The Fresh Loaf

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Posted below is the recipe I use for my Portuguese sweet bread. I am interested in suggestions from the collective audience that may result in improvements in taste, texture, oven spring, etc.

In my last bake I used about 50g of leftover levain ... not sure it made any difference and it might be interesting to experiment with adding even more to assess its affects on the final product.





6 ½ cups flour (910g) (to date I've only used all-purpose (AP) flour ... I plan on trying *some* bread flour in near future)

½ cup mashed potato, unseasoned (115g)

2/3 cup potato water (159g)

½ cup milk (125g)

½ cup butter

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp grated lemon peel

¼ tsp ground mace

1 packet of active dry or instant yeast (Reinhart recommends Instant because there is more yeast cells in it when compared to other forms of commercial yeast)

Confectioner’s sugar (optional)


In a mixing bowl combine ½ cup flour, sugar, lemon peel, mace, and dry yeast. Feel free to experiment with the type of flour used, to date I have only made this bread using the cheapest store brand all-purpose flour … the bread always rises to double or triple its original volume and is always delicious.


Heat potato water, milk, and butter to about 120dF (49dC), add to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes.


Add the eggs, mashed potato, and another ½ cup flour; mix for 2 minutes.


As the mass is mixing, continue to add the flour until it is all incorporated into a soft dough.


Knead until the dough is smooth and it passes the windowpane test … this will depend on the type of flour used (all purpose vs. bread flour). If using an electric mixer, this can take between 5 and 10 minutes.


Once the dough is formed set it aside to bulk ferment “until doubled” (depending on temperature this could be about 90 minutes).


After bulk fermentation, gently stretch or roll the dough out and form a rectangle of about 10 inches (25.5 cm) by 16 inches (40.5 cm).


Roll the dough into a cylindrical shape and place it, seam side down, into a greased/oiled “10 inch tube pan” (I use a Bundt pan). Pinch the ends together to form a continuous ring.


Let the formed dough proof “until doubled” (depending on the temperature this could be about 60 minutes).


Bake the bread at 350dF (177dC) for 40 minutes, or, until the center of the dough is 205dF and the crust is browned to your liking. Feel free to experiment with baking temperature, time, and steam … I have successfully baked this bread at 400dF with steam although I am not sure if this conferred any benefit to the quality of the bread.


Cool in the pan before serving.


Optionally, dust the top of the bread with confectioner’s sugar.

dosco's picture

Had my 2nd engineering staff meeting and thought it would be nice to offer a sweet bread instead of sourdough. Plus I haven't made this bread in a while and it's always a hit. Let me know if anyone wants the recipe. It's basically flour, potato water, mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, milk, sugar, lemon rind, and mace. I bought some AP flour for use in Irish Soda Bread but used a bunch of it for this bread ... will be interesting to see what happens when I use bread flour.

I deviated a bit from the recipe ... it's cooked in a Bundt pan and the recipe calls for 40 minutes in the oven at 350dF. I chose to bake it at 400dF with steam. Not sure if it made a difference. I also chose NOT to dust the finished product with confectioner's sugar.

The stuff makes outstanding toast and French Toast. I might have to make it again this week...




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My wife asked me to bake a loaf of bread for some neighbors who recently had a new baby. She made meatballs.

It was sort of last-minute and I had just picked up some el-cheapo store brand AP flour (we haven't yet made our St. Patty's day soda bread and I was planning on using AP like I always do) so I took out some ripe starter (that I had refreshed after my last bake 2 weeks earlier) and decided to try a different recipe ... Reinhart's Pain de Campagne.

So I followed the recipe and really focused on obtaining a good windowpane since I was not using quality bread flour. Let ferment overnight in the fridge and baked the next morning. Baked at 550dF for 15 minutes with steam, then about 15 more minutes at 475dF.

Oven spring was pretty lame but I did get a bit of an ear which was a total shock. I didn't cut it since we were giving it away ... but our neighbor was just over giving us a thank you note and made a point of telling us that they all really enjoyed the bread. Nice!

Warm Regards-



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Made 2 batards for my first Engineering Staff Meeting today. I followed the Reinhart BBA recipe but used 50% WW flour, upped hydration to ~77%, warm fermented for ~1 hour at 100dF followed by cold fermentation for 48 hours in the fridge, and hearth baked at 550dF for ~15 minutes followed by 450dF until done. Nice oven spring this time, got a nice ear on one loaf. Co-workers liked it. Gave one to a friend (of the 2 loaves about 1/2 of 1 loaf was eaten by my coworkers).



Loaf in a jury-rigged couche



Crumb shot

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This time I tried it with about 15.5 oz of water, 50% WW flour, resulting in a hydration of ~76% to 77%.

Fermented for 4 days in the refrigerator. Baked at 525dF, this time I staggered the loaves so the first loaf baked for about 25 minutes at 525dF, the second loaf baked at 525dF for 15 minutes, then 475dF until browned (about 20 to 25 minutes).

I lopped off a piece for a coworker who used to be a cook ... I haven't tried it myself.

Crumb is still a bit tight, however the oven spring is better than the previous version. I'd like a bit more openness to the crumb, so next version will have higher hydration (perhaps 80%?).




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After reading Reinhart's various and sundry compliments of the Poilane style, I thought it would be interesting to give it a try.

I made half of a batch ... I may post a crumb shot later today. The flavor is nice, but the crumb is very tight. You might see in the pic that there was some oven spring but not all that much ... I'm sure some of that is because WW is less extensible than breads based on white flours, but I'm fairly certain that some of it has to do with hydration.

The starter was made at the mass and hydration specified, it fermented overnight at ~66F then went into the fridge for 10 hours, then went into the final dough. The final dough fermented at 80F for about 3 hours and then went into the fridge for about 21 hours. I split the dough in half and preshaped 2 balls which proofed for about an hour at 80F. I then shaped 2 batards, seam-side up, which proofed overnight at ~66F. They definitely increased in volume which was nice to see. I flipped them, scored, and baked with steam on a stone at 525F for ~15 minutes, then baked until brown at 485F (~20 minutes). Final internal temp was measured with a meat thermometer at ~210F.

If I decide to try this recipe again I will go with a higher hydration. The flavor is an interesting mix of WW, nuttiness, and sour ... although the WW flavor is a bit much. Might be good to add in ~20% unbleached/white bread flour so as to back off on the heavy WW flavor. On the other hand making it with a higher hydration may also change the flavor profile...



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I'm interested in making a Poilane style bread, so I thought it might be interesting to make a BBA Basic Sourdough with half of the flour being whole wheat.

I made the dough up using the same procedure I've been using for the other Basic Sourdoughs, except (of course) using much more WW flour. Due to schedule conflicts the dough stayed in the refrigerator for 4 days ... I baked the loaves yesterday evening.

Shaping is still an issue and I haven't yet gotten to purchasing a linen, making transfer peels, etc. The batards are slightly misshapen, unfortunately. Baked at 525F for 15 minutes, then 475F for about 15 minutes (until the crust was the desired color).

Crumb is a bit tight despite following the same procedure previously used to achieve ~73% hydration, not sure if it is the result of WW flour needing more water, the excessively long cold fermentation and the yeast running out of "oomph," or the long ferment damaging the gluten.

Flavor is excellent, crumb is tender and fragrant, the crust is nicely flavored and crunchy. There is a slight sour note which is nice.

I have a Poilane style dough in the fridge at the moment and I'll likely bake it tonight ... more later.



PS: I did bake a BBA Basic Sourdough 2 weeks ago that I didn't blog about ... went skiing with some friends on the weekend of the 18th/19th and baked some bread to bring along. I was in a rush so I didn't get a chance to take pics or post. One friend who came to visit the house we rented, a gent from France, particularly enjoyed the bread with dinner. I was quite happy about that!


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Another bake of BBA Basic Sourdough. Life interfered a bit on this one, had to drive to NY (from MD) to goto a party, then had a sports tournament the next day in PA. I had to let the preferment sit in the fridge for an extra day, and the autolysed flour also went into the fridge for a 24 hour period. After I mixed the dough I had intended a 36 hour ferment but I had some other priorities (... work ...) and it stayed in the fridge for 60 hours.

I preshaped and let the boules proof for 30 minutes at 80F. Final shaping is still a problem for me; I still haven't gotten a linen couche. The final loaves proofed seam-side-up for 45 minutes at 80F ... based on the final loaves I think they were underproofed (although I think it is also possible the poor shaping may also have contributed to the problem). I got an "ear" though so that was satisfying.

Flavor and texture were excellent, I baked in the morning and the first loaf was gone by dinner.

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So ... I finally got an ear (!!) which is good and I'm very happy. Huzzah!!

The "good" loaf is misshapen (the "bad" loaf is horribly misshapen) ... I did not do what I normally do, which is to jury-rig a couche with kitchen towels. I need a real linen couche, which is on my list of things to get. My older daughter (14 yo) was very surprised when I pulled the finished loaves from the oven and noted the ear (lol).

I made 2 loaves and was focusing on developing good surface tension, so I followed Dave Snyder's method of preshaping by forming into a ball, followed by final shaping and proofing. I put the loaves on floured cutting boards and let the final loaves proof seam-side up. When I went to bake I flipped the loaves, cut them, and loaded the oven (bakes at 520F for ~15 minutes, then 475F until browned ... interestingly this time it took quite a long time to brown to the degree I wanted). Steaming was accomplished with ice cubes every 3 minutes in a roasting pan, which was placed on the oven floor.

I followed Reinhart's BBA recipe, slightly modified it to use 1/8th ww and 1/8th rye flours. Also went to a bit over 14.5 ounces of water to get hydration in the neighborhood at 72%. I had some timing problems ... after kneading I placed the dough in the refrigerator with the intention of a 24-hour cold ferment. It ended up cold fermenting for 36 hours before I could do the final shaping, etc. Didn't seem to negatively impact the loaves. I bought some white rice flour and used it for the kneading, shaping, and final proofing. I might have used a bit too much but I'm not overly worried about it.

The better looking loaf was formed 2nd, and is closer to the right shape. I'm not sure if they're underproofed, I usually let the loaves proof at 80F for like 2 hours but for these I proofed them at 80F for about 45 minutes.

So I'm almost there. Need to focus on the final shape and use a couche.

On the flavor ... the bread is excellent. It's not sour despite the use of sourdough starter, but I really don't care about that. Interestingly my younger one had a slice for breakfast, and had to have a second slice because she liked it so much(!).

Crumb shots are from the "bad" loaf, one shot with a flash and one without.






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So the first loaf was pretty stiff. Upon reviewing the recipe I noticed that the water called for can range between 12 and 14 ozs, therefore the hydration of the main dough can vary between 59% and 70% ... of course the starter can affect the overall hydration and my starter is hydrated at 50% while Reinhart calls for 100% hydration in this recipe.


Nonetheless the first batch was good. As I mentioned I gave a loaf to a friend who enjoyed it, and my kids housed the other loaf. A neighbor came over on Saturday afternoon and I gave him a piece and he also enjoyed it.

So I thought it would be interesting to make the next batch with everything the same except a higher hydration. On this loaf I did so by adding 14.5 ozs of water to the main dough, although the starter was still at 50%. (I used 1/8th ww flour, 1/8th rye flour, and the remainder was KAF bread flour).

As you can see the crumb is more open. I attribute this not only to the hydration, but I figured the first loaves could use a bit more proofing so I let these loaves go for 2.5 hours at 80F (first batch in the other blog post proofed for 2 hours at 80F).

I also changed my steaming approach. This time I added a plate of stainless steel on the floor of the oven (1/4" thick ... I made the plate as a heat "spreader" for stewing food). Resting on the plate is a roasting pan. During this bake I used ice cubes, tossing cubes in on 3 different occasions over the first 10 minutes of baking.

Prior to using ice cubes I would dump about a cup of water into the roasting pan (the pan sat on the oven floor).

Compared to the first loaves, these feel light and springy, and the crust on these loaves is thinner than the previous loaves (both cases the bread was baked on a baking stone at 515F for 15 min, then 475F for ~20 min). Not sure if that is an artifact of the dough hydration or steaming method, or both.

I was very focused on the scoring technique on these, trying to achieve an "ear," but was not really successful. (don't let the low-res pics fool you ... the one on the left has a teeny-tiny ear, the one on the right I scored again after ~10 minutes of baking). I re-reviewed the scoring tutorial, and this morning I re-reviewed the KAF instructional videos. I am fairly certain I need to change my technique in this way:

1. Add in preshape and proof, and develop surface tension (Reinhart doesn't call for this step).

2. Develop more surface tension in final shaping.

3. After final shaping, let proof seam-side up on a flipping board.

4. Correct my batard forming technique (I thought I was doing it per the KAF video but I was wrong). I need to get a proper baking couche since I'm jury-rigging using kitchen towels and my assymetric loaves are not of the proper "quality" according to our friends at KAF. Until I can get an order in to KAF or amazon, I saw a linen towel at Crate and Barrel and think that might do the trick for now ...

5. Scoring ... I need to fix this but am not sure how the KAF guys do it ... my dough is too sticky an the blade just drags through the dough. The KAF guys just zoom through the dough like it's not there - amazing!

I gave one loaf to my neighbor.





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