Ask me about bread or bread making

I am not Polaine by any stretch, but I figured out I know too much. What do you want to know?


What’s your favorite to make?

Rustic sourdoughs with asiago. And maybe a touch of rosemary. Thick crust, great for soup. But the sour dough I made recently for bread pudding was incredible.


Have any thoughts on finding the time? I enjoy it but between kids and work and doing interesting things on weekends I just don’t have an hour to do a loaf. But I’m intrigued by this sourdough/asiago business.

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I’m not gonna lie, it takes 15 minutes, every single day. But the positive part is if you have a ‘mother’ that fails it is easy to fix.

No Knead (Google) is probably the best for people with a life :D. It is excellent The texture, crust, and flavor are fantastic.

Pain al’cience is a liltle more complex but not hard.

True sourdough is basically adopting a new pet. I’ll take pics the next time I build a mother, but it takes two weeks



I’ve never been able to get a decently solid and dense rye bread (like a schinkenbrot style) right. Any tips?

Its tough (well, a bit). Density is a function of low gluten and high fat. So what I think you are talking about (deli rye, not the super small rye) is at most 30% rye by weight and 55% water by weight.

So, for a large loaf:

500 grams white flour
150 grams dark rye
15 grams salt
10 grams yeast
275 grams water

Ferment for three hours, shape and proof for one hour.

The insane ryes are more rye and less water, almost a bagel consistently. But at that point the quality of rye is perhaps more important than ratios.


“Like a schinkenbrot style”. Caraway and don’t go over 30% rye by weight. Too much rye makes a dense pancake. Caraway, IMO makes a good shinkenbrot, but I am not German.

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Yeah, that’s what I’m after. Something dense enough beat a burglar to death with and a crust that cannot be harmed by conventional weapons. Dwarf bread style. Mine either end up like cotton-wool or porridge.
Using just dark rye flour here. Could possibly cut it with buckwheat, maybe?
And I’m using carraway and molasses for flavour as well.


Great idea for a thread! But why did you have to start it while I’m stuck using a phone for Internet access?!

FWIW, I second the recommendation for no-knead bread for beginner. It makes excellent bread and is basically dummy-proof.

Also, using the dough cycle on any bread machine (not baking, so any machine is good enough) means you can dump in the ingredients and walk away until it’s time to shape the dough for whatever pan or sheet you want to use for baking. Let it rise again, throw in the oven…,it’s pretty easy to do after coming home from work without much thought or effort.

And then, when you have a day off, start experimenting.

Every loaf you make doesn’t have to be an 18-hour feat of excellence.

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Agreed! I’m a huge fan of no-knead. Relatively easy, and will impress the heck out of dinner guests (assuming you don’t eat the whole darn thing after you take it out of the oven).

Do you ever change flours or add-in other ingredients when making no-knead?

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Oh, but for me they do. I wish they didn’t, I truly do, but as someone who once spent an inordinate amount of time making baguettes one day, I recognize I have a problem. :slight_smile: I’ll look into this no-knead, again, every time I’ve tried before I wasn’t that impressed. Maybe things have changed.

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okay, try this out. i am kinda pulling it out of my head, but it should work. high density requires low water, so in bakers percentages i would aim for ~50-52% water to flour by weight. i just checked some literature and 3:1 white flour to rye is absolutely the correct ratio. so, here is the recipe

500 grams white flour
100 grams dark rye
75 grams light rye (normal rye, or white rye)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
16 grams salt
8 grams yeast
2 tablespoons neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, rapeseed, or lastly olive)
351 grams water. Perhaps one teaspoon more.
1/2 teaspoon of citric acid if you have it. But don’t fret if you don’t.

Combine, ferment for two hours then do a vigorous punch down and additional knead. Let rise for another 90 minutes. Bake at 400 for ~15 minutes then reduce to 375 for another 40 minutes or until the internal temp is 205F. (man, i hate using impterial, metric, weight, and volume in the same recipe, but that is how i was taught :D).

enjoy with a good raspberry jam and a berlinerweisse.


so, the ‘problem’ with no knead is people generally don’t trust that the dough really has to be That Wet. it is pushing 80% water weight to flour (if i remember) which makes for a very, very slack dough. and the dutch oven is crucial to get the steam right.

now, you can make an even better loaf without an 80 recipe, but it just takes more steps and is easier to screw up. pain a’lancienne is an excellent example, but it is one of those 18 hour suckers :slight_smile:

I would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please continue!

ha! i’ll break out my notes this afternoon and transcribe some of the successes (you don’t knead to know about the failures, accidentally proofing at 140F was a disaster).

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so there are four distinct ‘classes’ of bread making, three of which are fairly common knowledge and the fourth (i didn’t invent, but i have never seen anyone else use) a touch more esoteric. the first two involve leavening, which is the act of gas causing the bread to rise. the second two involve enzymatic reactions to increase the flavor of bread, by modifying the long starches in flour into simpler sugars.

  • quick breads
  • room temperature yeast breads
  • cold fermentation
  • hot starch conversion

i’ll go over these in more detail in a bit (heh, i have to go to music practice :D). but the basics are:

quick breads (leavening)
a leavening technique that uses ‘chemical’ CO2 creation to make the bread rise. this is usually done with agents such as baking powder/soda that release gas when they hit a certain temperature. examples of this style include most modern cakes, irish soda bread, and cupcakes.

room temperature yeast breads (leavening)
this is an extremely broad category with many, many subcategories. but the unifying factor is the fermentation of the loaf occurs with either natural or store bought yeast at the optimum temperature for yeast reproduction. additional methods such as sourdough, barms, biggas, starters, etc (explained later) may be used, but ‘bulk fermentation’ occurs at between 60F-80F.

cold fermentation (flavor)
this technique uses extended fermentation techniques at temperatures around 37F-42F to encourage the natural enzymes in flour to break down complex, non-tasty carbohydrates into very tasty sugars. alpha and beta amalayse (which should be familiar to the brewers out there) are allowed to slowly ‘mash’ the loaf without the yeast reproduction getting out of control. the downside of this technique is you knead your loaf then put it in the fridge for 24 hours, so it takes time and forethought.

hot starch conversion (flavor)
the conversion of starch to sugar is wildly inefficient at low temperatures, which is why it takes cold fermentation so long. this process can be drastically sped up by maintaining a ‘mash’ of 1/3 the total flour weight with the entire quantity of water at 145F for 90 minutes. this significantly increases palatable sugars (it tastes like candy afterwards), and after cooling to 80F may be added directly to the additional flour, salt, yeast, and other additives. the downside of this approach is it slightly compromises texture–big ‘window pane’ type structures are more difficult, but may still be attained by using very high gluten/protein flour. normal flour is generally not great for this method (though it still tastes amazing).

more to come.

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“Does anyone else hear that? It sounds like yeast, screaming.”

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it was bad. i was trying to proof in a very cold apartment in the oven with the door open.

kids, always have a well calibrated thermometer :smiley:

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What would you suggest as a replacement for white flour? I’m sure the recipe you gave me will turn out an excellent loaf, but it’s not really what I’m after.

Damn it. I feel like I’m being that guy now. Really, I appreciate the effort, I do. Maybe I’m not communicating right or using the wrong words or something.

Here’s what I’m using…

500g Dark rye flour (1 bag)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 scant tbsp molasses
Enough water to get a dough that’s kinda sticky and raggy.

Mix, knead, let it sit out for a couple hours. Knead again, let sit for a bit more. Bung in moderate oven until it’s done. Turns out fine but I can’t seem to get that combination of crust and crumb perfect.