Thursday, June 25, 2020

Flour types, bakers ratio, and experimentation... (and an update on timing)

Like most readers of this blog - I've been doing a lot of baking recently. I usually bake quite a bit, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic and associated shelter-in-place orders, I've had even more opportunities to bake and experiment.

Bakers Ratio - 72% 

Though because baking is so popular now, there are shortages of flour I usually use. I'm keen on using %90 King Arthur Bread Flour (450g) and 10% King Arthur While Whole Wheat Flour (50g) at 72% hydration (360g of liquid, which is usually about 320g filtered water + 40g starter) plus 10g of salt.
Note: It's essential to vary the amount of starter and keep the total liquid portion to be 360g to maintain a bakers ratio of 72%. If my starter is very active, I will sometimes go as low as 5g or as high as 50g depending on various environmental conditions and timing. 

Flour Types

While I had a large stockpile of KA Bread flour, it only lasted so long, and eventually, I had to find an available replacement. I settled on a 50lb bag of generic All-Purpose flour from Costco for $11.39.
To most people, these loaves look and taste great, but they aren't up to my standards. 


While I usually don't like YouTube videos with numbers in the title ("top 10" or "10 tips", etc...) this video is a bit of an exception - he goes over a great way to experiment and visualize how to get the hydration right with the water and flour you are using. 


Update on timing - I usually follow this schedule:
Friday morning - taking the starter out of the refrigerator to wake up.

Friday evening - 7 pm - mix the water, flour, salt, starter into a dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside on the counter. I also refresh the starter and leave out overnight.

Friday night - 11 pm (4 hours later) - Wet my hands and punch-down & rotate the dough ball, and then re-cover with plastic wrap. 

Saturday morning - 8 am (9 hours later, 13h total)) 
  • Carefully transfer the proofed dough onto a floured surface, divide into the desired number of loaves (I usually do two) and gently shape. 
  • Note: My sourdough starter is very active, so adding only 40g (and sometimes less) means my dough is very airy and filled with CO2 filled gluten pockets.
  • Place the dough on parchment paper and place that in a cold dutch oven, cover with the lid, and set aside.
  • Turn on the oven to preheat at 500-550F.

Saturday morning - 8:30 am (~20 minutes after shaping, pretty much when the oven is done preheating) 
  • Remove the lid from the dutch oven, score the loaf with a lame, put the lid back on and place the dutch oven in the preheated oven.
  • If necessary, lower oven temperature to 500F.

Saturday morning - 9:12 am (42 minutes after placing in the oven) 
  • Carefully remove the very hot lid from the top of the dutch oven with oven gloves and get a feel for how browned the crust is.

Saturday morning - 9:22 am (10 minutes after removing the lid, about 52 total minutes of baking time)
  • Check that the crust is sufficiently browned and then carefully remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

Saturday morning - 11:30 am (about 2 hours after removing from the oven)
  • Cut & enjoy! 

Bake some bread! 😃
- Matt

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Photos of baking bread are almost as good as the real thing...

After a good 25m proof - scoring with a lame:

After the first bake - about 42m:

After the second bake - about 15m (to give it some color):

Fresh out of the oven, on my favorite high-temperature parchment (which I can get several uses out of):

The obligatory crust & crumb 'money' shot:

Enjoy some bread!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Now is a great time to make some bread!

"All of my friends are very aware of how much I love baking bread. Recently with the COVID-19 pandemic that is keeping a lot of people at home, many have reached out to me asking for tips of where to start. 

Here are two of my favorite videos from YouTube that should inspire anyone:
The recipe is available online, basically:

  • 450g strong (bread) flour
  • 7g salt
  • 290ml water
  • 5g fresh yeast (or generous pinch dried yeast)

This is from Alex which is a great YouTuber, who actually published a 4-part series on his "Sourdough Bread Odyssey"

Enjoy some bread 🥖 😀

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Great bread article

I highly recommend reading this article by Claire Saffitz.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Four more years of baking...

It's been a busy four years

Though I've still enjoyed baking (almost) every Saturday.

I've been working on perfecting my techniques

Finding new equipment

And experimenting with new results!

But most of all I've enjoyed teaching my daughters

Who are showing great promise!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Hello blog followers!  You may have noticed that my updates have slowed down in the recent months... this is a natural outcome of it being incredibly hard to post to Blogger quickly on my phone since the amazing Posterous was shut down.

For now I am shifting my weekly bread photo posts to Twitter and Google+ and when I have great things to say about bread recipes I will post it here.

Enjoy some bread :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Sometimes I use paper towels to proof the final loaves. Here is the result. 

Enjoy some bread :)
- Matt