The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Hello everyone,

Thanks to David for his Pizza Bliss post and the delicious pizza crust formula and method he shared.
Pizza crust has always been a challenge for me and I was very happy to have made this pizza crust!

David's formula made a lot of dough and we ate pizza three nights running - my husband couldn't believe his luck :^)

This was one of the pizzas we enjoyed (Bacon, Potato, Rosemary):

With the olive oil and bacon, we didn't add the Fontina cheese called for - even so, this pizza was extremely tasty and I imagine even more so, with the cheese!
The arugula topping added a really nice fresh flavor, delicious and simply dressed with fresh lemon juice.

before baking - bacon, potato, rosemary and onion toppings

baked, dressed and the crumb

                                    ...quite yummy!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

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Hello everyone,

It’s been a summer of so much sun here in the Pacific Northwest – have tried to capture the season with some pictures –  flowers, light and beautiful sunshine.


the center of this flower seemed like the sun's rays...


I’ve been enjoying reading Hanne Risgaard’s book, Home Baked.  Ms. Risgaard’s breads and baking are as lovely to look at her writing is to read; the story of Skærtoft Mølle and Mr. Hamelman’s beautiful foreword adding to this beautiful book of breads.
The photos of the Danish summer landscapes are evocative and so pretty, the gorgeous light-filled images capturing the beauty of the grain, the fields and landscapes, and the flowers…

There are so many lighter foods to enjoy in summertime, but the temperatures in the kitchen here have been in the low 80’s, with some humidity too – rye time! Looking at this book again, I really wanted to bake some of Hanne’s Danish bread …this is her Spelt Rye Bread.

The Spelt Rye, in Ms. Risgaard’s method, is raised with old dough.  The first time I made this bread, I re-worked the formula to use a liquid rye levain (trying to keep the total amounts of each ingredient in line with the original formula) - and made extra dough, so I’d have ‘old dough’ for a second bake.

First bake with liquid rye levain                                  Second bake with old dough
400F oven reducing to 355F                                        500F oven reducing to 355F  


Here are the ingredients, and quantities used:
(Reprinted from Home Baked, copyright 2012 by Hanne Risgaard, used with permission from Chelsea Green Publishing (

First bake with rye levain (1750g dough for 9x4x4 pan, 400g dough reserved as old dough for next bake):

The 400g of old dough was based on the recipe in Hanne’s book, which makes a larger bread.
Here’s the formula re-sized (1750g dough for 9x4x4 pan + 339g old dough):


Second bake with old dough:


Crumb, from first bake:

With the second bake, I was delighted with the oven spring – 
not sure if it was due to the hotter start in the oven, or a really happy dough using old dough!
(no crumb shot for this one, this loaf was a gift)

The flavor was really robust and very complex in the version using old dough, but the first version using liquid rye levain tasted pretty good, too :^)  Both were very hearty, and delicious with the seeds.

Have baked Ms. Risgaard’s Pumpkinseed Buttermilk Rye a couple of times, too.  Another  wonderful formula, the buttermilk adding richness; and love how the top crackles so attractively during baking.

One more sunny picture, this time of grain ripening in a local field  –
a promise of a good harvest and more good bread to come!

Happy baking, and happy summer, everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting 

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Hello everyone,

Andy (ananda) very kindly sent some Gilchester’s Farmhouse Brown flour home with Franko, after Franko’s recent trip to the UK and Czech Republic
Many thanks to both of these generous bakers – Andy for sharing this lovely flour, and Franko, who carefully packed the flour all the way home from the UK, then shipped some of the precious lot to me :^)   

(Isn't it cool how TFL enables us to make friends with people from all parts of the world?)

delighted to see this arrive in the mail: gorgeous, soft, golden, fluffy flour...


I used the flour for two separate bakes of Andy’s Gilchester’s Miche - this formula another fantastic contribution by Andy, but not the best handling of it, on my part...

The first bake (two boules) was under-proofed - to my dismay!, attempting a pretty stencilled pattern, inspired by the Gilchester's website design...
(the leading photo for this post was the "good" side)

before baking, then...                     under-proofing resulting in oven spring

               first boule...can still sort of see the "g" for gilchester's; and the other fared even worse!

Oh, dear.

Looks gave way to flavor and aroma, though: after the baking these loaves had a toasty, almost caramel-like aroma; the crust was crisp, but the crumb soft in texture.
The taste!: tangy, wheaty, even a bit peppery – with a lingering acidity, quite delicious.


Andy encouraged me for the second bake, saying it was better to be on the under-proofed side than
over-proofed, with this flour - given high extraction, fine milling, and lots of enzymes.

Not heeding Andy's advice, the second bake (a mini-miche with the remaining flour), I managed to 
over-proof (proofed for 2.5 hours instead of 2 hours as for the first bake):

baked, with very little movement in the oven          ...and the crumb

crumb might look a little better close up?
...this bread was just as fragrant and flavorful as the first :^)

Thanks again, Andy and Franko - your thoughtfulness resulted in bread with amazing flavor!
I'm thinking this flour must have been recently milled, given its 'fresh' taste - quite fabulous;
causing me to start thinking about home-milling again so I can try to recreate this flavor.

I am very grateful for the chance to bake with this flour - a lovely opportunity!

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong




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Hello everyone, and  Happy Canada / Happy Cañada  Day!



This is a Spanish bread called Cañadas de Azúcar, baked for today,Canada’s national holiday.

I can’t remember where I first read about this bread – liking the name, I wanted to bake Cañadas for Canada Day :^) 
I searched online and found a blog entry about this bread here

Cañada translates to “gulley” or “ravine”, and Azúcar means sugar; so this is a good name for this flatbread,
with its dimpled surface and sugared topping!

In tribute to Canada’s maple trees, I used maple syrup and maple sugar
in my version.

 …summertime maple leaf  


Cañadas before baking, partway through the bake (removed from oven to brush on butter/olive oil and sprinkle with maple sugar), then returned to oven for a little bit longer to finish:



A lovely 'hint of maple' bite to have with morning coffee :^)

 ...couldn't have just one!



There have been pretty flowers blooming, so for our national holidays, here are some blooms...

Red and white for Canada


Red, white and blue, for the American TFL’ers about to celebrate the Fourth!


And how about some fireworks for this time of year? The stamens on these flowers seemed to display ‘fireworks’ so I’m including these photos as part of my holiday wishes :^)

Happy baking, and happy holidays, everyone!
:^) breadsong

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Hello everyone,

                …pretty daisies on the exhibition grounds, greeting me as I arrived for the Baking Congress


Summer arrived this week – I’m happy for all the people who have travelled to Vancouver (at this time of beautiful weather!), to participate in the Baking Association of Canada’s Baking Congress, held yesterday and today.
I was able to attend yesterday, enjoyed the company of many really nice people, including TFL’s Floyd, running into him unexpectedly :^)
Floyd's post about the event is here - great coverage and lots of really good photos!

Craig Ponsford, Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie gold medal winner (1996) and former chairman of the Bread Baker’s Guild of America (BBGA) conducted bread-baking demonstrations, ably assisted by Tracy Muzzolini, a member of Team Canada 2008 and the BBGA. Both taught at BBGA's WheatStalk event last summer in Chicago but I didn't have the opportunity to take their classes - so it was wonderful to seem them at this conference. Thanks to them both for the instruction, and their hard work putting together the demo!  

A nice variety of 100% whole-grain breads were prepared – baguettes and Red Fife and barley pretzels (baked that day) and I was able to see Craig shape pumpernickel, braid challah and mix Danish dough to be laminated the next day.

Craig has published a collection of whole-grain and gluten-free recipes for the California Raisin Marketing Board – formulas for delicious-looking pumpernickel and pretzels are here:

Craig shared lots of interesting information during the demonstration I saw.

(display of how the wheat berry components can be separated during milling, part of the lovely display at Nunweiler's Flour booth - the gentleman there very generous, sharing information about milling, and samples of their organic, whole-grain flour)

On whole-milled flour:
- the components of the wheat berry are never separated when flour is whole-milled; flour labelled as whole-wheat could have the endosperm, germ and bran separated and re-combined
- how to tell if the flour you have has been whole-milled: the flour will never sift out white, as the germ ‘smears’ when milling and gives color to the flour; the flour will have similar particle sizes so you won’t see large pieces of bran
- whole-milling stabilizes the germ
- you can use 2/3 less yeast when using whole-milled whole-wheat flour as this flour provides more food for the yeast

On mixing:
- 2nd speed mixing too aggressive for whole-grain flour
- recommended less mixing time and using folds, to preserve flavor
- add salt later on intensive mixes; if you add salt too soon, dough can build strength too fast and potentially break down before it’s fully mixed

On sweeteners:
An interesting thing Craig does to cut down on white sugar is to substitute agave syrup or fruit puree (applesauce, banana or prune puree, raisin paste, hydration may need adjusting if using a really wet puree). He mentioned he includes applesauce in his Pumpernickel bread – wish I could have been there to taste the baked bread!

On shaping:
Craig used wet hands and roughly air-shaped the pumpernickel paste, placed it in a tub of coarse pumpernickel meal, making sure it was completely coated in meal before placing in a greased pan, and noted you can keep the rye paste super wet as the coarse rye will keep on absorbing.

...really coarse pumpernickel meal, and a toss into the pan

And when braiding the challah, he demonstrated how you can braid ‘up’ instead of braiding on a horizontal plane; I think he said it was easier to see what you were doing. It was like he was braiding a little tower - I wish I could have captured that braiding method on video.

On pretzels and lye:
Craig sprayed the pretzels with a 4% lye solution, using a regular spray bottle. I thought this was a wonderful idea - no splashing or dripping as might happen when dipping, no distortion of the shape because you’re not moving the pretzels, and you might not have to mix as much solution?

Here’s the baked baguette, super flavor!:

and the crumb... 

These are pieces of the pretzel cut up for tasting

(I was preoccupied taking the picture and regret not taking a piece, to sample)

A short seminar on sprouted grains was presented by Everspring Farms.

The lady presenting (I regret not catching her name) discussed the nutritional benefits of sprouting, and some variables to consider when sprouting - time and temperature (germination times of 12 to 48 hours were mentioned), and the variety of wheat (as germination weakens the grain).
The lady presenting also mention the duration of germination would affect the amount of sprouted grain you blended into your mix (the longer the length of germination, the lower the inclusion of rate of sprouted grain flour); and that using sprouted flour can give a softer crumb and slow staling.
She also said sprouted grains can be used as a wet mash, but to mill into flour, are the sprouted grain is dried down at a low temperature.
Here’s a picture of a wet mash:
(ground with the Kitchen Aid grinder)

I tried making a sprouted grain bread with that mash, along with additional sprouted whole-wheat flour once, and really liked the bread! The seminar was a good reminder to get organized and try this again.

Here are some pictures of Artistry, on display:



 (this bread was really good)




Dogwood flowers crafted by a young lady from Vancouver Island University, above in color, below, au naturel

This Spring, I've tried to take pictures of dogwood blooms and I'd say the ones above look very realistic!


It was a very enjoyable day at the Baking Congress, so glad I attended - met many helpful and kind people, saw some beautiful baking and got the chance to taste delicious things.

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong

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Hello everyone,

January’s Bread Baking Day theme is “A Bread Fashion Show”, with a call for decorated crusts.
What a lovely idea!


A Fashion Show seemed to call for fabric – how to use fabric to decorate bread?
I was reminded me of a photo I saw once, of one of Roger Gural’s beautiful breads, stencilled with a lacy pattern.
Off to the fabric store I went.

This is Mr. Hamelman’s Unkneaded Six-Fold French Bread, using a big piece of lace to stencil, for this month’s baking challenge. I wish I could say I used fancy French lace – this was more likely drapery material :^)    



Many thanks: to Mr. Gural for the inspiration, to Mr. Hamelman for his delicious recipe, to Jenni at The Gingered Whisk for a wonderful idea for this month’s challenge, and to Zorra for her Bread Baking Day event.
I’m so looking forward to seeing what other bakers will create for this month’s ‘decorated bread’ baking theme!


*Update to this post - one more entry for the Fashion Show :^)

I was going through some photos and remembered this bread I baked a long time ago (2011).
This bread was inspired by a fashionable, floral, felted hat, made by a very talented lady I met at a bread-baking class -
I wanted to add this bread to this post!
This sourdough bread's crust was covered with decorative dough 'flowers', that had been colored with white flour, cocoa and cornmeal; the 'leaves' were colored with green pea flour. Had fun with cookie cutters, for this one :^)


Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong


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Hello everyone,

I saw a beautiful post on last February – 
Jeremy’s lovely take on a Swedish seed bread (Svenska frö bröd).
The ‘mosaic of a crumb’ Jeremy described; all those beautiful seeds! That bread looked so, so good.
It took me awhile to look up his friend Martin’s blog, and bake this bread – I’m so glad I did! - here's a slice... :^)



There’s so much I like about this bread!

Tons of seeds (pearled barley too)  ;
rye sour and a decent proportion of whole grain flour; easy mixing and process;
the delicious flavor and keeping qualities.

There were some interesting things in Martin’s formula and process.
Martin recommended a cold soak for the seeds, to soften them but not so much that they disappear into the crumb after baking.
Bread syrup was one of the ingredients. I wasn’t sure what bread syrup was but Jan Hedh had a definition in his book Swedish Breads and Pastries (syrup is 25% sugar). I thought I’d try molasses, and for another try, barley malt syrup from the brewer’s, as a substitute.
The mixing was really quick; no dough development, just long enough to combine the ingredients, then the dough panned and retarded.
Reading through Martin's post, the timing for this bread seemed so convenient, the process easy; and they were! :^)

For this bread, I wanted to emphasize barley, since barley is one of ‘seeds’ in this bread.
Barley malt syrup (a dark, thick syrup found at a brewshop) was used in place of bread syrup, and barley flour in place of whole rye called for in the original formula, for the final dough.


                                     The baked loaf

The formula for the bread picture above:

I liked this bread so much I experimented a little bit with the flour and syrup, making a couple of other versions -

whole barley flour, regular molasses at 24% of flour                         
(a bit of sweet carried through in the flavor - factoring in seeds, too, dough may have had about 10% sugar overall)
(scaled approximately 1400g dough for 9"x4"x4" pullman pan)

whole rye flour in final dough, blackstrap molasses at 12% of flour
(a bit of extra water added to compensate for the decreased amount of syrup)
(scaled 768g dough for 8.5"x4.5" bread pan)

In terms of flavor and texture, these breads were moist, chewy, hearty, rich and full of flavor.
Thank you so much to Martin in Sweden for this beautiful bread, and to Jeremy for his gorgeous version of it!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting :^)

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Happy holidays everyone!

This is a take on Guro’s lovely Caucasian Bread – a Christmas version, colored red, with sun-dried tomato pesto
for the filling :^)

There was a lovely round-up of Roses in this post (so many pretty breads featured!, which got me thinking about savory fillings and flavors for this bread).


Here's the recipe for the sun-dried tomato pesto (makes more than you will need for the rose bread):
Place in food processor and process until you have a smooth paste:
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (preserved in oil, but drained)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/8 to 1/4 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese

Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 3 drops Tabasco sauce, and 1/2 cup real mayonnaise.
Process again until smooth. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer to bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
The recipe called for a bit more olive oil, but I held back, not wanting to make the pesto too thin (concerned it might run out during proofing and baking).

This is my interpretation of Guro's formula. I kept hydration to 63% as I liked how that worked when making
Julia's rose bread, and reduced the yeast as I was going for a longer, overnight fermentation.
I used half of the dough to make the rose, and saved the other half to make something else.

Flour counter; roll dough to 15"x20".
Cover dough with 190g of sun-dried tomato pesto, leaving a clean border (about 1/4").

Roll up from long side;  brush flour off of dough as you roll

Cut in half lengthwise (used a serrated knife).   
Fold open to expose the layers. Pick up one piece and lay over the second piece, forming an 'X' shape, keeping the cut sides facing up.

Twist the pieces to form one long rope  Coil the rope to form the rose

Proof for about one hour. Some of the olive oil might leak out during proofing

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, or until 195F internal temperature is reached, turning loaf for even browning or covering with foil to prevent overbrowning, if needed.

 a colorful, flavorful crumb! :^)


Thank you, Guro! This was a fun and very delicious bread to make. It had the aroma of a really good pizza,
while it was cooling.
I was regretting not having any fresh oregano to add to either the dough, or the pesto!
Something to look forward to, for next time, although the bread had wonderful flavor as is.

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting :^)


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I participated in World Bread Day in October, and wanted to bake an “Overnight Bread” for November’s Bread Baking Day.

I have a new, beautiful bread book (Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Ken Forkish), with a formula for an 82% hydration,
75% whole wheat levain bread (there’s a tiny bit of instant yeast, too). I wanted to try this one, adapting it for a long, cold overnight fermentation, encouraged by the lovely result David achieved recently.

The dough was hand-mixed after a 90 minute autolyse; three sets of stretch-and-folds in the bowl with 10 minute rests in between yielded a gluten window like this (tried to stretch a gluten window with one hand while holding the camera in the other):

Dough temperature was 73F prior to mixing and had cooled to 69F, at the start of bulk fermentation. Bulk ferment was two hours at room temperature with a fold after one hour. The dough showed signs of movement after the two hour bulk ferment; it was then refrigerated overnight.

The dough was removed from the fridge after 18 hours (the dough had doubled at this point). The dough was warmed at room temperature for one hour, then divided, preshaped and rested for 25 minutes. After shaping, proofing was at 80F (humidity added) for one hour, prior to baking.  
In the Professional Baking class at Kneading Conference West this past September Jesse Dodson mentioned that for whole wheat breads, proofing has to outpace the loss of gas and so recommended a warm, fast proof for breads for these types of breads. Phil’s comment in David’s post reminded me of this.

David and Phil certainly get wonderful results with their bakes! so I was curious to see what might happen if I attempted similar fermentation and proofing temperatures/times.

I was thinking of Eric Hanner’s beautiful version of Katie’s Stout and Flaxseed Bread when I shaped this loaf, the natural, organic opening of the seams that was so pretty after baking. I tried proofing seam-side-down, for this bake, grateful for Eric’s example.

Baking started at 460F, in a reducing oven, final bake temperature 435F and loaves left in oven for 10 minutes with door ajar at the end of the bake.

The baked bread, and crumb (crumb shot is from the loaf on the right)

In his book, Mr. Forkish writes about bringing his bread back to the place where it was born.
It was nice to read that, as I was using locally-grown whole-wheat flour, baking one of these loaves 
for my local farmer and his family :^)

Very grateful to Mr. Forkish for his lovely book (full of so many gorgeous breads), and to Eric and David for their inspiring posts; and happy to have baked this for November’s Bread Baking Day (we loved the flavor of this one)!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

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Hello everyone,
I caught an episode of "Mexico: One Plate at a Time", on TV - hosted by Chef Rick Bayless.
Fresh flour tortillas were the subject - very quickly made, using a food processor.
The recipe is available online at  -
(I used the ingredients posted online, and the method demonstrated on TV, to make these tortillas). 

                         Here's one cooking...


Fresh flour tortillas...0h-so-delicious! They puffed up nicely while cooking:

                  This one ballooned just like a pita!:

My adaptation of the recipe and method:

I wouldn't hesitate to make these flour tortillas again - they were fabulous; enjoyed freshly-cooked, a delight!
Thank you, Mr. Bayless!

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong


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