Friday, January 10, 2014

Chad's Ode

None of my whole grains have arrived yet (and when they do, man alive! do I have a post for you). But I desperately wanted to make bread. All week its been gnawing at me. So I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to work with the book using some hard red winter wheat flour that I got from my friends at Community Grains, since not everyone is going to run out and buy a flour mill. I stopped by Oliveto recently and Bob Klein, who owns Oliveto and founded Community Grains, was lovely enough to give me some hard red winter wheat to play with. How could I resist? Community Grains is now available at several Whole Foods and some specialty stores. The link above will direct you to their website where you can get it online. They have also listed a number of stores where you can find it here.

This particular wheat is milled from California-grown Red Wing with 13.61% protein. It's 100% stone milled on a granite wheel at temperatures below 110 degrees. Cooler milling temperatures mean that less of the grain's vitamins are destroyed in the process. As well, the wheat at Community Grains is milled without separating the germ, bran and endosperm at any point during the milling process. And here's some news: many companies separate the germ, bran and endosperm in the milling process then later combine the bran and endosperm to make 'whole wheat' flour, leaving the germ out because it can go rancid quickly. This separation process means longer shelf-life for companies but less nutrition for us since it is the germ that contains most of the grain's nutrients and fats. 'Whole grain' flour by definition is a flour where the grain has been milled in its entirety - 100% of the germ, bran and endosperm. 'Whole wheat' flours are not whole grain flours if the grain is not milled in its entirety. Just some food for thought when you reach for your next bag of flour. Know your miller's practices if you want to be confident about the nutrition of your flour, not to mention flavor.

Tartine's Ode to Bourdon loaf, 83% hydration


In the first Tartine Three loaf, Chad has tempered the more stalwart flavors of red whole wheat with white whole wheat. Though I happen to find bitterness agreeable. Dandelions are my favorite greens. Campari is my favorite drink. When I hear of people talk about the unpleasant bitterness of whole wheat bread, I don't understand. All that aside, I do like the idea of using white winter wheat in bread because I think it lightens the loaf. Not only aesthetically, but I think that it opens up the crumb in what could otherwise be a very serious bread. It's like 'the other white flour'.

For the white whole wheat flour I used Bob's Red Mill hard white wheat and the marriage of the two flours was harmonious indeed. The nuances of the red wheat shine through here where they might otherwise be clouded by its own bitterness. A temperance that hinted at so many possibilities, so many ideas for later loaves. And so I think you are going to see it make regular appearances in our bread lab.

In keeping with this decision to start with pre-milled flour, instead of sifting out some of the bran to make high-extraction flour - which is near impossible to achieve if you are not milling your own flour and able to control the coarseness of the grind - I decided to go with Chad's suggestion of mixing 50/50 whole grain and sifted strong flour, in this case I used King Arthur bread flour. In the future I am going to work to control the extraction rate through sifting, but when I began this post, my screens had not yet arrived, and since I really wanted the first post to be about using pre-milled flour for people who don't want to mill and sift their own, I figured that it's most logical to make our high-extraction flour using this method because this is probably how you will do it yourselves.

Aside from the welcome addition of higher percentages of whole grains in our breads, in this particular experiment I wanted to try my hand at a couple of different things, namely shaping, making high-extraction flour, and sorting out all of this autolyse business. Actually, let's start there.

To refresh everyone's memory, on the first leg of the experiment, I routinely used one-hour autolyses. It worked for me, so I just carried it over from loaf to loaf. Sometimes I would go a little further. I have gone to an hour and a half with fantastic results. In Book Two, Chad calls for a twenty-five to forty minute autolyse, and now with Three, he comes along and blows our minds with an overnight autolyse. To begin our experiment, I used a conservative hand. Three-hour autolyses for the first round of loaves. I think that through the last experiment we all learned that it's best to start conservatively and push the boundaries gently. It's easier to make adjustments this way because narrow parameters are more manageable. The narrow margins allow us to focus on specific things. When we experiment too widely within a given bread we can get lost, never able to determine what went wrong in the broad sea of variables. Within this new autolyse question, I wanted to keep in mind that our bread is already really time-intensive, so if we can achieve happy results with lesser autolyse, then let's do that, right?


In our next post I am committed to try some longer autolyses for the sake of the experiment, but unless this new extended autolyse manages to part the sky and sea, then I think this may be one area of my bread where I am willing to be practical. I like the idea of being able to make bread in a manageable time-frame. I have worked out a schedule where if I rise early, I can make a levain in the morning, work the dough in the afternoon, proof it in the fridge overnight then bake the loaf by noon the next day. This round of loaves found smashing success with a three-hour autolyse, and it fell within a reasonable time-frame, so instead of baking at noon, I could conceivably bake at around 2pm, still enough time to have bread for an afternoon charcuterie and cheese plate.

About this new extended autolyse. I was a little worried about the possibility of overproofing dough, but I kept a close eye on it as it was hydrating, and it expanded at a comfortable rate. That is to say that it didn't blow up too quickly as I feared it might, possibly resulting in an exhausted final dough. Contrarily, at the end of the autolyse, it had increased just enough and became very much alive. At the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough had easily increased by about 30% as you can see in the photos below, and at the end of the final fermentation, accomplished overnight in the refrigerator, the dough had expanded impressively and yielded a really fantastic loaf. Smoke, hazelnuts, sweet molasses, notes of coffee. A good round flavor with all of the loaves, thanks to the white wheat, yeah, but with varying degrees of sourness due to the varied hydrations employed in each one, which you will read about below. The loaves also achieved fine oven spring (more on this with regard to shaping), and the crumb texture was really light and tender with a ruddy hue and a really brittle crust. It's actually a little hard to believe that these loaves are almost completely whole grain, the only white flour being 125g, or 25%, contributed by the high-extraction flour.

81% hydration

To start, I used refrigerator-cold water in both the levain and the final dough, and to be safe, I planned my bread day to start early in the morning so that autolyse through bulk could be accomplished at cool room temperature. The ambient temperature during autolyse was around 64 degrees then crept up to around 70 by the time bulk fermentation finished.

Given the cooler weather, I decided that it was safe to extend the autolyse at room temperature when I was poised originally to mix up the dough then send it immediately to the fridge. I figured that if it started to get too wild too quickly I could always pop it in the fridge. You know what a fan I am of the refrigerator for controlling fermentation. Though it turned out to be just fine with a moderate ambient temp. Maybe I'm a sissy. I don't know. I will tell you this, Chad and Lori are no sissies. His kitchen is warm, and when I arrived there were seriously hydrated pools of dough rubbing shoulders on his bench. I will admit, it made me panic a little. It also made me feel ridiculously conservative. I know it's a fine line between high hydration and madness, so I'm out to find out where that line is.

Chad and his team are daredevils with hydration, which is what produces the bread that all of us are striving to achieve - shattery crust, chewy interior whose flavors reveal all of the nuances of a given grain's terroir. So with this first experiment I added different quantities of water when adding the salt to the dough to see what the outcome would be. These first loaves are weighing in at 79% hydration (this is the suggested hydration that the book calls for in the 'Ode' loaf), 81% hydration, and 83% hydration. And while I don't think that any of these hydrations are out of control, I definitely fumbled during shaping, which, as you know, has an enormous effect on oven spring. If you don't shape your dough tightly enough, it will spread rather than spring. But if you shape it too tightly, you risk pressing out all of the precious gasses that the dough has developed through its several fermentation processes, resulting in a compressed crumb. I didn't shape tightly enough, thus found myself perilously close to flat loaves. The thing that saved me, even with the highly hydrated doughs, was the incredible elastic powers of the flour that I used. Even with the higher hydrations, the dough was active and tight and expanded impressively during the final fermentation.

79% hydration

For this round of loaves, I experimented with the Tartine method of shaping, a method admittedly foreign to me, and I don't think I got the dough tight enough. In the long-run, I think this contributed to the relative flatness of the loaves. I have found that when I shape in my usual way, my bread comes out with a much higher dome even with my high hydration and whole grain breads. My practice is to shape the loaves by twisting the boules on the bench, the friction at point of contact tightens the dough into taut rounds. My friend Joe Bowie, a professional baker in New York, stresses the importance of getting the boules nice and tight. When I watched Lori shape the dough at Tartine (which was exactly how Chad teaches us to shape in his books), she managed to get the dough much tighter than I did with a few deft moves, even though it was clearly very hydrated. And when Crystal lined the fully fermented dough on the belt that fed them into the oven, they were really rambunctious masses with temperamental personalities. They were not these prim, well-behaved spheres that I had imagined they might be. When the bread came out of the oven, the oven spring was incredible and the loaves were gorgeous. Rustic, reddish-brown and enormous, their shapes were wonky and fantastic, not neatly shaped boules and batards. It made me think that I need to let go of the idea of making this 'perfect' bread, right, to just let myself go wild with it.

I think I need a little more time to fine-tune my wild side.

 79% hydration

81% hydration

83% hydration

As you can see from the pictures, shaping and tension in the final dough is critical. I mean, I've always known this, but now I really know it. I managed to shape the loaf with the highest hydration the tightest, and I was rewarded with greater oven spring and less spreading. The 81% loaf fought me most during shaping. There was serious elasticity in this dough - and I was admittedly a little more aggressive than usual with my first two series of turns during bulk which probably accounts for some of its strength. I did manage to get the 79% loaf shaped a little tighter. You can see the difference in the height of the loaves above. The folding method did produce a more rustic shape than I usually get with my twisting method, which I like a lot. But bottom line, whether your aim is a rustic shape or one more uniform, it is crucial to get your dough nice and taut. It's not about the method you choose so much as your success in it.

In the next post I am going to work exclusively with home-milled grains and give you all some resources to source your own. For those of you who do not want to mill your own grains, splurge on the best whole grain flour you can afford. After all, bread is flour and water, so choose wisely and your amazing loaves of bread will be your reward. To be sure, I will always tell you what brand of flour and grain I use in my loaves, including links whenever possible.

Overall I think this is an excellent start to our experiment. The introduction of several different kinds of grains in our bread. Using higher percentages of these grains. Pushing the envelope a bit with hydration. Futzing with autolyze and shaping. I'm feeling confident.

Here are the details of our trio of breads. Please note that all hydration percentages include the flour and water in the starter and the levain, and includes the volume of wheat germ.

The Method

This is our 79% hydration bread, and the one that most closely follows the formula in the book in terms of hydration.

The formula below makes one loaf. Gather together these things:

-250g of levain, formula below
-250g high extraction wheat flour, which is simply 125g bread flour (I used KA) whisked together with 125g Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour
-125g Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour
-125g Bob's Red Mill hard white winter wheat flour
-35g wheat germ
-425g cold h2o (see note below which gives hydration amounts for the 81% and 83% hydration loaves) *
-11g kosher salt

A note on the starter. Mine is 100% hydration, 100% dark rye, and I use Bob's Red Mill rye berries in my Komo mill. Until I got my mill, I relied on Bob's Red Mill dark rye flour to feed my starter.


Make your levain. You will need:

-50g active starter (fed about 6 hours before)
-100g cold h2o
-100g Community Grains red winter wheat flour

Dissolve the levain in the h2o, then mix in 100g of Community Grains red winter wheat flour until you arrive at a paste. Cover and let it bloom. I made mine the night before dough day, so it fermented for 8.5 hours. I have had success with levains as young as 5 hours and fermented for 10 hours. For longer ferments, I advise placing the levain in a cool room to ferment more slowly.


Mix together the high extraction flour, the Community Grains red winter wheat flour, the Bob's Red Mill hard white wheat flour and the wheat germ. Set aside.

Dissolve the total levain in 400g of h2o, then add the flour mixture into this, combining well with your hands. You will arrive at a shaggy, sticky mass. Autolyse in a cool room for three hours. It will swell a bit as the gasses begin to expand and turn glossy and smooth as the gluten begins to develop. The ambient temp was about 65 degrees during autolyse.

After you have accomplished autolyse, squish the salt into the dough along with 25g of the remaining water (see note below which gives the additional hydration amounts for the 81% and 83% hydration loaves)*, and proceed with a 4-hour bulk fermentation, the first 2.5 hours of which you will perform a series of turns every half hour. Take care to handle the dough gingerly during the final turns so that you do not press out the gasses that are developing in the dough. Leave the dough unmolested for the remaining 1.5 hours. It should expand about 30% and when you press it with your finger, it will feel taut and alive. I accomplished my bulk fermentation at room temperature, about 70 degrees.

After the bulk fermentation, scrape the dough onto the bench dusted with brown rice flour. A note on brown rice flour, I used Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour this time around and found it to be much more coarse than Bob's Red Mill organic brown rice flour which is what I normally use. Arrowhead Mills feels more like cornmeal. They both serve the purpose of keeping the dough from sticking to the surface of the bench and the linen-lined proofing cloth. But aesthetically and tactilely I prefer Bob's Red Mill. This comes down to a preference thing.

Back to the task at hand.

Shape the dough into a loose round, cover with an inverted bowl, and rest for 25 minutes. After the bench rest, shape the dough into a round, using whatever shaping method you fancy. You only want to be sure to develop some tension in the dough so that you can achieve optimum oven spring.

Pop the dough into a linen-lined bowl dusted with brown rice flour, seam side up, and refrigerate it for 18 hours. Incidentally, my oven only holds two loaves at a time, so this particular loaf was fermented for an additional hour and a half while the other two loaves baked.


Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Unearth the dough by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash the dough, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, turn the oven down to 475 and steam for thirty minutes.

After the steam, remove the lid, then stack the pan over its mouth. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening. Nice move, eh?

Turn the oven down to 450 and bake the bread to desired darkness. I find that it's almost impossible to go as dark as Chad's without drying out the loaf in a home oven. So I aim for chestnut-colored.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

*For the 81% hydration loaf, add 40g of water when you add your salt, for the 83% hydration loaf, add 50g more water.

Tasting notes: all of the breads had a lovely tender crumb and brittle crust. I will say that there was a pronounced sourness with the increased hydration loaves. The 79% hydration loaf was pretty mild. It was all about the wheat here and the nuances that come with extended fermentation - notes of coffee and nuts, with just a bit of acid. While neither the 81% nor the 83% hydration loaves were overly sour, it was definitely more prominent in the 83% loaf which I loved. I have been asked about my extended cold fermentations and if they yield sour loaves, and I have never had an issue with excess acidity. I am beginning to think that it may be because I have consistently used moderate hydration in my breads. So, perhaps not so much does cold fermentation yield a more acid loaf as does one that is more highly hydrated, or a combination of the two factors. I actually like the acid in sourdough bread. I know some do not. So, if acid is what you are trying to avoid, you may want to experiment with more modestly hydrated loaves. Out of the three, I preferred the flavor of the 83% hydration loaf. All three had their merits, and I imagined each of them pairing more or less agreeably with different things. The lesser hydrated loaves with charcuterie and pickles, the more highly hydrated loaf with olive oil, parmesan, fresh marjoram and chili. All of them would do well with a fantastic glass of wine.


 levain, ready

 the dough, mixed, the start of autolyse

 the dough, after 3-hour autolyse

 salt added, elastic dough due to extended autolyse

 the turns, first and second series

expanding after third and fourth series

fifth and sixth series, expanding nicely

 completion of 4-hour bulk

on the bench

successful final ferment

 unearth and slash


To the staff of life!

This post was shared on Susan's Wild Yeast Blog


  1. France, the breads are beautiful. could you tell what led you to the cold water and increased levain for 500g flour thanks for the tips.

    1. Hi there. Well, I'm a little cautious when it comes to baking bread. And I have not had tons of luck with warm water/warm fermentation, so I generally work with cold water. I even feed my starter with cold water. I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to heat! And a long while ago, after much playing around with levain amounts, I settled on this amount of levain for my 500g flour breads. So, it was just a habit. I'm actually going to go back to Chad's measurements and see if I like how it behaves (I'm talking levain amount here) in my bread. The thing I find about bread is that everyone's environment and preference is different, so, I guess this is one of the things that make this bread 'mine'. If that makes sense. PS, it does not make a sour loaf, in case you were wondering. It never has. :)


  2. no, I wasn't worried about sour but it has been minus 30 here in MN!!! and I was thinking about keeping things warm enough at room temps for life.. I am so thrilled to follow your progress and bake along....

    1. oi! well, it's probably at least 70 in your house right? frankly, it would have been fine even warmer. what do you plan to do?

  3. France - I'm probably too tired to read it correctly, but the formula is for one loaf @ 1221g (2.68 lbs)? My apologies if I'm just plain missing something since mostly I recall your loafs tend to be approx 500g +/-. I look forward to trying this and it's great to have this blog to check everyday. Thank you, hugely. Stephanie

    1. most of my loaves were 500g of FLOUR yes. roughly. your calculation above includes all of the ingredients called for in the formula. this formula calls for 500g of flour plus 35g of wheat germ. 250g of starter. 400+25g of water. 11g of salt. total 1221g. :)

      you're welcome! i am going to keep working with this formula before i move on to the next bread, so check back next week. i just want to do a couple more experiments before we move on. but this one worked really well with the hydration and 3-hour autolyse. just get that shaping right. it's a little challenging because the dough is really elastic.

      check back!

  4. Glad to see you had great results with your three hour autolyse at a cooler temp. I tried that yesterday with the oatmeal porridge bread and had a much better result (2 hours @ 68 degrees). Really nice elasticity and the resulting flavor isn't sour at all. When I first did the long autolyse, I didn't think about the fact that he's using a smaller percentage of levain and a higher percentage of salt, which should slow things down a bit during and after autolyse?

    Oatmeal porridge bread is the creamiest bread I've ever put out. How do you "gently," add in the additions after the second turn? There doesn't seem to be a way to make that a gentle process while incorporating the porridge well. What are you baking next? Mind if I e-bake along side you? Is that a thing?

    1. Hi Chris. Well, we add salt after the autolyse because salt hampers the process, not before. It's sort of like adding salt to a of beans at the start. It toughens the skins and the beans don't cook as evenly. One should always add salt to a pot of beans when they are just about finished cooking.

      As well, you should have fine results with higher percentages of levain (I use 250g of levain). As well, my levain is made with 40-50 of starter (a while back I discovered that this was the amount that raised my breads the most. The lesser amount of starter called for in the first book for some reason was not optimal for me. Chad uses about 15g of starter in his levain. Again, different variables... it's also a matter of preference. Incidentally, I'm not a fan of sourdough that uses an enormous percentage of actual starter (some formula call for hundreds of grams of starter, I don't think the flavor of those breads is very good. I've made a few and decided that that was not the bread I was after).

      I am really excited to get onto the oatmeal porridge bread as well, and I promised that I would not skip ahead, so I will assess the formula when I get there and make adjustments when I actually work the dough. I do use Chad's book as a suggestion rather than a bible. All of the variables require us to be flexible. His oat porridge may be less hydrated than yours etc. For instance, my 100% rye starter using fresh milled rye is much stiffer than when I use premilled.

      For now I am working on a couple more Bourdon loaves and exploring autolyse with them. I mentioned in my last post that I want to establish what my rule of thumb will be so that I can move forward. One thing about bread that works for me is to avoid reinventing the wheel with every loaf. Every loaf should lend itself to the next. And all of my changes or adaptations are small, but will yield much different results. 15g more water can make a bread very hydrated compared to one that takes 15g less, yielding a radically different bread. So, still working with Chad's idea of longer autolyse. As I mentioned, if it parts the seas, then I will use this as a rule. I have three doughs fermenting in the lab as we speak. I skipped around with Tartine so much with the last book, then abandoned it altogether when I got to laminated doughs, so this time I vowed that I would move along in a linear fashion from page one to the last. This also means for me that I will be baking several loaves a week to keep it moving along. If you live in L.A. feel free to come by and pick up loaves. I will have tons of them ;)

  5. First off I would like to say thank you! This blog must take a tremendous amount of time and effort, you rock!!

    I have been on a journey to produce a Tartine-like loaf ever since I tried one. Over this last holiday break I really focused on it baking two loaves almost every day. The taste was good but unfortunately the loaves were rather flat. I found your blog and followed some of your tips and had a lot more success! The two hours bulk fermentation in the fridge was the big one that finally allowed me to work with the dough without having it stick to everything in site and I finally got something resembling oven spring though nothing like what you seem to effortlessly get! The crumb was much closer to what I remember the Tartine loaf being though. Thanks to you I am inspired to keep trying and can now try pushing my hydration levels higher to see what happens.

    I do have a couple of questions though. First, what temperature is your fridge? I put one of my loaves in the fridge and it barely did anything over 20+ hours. I had to pull it out and it still took several hours to start to expand. Second, how does this extended autolyse work? How is it different from bulk fermentation if the levain is in it? Are you putting it in the fridge or some other much cooler environment then pulling it out for bulk? Finally it was my goal to move on to the whole grains of Book 3 after I successfully made the country loaf (ha!) so I am interested in this recipe. When you say "cold water" how cold is that?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Josh. First, thank you for acknowledging the effort it takes to keep this blog alive. It does take so much time, but I love it. This post took me three days!

      The best way to describe the Tartine loaf is that it's really sort of like 'zen simplicity'. What I mean by that is that we all know that Zen is not simple. It's a series of ordered complexities, and each of those elements must be thoroughly understood in order to manage them with grace. And it takes time. Awareness comes from dedicated practice to understanding the nature of the self. Increased awareness of the nature of self steadily dissolves fear, hesitation, doubt, thus we find ourselves moving more gracefully within our lives. This is Zen. This is also bread. Bread for me has always been a physical manifestation of my inner work. But how does this translate to bread? Bread cannot be rushed. The mastery of bread is the constant effort to harness ever-changing elements: one day the water is cold, one day the water has more minerality, one day the weather is more damp, one day the grains of the flour are more thirsty and require more water. The next day, everything is converse. One must first understand all of the variables, and then be flexible because the variables change. One day we think we know red wheat, but this season, the crop has changed.

      Now. Your bread. How old is your starter? This plays a huge role in the success of your bread all around. It will get better over time, more complex. Its powers will develop. And it all depends on the flour you feed it, the number of times a day you feed it -- your practices with it. So, flat loaves start here. Also, are you following the Tartine book to a 'T'? You should not. Use it as a guide, not a bible. Chad works with significantly different variables than you do. So, perhaps you need to increase your starter amount in your levain, or lengthen/shorten your levain fermentation time depending upon your environment. The texture of the crumb is all about fermentation. You must find the right fermentation method for your bread, which means that you need to learn to read your bread. If your dough is not 'budging', then you may need an hour longer in your bulk or final fermentation. Juggle the time in and out of the fridge. This is a great way to control the rate of fermentation. When you are in the process of making the dough, stick closely by it. Try not to have a laundry list of other things to do, or your mind will not be focused on the dough, and you will miss the signs. All it takes is a half hour for dough go from fine to not so fine. Have a look at it when you are working with it. If Tartine (or my own formula) says it should proof for 18 hours, but you feel like it's ready at 12, then it's ready at 12.

    2. cont...
      You catch my drift. Learn to read the dough all the way from starter through final ferment. There are some days when my starter demands to be fed 3x. I was going to make another loaf today but after a week of 2-feed days, I can tell by looking that my starter should have been fed a third time yesterday in order to make bread today. So. No bread today.

      When you work the dough, try one experiment at a time, and a small one to boot. When you push fermentation time, make sure there is a reason for it, i.e., the dough is calling for it. High hydration can mean different things in different breads with different flours. And to be sure, your fermentation time and method is going to change dramatically when you start playing with hydration, so keep vigilant when you are proofing.

      Oven spring comes from: optimal fermentation foremost (including the right amount of starter in the levain, and the right fermentation time of the levain, as well as the power of the starter that you are working with), then proper hydration within a given bread, then shaping (get the boule nice and tight but not too tight or you will compress the crumb) and proper slashing.

      My fridge temp is 40 degrees.

      Autolyse, thankfully, is not a tricky thing. The premise of autolyse is that it allows the flour to fully absorb the water, and for the gluten to begin to develop. You will notice that at the start of the autolyse the mass of dough is craggy and the elements whilst mixed, disparate. You can pull off clumps of dough and they easily break away. As the autolyse moves along, the dough relaxes and starts to look more smooth. It is developing gluten. Contrary to old-school belief, one does not need to knead dough to develop gluten. Gluten development happens with fermentation (thus the popularity of 'no knead' bread). At the end of autolyse, your dough has become elastic. When you pull at it, it does not come away easily from the mass, and it comes away in glutenous strands.

      There is a rather large window in autolyse (this is my next post), and it doesn't take that long to fully accomplish it. I have systematically autolysed for an hour, sometimes a little longer (up to an hour and a half before this last post), and its never failed. The 3-hour autolyse breads worked fine, and today I am working a post with a 2-hour autolyse and 7-hour autolyse. Check back. I am working a new autolyse post and I will reiterate some of this comment to you in the post with photos of the latest experiment.

      Autolyse differs from bulk fermentation in that there is no salt in autolyse. Salt would impede the autolyse process because it creates a barrier between the flour and water molecules, slowing the penetration of water. I liken it to cooking beans. One must never put salt in a pot of beans at the start or one is faced with tough skins and unevenly cooked beans, some of them not cooking much at all. We add salt to the pot after the beans are softened.

      Try to do your bulk with more time out of the fridge, or completely at room temp and see what happens. I juggled with this a lot at the start, found a 'method' and stuck to it. But again, learn to read the dough. I live in L.A. where its generally warm, so I need to refrigerate my dough a lot longer than someone who might live in S.F. or someplace else with a cooler climate.

      No. I don't put the dough in the fridge for autolyse. The idea of autolyse is to hydrate the dough and begin to develop gluten, and cold would slow it down. You could try it and see what you get, but it's not necessary in my experience.

      The water I used for this was refrigerator cold. But I am experimenting with 62 degree water (room temp) with the next round of breads.

      You are welcome! Let me know how things turn out for you!

    3. Three days?! Wow!

      One of the hardest things about bread is that it requires so much intuition and practiced ability, both of which the new baker are sadly lacking. I will say, I was extremely pleased when I pulled a proofing loaf out of the fridge and found myself saying “this isn’t ready to bake yet.” It is definitely hard to “read” your dough when you are illiterate ;) but slowly you catch on. I will say when things aren’t working it is definitely hard to limit making changes to one thing at a time. I like how you try multiple experiments by doing multiple batches at once. I see that in my near future.

      My starter is at least a month old. I named him TOBy (short for Tartine or Bust :). For most of his life I fed him twice a day. Now that I am back at work I am keeping him in the fridge for the early part of the week and then pulling him out Wednesday for double feedings. I started with a 33/33/33 white/whole wheat/rye blend and have moved to a 25/25/50 white/whole/rye with an eye toward continuing to increase the rye percentage over time now that I’ve read more about that. I have been doing 100% hydration and a 1:2:2 starter:water:flour mix when refreshing. I live in the San Francisco area which means the house is on the cold side this time of year which is definitely slowing a lot of things down but that is probably good.

      I started by trying to follow the Tartine pretty closely and didn’t have a lot of luck (sticky messes led to flat loaves) but as I said it is hard to know where you are going wrong when you don’t know what to look for. Then I read Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast which gave me better results but still not what I was hoping for. Then I found your blog! I love all the photos you have (not to mention how good they are!) which really help educate you on what things are supposed to look like at different stages and have definitely had the most success so far after reading through all your entries. Can’t wait to try again this weekend and can’t wait to read your next entry!

    4. Josh. Sticky mess. Reduce hydration. Pull way back. I advise newbies to kick up the amount of levain in their bread, and pull way back on hydration until you get comfortable with the dough. You need some successes so that you have the confidence to continue. My bread is like training wheels for newbies. :) Once you master the fermentation and handling of the dough, you can start to inch up with hydration, and perhaps pull back with the amount of levain in your bread. Though I am satisfied with the amount that I use 40-50g starter and a 200-250g levain.

      Good luck. Let me know how it goes!

    5. Yeah, hydration definitely takes some practice. Is that 200g levain per 500g of flour of 200g per 1000g?

    6. 250g for this 500g loaf. you could go halvsies and see what you get. ;)

    7. I was asked to bring some bread to a party this weekend so I didn’t want to push my experiments too far. I pushed my Levain to 150 g per loaf (as opposed to 100) and ended up proofing at a warmer temperature because I had to finish the bread in time for the party. I am still not getting the spring I see you get but the flavor was excellent and I got a lot of rave reviews. I didn’t have good camera with me but here are two photos and Thanks again for all your help!

    8. Yeah apparently the links don't show up real well though copying and pasting the address into a browser works for me. Regardless this is yet more good advice. I have been taking more and more notes every weekend which I think is helpful. Reading and re-reading bread books is definitely good and I have searched high and low for wisdom on the web, not sure how people did this before the web! I think I will start taking more photos though. The good news is that I am definitely moving in the right direction!

    9. The links worked fine for me...I would like to know about bitly. or the best way to show France my experiments.

    10. These are fantastic breads!!

  6. Nothing short but pure art. France - I'm saluting you. Very ambitious. - imgingi .

    1. this is the most lovely compliment i have ever received. thank you :)

  7. I am so happy to be reading here again! I love your detailed posts and beautiful photographs. I made the same loaf this week with community grains wheat, king arthur white wheat and the 50/50 mix for the high extraction flour. Room temp water - low 60's. Like you I tried a 3 hour autolyse but my loaves were only in the fridge 14 hours - so a little shorter. I was really happy with the bread - both how the dough behaved and the final product. Still scouting sources for some of the grains called for in the other recipes. I did see in an interview that he suggests Anson Mills but I'd like to find more local sources if I could. Can't wait to see what you bake next!

    1. Hi Marcella. I am just finishing up a VERY long post. The Ode loaf finalized and a list of grain companies that I swear by including links. Check back at the end of the day!

  8. Hi France. Thanks for this great blog and as always some very inspirational looking loaves in this post! I first came across your blog last spring which started my journey into the wonderful world of wild yeast breads. The details you provide in your posts have answered so many questions and have saved me much time; so thanks for that! I look forward to the coming posts on tartine 3.

  9. Hi France! I love your blog - I am just beginning to try natural yeast breads at home and was very happy with the flavor of my first loaf. My question for you is regarding the maintenance of your starters. Do you ever refrigerate? If not, how often do you feed and how much? From what I remember, you keep 3 different starters and I would imagine that that begins time consuming and costly to do feeds in the absence of refrigeration outside of a commercial business?

    1. Marie! Well, I think I had a ton of them, but then that just got silly. No, I don't refrigerate. It's on my counter. Here is the starter that I began years ago and maintain.

      Just 60g. 100% hydration, 100% home-milled dark rye flour (20g flour, 20g water, 20g starter). I feed twice a day because I bake a lot. But you can feed it once a day if you only bake like once every 10-14 days, in that case, just begin to feed it for 3 full days before making your levain. Works like a charm.


  10. Hello France. I don't even know how to thank you for your precious informations, photos and all your love for the bread you share with us. I follow your blog for about 1 year and was very happy when I found of your new experiments. I'm a huge fan of Tartine Bread. Had some nice breads until now, but very inconsistent results. There were times when I sucedeed that beautiful open, moist crumb I saw in pictures. Sometimes not. So I begun to follow more closely your tartine bread experiments. On my country, do not have acces to very good or a large palette of flours, but still I can bake with what I have on hands. Today I just baked your Chad's Ode tartine. I'm absolutely impressed with the results and with the fact that everything developed with cold water and at about 70 Fahrenheit. Followed every step and everything turned out very good. I must admitt I was a little concerned about the possible sour taste because of the cold temperature and high amount of starter and levain, but this is not the case. Today I’m working on your Bella Luna. I want to ask you, in this case, witch involves a smaller amount of starter and levain if you had 70 Fahrenheit, or almost. Or, if you usually autolyse and bulk ferment at this temperature. Until now, I always (except on Chad’s Ode) developed the dough at 78-82 Fahrenheit. Thank you very much. Here, you can see some pictures of Chad’s Ode:)

    1. Hi Raluca. Well, my Bella Luna bulked and autolysed at 71/72 degrees fahrenheit and I used room temperature water (the same temp as the ambient temp). I have been working with room temperature water and bulk fermentations with great results. It's been cool here, so I think that helps. But I'm going to keep working at room temperature bulk fermentations until it gets too hot here to do them successfully. Los Angeles gets really hot, so in the past when I have done room temp bulk fermentations it has not worked. But 78-82 degrees sounds like you should have no issues. Just keep your eye on the dough, and if it looks like it's expanding too quickly, pop it in the fridge.

      Your breads look gorgeous!


  11. Thank you for your compliments. From the beginning of my baking I always liked more batard shape, and because I don’t have a combo cooker I bake on a 2cm grant stone.
    No, speaking of Bella Luna and temperatures, I didn’t succeed to have the same evolution as for Chad’s Ode. I don’t think the reason it’s the starter or the smaller % of pre-fermeted flour. I think, looking back, the low temperatures for a loaf with a higher % of white flour didn’t help me. Although, I could give it a nice shape, it spread in the banneton during the final fermentation. Maybe, it needed more time in bulk. I told you, that I had a few times (my shame) I had impressing oven spring with only 9,09% pre-ferment flour, that means 20% in the final dough. But, I took care that the 4h bulk fermentation take place at 78-82 Fahrenheit. So, tomorrow, I will make a new try, with higher bulk fermentation temperatures, or maybe I can try do a 3h autolise, just like in the case of Chad’s Ode.

  12. This may seem silly, but I'm not sure how to address you. I know you as Francis-Olive from an earlier time, but now see France posted. Is that your nom de plume? Let me say again how great it is to see you back. You are bright star in the firmament of baking and your writing always has a delightful twinkle to it. You simply make learning fun! You have changed the meaning of "serious home baker" to mean someone who bakes on a professional level, but does not own or work in a bakery, and it would be a great bakery! Your scholarship and skill in baking is inspiring and edifying, but it mirates to your writing, photography and design as well. Most of all I love your passion and the voice of your writing. I have learned so much from you. Can not thank you enough for all the hard work and craft that goes into your posts. The breadth of what you do and the assiduous testing you preform would make Calvel himself smile with approval. You are an artist and scientist combined, a true alchemist! I am also a huge admirer of Chad's work and have been able to taste his bread, albeit by way of plane trip back to Chicago. The loaf had a burnished, mahogany patina and a depth of flavor you could fall into. Like you, I'm on a path to making great bread. My pace is glacial in comparrison to yours, but your knowledge and generosity have sped my way. I can not begin to thank you enough for your generosity of spirit.
    A question, in the ODE formula post you state "I am beginning to think that it may be because I have consistently used moderate hydration in my breads. So, perhaps not so much does cold fermentation yield a more acid loaf as does one that is more highly hydrated, or a combination of the two factors." What about the capture stage of the levain itself? I typically have used mine in a "sweet" stage, around 4-6 hrs. depending on ambient temperature. Usually at the peak of it's dome before bubbles rise to the surface. I use a liquid levain with 100% hydration / AP flour. My breads have very little sourness. To what degree does the acidity of the levain itself contribute to final bread sourness in relation to hydration and cold fermentation in your experience?
    Thanks again, I look forward to your next post with anticipation. - Mark This is a link to my some of my

    1. Mark! What a lovely blog, and an even more lovely comment. Thank you for this. :) My name is Francis-Olive, but my friends call me France. I woke up to this comment this morning. What a lovely start to my day.

      OK, so, yes, the levain will contribute to the acidity of a loaf. Which is why one strives to use less levain (and less starter to build the levain) in their doughs. If you notice, my current breads use a much lower percentage of levain and starter, and I do use the starter at 5 or 6 hours after feed so it's super strong and not super acidic. Even when I was using the higher levain amounts in my breads, though, my bread was not super acidic. Chad's bread is by far more acidic than my own. He makes a stalwart loaf, and I love it. I actually don't think that a good amount of acid in bread is a bad thing. And you are indeed right about the depth of flavor of his bread. There is a reason why his breads are highly prized.

      Many factors are involved in producing a more or less acid loaf. I don't ever strive to make a 'non-acid' bread. It's not something that has ever bothered me about sourdough (after all, it IS sourdough), so my breads are not very acidic just by accident.

      Thank you so much for writing. I'm happy that my blog is helping someone out there!


  13. In book three the recipe for this Ode to Bourdon only calls for 150 grams Levain for two loaves quantity?? 15% Do you really use 250 grams for one loaf?

  14. Hi France,

    When you say you bake the loaf cold, do you mean right out of the fridge and into the oven. Or do you leave the loaf out of the fridge to warm up for a while but it is still a little cold when you bake it? And if you do leave it out, for how long?

    Thank you for the informative post



Follow My Other Blogs Too!

Popular Posts

Search This Blog

get a hold of me at



Except where noted otherwise, all content within the blog posts on this site,, are the sole intellectual property of Francis-Olive Hampton and protected under United States copyright laws: Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works regardless the nationality or domicile of the author. Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

No part of any blog post shall be duplicated or manipulated for private use without prior consent.