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The Sourdough Framework (github.com/hendricius)
532 points by hendricius on May 16, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 103 comments

I thought this was going to be yet another javascript frontend framework with yet another less than descriptive name, but lo and behold this is actually about sourdough. Neat!

EDIT: Appears the author has one for Pizza Dough[0]. Gotta try that one out as it's more applicable to me than sourdough.

[0] https://github.com/hendricius/pizza-dough

sourdough.js was initially appreciated for being an airy-light framework, but as it rose to a great height many security holes were spotted under the crust; it wasn't quite ready for the daily crunch of production.

The dev team tried to butter over these concerns, but it wasn't enough. It was forgotten and the codebase is mostly stale now.

Devs too to long to cook up new features which left a sour taste in my mouth tbh.

I think it's more likely that you feel bad you didn't invent it yourself, so sour grapes.

Don't worry, it looks to be on the rise, there will be more features baked in before you know it!

They made an ACID DB too

Clever. Time to use Rusk. Oh no that’s Rust isn’t it.

Just posting this here too, my pizza calculator could be interesting too: https://pizza-calculator.the-bread-code.io/. It's part of the repo as well.

The pizza repo is for Neapolitan style. There's another style, I don't know what it's called, where the crust is flaky and buttery (but not layered like phyllo dough). I was very surprised to find here in Germany that Pizza Hut uses this type of crust, as IIRC it doesn't in the US, and this type of crust is relatively rare. I had a friend who could make it once, but the friendship and the recipe are lost to time now... If anyone knows how to make German Pizza Hut-style dough, please tell :)

More generally, I would love a recommendation on any text that can explain how to design grain dough-based products from first scientific principles. Using just wheat we get noodles, a huge assortment of breads and crusts, pastries, crackers, etc. And then there's also barley and buckwheat and corn and hundreds more.

I was hoping it would be isomorphic. I could just like make the recipe, and weigh out the ingredients… and then some geek browser would do the work.

Disappointed, but I’ll have to learn to adapt! My hydration levels were way too low the last time I tried. (Any joke you find in there is probably true about my experiences haha).

I was wondering the same thing, and if there was some way that you needed to hand bits of the framework to other people to enable them to use it.

The present work is a merger of that effort he claims.

The current repo combines most of my experience from the past years into one single framework that you can use as basis for other recipes.

Is there any plan to introduce some simplifications to the processes using things like a bread machine to handle automating the rise and kneading of the bread doughs?

As someone who bakes bread and other doughy items weekly and has for over a decade, bread machines are more work than making by hand and make bread that sucks. If you use less yeast, and let it slow rise there's no kneeding involved and it tastes way better.

Agreed! Bread machines don't make sense. You can make a very simple dough in 1 minute of work. I recommend 500g whole rye or wheat, 400g water, 100g sourdough starter, 20g salt. Mix all with a spatula for 1 minute until no chunks of flour are left. Put into greased loaf pan. Wait until roughly doubled in size. Bake in the oven at 200°C until core temperature is 92°C.

I do 1.5 cups of water, 3 cups of flour, sourdough starter and some amount of salt that it around 1 or 2 teaspoons. Mix with a spatula for a minute as well, and then put a lid on it and leave it on the counter overnight. Bake at 500°F for 45 minutes in a dutch oven or a ceramic cookware that's loaf shaped.

Sure. But with sourdough the dough needs to build gluten when mixed, hence the window-test. More gluten gives a stronger and airy loaf. You can do that by hands but it takes too much effort compared to a machine. Imo

You can make excellent sourdough without any kneading using the fermentolysis technique. No machine needed and absolutely not "too much effort".

I leave it on the counter overnight. I don't kneed it at all and end up with a nice airy loaf.

It's interesting that there are such different perspectives on whether to knead sourdough. The book linked to here recommends it, while other authors like Forkish, Prueitt and Robertson rely more on time and a small amount of "folding" rather than kneading.

lmao my thought exactly

I want to endorse the process and maybe not worry so much about the result. I started on a similar journey in the pandemic of making pizza for my wife and kids every Friday night. They all receive their own (small) personal pizzas, which I knead, roll, and transfer from a pizza peel to a pizza stone. Starting from a NYTimes recipe for Roberta's pizza dough — a pre-children favorite of ours — and iterating from there, I became confident over dozens of repetitions. My pizzas now are very crisp on the bottom without being burned on top, and I can "sense" when the pizza is done, no timers needed. I can feel when the dough is hydrated, I can see when it's rolled flat.

All this isn't about knowledge that can be imparted in a book; it's frankly about kaizen. The art of doing it a little better this time than you did it before. If you do it 2% better each time, after ~35 times, you're twice as good. Don't get me wrong, I love (love!) the open knowledge here. But OP cannot put in the reps for you. Only you can put in the reps.

I love this. Also, in my experience doing the same thing with recipes from pancakes to roast chicken, I think it’s not just about kaizen—it’s also about the “tacit knowledge” that can’t necessarily be communicated through words.

I definitely wasn’t doing it 2% better each time — I was experimenting, trying out new things, seeing how they changed the outcomes, and building an intuition for how stiff the pancake batter was, what color it was, how much the chicken skin glistens, etc. When I tried something new, sometimes it was 2% better, but more often it was 25% better or 40% worse. Either way a success, because I learned what kinds of things were likely to work and what weren’t.

The “reps” help you not just get better, but (as you describe!) they build your mental connections between what you see, smell, and feel, and results. You start to recognize when things look or feel a little different, and adapt.

Honestly it’s a lot like developing expertise in programming!

This is where an experienced cook in the kitchen with you now and then can be so helpful. A book might give some pointers, but they can say "this happened because of that".

If you don't have that, try to not vary more than one thing at a time.

The problem with cooking books is that they represent the author's experience, local products and equipment. Different flours and yeast behave differently and ovens are not the same making a recipe just a starting point.

From the intro:

> It is crazy if you think about it. People have been using this process despite not knowing what was actually going on for thousands of years!

Just wait until you hear about literally everything ever

Just yesterday I started watching the video series promoting Bill Hammack's book "The Things We Make" in which he discusses how many incredible ancient structures were built using rules of thumb rather than an actual understanding of the science /math underpinning their strength. Truly fascinating.


Modern engineering still works that way for lots of thing.

Just wait until you hear about literally everything ever

Or a lot of modern medicine right now. Lots of useful drugs are discovered totally by accident: "Oh look, my patient took this for foot sores and it turns out it helps his hair loss", and then the drug gets used forever more, despite having really no idea at all why it should work. We don't even really know how paracetamol works.

Or if paracetamol works [1], which, given that it has a remarkably low lethal dose, really makes you wonder whether it should be sold at all.

[1] https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2021/214/7/efficacy-and-safet...

Its pretty crazy. I wonder how many things like that we do now...using a process without really understanding what is happening. Computers, cars, and technology are easy guesses but I am willing to bet there is a lot of "non-tech" stuff that we do like that. Doing something with a proven process, but never really understanding why that process works.

Literally everything AI right now

Check out his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/thebreadcode I've been watching his videos for years now, he genuinely cares about his subject, and doesn't compromise for views. He's an engineer at heart, admits when he's wrong and updates and shares his knowledge. Thanks Hendrik!

Thank you too!

We absolutely love this book. Thank you for your work on this! My wife has been a user of open-source projects for a long time, but this book was the first time that she made me sit down and teach her about pull requests, because she wanted to contribute back to this one.

We love the idea of managing and distributing a book through source control like this. Brilliant execution, and fantastic content!

Thank you very much! Also thanks a lot for opening up so many pull requests with amazing fixes!

Oh man ~180mb to build a _book_. It's 2023, why hasn't someone figured out a good way to check in photos and other binary objects into a git repo? I'd expect someone in the latex or ML community to have build a pre-commit hook to, I don't know, link & upload to S3 or something, right?

I think git (and vcs in general) could be revolutionary to the way experts in all fields including law, medicine, book editing & publishing, etc can collaborate and track changes on shared documents, but yeah, we really haven't figured out how to handle necessary accoutrements like images without blowing up the repo size.

Otherwise, definitely enjoyed seeing a project layout using directories for chapters. Might crib (with attribution!) the project layout next time I feel like writing something.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting. If you want to version control your images you can, and then they will use up size, if you don't want to, don't version control them. In github, you can also just download the master branch as a zip, instead of cloning, if you don't want the whole history.

Ha, I tried to download the epub file and drop it into Send to Kindle. No go, the limit is 50MB (file is 87MB). I was successful directly importing the pdf version into Kindle.

No go for the PDF for me. They’re all too large. Why even produce an ebook if it’s too large to fit on the most popular ereader? It’s only 177 pages too.

Lots of images, I think. Maybe they are not optimally compressed.

perhaps this is the tool you want?


That's exactly what I was thinking. Super cool.

This reminds me of the Fermented Hot Sauce repo - https://github.com/aweijnitz/recipe-el_fuego_viviente

I love to see people share these sorts of experiments and document their evolution

The concept is appealing but the name seems reductory. Sourdough, despite its fame, is but one type of bread. Seing that you had another book called the bread code I went to check that out but it's marked deprecated by this one.

So is this a case of an ill-fitting name that does not do justice to the content, or is the content just limited to sourdough as the end-all of bread making?

I'm personally not found of the sourness of sourdough bread compared to a Ciabatta or a French baguette

Sourdough is many types of bread. The only thing in common is that the leavening agent is natural rather than commercial yeast. You can have sourdough that isn't "sour", in fact, it's typically not sour. Ciabatta and baguettes are frequently made with natural levain (sourdough).

I think that the sour taste reputation comes from particular styles like "San Francisco sourdough" and the fact that many folks over-do it with the starter or allow the dough to rise for too long.

Try bread from some artisanal bakers, you'll very quickly experience the range of naturally leavened bread.

Do you know of a bullet-proof sourdough Ciabatta recipe? All that I've made either didn't rise, or were too weak so they spread out a lot before rising...

Ciabatta is hard. I have tried the recipe (and others) from "the perfect loaf"-- but never exactly because I don't have easy access to the flour brands he uses.

This one: https://www.theperfectloaf.com/ciabatta-bread-recipe/

The key thing, IMHO, is high-protein (high gluten) bread flour. It helps to keep structure with any high-hydration dough. Also, if I remember correctly, ciabatta should not proof too long, or it gets too slack. I used a canvas couche and made the loaves relatively small.

Yep, it's actually more difficult to get the sour flavor than it is to not get it.

Really? I'd love to get less sour flavour, but proofing overnight (in the fridge) looks like it's really hard to avoid it...

I leave it on the counter overnight. I really have to work at getting any sour flavour at all. My starter smells a little like cotton candy to me though when it's ready to go, floats really well in the water.

I've never got even a slight note or the sour taste from my starter. I guess I was quite lucky with how it developed.

"Sourdough" is a spectrum of breads resulting from various natural and/or long fermentation techniques. Ciabatta is usually made from a partially natural fermentation (biga or poolish) and baguette made this way is also popular.

It's only a type of bread if you're a marketing guy for a pre-sliced going on a shelf in a supermarket.

Otherwise it's a (bad name IMO for a) leavening method. Basically just not using controlled/commercial/instant yeast, but from the environment.

Guarantee original baguettes were made with an environmental yeast starter/levain, probably some bakers continue to.

They are all good depending on your mood and food pairing.

This book got me into making my own bread, thank you hendricius!

Toughts I didn't take the time to put in an mr:

-The text is dense like a fruitcake. A bit of air would go a long way to make it more digestible. Sometimes long explanations on progressions are mixed in with key information, and it makes it hard to follow.

-I forget if I compiled it or used the pdf but by memory it was the default latex font, which makes the text look like a paper.

-Starter care and setup was the hardest for me to parse. Having bullets for key concepts would really help. The diagram helps but still has some ambiguity.

Even my grandma, impressed by my beautiful bread, adopted your technique :)

Making a good airy loaf with a good caramelised crust is a craft that most people will come to find extremely difficult.

It's so much about bacteria, flour type, humidity, heat/cool, rest, gluten, proteins and practice.

A good idea is to use the same flour when you practice. Over and over again.

Use less water in the beginning and use a machine for kneading. Don't be pedantic about exact grams but be as precise as you feel.

It's a really really interesting process and it becomes interesting because its a living thing. It's bacteria that does the magic. Love it

I use a machine for the initial kneading but then do manual stretch and fold a couple of times.

This is truly phenomenal work! Have you experimented with any traditional additives, such as adding a small amount of citric acid to increase diacetyl production during fermentation?

Not too much yet! I am mostly focused on trying to find the best flour/water/salt combination currently.

I love this concept, and applying open source to it. I have long seen the correlation between code and food, because recipes are just instructions for humans on how to interact with food to construct something.

Recipes are code, just a different form.

Started making sourdough a few months back thanks to the bread code youtube channel [1](someone here actually recommended them)

He taught everything from creating your starter from just water and flour. And then goes in to so many little details that made my first sourdough bread actually something I was proud if. He’s a great teacher.

It’s really fun and you don’t need that much to get started.


Docker to build a book is definitely something new. Not that it doesn't make some sense just something I've never seen.

This feels pretty clever. I totally imagine wanting to regenerate this book 20 years from now, and there will be no way to run that natively on a modern computer.

Not sure if Docker itself will still be around or the dependencies will be available, but at least that's a clear build target and there's a fighting chance it will still somewhat work.

I was wondering about that. It's using texlive-full, which requires several gigabytes to install and is, for me at least, always the longest step when setting up a new (Linux) computer. It can also make sure to have reproducible builds, which I don't think there is a Latex-native solution for. Or is there a better approach?

I don’t think there is. I’ve compiled books in LaTeX and in Pandoc, nothing but regret filled my veins afterwards. Installing those dependencies is just a terrible experience.

Leave it in Docker to save people the hassle.

Ah, the Bread Code guy! Engineer + chef, definitely my type of person.

I was recently following some of his YT videos, the invaluable tip that I got from him (and I haven't seen elsewhere) is to take a sample of the dough and observe its rise, to know when the main dough is ready for baking.

I just made a beautiful baguette yesterday using this tip!

I should make some of these for savory cooking. I'm a classically trained chef, (though glad I no longer work in food service,) designer, artist, long-time developer, and have a useful balance between the technical and aesthetic perspectives on cooking.

While I'd normally call a document like this a deep-dive into a "technique" or, maybe a collection of techniques, calling it a framework might be a useful mental model for the dev crowd. Recipes lie-- without knowing the underlying reasons that certain techniques work the way they do, you'll never really know what you're going for and why. This stuff is not difficult to explain, but recipes aren't the appropriate places to explain it. Most people are really surprised to see how few recipes there are in many professional cooking text books. They're similar to books about programming languages while cookbooks are essentially collections of standalone tutorials that don't explain much theory.

Is there any particular deep dive you'd enjoy reading about? Meat cookery really trips people up. As does seasoning. Sauces too.

I’ve been cooking for most of my life, with my mother letting me help in the kitchen starting with 4.I never learned much theory and just went by what felt right or tasted good. I would say over time, you get a feeling for the basic building blocks - which ingredients match, how to a certain texture, when to reduce things or add some liquid,and so on - which makes recipes more like guidelines, or inspiration, introducing a new idea or combination.

Incidentally, that also matches the way I’ve learned programming, and likewise, I notice the same downsides - sometimes, I know there’s a better, or more reliable, way to achieve something, but I lack the theoretic background to go there.

Having said all that: I would really appreciate learning the way different taste combinations work out. High quality restaurants always seem to combine simple ingredients into an elegant „pattern“ of aroma (you see I notice good terms), something I never quite manage. I bet there’s some simply chemistry involved, some generic rules broadly applicable. I’d love to read that!

> I’ve been cooking for most of my life, with my mother letting me help in the kitchen starting with 4.I never learned much theory and just went by what felt right or tasted good. I would say over time, you get a feeling for the basic building blocks - which ingredients match, how to a certain texture, when to reduce things or add some liquid,and so on - which makes recipes more like guidelines, or inspiration, introducing a new idea or combination.

That's how most professional cooks I've known have learned to cook, initially. Those sorts of experiences certainly help form your personal taste, intuition, and artistic perspective.

> sometimes, I know there’s a better, or more reliable, way to achieve something, but I lack the theoretic background to go there.

I think a lot of people are in this boat, but probably underestimate the utility of that theoretical knowledge. I think it's akin to being a musician-- while many people who play instruments in their spare time can likely play a few songs that are quite appealing to most people, there's probably a vast gulf in the raw, general-purpose capability of an experienced, dedicated professional or a degree-trained music student.

> High quality restaurants always seem to combine simple ingredients into an elegant „pattern“ of aroma (you see I notice good terms), something I never quite manage. I bet there’s some simply chemistry involved, some generic rules broadly applicable. I’d love to read that!

Sadly, that pattern doesn't exist. While the fusion chefs from a few decades ago tried their best to codify this (and came up with some pretty tasty food in the process, even if it is a bit passe,) it's just not that simple.

So how do they do it? Imagine your five favorite dishes... now imagine how much you might learn about them if you cooked them repeatedly for 60-80 hours per week for a month? A year? A decade? Now imagine that in this process, you'll have worked with dozens of other people who've dedicated their lives to creating and reasoning about food and flavors that are all also cooking your 5 favorite dishes with you? And on top of that, you're serving them to a fickle dining crowd who will throw it right back at you if it doesn't delight them? To boot, restaurant food is WAY more labor intensive than home cooking because economies of scale allow it. You have professional prep cooks that will simmer that beef stock for 16 hours to get it exactly like you want it. Things like that add so much to the final product, but you just can't put your finger on how.

When it comes to things that tongues sense-- saltiness, sweetness, tanginess, glutamates, bitterness-- there are pretty straightforward ways of reasoning about them even if the rules are a bit nebulous. Saltiness tends to tamp down bitterness which is why it's lovely with chocolate and dark caramel, for example. Sweetness tends to round out tanginess really well which is why many things from citrus glazes to high quality candies to many cocktails are so much more delicious than something that is either merely sweet or sour. When people say your sense of taste is dulled because of a cold, they're mistaken. Your tongue senses everything just as well as it did before-- but you can't smell anything. If you take a cherry hard candy and a lemon hard candy and put them in your mouth with your nose totally blocked, you won't likely be able to distinguish between them. As soon as the aroma hits your olfactory bulb, they're as different as different can be. When you sense something intensely with your olfactory bulb AND your tongue is activated, that is when your brain says "there's something in my mouth right now." That's why it's so difficult to eat in the midst of unpleasant smells, and why under-salted food tastes so boring. Playing with things sensed by your olfactory bulb-- pretty much anything you consider part of flavor that isn't one of the broad-stroke things sensed by your tongue-- is dramatically more complex.

These do it so well because a) they've spent years, if not decades, deliberately training their palate, personal taste, and understanding of these interactions, b) spend 60 or 80 hours per week cooking and understanding how these things work together, c) have their dishes are tasted, workshopped and tweaked by all of the other experienced professional cooks around, d) etc. etc. etc. It is truly the 'art' in culinary arts and the only way to get good at it is to do it a whole lot for a long time.

A really good example from my recent past is a parmesean peppercorn dressing I've made hundreds of times. One time, I was in a hurry and toasted the black peppercorns far more than most generally would, so the citrus notes totally subsided and it took on this deep toasty property. I was worried the dressing would taste burnt, but it was Fucking Magic. The people I was cooking for-- all competent and experienced cooks-- looked at me like I'd just spun gold. Black pepper in most circumstances doesn't benefit from being that heavily toasted, but it's just one of those things that you kind of have to be taught, specifically, or discover by yourself.

A good resource for reasoning about these things is The Flavor Bible.

I just noticed how smartphone-garbled my comment was, sorry for that, and thank you for that vast reply - there's a lot in it I'm going to look into. Thank you!

From a security perspective, as someone who enjoys cooking as a hobby, I thought it would be interesting to use a tactic-by-technique perspective. You could visualize the tactics and techniques as a matrix of cooking techniques grouped by tactics moving from researching menus, procuring ingredients, preparing ingredients, to cutting/trimming techniques, to cooking/grilling/sauteing, to plating/presenting.

My gut says these processes are too context-dependent to easily express that way, and even making multiple matrices would require abstraction to the point of not being useful. But I'd have to chew on it for a while.

Have you considered making a standalone tool to take input variables and generate custom instructions?

Your introduction suggests that you know people's input variables (type of flour, environment, other ingredients, etc) have a heavy influence on the end product. It might be easier to generate custom instructions rather than generate content for every possible combination.

Here’s a declarative sourdough ”recipe” generator: https://breadfriend.com

It would be great if this were possible. I believed it could be done initially, but then I realized it depends on too many parameters: Flour, water, temperature, sourdough starter microbes, starter microbial activity level, desired consistency, baking times and a few others. One guy once tried to put together a table with different starter levels: https://www.wraithnj.com/breadpics/rise_time_table/bread_mod.... In practice it doesn't work though.

I think this may have been posted on HN, but i forget -- https://makefastworkshop.com/hacks/?p=20200515

It’s great that more and more software practices are bleeding into other walks of life.

I joined the sourdough bandwagon during the pandemic. I was committed to whole wheat, and had inconsistent (to put it generously) results until I came across Hendrik's Whole Wheat Sourdough Master class[0]. Really great content, and all of the experimentation really showed. I'm happy to see it here!

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImVvQMvGZKE

Coincidentally today I baked the first bread that I was really happy with! I have followed this guide and the videos for a few weeks now and I feel like I’ve got a deeper understanding of what’s going on now. Other recipes can also work but it feels much better to know why you’re doing something instead of blindly following someone. Thanks Hendrik!

Anyone have experience baking bread using oat flour? I have a kid with serious IBS issues, so no wheat, no eggs and limited spelt. There's one brand we can buy at the local health food store that fits the bill - which they can eat as much of as they want.

All the recipes I've found so far either require egg, or mixing in a bit of spelt.

I know the HN hivemind just updoots whatever tickles the hive-fancy for the day, but in my current day, it's hard to see this trending on HN and think anything other than software engineering as an industry has simply given up, and is just becoming things like breadmakers now. Farming, pottery, basketweaving are probably also decent career segues.

I literally got so fed up with trying to debug another team's service that I stood up to quell my frustration by eating, like most people do. In my attempt to procure a sandwich, the POS terminal — which has only a hole for chip and pin cards — asked me to swipe the magstripe on my card.

Since I can't even buy a sandwich, I suppose this guide will come in handy for the bread.

I think "tickles the hive-fancy" needs to be a concept - Inwant the economist to write articles about it. :-)

I have a pet at home, having another spoiled one like sour dough is too much for me

Your sourdough is resilient can can survive for years without being fed. When dried the spores last for thousands of years :-)

So is my cat

Glad to see this get some traction here, I submitted it myself a few months ago as it happens. I've been baking my ~weekly bread according to 'the bread code' for years, thank you!

Interested to notice the standalone 'pizza-code' this time when I had another skim - I've been using the (third party contributed believe) pizza dough recipe in the bread code recently.

(I still use it rather than this repo just because, in the case of bread, it's in my head; for pizza, it's easier to reference in the old repo structure/format on mobile, not being formatted for book.

Hey hendricius! Just wanted to say thank you for your free material. I discovered you months ago and I love your 'scientific' approach

Looking forward to that Kickstarter campaign :)

Thank you very much!

As an occasional amateur baker with a five year old starter in the fridge and lots of hard learned lessons (aka. tasty failures), this looks like a well researched but probably slightly intimidating book on the subject.

I started out like many by watching some Youtube movies. Except I did it a few years before Covid. So, slightly before it got really hip to do it.

Some things that I've learned over the years (with the help of lots of Youtube wisdom):

- There are a lot of Youtube bakers parroting each other and not all of what they insist is the one and only way to do it is necessarily very valuable or good advice. The key thing to realize is that you are implementing a process, not following a recipe that is set in stone. It's not that they are wrong but they tend to present a detailed recipe without a lot of context. If you don't understand the process, that's not going to end well. Unless you get lucky. Look for the ones that explain why they are doing certain things. The ones that explain the process.

- The fridge is your best friend. You can park your starter there for long periods of time. It will be fine and you can revive it in a couple of days when you need to. This also largely removes the need to discard left over starter. A well established starter can take a lot of abuse. Move it to the freezer if you really plan to not bake for a few months/years. Countless youtubers tell you to keep it outside the fridge and feed it daily. You don't need to do this unless you want to. The fridge works like a pause button on metabolism. My starter has survived a lot of abuse over the past five years. And it still works fine.

- Flour matters. But most flours can work. Whole wheat and rye are tasty but also more tricky to deal with. For beginners, use some proper bread flour with a high protein content. Hold off on the more complex mixes until you can nail that the simpler white bread.

- Measure by weight not by volume. If you know what you are doing you can totally eyeball it and go by feel. I baked sourdoughs for over a year before even buying scales. Lots of failures but also lots of tasty bread. But being exact is what makes your process repeatable and allows you to fine tune, optimize it and get luck out of the equation. E.g. dialing back the hydration requires that you kow what it was to begin with. Be aware that you still need to adjust for temperature, flour, humidity, etc. There are a lot of variables that you can't control. Measuring by volume your margin of error is too high to say anything definitive about hydration levels. It might be 80% it might be 65%. The difference is important if you want to fix your mistakes.

- Larger quantities make it easier to measure more accurately. Bake 2 breads instead of 1. Again this matters to make the process repeatable.

- All the numbers are arbitrary, up to you, need adjusting for environment and flour, and largely a matter of taste. Understanding what happens when you change the numbers is the key to producing good results consistently.

- Use the clock for planning. But always verify your dough is actually in the state where you assume it to be. This is subject to so many variables (temperature, dough, humidity, how fresh your starter was, etc.) that it can be hard to predict. So, use the clock to plan when to check. Check more often if it is warmer. Things go quicker. Keeping track of weights and timings makes it easier to figure out the correct timings.

- Use a Dutch Oven. It helps. The lid traps the steam and that allows the bread to expand before a crust forms. Bake with the lid on at the max temperature of your oven. Basically until it is done expanding. 15-20 minutes typically. Remove the lid, and lower the temperature until the bread is done (I like my bread dark & crusty). Size of your loaf matters obviously. Adjust timings to your taste. another 20-25 minutes would be normal. You can play with the temperatures and timings of course. And what actually works will depend on your oven of course.

My starter dates to March of 2020. It's a pandemic baby.

* Timing is flexible. Especially if you toss in a tiny bit of yeast.

* The dutch oven is great, but it complicates baking. You get to do one loaf at a time. OTOH, It's a relly good loaf. Sadly though, the electricity costs are high.

* Wet doughs can use basic flour, which is good because hi-gluten bread flour has been scarce in Ireland for the past couple of years.

What I do:

540g bog standard white flour. (lidl, definitely _not_ self raising or with raising agents like most of the flour in Ireland). Replace up to 200g with coarse wheaten flour.

280g water

1 tbsp salt

1/8tbsp yeast if it's cold.

300g 1:1 flour/water starter.

In the morning, Mix the dry ingredients with a spatula, mix in the wet ones to a mixed dough. Let it sit for 1/2 hour. Lightly knead in your hands for 30 sec or so. Oil the bowl, put the dough back in and wiggle it around, then cover with plastic wrap. Do other stuff till dinner time.

Quickly (1-2 turns) form the loaf, plop it on a baking paper back in the bowl.

In an hour or two, depending on how warm it is and if it's final rising fast or not, start the oven with the dutch oven in it. Preheat at least 30 min. Bake 30 lid on +30 min lid off at ~180c fan.

Things not to do:

* Forget to start the oven, get ready to go to bed and realize that the loaf is still sitting on the counter.

* Worry too much. It's all grand.

* Forget to take it out, though an extra 30 min is surprisingly ok. Just thicker crust.

The starter gets equal weights of water and flour, supposedly every night, but more likely the night before baking and the morning of baking. I bake every 2 days.

> - The fridge is your best friend.

Building on this, make more than one loaf and keep it in the fridge until ready. For some reason I would make two loaves and bake them the same day. Then it was a rush to eat them before they lost their tastiness. Now I make two loaves and take my sweet time eating them. Making two loaves is only marginally more labor than one loaf.

Personally I'd either freeze or leave out the second loaf. Putting it in the fridge seems to quicken then staling process, however weird that sounds.

Sorry, I mean leave the dough in the fridge and bake it when ready.

Damn, thats interesting. Are there more examples of open source books? Quite an interesting idea, especially for non fiction.

If anybody seeing this wants to dive deeper into the rabbit hole, I'd recommend this:


I love the idea of "compiling" a book.

Do people do this with music? I really like the idea of programmatically making music and compiling it.

Have I got a thrill for you!




...it really helped me understand why "$SCORE = ( $MELODY + $BASS )" was sometimes superior to viewing sheet music as a "wall of notes and chords". You have to "play the wall" as it comes at you, but mentally, thinking of it as "melody goes la la la, bass goes boom bang boom" helps to provide context to what are the roles of the two notes you're playing.

Funnily enough thats the original usage or common definition of "compile".


Here it's really a two pass compiling. One by human and one by the machine.

Wow, this is an impressive amount of info and work. Could practically be a college elective text book.

Is there similar one for curry?

This is amazing! Thank you!

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