Recipe: Rosemary-Garlic Sisters – And how to read my Spreadsheet Formulae

Recipes and Photos of the Breads

Over time, I intend to type out various recipes and techniques along with photos. Most will also be posts on the main page so that those with questions or comments can contribute.

This post will also serve as the main introduction to reading my spreadsheet formula. At some point I will upload the spreadsheet so that those who like my approach can use it themselves.

1. Rosemary Garlic Focaccio:

This is my most popular loaf. I bring 24 to the market each Saturday and nearly always sell out by around 11.30 (market open to 13.00). All loaves in the French Road Bakery menu are designed by formulae to be baked at a particular phase in the Bake Day cycle. The first loaves go in when the oven is at 750F/400C, and each subsequent load goes in around 100F less temperature each time, so that the lowest temperature fresh-ground and sprouted loaves are baked at around 400F/200C. The focaccios go in first. If they were baked at only 400F, they wouldn’t come out right. If the fermentation cycle is off when they go in, too bad. Brick oven baking on this scale is pretty tricky, therefore, but when you get good at it, then you are on the way to becoming a well-rounded baker.

Current photograph (from 2011; not very good, but that’s what I have for now):


Here is a snapshot of the Formula from my Spreadsheet, which has about 10 such formulas on one page for each bake, then totals up the amount of starter needed, the number of loaves and of which type going to market, at which cost, projected gross and net income etc.

Here we see the loaf has a 172 hydration = 72%. I find generally with sourdough recipes that they are about 5-10% ‘wetter’ than their yeast loaf equivalent meaning that this 72% is about the same as 80%. Also, I soak my flours a long time which further raises the hydration.

The 8.37% figure is the amount of Starter (by percent of flour, i.e. so-called ‘baker’s formula) used. The adjoining cell with 4.9% shows how much percent by overall weight of the loaf. For a Saturday market I bake on Friday and mix on Thursday. Thursday morning is when I build up the required amount of starter and begin soaking (‘autolyzing’) the flours for the evening mix when the starter is incorporated and I do some stretching and folding. The morning mix is the hardest work since I mix everything by hand. But it’s very simple, satisfying work which people of all genders and ages would enjoy.

The garlic is locally sourced organic garlic (North River Organic Farm from North River, Cape Breton). The garlic costs about $12.00 a kilo, or $1.464 per 24 loaves, i.e. 6 cents each. You can see where it says 122 (grams) lower down.

The olive oil (140 grams) is supermarket-purchased organic olive oil, but I am planning soon to get high quality organic Palestinian olive oil which I have read is some of the best in the world despite all the hardship and controversy these indigenous peoples are unfairly enduring at the hands of global international forces beyond their control or influence.Currently I pay about $12.00 a litre, so the cost per loaf is about 7 cents a loaf, and if I go to the Palestinian oil at $20.00 per 750 ml that will be 16 cents a loaf, or about 9 cents a loaf more or 9 * 24 = $2.16 less profit I will make per 24 loaves. It’s worth it!

The Rosemary is dried organic from my supplier. Fresh would be better but hard to get in the quantities I need. 28g of rosemary is ALOT, though I suspect using fresh I would need half. I’ll try one time this summer and see. I also tried growing my own but killed the plants twice. I guess I just don’t know what I am doing and will have to ask a farmer so I can get a few bushes going and give my customers the fresh stuff.

Flours: I fresh grind organic spelt and rye kernels in my Nutrimill (334 grams each), fine grind, slow speed. Then most of the white flour is the truly MARVELLOUS Meunerie Milanaise Sifted 50 flour, which is a stone ground white flour, sifted to remove the bran and germ. It is very soft to the touch, has less stringy gluten structure than most all-purpose or ‘bread’ flours, albeit I still yearn for a slightly more ‘wheaty’ flavour which you get in European flours (Canadian flour is somewhat bland-tasting). That said, I really LOVE this flour.

There is 602 grams of Milanaise All-Purpose to help with the rising just a little, and the remaining 5415 grams of flour is the Sifted 50.

I use organic Portuguese sea salt, the Atlantis brand which I can get easily from my organic supplier AuxMillesEtUneSaisons in Quebec. I would prefer to get Marisol, but the shipping costs by Canada Post are almost as much as the salt itself so I am waiting until I feel richer this summer to get a 2-year supply of that Marisol and be done with it. I might also sell small bottles of it at a markup in order to justify paying all that extra amount ($7.00 a kilo versus $1.40 a kilo!).

At the market, I jokingly call this my ‘sexy’ loaf, because it is supposed to be, and generally is experienced as being, ‘irresistible’. Many of my customers tell me the loaf never makes it home since it is devoured in the car.

One day I’ll upload a picture of what the loaves look like when being shaped. They are almost like pancake batter going into the oven. Then they have incredible oven spring because of the high temperature (750F/400C) bake in the radiant heat of the brick oven.

Radiant heat penetrates into the core of the dough whilst also heating the outer crust far more deeply than convection heat can do – which works mainly by heating the outside of the loaf first and the temperature gradually rises inside. This is why that generally speaking you have to bake at 375 – 450 in a convection oven, because otherwise the outside burns. Radiant heat baking is unquestionably superior, not only for breads but also meats, beans and so forth. This loaf is impossible to bake as is in a conventional convection oven, although of course fantastic breads can be made.

In my oven it takes about 90 seconds to bake a typical thin-crust Italian-style pizza. And 15 minutes to makes these focaccios, or ‘sisters’ as I like to call them, because focaccio is not an English word, and since these are both irrestible and sexy, they are female, and since they all next together and come out like conjoined twins which I have to break apart manually, I think of them as ‘sister babies’ or just ‘sisters’. Everyone else calls them focaccios anyway!


OK: the starter builds up from Thursday morning to early evening (around 6.00 pm). Meanwhile the flour, water, salt, rosemary, olive oil and garlic have all been soaking since the morning mix. So then Thursday evening I add in the starter (584 grams), wait about an hour, do a stretch and fold (my way, more on that later), wait another hour, do it again (takes about 3 minutes or so for 24 loaves!), and that’s it until the next day morning when I scale it to about 500g per loaf, then lay six ‘sister’s side by side on an oiled baking tray (I used non-organic as-cheap-as-possible medium grade – for cooking – olive oil for that, and also oiling my baking pans for other loaves), let the proof for about 4 hours, then they go into the 750F/400C oven for 15 minutes and come out. Voila!


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