (varying 60s-80s) 

mixed in 300g Einkorn flour

300g (?) water

a nice pile of shredded carrots

a good bit of buckwheat soaked in whey (toasted first)


Tried to gently fold it occasionally while making dinner, but it was too wet to come together and be handled really.  Put in loaf pan with parchment paper


put in fridge for ~24 hrs. so I could bake it alongside the baguettes and not waste the oven heat.


All in all I'm really happy with how it came out, especially for such a winging it approach.  It tastes wonderful- both rich and tangy from the rye and a bit sweet from the carrots (and maybe the einkorn?). It rose to the brim of the pan, then domed nicely. 

There was one mishap though- while the parchment paper allowed the loaf to come out of the pan easily, all that time sitting with the wet dough in the refrigerator melded the paper to the outside of the dough, and I had to spend 15 minutes peeling it all off bit by bit once the loaf cooled.  It was an imperfect process that resulted in some of the crust being peeled away as well.   



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After a few years of consistently baking bread, I finally pushed myself to make an occasion to try making baguettes.  I've partly avoided it because I usually make bread once a week for toast and/or sandwiches during the week and because don't really work well with home baking equipment.  

When I was back home in February, I borrowed a baguette shaped pan from my mom.  With this sitting around, I finally conceded.

I followed Tartine #3's baguette recipe pretty much to a T except that I didn't have any spelt flour on hand, so I substituted some Rouge de Bourdeaux 85% extraction wheat flour that I just got from Dayspring Farms. 

Result: Well they do have a distinctly baguette-y taste, though maybe I'm conflating commercial yeast taste with baguette taste.  They have (or had upon coming out of the oven) a nice crisp crust, slightly charred in a few spots and a fairly airy crumb.  However, the crumb is not especially open, and it is more soft than chewy (which I think of as an essential aspect). 

The scoring was ok- I think I got a decent angle on most of them, but I overlapped too much, and a lot ran together.  I knew better, but once I started cutting, I forgot to think.  

They're tasty, and there is something very indulgent about just tearing into them fresh out of the oven slathered with butter.  I'll probably attempt again sometime this summer, maybe once the tomatoes start coming on in full in a few weeks.  If/when I do though, I'll not be using the Tartine recipe- two poolishes and a sourdough leaven is too much futzing for a baguette beginner just looking for something crusty, chewy, and airy.  I'll probably give TxFarmer's 36 hour baguettes a go. 

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Once more at the Tartine-style porridge/soaked grain type loaves, this time featuring buckwheat groats soaked in whey.

Bread spec.s:

Central Milling bread flour- 360g (60%)

Dayspring Farm Whole Wheat Flour- 180g (30%)

unspecified Einkorn (home milled by Jessica & James)- 60g (10%)


leaven- ~55g

water- 400g

Salt- ~4tsp


unspecified Buckwheat groats (100g) soaked in whey (200g) excess strained off (~35%)



-Soak groats in whey day (room temp. which fluctuated between ~60-~80) and a half before (no specific here, just going for a getting the groats nice and tender and maybe a bit of natural fermentation 

-Mix water and leaven, mix in flours, autolyse 1.5 hrs.  (room temp.= ~ 80)

-add salt, pinch in, stretch and fold over 3 hrs.

-add in buckwheat groats after 1.5 hrs. of bulk fermentation

-continue bulk fermentation undisturbed overnight in root storage (temp = 60)

-pre-shape, shape, retard 14 hrs. in fridge

-bake 20 min @ "500" covered, 10 @ "500" uncovered, 35 @ "470" uncovered

*Took the oven temp when it was set to 500 and got a reading around 435, kinda jumping around.  It's probably a bit higher than that, but it seems the oven runs at least 50 low, which is unfortunate because that means that it is actually topping out around 450 and maybe a little lower. Historically I've had best results with "as hot as possible" perhaps 525 (if that oven was accurate.  It certainly felt hot)



I really like the shape and bloom of the loaf coming out of the oven.  I was pretty happy with the crumb too.  Initially upon cutting open the loaf, I thought it looked a little inconsistent, but further cuts seemed more satisfying.

Flavor is nice and rich and a bit bitter.  This Dayspring Farm whole wheat (Turkey Catawba Hard Red I believe) definitely brings a strong, somewhat bitter flavor.  The flavor came through more rich and mellow in this loaf than the previous.  Maybe the einkorn adding something.  I'm not sure if I can really comment on the flavor of the buckwheat.  On that note, I'm not sure I'm I'll do buckwheat again- even softened from soaking, the groats are like little sharp diamond that lacerate the dough.  Also I'm still dreaming of that sweet, rich barley flavor of a few loaves back.  


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