I’ve always been fascinated by bread baking. For years I would read books and blogs, but get discouraged because the breads I fell in love with were all made with a sourdough starter. You know, that wild yeast thing.  I would close the book, click away from the site, telling myself “why can’t they bake bread with regular yeast, like normal people?”  It was so frustrating!  Of course, if you follow my blog, you’ll know that now I love to walk on the wild side…  😉   Like many bread bakers, using commercial yeast almost feels like cheating. But, a bread leavened just with instant yeast can be amazing too. In this recipe, 80% of the formula comprises flour fermented overnight with a small amount of yeast.  It comes from Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Ken Forkish.


Here’s the deal: I sent a couple of messages to Mr. Forkish asking his permission to publish the recipe, but got no answer. Of course, it’s quite possible he never checks his Facebook account.  I know many people who don’t even remember having one!  😉   Without his permission, I don’t feel it is right to include the recipe. You can read more about this subject at the end of my post.

If you want to try his method, you can click here for a great variation on his recipe that includes barley flour in the formula. The technique is exactly the same, though. I intend to make it myself soon, as I am quite fond of barley flour.


Comments: Of all breads I’ve made, this one was by far the loudest singer.  The noises it made while it sat on the counter, cooling, were unreal!  Interestingly, Jane, the blogger behind The Wayward Oven, had this to say about her version of Forkish’s White Bread with 80% BIGA:

“It had a wonderful aroma and the crackling as it cooled was so loud I could – no exaggeration! –  hear it across the room.”

Yeah, that was exactly the case!   I also loved Forkish’s approach of letting the bread rise with the seam side down, and then invert it for baking, without scoring the crust. The bread opens in a natural,  more rustic-looking way.  This bread has a double personality:  the taste and crust of a regular sourdough, and a crumb with the softer texture usually found in breads made with commercial yeast.  Quite an interesting combination!


I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

And now, for something completely different…

When I started blogging, I did not give too much thought about publishing recipes from cookbooks. I changed the wording around, gave credit, and felt it was good enough.  As time passed, my views on the issue started to change, in part because I learned that some cookbook authors are completely against having their recipes out in the blogosphere, even if proper credit is given.  Then, my virtual friend Joanna published a thoughtful article on her blog, and that pretty much did it for me.  Ever since I read her post, I decided not to transcribe a recipe from any cookbook here, unless I get permission from the author, which unfortunately is not always that easy.  

If I adapt a recipe, I will publish it and link to the “inspirational source”. In fact, that is a practice considered ok by copyright laws. A very good article on the whole subject was written by David Lebowitz and is available here.  As to recipes published in food magazines,  Fine Cooking editors told me they do not mind their recipes being published as long as a link is provided to the source.  And other magazines –  such as Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Cooking Light – have their content online for public access, so it is not a problem to blog on them.

ONE YEAR AGO: Zucchini-Spinach Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Pollo en Mole en Cacahuate

THREE YEARS AGO: Thom Leonard’s Country French Bread


    • Nope, it’s not that one. If I remember correctly that recipe is the first one in the book, the one I make is a White Bread with 80% BIGA (I think that’s the exact name he used, I am not at home and don’t have the book with me right now).

      It’s a wonderful book, though – I am glad I caved and bought it… 🙂


  1. Hey Wild Side Sister! this bread looks utterly gorgeous. Although I am perfectly zen with commercial yeast 😉 I am highly appreciative of fermented grains generally and their nutritive properties so I think it’s really cool you stepped out and tried this wild side loaf. I think I would have made the same call with excluding the recipe and we can still look it up easily enough. Have a beautiful weekend Sally!


    • Hello, Wild Side Sister Kelly! You should try this recipe, it is really really good, and as Zen as it is, it still takes you through the wild side of the world… a real keeper of a recipe!


  2. The only artisanal bread I’ve ever made which used a ‘biga’ fermented overnight was an Italian ciabatta bread. Unfortunately, the only way I could get it to be successful, due to the wet nature of the dough, was by using my bread machine … which died a couple of years ago and is not scheduled for replacement. What I liked about the recipe was that it didn’t scare me by throwing around terms like 60-75 % water. It just gave me amounts of water and flour to use. I was insecure and used a bit more yeast (1/8 tsp instead of 1/16 tsp) in the biga and, even though the holes were not as large as I hoped they were still pretty big and the bread tasted wonderful dipped into extra virgin olive oil with freshly ground black pepper and balsamic.

    I am not much of a gardener and nurturing a sourdough or other type of starter seems similar to me (too much work for something I do so rarely ie baking or playing in my garden) which is why I prefer commercial yeast. Are there dry sourdough starters or something similar? Dumb question I bet. 🙂

    Oh well, I think I’ll just keep admiring your pictures and buy my bread at the bakery. 🙂 Making bread for one person to eat seems a lot of work as well.


    • A Boleyn – there are dry sourdough starters but that’s just the starter. Once you add liquid back you have to keep feeding it like one you started from scratch. The biggest advantage of making the sourdough bread verses yeast bread is the taste…in my humble opinion 😉 The sourdough starter only takes a couple of minutes a day and not even that if it’s stored in your fridge during non baking days. MUCH less time than a garden and well worth it. It’s only a few cents worth of flour & sugar. Give it a try 😉


      • It’s not the cost, Sally. It’s the commitment. I know that after a month or probably a couple of weeks, I’d get bored/annoyed with having to feed it and pitch it … like I did with the Amish friendship bread starter that my nephew gave me. I was supposed to split it/give away/bake etc. It was too much stress so it all went into the garbage.


        • Hi there. Very quick reply just to say I am net-less until Tuesday evening so I cannot reply to comments very efficiently. I have just the cell phone and it s too hard to read and type with it.

          I will be back addressing all comments in a few days.


        • I noticed! 🙂 I am quickly in an internet cafe getting another blog post ready to publish later, and have a little time to comment… I heard of that Amish bread thing in the past. I would probably do the same… but for some reason, sourdough starter doesn’t bother me, because it waits for me without nagging… I never leave it longer than 1 month in the fridge, but often it sits there for 3 weeks before I refresh it and start all over…


  3. Interesting post on the whole copyright issue! I tend to change at least a few things in recipes when I make them so I never feel too bad doing it…and I know a fair amount of people who’ve bought cookbooks after seeing recipes for something on my blog, and I know I’ve done the same. In general as well, I think that if the recipe is published elsewhere on the internet you can feel pretty guilt-free about publishing it because it’s not as if it’s not already out there!
    Anyway that is a gorgeous loaf and I’ve heard such great things about that cookbook! I think I need it in my life.


    • Yes, indeed. I am quite sure that people buy more cookbooks because they see recipe in the net, and I tend to do the same. Just bough The New Persian Kitchen after seeing a recipe from it on 101 Cookbooks… 🙂 Awesome book, by the way… I am going to cook from it as soon as I get back to Manhattan

      the whole issue is a bit convoluted, though. For instance, Dan Lepard, a guy I truly admire, has a pretty rigid stance on this, and his publisher even wrote about their view on the subject. You can take a look here, (Joanna sent me this link a while ago)


      so, I guess some authors simply don’t like it, and would prefer if the blogger at least asks permission first.


  4. I hope it’s ok to post this. I found it on the net where anyone could find it.

    20% Barley Bread with 80% Biga
    Makes a 750g loaf. Adapted from Ken Forkish’s white bread with 80% biga
    Source: http://www.waywordoven.blogspot.com
    400g strong white bread flour
    Pinch of instant yeast
    272g water

    Final dough
    100g barley flour
    103g water
    9g salt
    1g yeast
    All the biga

    Combine the ingredients for the biga and mix well. Place in a container and cover but not so that it is air-tight. Set aside to ferment until it has risen and the top is slightly domed and bubbly, 8-12 hours (depending on room temperature).
    Combine the barley flour, water, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix well. Incorporate the biga and mix into a dough.
    Develop the gluten using whatever method is comfortable (I did three stretch-and-folds over 1½ hours), then bulk proof (total time: about three hours at a room temperature of 27°C).
    Shape and place into a proofing basket. Place basket into a food-grade plastic bag and leave to rise in the refrigerator overnight.
    Do a poke test to determine if the loaf is ready for baking (this loaf was baked straight from the fridge). Preheat the oven to 225°C. If using a Dutch oven, preheat in the oven. Or put a steam tray in the oven for hearth baking.
    Slash the loaf and bake until the crust is a deep brown and the loaf feels light for its size, 35-40 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through the cooking time. The internal temperature should be around 95°C. Cool on a wire rack.


    • You know what will happen? You will become a pro sourdough bread baker and will blog on masterpieces that will put Dan Lepard, Ken Forkish, Peter Reinhart to shame! They might just stop baking bread and search for another profession…

      seriously, please please pease step into the wild…. I will hold your hand, promise!


  5. Pingback: Sourdough pizza crust | Chef in disguise

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