The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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amolitor's picture

This was developed from a list of ingredients lifted from the display case at Arizmendi Bakery, in San Francisco. I consulted a few other similar recipes to help out with proportions. The technique is basically a stretch-and-fold approach I lifted from some Tartine recipe in a magazine.


  • 2 T wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 T active starter ("sufficient" starter to get the levain going)

Set out overnight, or until it is sufficiently developed to float. It's fairly cool here, so 10-12 hours seems to work well for me now.


  • all of the levain
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour ("sufficient" flour to make a fairly wet dough)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix well, until the dough separates from the bowl stickily, the usual sort of thing. Stretch and fold every half hour or so for about 3 hours, until the dough is getting close to fully devloped (elastic and as smooth as the bran will allow, and starting to get leavened). Mix in:

  • 2 T fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 12 medium sized dried black figs, quartered (take the stems off if there are any!)

You want the dough mostly but not completely developed. You're going to mix in this stuff with some stretch and fold every 15-20 minutes or so, for 2 or 3 turns. So, another 40 minutes to an hour on the bench.

Form up a loaf, bake at 450 for 40 minutes or so. You'll want to bake a few minutes longer than you would normally bake a loaf of this size, for the figs.

The pepper really makes this one. 1 tsp adds a definitely peppery bite, so you may want to start with less if you're not a pepper fan, or if you are worried about big flavors.



amolitor's picture

I posted an earlier version of this recipe, but I've refined it and it's pretty much awesome now. Makes 6 large muffins.

Preheat oven to 425F

Combine in large bowl:

  • 1.25 cups flour
  • 0.75 cups cornmeal
  • 0.25 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt (or 0.25 if you use salted butter below)

Combine and whisk together in small bowl:

  • 0.5 cups plain yogurt, or sour cream
  • 0.75 cups milk
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Additional ingredients required: 5 T unsalted butter, fresh blueberries, oil for pan.

Thoroughly grease or butter 6 cups of a muffin tin, including the flat surface around each cup.

Cut 5 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter into 5 to 10 pieces and add to dry ingredients. Cut in with pastry cutter (or two knives used scissor-fashion) until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. No need to go too crazy, just get the butter evenly throughout.

Pour the small bowl of liquid into the dry ingredients and stir gently together until dry ingredients are completely moistened. The result should be a sort of frothy thick batter, just barely pourable.

Fill each greased muffin cup one third full, add a few blueberries to each cup on top of the batter (I add 3 per muffin), then fill to two-thirds, more blueberries, fill completely, more blueberries.

You should have enough batter left over for a good dollop on top of each muffin, we're making large muffins here, which will overflow and poof up.

Bake in your 425F oven for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then carefully pry them out of the muffin tin. You'll probably tear some of them up. THAT IS OK. EAT THOSE IMMEDIATELY.

amolitor's picture


I am on a quest to duplicate, or at least create a reasonable facsimile, of the Arizmendi/Cheese Board corn-blueberry muffins. I have The Cheese Board Collective Works which does not contain this recipe, to my irritation, but which can serve as a useful guide! My most recent attempt is documented here:

Preheat oven to 425. Thoroughly oil or butter a muffin tin. This makes 6 large or 9 medium muffins.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (relatively fine stuff)
  • 1 tsp salt (scant)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 T white sugar
  • 1 T brown sugar

In a separate smaller bowl, mix these:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2T milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Cut in to the dry ingedients:

  • 4 T unsalted butter

Whisk in to the milk/yogurt combination:

  • 1 egg

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the well-stirred liquid ingredients. Mix gently, just to moisten the dry ingredients evenly. Portion evenly between the greased muffin tins, bake for 25-30 minutes.


These are not the Arizmendi corn muffin, but they're not far off. They're slightly salty, and not short enough. Next time: reduce salt to 1/2 tsp, and increase butter to 6T and/or use sour cream instead of yogurt. The yogurt used was low fat, which probably did not help. Anyways, go up to 5-6 tablespoons of butter, depending on how fat your yogurt/sour-cream is.

Also probably increase leavening a little to compensate for increase shortening, say 3/4 tsp soda and 2 tsp powder.

Also, 2T sugar, 2T brown sugar.



amolitor's picture

I am very pleased with my oven spring and grigne and all that business, so here's a new blog post! This is a trifle underproofed, but I rather like the dramatic look of the thing.


  1. 1/2 cup medium rye flour
  2. 1/2 cup bread flour
  3. pinch of yeast

Let sit out overnight (8-12 hours, more if it's cooler, less if it's warmer)


  1. 1 and 1/8 cup warm water, added to poolish
  2. Sufficient bread flour to make a moist dough, around 66% hydration

Mix until it comes together well, let rest half an hour (autolyze), then add:

  1. 2 1/4 tsp salt

and knead until windowpanes or whatever your prefered test is.

Bake at 450F for 40 minutes, with steam at the beginning.

amolitor's picture

This is the next in a series of blog posts, regarding my quest to reproduce Acme Bakery's Walnut Levain. See:

previous post


original post

I think I'm pretty much there. My loaf is quite large now, because we like it. There are two preferments, one "old dough" (yeast raised) and one a sour sponge for flavor. The loaf itself is basically yeast raised.

Day 0, Evening

Sour Sponge:

  • 3/4 cup rye flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2-3 tablespoons active liquid sour culture ("enough")

Old Dough Preferment

  • 1 small ball old dough from any white (or mostly white) yeast-raised bread. I use a ball about 1 1/2 inches across, previously frozen (see: this post).
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • enough bread flour to make a stiff dough (3/4 cup to 1 cup)

Thaw the old dough, if necessary, break it up into the warm water and let soften. Mix in the flour, knead to mix thoroughly (you don't care about gluten development at this point).

Let both preferments stand overnight, covered, at room temperature.

Day 1, Morning

Second Stage Old Dough Preferment

  • previous old-dough preferment
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • enough bread flour to make a stiff dough (1 cup to 1 1/4 cups, probably)

Repeat the operation from the first stage: break up the now-risen old-dough preferment into the warm water, let soften. Mix in flour to make a stiff dough, knead to mix thoroughly.

Let this new old-dough preferment stand for another 4 hours or so, until soft and well-risen.

At this point the sour sponge should have had 12 hours or so to ferment, and should be well ripened, active and bubbly. When the old-dough preferment is also well risen, place BOTH preferments into the fridge for at least an hour.

Day 1, Afternoon

Now we're going to make up dough. Take the preferments out of the fridge and let them warm up, ideally to room temperature.

  • sour sponge preferment
  • old-dough preferment
  • 1 cup warm water (this might be QUITE warm, since you're working with cool preferments, but not so hot as to kill anything of course)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp active dry yeast (I use a scant half tsp of "instant" which seems to be more vigorous than "active") depending on temperature (use more if cooler)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • sufficient bread flour to make a moist dough (about 3 cups, probably)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Set aside all but 1/2 a cup of the chopped walnuts, and chop that half cup up Very Fine. I chopped mine to the consistency of very coarse sand (with a few large bits, consistency is not required).

Proof your yeast in a little bit of the warm water (which may be cooler than the rest of the water). Break the old-dough preferment up into a large bowl, and add the rest of the water, heated up as needed to bring the dough temperature up to at least room temperature (i.e. Quite Warm if your preferments are still cool, and Slightly Warm if everything is at room temperature), let soften.

Mix in the sour sponge, and stir well. You may still have some soft lumps of old dough preferment at this point.

Incorporate enough flour to make a wet dough. You're shooting for dough that will stick to the board and to your hands, but not excessively. I'd say more than 65% hydration, but less than 70%. I knead it by slapping the dough down on the board so it sticks, pull it out like taffy toward me, fold it away from me over the stuck down part. Scoop it off the board with my hands, turn 90 degrees. Repeat. It's sticky enough for that process, but not crazily sticky.

I mix thoroughly in the bowl, by hand, adding 1/3 of a cup of flour and the mixing 40-50 strokes, add the next 1/3 cup, etc. This gives some gluten development in the bowl.

Mix in the salt before it's too hard to stir, but before you've incorporated all the flour. Keep going until you can't stir any more, or until you've got enough flour worked in (that is, it's ok if you can't stir a 70 percent hydration dough by hand, not everyone can! The point is, get the salt in there before you can't stir and have to start kneading).

The last thing before you tip it out to knead, mix in that half cup of finely chopped walnuts.

Knead until it's pretty well developed. I only kneaded about 10 minutes. You don't need TOO much work to get good gluten development at this point, since your preferments are well developed; and if you use my (actually Joe Ortiz') technique of mixing in the bowl a lot, you're pretty well developed by the time you dump it out. Windowpaning will be hard with all the walnut bits, but the dough should want to windowpane even if the walnut won't let it!

Knead in the rest of the walnuts at this point, just to get them evenly distributed in the dough.

Bulk rise an hour and a half or so (until it poke tests). This last loaf I made, my dough was frankly too cold, since I didn't have time to warm my preferments up enough (I forgot about them!) so I did a couple of stretch and folds to warm more evening, and my bulk rise was more like 3 hours.

Shape into a boule and drop into a banneton. Final rise until poke-test. Expect about an hour.

Bake at 450F for one hour, with steam for the first 10 minutes. The crust winds up quite dark brown.


The key to getting a more or less evenly purple crumb seems to be kneading with the finely chopped walnuts in. Adding them after kneading doesn't seem to have an effect on flavor, but does make the purple color very blotchy and uneven. (see previous posts)

I make have overbaked this last loaf, I want the dark crust, but the crumb seems a trifle too dry.

At this point I am really quite happy with my imitation of Acme's bread. It's not a perfect copy, but it has all the properties that I like about the Acme product, and it's extremely tasty (especially toasted). Also, my version is Quite Big, this thing is about a 3 pound boule, so there's lot of bread to eat and even give some away!


There's plenty of pictures of previous variations in the earlier posts, so this is really just about showing the color of the crumb and of the crust:

amolitor's picture

We broke up a jack-o-lantern for soup the other day (just a regular pumpkin, not a sugar-pie or anything, not a pumpkin especially for eating but of course edible). Had a couple cups of mashed baked pumpkin left over, so I thought I'd see what happened when I put it in bread. I wasn't expecting much flavor, since the regular pumpkins just don't have that much. The answer, in short, was: Eh, it's bread. Sort of moist.

The long answer:

Evening of Day 0:

  • 1 cup whole flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 T active sourdough starter

Let sit out overnight, covered, until you get a nice active/ripe sponge the next day.

Morning of Day 1

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups mashed baked pumpkin.. gunk
  • ripe sponge from last night
  • 4 cups bread flour (roughly)

Mix in the bowl to get a kneadable dough. I used a 10 minute autolyze at this point because I wanted to make muself some coffee.

This is where it gets interesting: The dough was kneadable without sticking on a wooded board (just barely -- this is my preferred dough texture). I kneaded in:

  • 2 and 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (I think this was an error)

and kept kneading. The dough kept getting sticker, and I kept dusting aggressively with flour. I think this not uncommon when you're adding vegetable matter to a dough, I have a potato bread recipe that's similar. I think the vegetables give up water as you work them. I kneaded for about 10 minutes on board, working in probably 3/4 cup of flour just to maintain it at "almost but not quite sticking to the floured board." At this point I gave up, and started kneading it as a high-hydration dough (slap it down, let it stick, streeeeetch a bit and fold it over, rotate 90 degrees and repeat) for another ten minutes. Thankfully, it didn't get much wetter.

Bulk rise a couple hours, with a couple stretch-and-folds, the dough came together beautifully. However, it tasted TERRIBLE, or possibly I was having a stroke. I *think* the coriander was doing something unpleasant, so the dough tasted fine for a few seconds, and then there was this weird bitter thing that happened in your mouth.

Anyways. Shaped into a boule, proofed in improvised banneton, preheat over to 475, bake with steam at 425 for 45 minutes. Probably should have baked longer.

The bad taste seems to be gone (thankfully) and what we're left with is a completely unremarkable sourdough that's rather moist (almost gummy) and has a lovely color. It's too moist to toast easily, which is a bore, I'd bake it another 10 or 15 minutes if I was to do it again (which I won't -- this recipe was a bust, to my mind!)

It's the best looking loaf I've ever baked, though, so by golly, here's some pictures:


Crumb very moist. You can see bits of pumpkin in it! Sorry for the sort of lousy photo, this was in the evening:


amolitor's picture

No pictures, I am just recording this recipe here for my own use, really, but feel free to try it out! This is my first effort at recreating a bread my father made a lot when I was young. It's not wildly far off, but needs some work.

Evening of Day 0

Make a poolish: 1 cup warm water, a pinch of yeast, 1 cup bread flour. Mix, let stand out (covered) overnight.

Morning of Day 1

The poolish should be active, inflated, and bubbly. If not, wait until it is.

  • Scald 3/4 cup milk, set aside to cool.
  • Crack two eggs, reserve 1 tablespoon of the white of of one them. Beat eggs thoroughly.
  • Add 1T sugar and 1.5 tsp ground cardamom (to taste -- 1.5 tsp is a nice starting point) to the now-warm scalded milk.
  • 2 tsp salt.
  • Proof 1/2 tsp instant yeast (or 1 tsp dry yeast) in 2T warm water.

Add all of the above to the poolish, and mix. Work in sufficient bread flour (about 4 cups) to make a slightly sticky dough, one that can be kneaded on a board without sticking, IF you dust with flour constantly. Knead until smooth, and until it windowpanes pretty well.

Let rise until doubled, or thereabouts. Degas a bit ("punch down" or "stretch and fold") and let rise again. I did not get too aggressive with degassing, and I wasn't really letting it fully rise (impatience, and I wanted two risings before shaping). I handled the dough fairly gently between kneading and shaping.

Divide into 3 equal parts and braid. I formed three baguettes, basically, and braided them. Instructions for braiding are in any challah recipe.

Let rise until doubled, or until poke-test. Pre-heat oven to 425.

Mix your reserved 1T egg white with 1T water, mix thoroughly. Glaze the loaf with this mixture, place in oven, REDUCE HEAT TO 400 degrees. I let it rise on parchment paper on a peel, and slid it off onto my pizza stone. Sprinkling with poppy or sesame seeds after glazing and before baking would be nice, but I hadn't any this time so I didn't.

After 20 minutes, turn the loaf and re-glaze. Bake another 25 minutes.

The result is a fairly robust rich-tasting bread, with a mild cardamom flavor. Toasting it or making french toast brings out more of the cardamom. The crumb has nicely "artisanal" uneven holes throughout. The bread's probably not auitable for sandwiches or really any truly savory use. It makes wonderful toast and french toast, and is great with just butter as well.

Thoughts for a future iteration

Work the dough a little less, and possibly add some oil. The crumb is rich and fairly tender, but isn't fragile at all in the way one expects from a brioche. I think a tablespoon of oil or butter might help, here.


amolitor's picture

This is a variation on Joe Ortiz' recipe in The Village Baker (as indeed so many of my breads are).

Basically I've sourdoughed it up, and subbed in hot cereal for rye meal.

Evening of Day 0

Mix 1 cup rye flour with 3/4 cup warm water, and a tablespoon or so of active liquid starter ("sufficient" starter).

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Cereal with 1 cup boiling water. This cereal is a multi-grain cracked-grain cereal (like steel cut oats or Irish oats, NOT rolled), and I think any such cereal would behave very similarly.

Let these stand overnight. By morning the rye sponge should be very active. I'm not too fussy about "ripeness" but you may want to wait until it starts to fall (indicating ripeness).

Morning of Day 1

  • 1-2 tablespoons of raisins (to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons caraway seed (to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons quite warm water

Joe suggests that you combine these with a mortar and pestle into a paste. I don't have this tool, so I chop the raisins and caraway together on a cutting board (the raisins, properly used to surround and cover the caraway, prevent the chopped seeds from flying all over the place) as fine as I have the patience for. Either way, let soak for a little while. A few minutes is fine. An hour is fine.

Combine the two bowls from the previous night, the raisin-caraway mixture, and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Mix in about 2 cups bread flour (you'll have to work some in kneading, probably). You're looking for a firm dough here. 55% hydration, maybe? Joe says 'a medium dough'. I think of it as an American style dough.

Knead 5-10 minutes. The cereal and the rye flour seem to make the dough completely un-windowpane-able, so knead until feels right, or for 10 minutes if you don't feel like you have a sense of what "feels right" is!

Bulk rise for a couple of hours, it may not double, but eventually it will have inflated substantially, and a poke test will indicate "done" (use a wetted finger to poke a hole 1/3 of an inch deep, if the hole fills back in VERY SLOWLY or not at all, you're probably there). Oil up a loaf pan sufficient to hold all the dough. Mine is a standard loaf pan, but "largish" rather than "smallish". It might be 9-10 inches long, and 4 inches wide?

Divide dough in two, flatten each piece. For each piece:

  • Fold the far 1/3 toward you, flatten with heel of hand.
  • Fold the bottom 1/3 away from you, so it overlap the previous fold, flatten.
  • Fold the right 1/3 in just as you did the top, flatten.
  • Left 1/3 to overlap the previous fold, flatten.

You can repeat this a few times -- you're giving the dough more strength, if it's not "fighting" you a bit, give it a couple more turns. You should have a neat rectangular packet at this point. Make your last two folds:

  • More gentle, more of a "rolling up" than a flattening out.
  • So that the length of the final packet is about 1/2 the length of your loaf pan -- the fold will go ALONG the length of the pan, not across. Imagine two jelly-rolls end-to-end in the pan.

Repeat for the other half of the dough. You SHOULD have, assuming my instructions are clear enough, two sort of rolled up lumps which when you place them end to end will pretty much fit neatly in your oiled loaf pan.

Oil the ends of each roll of dough, the ends that will press against one another in the pan, in the middle, and plop them into the pan. This will form an easily pulled-apart seam in the middle.

Let rise in the pan, again it may not double but will inflate and start "poke" testing right. DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN.

When it's risen, brush a little oil on the top of each half of the loaf, and slash each half lengthwise down the middle. Place in cold oven, and turn the temperature to 450. Bake for 25 minutes, turn down to 400 and bake another 40-45 minutes. The loaves will be very dark brown.

One of the reasons I love this recipe so is that I don't have to preheat the oven, which is great because I am absent-minded, AND I save energy!

The bread is mild-rye-ish, a little sweet from raisins (depending on how many you used) and a little caraway flavored (again, depending on how much you put in) and has a mild sour tang. The crumb is moist and dense, and has little crunchy bits in it from the hot cereal, which we like for texture.

This shows the "middle" end of one of the two mini-loaves, where the two press together, and get peeled apart:

And this shows the other end, the end up against the end of the metal loaf pan:


Finally, crumb:


amolitor's picture

This basically Joe Ortiz' idea. The underlying loaf is a challah (a not terribly sweet, not terribly rich challah, just a nice one). I made up his recipe last night, which produces 2.5 pounds of dough (6 cups of flour, to give you an idea of how much dough). I think you could use any challah or brioche, but I do like the 'not too sweet, not too rich' part. If you go too sweet or too rich, I think you just get a giant cinnamon roll (not that this is a bad thing..)

Anyways. This makes two loaves, and into each loaf knead (at the very end of kneading) 4-6 ounches of raisins (amount to taste -- these have about 4 ounces of raisins per loaf). Rise and so on per instructions for your challah recipe.

Make up a glaze: a whole egg (or about half an egg is enough, really, for two loaves) beaten with a little milk.

Make up some cinnamon sugar: 2-3 Tablespoons sugar and 1-2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon (vary amounts according to taste), per loaf. The loaves below are right around the middle -- about 2.5 T sugar, 1.5 tsp cinnamon each.

When it's time to form up loaves:

  1. Make up each loaf as a loose round and let rest 10 minutes.
  2. Flatten each round out to an oblong 12-18 inches or more long, and roughly as wide as your loaf pans are long. As long as possible, really.
  3. Place the oblong with one end toward you.
  4. Paint the surface of the flattened oblong with the egg glaze, except at the far end leaving and 1 to 1.5 inches un-painted.
  5. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the painted part. You should get a nice layer, covering the dough completely with a moderately thick layer (1/8" maybe? A little less?)
  6. Roll up starting at the end near you, and stretching as you go: roll a little, then kind of tug the rolled-up part gently toward your belly as you roll more. You're trying to maximize the number of turns you can get out of the oblong before it's all rolled up.
  7. Seal using the unpainted far end.
  8. Flip the roll over, seam side down, tuck and fuss with the ends a bit to try to seal them a bit.
  9. Place in GREASED AND FLOURED loaf pan! Greasing AND flouring might be a bit much, but these loaves can get mighty sticky what with the egg in the dough, and the sugar, and everything.

Bake per instructions, but a bit longer. Say another 5 to 8 minutes. I glazed the top of each loaf with the egg/milk glaze just before loading into the oven, and again after 15 minutes.


amolitor's picture

This is a new bake of the recipe I discussed in this post.

Minor chages:

  • sour sponge was 1/2 cup white, 1/2 cup rye, 1 cup water
  • "old dough" starters were each somewhat bigger, using 1/3 cup water each and "enough" flour.

The main difference is that I accidently added about 1 cup too much water, so:

  • the loaf was bigger (about 3 pounds)
  • there was less sour flavor (since I used the same 1 cup water/1 cup flour sour sponge, for more bread)
  • I worked at higher hydration, somewhere between 65 and 70 percent (it started wet, but I worked more flour late in kneading, and some more during stretch and fold)

Then I baked it for a full hour, hence the dark crust.

Also, I chopped some of the nuts fairly fine to get more nut distribution throughout the bread. The purple coloration of the crumb is more thorough and even, but not up to Acme Bakery standard yet! This loaf is outstanding with jam, especially toasted.


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