Bread Baking - Apr 14, 2020

Today, I finally baked bread, using my sourdough starter. Deb has been asking for bread. And today, I finally used the rye flour that was locally produced. Our CSA farm, Shared Legacy Farms, grew the rye for Toledo Spirits distillery, which they used in their new Heart of Gold vodka.

Shared Legacy Farms is located near Elmore, Ohio, which is located in neighboring Ottawa County. Shared Legacy sent their extra rye to the Isaac Ludwig Mill, located at Providence Metropark, which is located in or near Grand Rapids, Ohio. Providence Park is a part of the Lucas County park system. Grand Rapids sits along the Maumee River, upstream of Toledo, about a 40-minute drive for us.

This is the first time that I have baked bread with flour that was locally grown and locally milled. On different occasions last fall, I bought three two-pound bags of the ry flour from Shared Legacy Farms. The rye flour is stored in heavy duty paper sacks. This is the first time that I have baked with rye flour in about 10 years.

My other bread notes:

My notes from today's process:


baker's percentages added where applicable

I last fed my starter on April 9. I would have preferred to use a fresh starter by feeding it the night before, but I didn't. A frig-temp, five-day-old starter works too.

The water temp in the filtered pitcher was approximately room temp. I store the water pitcher in the frig in the summer. During the cooler time of the year, I prefer that the water pitcher sit out on the counter. It's easier to drink.

The house temp was a "warm" 64 or 65 degrees because Deb cranked up the heat the day before, and I let it go overnight. I had to sleep with a window up several inches in our bedroom. I prefer the house temp to be around 60 to 62 degrees.

The outdoor temps today remained in the 40s all day. It got windy in the afternoon. It was a raw, chilly mid-April day, but nothing too unusual.


  1. bowl one - mixed water and starter
  2. bowl two - mixed the three flours
  3. allowed salt sit on the sidelines until later
  4. added flour mix to the bowl with starter and water and mixed/incorporated for 3 minutes or until a shaggy ball was produced
  5. dumped dough onto counter and covered with bowl
  6. allowed dough to rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes
  7. placed dough back into bowl
  8. with wet hands, mixed/incorporated the salt for 1 to 2 minutes, which included some light kneading within the bowl, and I also made a hook with one hand, placing the hooked hand into dough, and turning the bowl, which made the dough twist around my hand
  9. placed dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and then I covered the bowl.
  10. after 15 minutes, dumped dough onto lightly oiled counter and completed a stretch and fold, which meant patting out the dough a little and one at a time, grabbing each of the four sides and stretching it and folding it back onto itself.
  11. after the stretch and fold occurred, placed the bundled dough back into lightly oiled bowl and covered it.
  12. after another 15 minute rest, completed the second stretch and fold like above, and then repeated this process two more times. I conducted the third stretch and fold after another 15-minute rest. But I allowed 20 minutes to pass before doing the last stretch and fold, since the dough seemed wet, but the wetness was expected, since I used an 80 percent hydration. The dough overall was nice from the beginning. I was surprised at how stretchy it was for the first stretch and fold. It was a good dough.
  13. after the fourth and final s-and-f, placed dough into lightly oiled bowl, covered it, and let it ferment at room temp. I set the dough up at 1:50 p.m.
  14. I let the dough ferment for 7 hours. I dumped the dough at 8:53 p.m. onto a lightly oiled counter.
  15. gently shaped dough into a ball, but really, I did not do much here.
  16. covered the dough and allowed the dough to bench rest for 20 minutes. I covered the dough blob with the same large Pyrex bowl that I used to ferment the dough.
  17. patted dough out gently
  18. completed or tried to complete a lite stretch and fold. This is always tricky and not easy for me to do. The dough was puffy or pillowy with bubbles. I intentionally popped some of the bubbles. I used my hands to try to tighten the dough on the sides and underneath. I shaved the dough into a rounded-corner rectangle. I added some flour to my hands to make handling the wettish dough easier. The key is to create some kind of uniform shape. It won't be perfect but close enough.
  19. placed dough seam side DOWN into proofing basket and covered with plastic bag. Since the dough was a little wet, and the dough was "slack", I used the cloth liner with the oval-shaped banneton proofing basket. I added WWW flour to the cloth liner.
  20. proofed the dough at room temp for 3 hours
  21. with about 40 minutes left in the proofing process, I placed the baking stone on the fourth rack level from the top.
  22. preheated oven at 510 F degrees for 40 minutes.
  23. during the final 10 to 15 minutes of preheating the oven, I placed large metal mixing bowl into the oven
  24. sprinkled flour onto top of dough while it was still in the basket
  25. about five minutes before placing the dough into the oven, I dumped the dough onto a square-ish piece of parchment paper, resting on the kitchen counter. The dough plopped out easily. No sticking to the linen. The final proofed dough grew to near the top edge of the small oval basket.
  26. Since I proofed seam side down, I rolled the dough over on the parchment paper to make it set seam side down again. I positioned the dough better on the parchment paper. At this point, the dough started to spread slightly, probably because of the "slack" dough consistency and maybe due to the lack of gluten from the rye. I slashed the dough lengthwise down the middle, approx 1/4 inch deep. After slashing, the dough started to spread apart quickly.
  27. after stove had preheated and dough was ready, removed metal lid from oven.
  28. placed parchment paper with dough onto stone
  29. covered stone with bowl
  30. I used tongs and a folded up paper towel, dipped the tongs and paper towel into hot water, warmed in a tea kettle. I spread this hot water on the underside of the hot bowl to add some more moisture. I need to get another food-safe spray bottle. This step is probably unnecessary, especially with a higher hydration dough, although whole grains are more absorbent.
  31. lowered bowl over stone and closed oven door.
  32. lowered oven temp to 500 F degrees
  33. set timer for 35 minutes
  34. after 15 minutes (20 minutes left on the clock) removed the metal bowl
  35. lowered oven temp to 475.
  36. after 25 minutes (10 minutes left on the clock) rotated the bread on the parchment paper to ensure the side closest to the back of the oven does not get baked too much. I rotated the bread every 2.5 to 5.0 minutes over the final 10 to 15 minutes of the bake.
  37. after 35 minutes was up, I turned off the oven, but I let the bread remain in the oven for another five minutes, rotating the bread a couple more times.
  38. when done baking, removed bread from oven, placed it on cooling rack, and let it rest overnight before cutting.

Dimensions of the bread immediately out of the oven:

The bread was longer and wider than most breads that I bake, but it was also shorter too. The slack dough or low gluten dough spread out after dumping it from the proofing basket.

What I should do next time is:

The goal would be to get the baking process started immediately after dumping and slashing the dough. If I proof seam side up, then I could place the parchment paper on the stone, dump the dough onto the paper-covered stone, and then slash it.

With the above bake, I allowed the dough to spread out on the counter for a couple minutes before placing it into the oven.


Apr 14, 2020 images. Sometimes, I get focused on what I'm doing and forget to photograph a process.

This my sourdough starter dissolving in the room temp water.

These are the three flours, piled into another bowl before I mixed the flours together.

After mixing everything together for a couple minutes, I dumped the shaggy dough ball onto the counter. This is how the dough looked before the autolyse where I covered the dough with the mixing bowl and let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

I should have taken photos of the dough after each stretch-and-fold or at least before the main fermenting period began. The stretch-and-fold process takes around one hour. Then I let the dough ferment for seven more hours in a house temp of about 65 degrees. This photo is of the dough after fermenting and right before I dumped it on the counter.

This photo is also of the dough after fermenting and before dumping it on the counter. It's hard to tell how much that the dough expanded up the sides of the bowl. I should have photographed the dough in the bowl after the fourth stretch-and-fold.

After fermenting and dumping the dough, I tried to organize the dough a little. This is the dough before beginning the 20-minute bench rest period. After this photo, I covered the dough with the same bowl that I used for fermenting.

During the bench rest period, the dough spread out some. Some air bubbles were evident before and after the bench rest period.

I added white whole wheat flour to the liner that I placed inside the banneton proofing basket.

And this is how the proofed dough looked after three hours of proofing. The photo showed the lame that I use to slash the dough. Deb bought me this lame several years ago. Any sharp knife will work though, but for wetter dough, however, a razor blade will slice the dough easier.

I forgot to take photos of the dough resting on the parchment paper on the counter. I should have photographed the dough before and after slashing.

I began the process shortly after 12:00 p.m. on Apr 14, getting my tools and ingredients out to use. The baking ended around 1:00 a.m. on Apr 15.

The most important photos:

Apr 15, 2020

In the morning, Deb and I ate some bread plain and untoasted, which is my favorite way to eat great bread. On bread baking day yesterday, I roasted coffee beans in the afternoon. This morning, I made Deb and me pour-overs with those beans. We ate bread and drank coffee. Simple but both tasted fabulous. It's not a cliche to say that good things take time.

I store my bread cut-side down on the cutting board with the board resting on the kitchen counter or on the dining room table. I do not place the bread inside plastic. Bread can be frozen, but it should not be placed in a plastic bag, nor should bread be stored in the refrigerator. I leave my bread on the cutting board uncovered. At most, I would drape a paper sack over the bread.

I was pleased with the overall shape of this bread. Sometimes, my breads are misshaped due to my poor shaping after fermenting. This bread ended up fairly uniform in shape. Again, I assume that the spreading out of the dough after fermenting was because it was a slack or higher hydration dough, and, supposedly, rye flour is lower in gluten than whole wheat flour.

What surprised me most is how mild the rye tasted. Usually, rye flour is bold, at least that's why I remember. This rye flour is very mild. White whole wheat is more milder than our normal red whole wheat. White whole wheat has the same nutritional value as red whole wheat. I like the milder taste of WWW.

This bread was at least 50 percent whole grain. Since I feed my starter with white whole wheat flour, the bread is a bit more than 50 percent whole grain. This is what I call my "lite" bread. I prefer my breads to be at least 50 percent whole grain.

In a future bread, I might try using 50 percent rye and 50 percent all-purpose flour and no white whole wheat, except for my starter. I guess that I expected the bold rye flavor to dominate, but maybe this particular rye plant or growing was milder. I love the taste of this bread though.

Another whole grain that I like to use in bread baking is spelt flour that I buy from the Phoenix Earth Food Co-op. In the past, I have baked 100 percent whole grain breads by using 70 percent WWW and 30 percent spelt. Spelt flour has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor.

White whole wheat, spelt, and rye are favs. But I have thought about trying to use the red whole wheat flour again. Maybe on my next visit to the Phoenix Earth Food Co-op, I'll buy red whole wheat and spelt flours from their bulk bins.

Not many positives have occurred, during our sheltering and shutdown period, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But one positive is that people are cooking more at home, including baking. My wife has mentioned that she has observed more people discussing bread baking on Facebook.

And apparently, baking flour is one of those hard-to-find items in grocery stores. I don't shop at big-named stores for food. I shop mainly at the co-op, and sometimes at Claudia's Health store, located near us. At the co-op, however, I've been able to buy paper towels, toilet paper, and flour.

Regarding the baking flour shortage in some areas, the idea espoused in this Apr 10, 2020 post is interesting.

Consumer flour, sold in grocery stores, is in short supply. But commercial flour is readily available because many businesses that use commercial flour have shutdown or have scaled back considerably. Commercial flour mainly means flour sold in much larger bags.

The idea is to buy a bunch of these large bags of flour. It's not possible to buy only one large bag. Many bags have to be bought at one time. The purchase, however, is made by numerous people pooling their money together, and then the bags get distributed to all who agreed to the project.

We just had a huge shift from people eating out to eating in, and now a lot more people are baking, so we and a lot of people I know have had trouble finding grocery stores with flour in stock.

Obviously, baking with flour does not mean only bread baking. I would like to make pasta from scratch by using all-purpose flour, semolina, and water. It would be an eggless pasta, since I like firm pasta, and I follow a plant-based, whole foods diet.

More from that post:

The residential supply chain is struggling to keep up with demand. On the other hand, the commercial supply chain is massively under-utilized: so many restaurants that had been buying 50lb bags of flour regularly are now buying none. What if those of us with households that go through a lot of flour bought some from commercial sources? Not only would we have flour, but there would be less pressure on residential supplies and so more for others as well!

One of my coworkers pointed out that Baldor, a local specialty foods distributor, was now making home deliveries as long as you'd order at least $250 worth. Their flour was a bit fancier (King Arthur Sir Galahad, which is commercial King Arthur All-Purpose) and so more expensive, but their shipping was cheaper so it was still only $0.56/lb. I placed an order for 27 bags on Wednesday and wrote to people letting them know about the change and asking if they wanted to cancel their order; none of them did.

I told people they'd arrived, people paid me via paypal/zelle/check, and people started coming to pick them up.

They look like 50-pound bags of flour, wrapped in mostly plain brown paper. It's a good idea. One 50-pound bag of AP flour would let me produce a lot of bread, pizza, and pasta.

Anyway, it's interesting the ideas that people create in odd times to help others.

Back in March when hand sanitizer became hard to find, distilleries and some breweries around the country started making sanitizer. The Toledo Spirits distillery produced a product that they named Spirit of Toledo. The Maumee Bay Brewing Company also started making a hand sanitizer.

Two or three weeks ago, Deb purchased hand sanitizer from Toledo Spirits, but neither one of us went to pick it up, until today. I went to their online store, and I bought a bottle of their Hear of Gold vodka. If I drank vodka, it was so long ago, that I don't remember. It has never been a beverage that I wanted to drink.

Last summer when a group of us visited Toledo Spirits for a tour of the distillery and for a tasting of their spirits, I liked the taste of the Heart of Gold vodka. I've been a fan of their Maumee Moonshine and East Side Gin, but this particular vodka surprised me.

Since their Heart of Gold vodka, at least last year, was made with rye flour grown by Shared Legacy Farms, I decided to buy this vodka to drink with the bread that I made above.

Late this afternoon, I parked in the Toledo Spirits lot. They closed at 5:00 p.m. I arrived at 4:30 p.m. The protocol is to call or text their phone number after arriving. I texted with the order numbers for the hand sanitizer and the vodka. I remained in the car. They placed my items in paper sacks and set the items on a table, located outside their door. I went up and retrieved the items and left.

I drank the vodka in a small glass, made by the artists at Gathered Glassblowing Studio, located in downtown Toledo. It's one of our favorite places to visit, during the Third Thursday Art Loop events, held in downtown Toledo, during the summer and fall. The glass shown in this photo is from their "Watercolor" collection.

enlarge image

We bought four four-ounce bottles of the hand santizer, produced by Toledo Spirits.