Tuesday, August 21, 2012


i am officially humbled. i just checked the traffic to the tartine bread experiment, and it seems that since i began this project, 65,000 viewers have visited my blog. sixty-five thousand! think. if i had you all over for dinner, i would have to haul out the folding chairs from the attic.

sprouted white winter wheat boule with sprouted whole grains

thank you for popping by now and again to see what's going on. it's amazing to me that this thing that started as a personal curiosity would end up being a curiosity to so many of you too (i actually started this blog because i was so irritated to find that after i moved to l.a. from the bay area that there really is no good bread here, well, tavern's larder, sure, but they're a million miles away, and a million dollars for a loaf).

sprouted rye boule with sprouted whole grains

i know that many of you are bloggers just the same, and i want to let you know that i frequent your blogs too. you help me to stay inspired with the bread that you bake (and if anyone is doing frangiapane anything out there, you have my heart, lock, stock and barrel).


barbara at my italian smorgasbord, sara at three clever sisters, mc at mc-farine, susan at wild yeast are just a few to name. every week i have a look-see to catch up on what everyone's doing, and i bookmark the pages to some day bake all the beautiful bread that i see over yonder. one of these days i'm actually going to open one of my million bread books so that i can become a better baker.


listen up.

so this week i sprouted my own rye and white winter wheat berries for my bread. dammit, i sprouted my own grains! and boy did the loaves come out swell! well, i will say this. the interior grains were tender as all get-out, grains on the outside of the bread were a tad chewy the day of the bake, but the next day they were fine.


while i was on this sprouting roll, i also decided to try my hand at a batch of rejuvelac, a fermented drink that's sort of like kombucha, but you ferment grains instead of using a skoby culture, and there's no sugar in the equation, which is why i stopped making my own kombucha. i will let you know if it turns out to be gross.

white winter wheat

i've really got nothing to report. my brain is fried from this heat wave. it's been 90+ degrees every day for two weeks and i'm feeling every degree of it, so i apologize now that i have nothing to say. i can barely move let alone conjure up interesting tidbits.

can you believe i actually turned the oven on in this heat wave? damn. that's some serious dedication.

sprouted white winter wheat and rye boules with sprouted whole grains


two days before i planned to bake, i sprouted 100g each of white winter wheat and rye grains (separately) like this: in a mason jar (see the picture above), i soaked them for 24 hours first. the next day i rinsed them well, drained them, then covered the opening of the jar with a piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. every 8 hours i rinsed and drained them like this for two days. by the end of the second day they had sprouted little white tails about 1/8 inch long. i popped this in the fridge until 2 hours before my levain was ready, then i simmered the grains for an hour until they started to burst (if you don't cook the grains long enough, you will end up with tough grains on the crust of the bread). drain, set aside to cool.

 sprouted rye
sprouted white winter wheat

on bake day i made my levains. for the rye levain i dissolved 30g of sprouted rye starter with 50g of water then mixed in 50g of sprouted rye flour. the same weights for the white winter wheat levain, except i used my sprouted white winter wheat starter and sprouted white winter wheat flour. you, however, can use whatever you please. my levains fermented for 7 hours.


130g sprouted white winter wheat levain
332g h2o
100g sprouted white winter wheat flour
400g KA all purpose flour
all of the cooked, sprouted white winter wheat grains
12g salt


130g sprouted rye levain
325g h2o
100g sprouted rye flour
400g KA bread flour
all of the cooked, sprouted rye grains
12g salt

mix the flours and water for both doughs, cover, autolyse for an hour. after an hour, squish the salt into the dough, then fold in the grains



perform a series of turns every half hour for the first two hours at room temp. then pop in the fridge and finish the last 2 hours of the bulk ferment. covered, of course.

fermented dough

after the dough has adequately fermented, turn it out onto a rice-floured work surface, form into a loose round and let it rest for 30 minutes.

after the bench, generously dust a linen with rice flour and line a bowl with it. form the boules, then pop into the linen-lined bowls. pop in the fridge and proof overnight, covered. mine proofed for 12 or 13 hours.


an hour before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 550 fitted with your stone and two cast iron combos. unmold your dough by first placing a sheet of parchment over the dough bowl, then inverting the dough/parchment onto a peel. peel off the linen, score, and pop into the shallow end of the combo, parchment and all.

cover with the deep end of the combo and turn the oven down to 475 and let the loaves steam for 30 minutes.

steamed loaves

after 30 minutes, remove the lid to the combos (use an oven mitt to avoid a nasty steam burn!), turn the oven down to 450 and bake till chestnut. about 30-40 minutes more, rotating the pans at least once so they bake evenly, or the backsides will burn.

cool on a rack, and be patient. your boules should rest for at least an hour and a half to two hours before you cut into them.


to the staff of life!

(p.s., this post is shared with susan at wild yeast blog, ya dig?)


  1. hi sister :) I will love you forever for the special mention. and for the tutorial on how to make sprouted grains. will try, although I am totally incapable of growing plants. what could I use instead of a cheese cloth? and I think I HAVE to make these loaves. they are just too beautiful (and I do not think you need to do any further reading: your bread is already stunning). congrats for all the views. if it was for me you should already be up to 65 millions.

    1. sister. 65 million. that's a lot of folding chairs ;)

      just a fabric with a loose weave would be fine. you just want to keep the bugs out, and allow air to circulate into the jar. some people also use a little slip of screen.

  2. Hard to know what to praise first, the bread or the photography. So tempting and inspiring... My turn to be humbled. Thank you, Francis-Olive!
    I sprouted some rye this week to try my hand at Chad Robertson's Danish rugbrød. He actually doesn't sprout his berries, just soaks them overnight but I was afraid that might not be enough. I haven't sprouted them as long as you have, they are just starting to come out with a little tail. The whole batch is in the freezer now because I got derailed in my planning. I am wondering whether or not I should cook them as you did. I certainly don't want hard berries in the crust, on the other hand I don't think there is a whole lot of crust to rugbrød, so maybe it won't be an issue...?

    1. thanks MC. well, here's the thing, simply soaking is fine. it does soften the grains (also makes them more digestible), but for my first loaves i just soaked the grains without cooking them and you could have broken your teeth on the ones in the crust. they were not just crisp, they were HARD. i sliced the crusts off (the interior grains were perfectly soft). cooking them helped with that issue. upon cooking, the berries in the crust were a bit chewy (just out of the oven), but not unpleasantly so, and they only softened as the days went on. next i will try next to cook AND to grind them up just a bit with a mortar and pestle just to see the result. i really liked the formula that i ended up posting in 65K and it has made it into my 'repeat' box of breads.

      i will tell you what, i saw that rugbrød posted on wild yeast, and given my experience with the grains, i would venture to guess that that rind would be really REALLY hard if you only soaked the grains. those rye breads are a force to be reckoned with. alas, it is worth trying. as you well know, 100% rye breads made in pullman pans can have a really tough rind. i cannot imagine if you also added uncooked grains. as with any formula i would say try it as is. but you will probably have to tweak it. oh, and sprouting the berries just makes them even more digestible than soaking. that's the only reason i sprouted them. and for the tail, you really need it to be only 1/8 of an inch. so you're on the right path with that. at any rate, whatever you decide, let me know how it all came out. if it was me, i would cook the grains, if you don't, i might consider pulverizing them with the mortar and pestle just to break up some of the bran. we are not birds with gizzards, after all :)

      ps, still going to try that awesome red fife loaf that you posted some few posts back. its still in my dreams!

  3. Hi,

    OMG I love your site! It is so inspiring.

    I had some rye starter sitting on my counter and I was reading your blog last nite and got this overwhelming urge to make city bread, so I am. Right now in fact it is sitting in a plastic proofing tub waiting out the last hour of the 4 hour fermentation.

    I am using the formula from the bench exam post. Question for you - can I reduce the refrigerated proof time? I was thinking of cutting it from 10 to 7 hours so that I can get some real shut eye later. I am guessing that this will work OK based on the fact that your earlier post on City Bread has a +/- 4 hour refrigerated proof. Would the result just be a less sour bread? I would love your thoughts.

    Totally separate from all that, I am eying up the confetti like bowls you are using in the photos above. Might I ask where those are from? I would love some for my own kitchen!

    1. you can proof 4, 5, 13 hours in the fridge and be just fine. in fact, i just popped some dough in the fridge (its 5pm) and probably will not bake it till 6 or 7 tomorrow morning and it will be fine. it actually does not get as sour as one might think. i have also baked bread after a 4 hour proof and its come out swell. so you have tons of wiggle room with a refrigerated proof! just give it a look-see (even after 3 hours) and if it looks as though its risen enough, then bake it. on second thought, i might even see if mine is ready to bake at 8 or 9 tonight :)

      the bowls are vintage melamine bowls. you can get them on ebay. good luck and happy hunting!

      - frankie

  4. Hi Francis-Olive - I was directed here from Susan's Wild Yeast - Lovely photography! Lovely breads! Great Writing! And thanks so much for all the good explanatory process photos. Why do we need bread cookbooks? You are writing them right here! (Though of course I keep adding to my bookshelf with them).

    I am finally inspired to try some sprouted grain breads - have been keeping myself occupied with different levels of whole grain sourdough, but do not have a grinder. I am wondering when you say sprouted rye flour or sprouted white winter wheat flour, have you ground that yourself? Have you bought it? And, finally, I see now that there are two different loaves - I thought that it was a mixture of both flours and sprouted grains in the loaf. I am also in Los Angeles...am a member of L. A. Bread Bakers Meetup Group - if you are not, you might enjoy looking them up.

    Thanks very much. Polly

    1. Hi polly. Thank you for the info on the L.A. Bread Baker's Group. I will have a look into it.

      For the sprouted flour, I use 'to your health' sprouted flours (yes, the loaves pictured are two different loaves, one with sprouted white wheat, the other with sprouted rye). here is the link:


      erewhon is evidently going to start carrying their flour, so we might save on shipping (although with erewhon prices, we might be better off continuing to buy online directly from organic sprouted flour.net!)

      let me know how it all turns out. and thanks so much for the lovely comments about the blog! it is a labor of love.

      (btw, i was going to start milling my own grains, but ive been researching those lovely grain mills, and it seems that the stones that they use contain aluminum! and even though its processed to be very hard, small amounts of the stone get into the flour evidently. over time, i think that it could add up to quite a bit. we can, however, use the hand mills that utilize steel grinding mechanisms, but they are not as attractive and are much larger than the wooden german wood mills that i've been researching. you also need to bolt them to a counter or table, and it takes some serious muscle to make just a couple of cups of flour. decisions decisions....)

  5. Dear Francis-Olive,
    as english is not my mother tongue i am probably not able to express what i feel or think enjoying your blog!
    I will keep it short for today: my last baking day was a complete failure - i had planned 3 recipes - nothing went well - some equipment decided to go on strike e.g. my water mist. I couldn't keep all the fermentation times -so i changed it. The loaves are not as airy as i thought. It happens. It is demotivating to spend some days for nothing. But then i have seen your blog with the wonderful loaves - now i know why is spend so much of my time for baking bread.
    Simply: wonderful.

    1. i dated a guy named bernd. he was lovely.

      bernd! so many projects in one day! try making only one formula at a time (many of my formulae make two loaves of bread, only recently have they only been created to make one loaf). if you can focus and put all your love into your one project, it will come out smashingly every time. i promise. bread... it does not like it when we divide our attention :)

      instead of thinking that you did it for 'nothing' think about it this way (always the spiritual blog, mine is), had you not tried your hand at multiple projects, you would never know that perhaps this sort of pursuit is not suited for you. you learned a lesson, one that you probably will never repeat, and the only thing you lost was a couple thousand grams of flour. aside from that, given your blog, i hardly think that you have ever had a wasted day in your home bakery. your bread is STUNNING.

      THANK YOU for liking my blog. i love yours too. in fact, i 'pin' your bread on pinterest all the time ( https://pinterest.com/prolificpinner/ )



  6. Hello,
    Gorgeous post - love the photography!
    Really beautiful loaves, and do I see their reflection in the side of that lovely copper pan?
    Thanks for all of the 'how-to'.
    :^) breadsong

    1. breadsong! you are so welcome! such a compliment coming from you ;)

    2. Hello :^),
      Happy baker here, just tasted the bread made using your formula...
      I ended up using rye starter, sprouted spelt berries (ground up), and sprouted whole wheat flour.
      Just love the chewy crust, moist, tender crumb, and malty yet tangy flavor - thank you so much for writing about this gorgeous, flavorful bread of yours!
      :^) breadsong

    3. omg. you just made my night. that is SO awesome! :)


  7. curious as to why you dust with rice flour on the finish? Does is caramelize better than multi-purpose flour?

    1. wheat flour burns more easily than rice flour. besides that, my experience is that rice flour makes a better non-stick surface in the linen. i used wheat flour at first, and my loaves were coming out burned. i've not tried a mix (50% rice, 50% wheat) which would reduce the whiteness of the loaves that you get when you use all rice flour, which, incidentally, chad suggests using in his book. i just found that i like rice flour, and it's become a signature of my loaves. so at this point its purely aesthetic and preference rather than practical.

  8. Hi,

    Really love your photography - all natural light? I'm still a novice when it comes to food photography.


    1. Hi Neil. Yes. All natural filtered light. I never use flash or photoshop (except to resize photos). Thanks for the compliment!



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