Friday, September 23, 2011

Your Bread's Totally Cheesy Dude

I've been monkeying about with fermentation lately, you know, how long I can ferment the dough, how long it can handle fermentation in pretty warm weather, and all that jazz. Yesterday I set out to make Tartine's next loaf, whole wheat with Gruyere, one of two variations on whole wheat before the last loaf in this chapter which happens to be rye (I can't wait).

I decided to do something different with this bread because I was not in the mood for a loaf of whole wheat, I needed something lighter, plus I'm not quite done foolin' around with my City Bread, trying to get the whole wheat to white ratio just right, and again, taking advantage of our Indian summer to understand the affects of weather on my burgeoning dough. And I remembered one of my favorite little cheese breads from a fabulous cheese shop called The Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley, and decided to set my bread locomotive in that direction instead of adding the cheese to a boule and baking it that way. The little rolls are much more conducive to sharing, and the way that the cheese, a mixture of Asiago and cave-aged Gruyere, oozes out over the top of them is almost insane, it's so good.

As for the dough, I decreased the whole wheat a hair, and this time I accomplished the full bulk fermentation at room temp, quite a feat given that the mercury was buoying somewhere in the upper 80s. Coupled with the high hydration, I was definitely pushing the issue a little bit, because the dough spread pretty quickly on the peel, and it was almost impossible to slash.  Slashing, by the way, is an art form in and of itself, aside from the bread, so don't feel bad if you don't get it right away. I've only properly slashed a few loaves myself, and it's probably those loaves that were the best that I've ever baked. I feel as though the better we get at bread, the better our slashing capabilities become. And once we're slashing like pros, we can be assured that it's probably one fine loaf altogether that's receiving such stellar treatment.


The bread itself came out really well considering the way that I bullied it into existence. As you can see, the slashes are all wild like, and the loaf rejected the idea of an ambitious oven spring, yielding a moderately elevated loaf. But lo, the crumb was still really lovely and open, it was uber moist and tender to boot, and the flavor was pretty divine. Full gelatinization was realized, and the crust shattered like glass, I dare say.

What I've learned from this bake is that these cheesy rolls will drive you to craziness they're so good, especially right out of the oven, or crisped before eating if you have some left over the next day. In this weather, I highly recommend doing a partial fermentation in the fridge. If you've been following my experiment, you will remember that I've been doing 2 hours cold, two hours at room temp. I would play with at least the final hour under refrigeration if you want to push the envelope of fermentation at room temp. And I would definitely keep up with a refrigerated proof until it starts to cool down if you happen to be in southern CA, or share warm summers like we do.

We are almost done with the first chapter of Tartine. After the next loaf we move into baguettes and all renditions thereof, brioches, croissants and English muffins, Tartine style.

Without further ado, here are the details of our cheesy rolls and a City Bread boule from levain through the bake.

The necessities:

levain, about 200g (see below)
750g + 50g h2o
750g KA all purpose flour, but you may use bread flour
250g KA whole wheat flour
20g salt
150g Asiago cheese, grated (or 300g if you plan to make both halves of dough into cheese rolls, read below)
150g cave aged Gruyere cheese, grated (or 300g if you plan to make both halves of dough into cheese rolls, read below)
Olive oil for brushing the rolls

15g active starter, I used my trusty rye
100g h2o
50g dark or medium rye flour
50g all purpose flour

1) Create the levain: Mix the starter with 100g water, 50g rye flour and 50g all purpose flour. Cover with a towel and let it bloom overnight.

2) The next day your levain should be good and poofy. Dissolve all of it in 750g of water, then mix in both flours until you arrive at a shaggy mass. Cover with a sheet of plastic or a wet towel, or do what I did and pop a glass lid over the top so you can see what's going on from autolyse through bulk fermentation. Autolyse for 1 hour.

3) Add the salt and remaining 50g of water to the autolysed dough and mix thoroughly until you arrive at a smooth mass.

4) After 30 minutes, perform your first series of turns. Do this by scooping your hand under the dough and bringing the bottom over the top. Turn the bowl 1/3 turn and repeat until you have folded the dough from bottom to top three times. PS, no need to rough-house the dough. The structure of the dough occurs via fermentation, your turns, while they do strengthen the dough, are meant to 'organize and lengthen the gluten molecules', for long, smooth strands.

You will perform 3 more series of turns, one every 30 minutes, for a total of 4 series, which will comprise the first 2 hours of your bulk fermentation. After the 2 hour mark, if you live in a cool environment, by all means, ferment the dough at room temp for another 2 hours. If you live in a warmer climate, you may want to pop the dough into the fridge at this point, or in another hour. Whichever way you decide to go, ferment the dough for another 2 hours, you can push it to 2.5 if you decide to pop it in the fridge straight away.

Dough after first series of turns

Dough after 4 hour room temp fermentation, she's seriously toeing the line here

5) turn the dough out onto a work surface. I use olive oil, but you may flour if you wish. Divide in half, shape into loose rounds, cover with a couple of bowls and bench rest for 15 minutes.

6) At this point, shape one of the halves of dough into a boule like we normally do. Get it into a linen-lined bowl that has been dusted with rice flour. Pop in the fridge to proof for 4 hours. Roll out the second measure of dough, flouring the surface as necessary so it does not stick to the rolling pin. Your work space should be lubricated well enough with olive oil or flour, whichever you chose. Let the weight of the rolling pin do the work for you. Avoid mashing the dough. It looks like I rolled mine out to about 1/2" thick. Try to get it as rectangular as possible.

A NOTE: You may want to proceed making both halves into the addictive cheese rolls instead of turning one into a boule. If that is the case, follow the instructions below with both portions of dough. It will be easiest to work in halves, unless you have a really long work space and consider yourself a bad ass. In which case, roll out the whole measure of dough and make one really long cheese roll as directed below.

7) Spread the cheese over the dough as above.

8) Roll the dough into a neat log using your bench scraper to keep it all tight and uniform.

Be sure to leave the lip naked so that you can crimp the roll closed like this...

9) Slice the log into 1.5" thick slices with a very sharp knife.

10) Get the slices onto a flour dusted couche. It's OK if they touch a bit now and when they begin to proof. You can hack them apart with a bench scraper later.

11) Proof for 3 hours, room temp, or until they expand in size by 50%. About 15 minutes before you want to bake them, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with your baking stone inside.

12) Line your peel with a piece of parchment. Using a spatula, transfer the rolls onto the parchment and tighten reshape them with your hands if necessary. Brush the cheese-less sides with olive oil. Slide the parchment with the rolls into the oven. (Refrigerate the rest of the rolls while the first batch is baking. It's OK to bake the successive rolls straight from the fridge).

13) Mist the rolls heavily with water using the MIST setting on your squirt bottle, close the door, then twist the nozzle of the bottle to STREAM, open the oven door just a hair, and squirt the right wall of the oven until it stops hissing, repeat on the left side. Close the oven door swiftly. Repeat this steaming method after 5 minutes, then again after another 5 minutes, and again after another 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes with steam. Then bake for 10 minutes, turn the parchment so that you rotate the rolls from back to front, and bake till completion, another 10 - 15 minutes for a total of 35 - 40 minutes, or until the rolls are golden.

14) Cool on a wire rack, then repeat with the remaining rolls. The rolls are delicious warm, and they happily reheat the next day as well, although I really like them at room temp too!


These little rolls tasted just like the ones that I remember from The Cheese Board Collective. They are utterly addictive, and I recommend that you give them away to your friends or you will certainly eat the whole batch on your own in no time!


1) After the four hour proof, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with your combo cooker inside for at least 20 minutes.

(Note, if you are still working your cheese rolls and you have opted to do a room temp proof, at the four hour mark, pop the boule into the fridge until you are ready to bake it).

2) Invert the boule onto a peel lined with parchment or a thin layer of semolina. Score. Slide the boule into the shallow portion of the combo cooker, immediately cover with the deeper portion of the combo cooker, lower the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

3) After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the combo cooker and complete the bake, another 30 - 40 minutes.


Crust: shattery and lovely Crumb: largely open, fully gelatinized Flavor: Really wonderful and developed. A good tang, but not overly so. Ease of handling dough: Challenging. It was really warm here and the dough is super hydrated. Notes: I would definitely do the final hour or two bulk fermentation in the fridge when the temp soars to the mid-eighties. It was in danger of over-fermenting, and I was a little surprised that it came out as well as it did considering. I might also decrease the hydration just a hair, maybe by 25g or so. But it might not be necessary if you do a 1/2 ferment in the fridge. Whichever you choose, please email me and divulge your findings!

To the staff of life!

This cheesy post was sent off to Wild Yeast Blog's Yeast Spotting.


  1. lovely post! so nice the graphic and the pictures. The bread and rolls look just perfect and I would love to taste one... if I only could. I will definitely try the boule' as soon as I get the book (need to really understand what I am doing). by the way, I saw an interview to the Tartine man... had no idea he was so young and hip (altough I had the feeling this whole sourdough movement was a little hip).

    finally fully succeeded with my Italian sourdough loaf. Please check it out and tell me what you think. I consider you a 3rd year bread college student, remember!


  2. You are too sweet Barbara. I'm more like a first year at graduation though. :)

    It's all about experimenting, I believe. If you are willing to see every trial as an experiment rather than a 'failure' if a formula/method yields a loaf on the 'less desirable' side of the spectrum, then you can learn from it and move forward.

    One more loaf in this chapter. Rye. Yay! I love rye. And then onward!

    Happy baking!

  3. PS, your bread is beautiful. And great photography!

  4. Gorgeous gorgeous bread and magnificent photos! I added your blog to my blog roll as I suspect I am going to become addicted to it. ;-)
    Just one thing: I think you forgot to add the amount of starter used to make the levain...

  5. and what an honor to be added to your blog roll. i have watched you closely as i've been baking since april!

  6. OK Dude!!! Great pictures!!! I can taste the chese rolls even though I have not had one for years! I tried making them with the Cheese Board's cookbook...think I will try your recipe. I have tried making a few Tartine recipes and found them very hard to work with, especially the polenta bread because of the hydration. (Typically i use 75%-which is very do-able) but I will try again with your fridge method. Thanks for sharing!!

    I am of corse seeking the "shattering like glass" crust" working hard to get there...what do you attribute that to?

  7. Liz, long fermentation and proper hydration is the key to that shattery crust. You want all of the sugars to be thoroughly digested by the culture, and the only way this happens is with a thorough fermentation and enough water. Do not skip the autolyse, in ANY formula that you use. It should be 20 - 60 minutes long. This is the step that hydrates the flour molecules.

    Your dough does not need to be sopping wet to achieve proper hydration. In fact, too-high hydration compromises the oven spring (too-high hydration can make flatter loaves and lopsided loaves), and slashes don't hold their peaks as well. I am by no means talking about a dry dough, but there is a fine line between proper hydration and too much hydration. Unless, of course, you want everything to turn out like 'the slipper', or, ciabatta, or breads like that. Even Hamelman eschews those who (he calls these people 'macho') use too much water in their bread.

    Tartine is not an easy book, and it is expected that you manipulate the formulae. Those formulae, I'm convinced, are a template. That polenta formula is flawed. I've done it twice now. I am actually working on that formula as we speak. I will post my findings.

  8. OK I agree the Polenta formula is flawed, glad you you also think so and I have pretty much created my own formula for that.

    I always autolyse..but I do it with the salt in it...perhaps this is an issue??? read many diff view points on this.

    I also agree Tartine is not easy. I have Hammelman, my number 1, Wing, my number 2 and some silverton and Rhienhart. I am in my second year of doing basically the same recipe over and over with slight tweaks. My family and friends all love it and think I am kinda crazy that I am trying to always improve....aaah the elusive shatering crust. I am going to try to bake tommorow using my convection option...after the steaming and over spring (of course!)
    Thanks so much for responding.

  9. Hi.. Liz again
    I just did more research on slat and is something:
    "the salt goes in after the autolyse. This is because salt causes gluten to contract and toughen, preventing the gluten from absorbing as much water and thus fully benefiting from the autolyse."

    So I will try adding the salt after autolyse, which I could never figure out how to do 'till I read Tartine, which I don't own, but I think I remember he holds back about 50g of water and adds it with the salt after!

    OK OK Thanks...Liz

  10. yes. salt always goes in after autolyse. if you are using commercial yeast, that goes in after autolyse too, but since we are using such a small amount of wild yeast starter, it does not impede the hydration of the flour molecules or the strengthening of the dough. in fact, the acid from the levain actually helps to balance out the contracting of the gluten molecules activated by autolyse, and lends extensibility. commercial yeast would be too powerful to add before autolyse and counteract the elastic (strengthening) of the gluten structure that we desire in autolyse.

  11. Liz, that's how Chad arrived at his bread. By baking variations. Thousands of them. Now, he's Mr. Tartine. Can't argue with repetition and fine-tuning. I'm also concerned the convection will dry out the outer layers of your bread and make it tough. I agree with experimenting, but I've never been a fan of convection because it makes the environment to arid when baking most things. I find that cakes and cookies become chewy (tough) in a bad way, and breads form a thick, tough crust. I would love to see what comes of your experiment. Convection ovens have improved over the years, and I might be acting like an old lady when it comes to my views with it. PLEASE report back your findings after working with convection.

    I agree that the salt is inhibiting the efforts of the autolyse. But remember, you want to add your levain before autolyse because it helps to extend the gluten structure as it's strengthening, which will help with those large, irregular holes that we seek. It's a symbiotic relationship.

    This week is uber huge bake week for me. I'm a few days behind on my post. But it's for a good cause ; ) I'm doing some experimenting myself over here, and I want to get it all in one place before I work the next post, and then move on to the next chapter of Tartine.

    Keep working with Hamelman and Reinhart. Check out Leader too. I'm a huge fan of leader. His books are a great addition to the mix. You can never have too much information.

    Off to read 'Bread Baker's Apprentice' before bed. I bet your experimental loaf is amazing! I love that you're doing a little of this and a little of that with it. I'm doing the same with my 'city bread'. It's the only way to get it to that bread we are searching for. It's as much the quest as it is the end result, isn't it? Happy baking. Talk soon!

  12. Agreed. you can't have too much info. I also read bread books before bed. I also agree about not using convect on most baked goods, mostly I use it for Roasting meats.

    So I did any experiment trying to achieve that crispy crust!!!

    Bread: (basically Hammelman's Vermont SD)
    90% organic Central Milling Beehive Malted flour
    10% medium rye
    765g water
    360g ripe sourdough, 100 % hydration
    23g salt

    I did my usual autolyse(with my levain, water and flours) but left out the salt and 50 g water, which I added after.

    Then I baked 1 loaf as usual covered with a metal bowl for 15 min at 460 degrees and then 20 min at 430 degrees

    Then I baked the second one the same except I put the oven on convect for the second half of the bake. I read about doing this on the Fresh Loaf, I believe they even said many prof ovens are convect, albiet also have steam injection.

    RESULT: no perceptable difference. my crust is still kinda leathery, beautiful with little bubbles (from over night retarding and nice and brown,but not crispy crackly. (Crumb is great..nice irrigular holes, cool and moist,etc.)

    I am forever telling my kid:"put your ear up to this piping hot bread: do you hear anything at all???" He thinks I'm kinda crazy with books and flour everywhere.

    Well I'm interested to hear what you think.

    p.s. i am driving from Oregon to Bay Area this weekend for a wedding. I do not think it will be possible for me to get to Tartine... phoeey! But I will have a little bit of time on Sat afternoon in the east bay.. Acme..or do you have a suggestion?

  13. This looks like the most delicious bread ever!

  14. Love these cheesy rolls. Mine come out a bit tough. Any suggestions to make them softer. Would less misting make the crust a little less chewy?

  15. I love these rolls. I am wondering though if there is a way to make them a little softer on the outside? Mine come out just a little too tough on the outside for some of my older family members to enjoy.



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