The Fresh Loaf

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From Daniel's "Local Breads" book, this was a recipe for Auvergne Rye Baguettes with Lardons but having no lardons or pancetta to hand, I chose to use a tasty Iberico Chorizo that I had been gradually working my way through. There's never a bad time to eat chorizo in my books!

The additional flavour of rye in a baguette appealed to me and as I needed to check the viability of my recently rescued rye starter, this seemed like a good bake to attempt.

The rye content in the recipe was 50g in 450g of white flour with the overnight preferment being made with white flour and rye starter. I chose to use all rye for the preferment so my overall rye content was higher. I diced the chorizo finely and cooked in a pan for 5 mins or so before draining the oil off.

With main dough hydration of 70% this made for a very sticky wet mass. I autolysed for 30mins before adding the salt, chorizo and preferment, then did 3-4 stretch and folds over a 2 hour period which helped to pull it all together. Daniel retards his shaped baguettes in the fridge for 12-24hrs but I chose not to do this as I knew the chorizo would pack plenty of flavour.

Resulting baguettes are very tasty indeed, and the chorizo is in fact not at all overpowering but rather a more subtle flavour running right through the bread (presumably from the residual oils that have soaked in). The rye element affords a lovely nuttiness which goes well with the chorizo. A nice lump of Spanish Manchego cheese and this is a delightful snack, definitely to be a regular bake.

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So my first attempt at 80% hydration baguettes went so so, produced lovely tasting baguettes but the crumb was tight with tiny holes (see below)


This time I lowered the hydration down closer to 70%, spent more time on the initial kneading, a little more time on the S+Fs (working till I could feel the resistance) and hey presto they came out beautifully.  The exterior has a lovely crackling crunch and the inside is soft and tasty.  I even managed to get nice "ears" with the scoring despite using a flat lame.

Thanks for those who provided advice on my first attempts


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My first crack at this very traditional Spanish sweet bread.  Also known as "King Cake" this is traditionally served at Christmas.  I have some good Spanish friends coming for dinner in a week's time so this was my practice run.  It's not Christmas but hey,  some things are too good to only have once a year !

This is a yeasted dough infused with flavours of orange and lemon zests, orange blossom water, apricot brandy and vanilla.  The top of the "crown" is adorned with glace fruits, candied orange peel, stem ginger and flaked almonds and a sprinkling of sugar dampened with more orange blossom water.

The crumb is soft and shreddy, on the way to being like a panettone but sufficiently not,  so as to have its own identity.   It is usually served with whipped cream, nata, custard or other cakey fillings and in my opinion, being a bready cake, one of those is definitely needed.

I only used half the quantity of the recipe I used and was very surprised how big this came out.  Looks like we'll be eating this daily until it disappears !


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My regular baguette recipe (from my local Artisan Bakery) uses about 66% hydration.  This is my first foray into a much more difficult 80% hydration.  This was a real challenge and the results far from perfect, but the experience gained along the way is invaluable and worth the trouble.  I would say without any hesitation that these have been the tastiest baguettes I have ever made and the closest I have come to that genuine baguette flavour expectation.

For anyone out there wanting a first hand look at how the stretch and fold method develops the dough structure, this is a great way to see and "feel" it.  From the outset it all looks and feels hopeless but one has to have faith in the processes going on within the dough and if all is done carefully the rewards are very satisfying.

I halved the recipe on the Weekend Bakery site which I believe was adapted from a recipe here posted by Akiko, and I used T55 flour and fresh baker's yeast for my attempts.

Pre-ferment (Poolish) -   190g T55 Flour, 152g water, 3g yeast

Main Dough - 190g T55 Flour, 152g water, 6g salt, 1.5g yeast

Upon mixing the main dough I had what can really only be described as a rather thick looking cake batter.  Hard to believe anything could be done with it !

There then followed a series of 4 Stretch and Folds interspersed with 45 min rest periods.  The structure gradually developed over this period.

After 2 S+Fs the dough looked like this, sloppy but coming together:

Another 2 S+Fs and we progress to this:

Hard to appreciate from that picture but I could in fact lift all the dough out in one piece if I tried.

I split into 2 portions and pre-shaped, rested 10mins and then shaped as best I could.  This was a little more difficult than my usual 66% baguettes.  I popped then into a baguette tray (my oven dimensions prevent me from making a full sized baguette) and looking at them was more reminded of ciabattas than baguettes !

Normally I'm very happy with my baguette shaping but at 80% it's a whole new ball game.  Too little flour on the work surface and the dough wants to stick everywhere, too much and you can't get any purchase to tighten the outer skin.   What I ended up with wasn't very pretty to be honest.  Nothing like the surface tension I would normally achieve nor an even finish.   Next time will be better.

After a 30 min proof I was ready to slash and bake, but remembered that scoring would likely be hopeless in the current state.  One quick test slash was enough to prove this as the blade just dragged the wet dough.  So, into the fridge the tray went to cool for about 5-10mins.  This definitely firmed up the dough some and allowed for much better scoring.   Unfortunately, I only have a flat lame and for baguettes I should really invest in a curved one to create proper "ears".  I scored as best I could and popped them into a preheated oven (fan 240) with a cup full of water thrown in for steam.

The oven spring was pretty good and after about 25-30mins they were golden and ready to come out.

With a domestic oven I sadly can't get the kind of finish a baker's oven produces with dark crusty edges.  Still these looked 1/2 decent for a first attempt and the crumb inside was light and fluffy yet strong in its structure.  It could stand a good squeeze between my fingers and still spring back.

Compared to the source website results however, my crumb has much smaller holes.  This could well be the result of me being heavy handed with the S+Fs and / or in the final shaping which was a little awkward.   Nevertheless, the taste of these with just a little butter is fantastic.  Definitely a keeper for future baguettes.

For those of you who have mastered 80% baguettes I welcome your advice and comments on areas that I can improve here.  These are clearly worth mastering and putting in my repertoire. 

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I was pining for something sweet but not too unhealthy and whilst watching TV, saw a shot of beautiful Venice, a city that I have visited annually for the past 7-8 years, and this put me in mind of their wonderful Italian baking.  A particular shop there sells all manner of Biscotti type delicacies as well as countless other delights but I always now pick up a bag of their gorgeous Cantuccini's which are nutty, citrusy and pretty darn addictive.

Having looked through a number of differing recipes I decided to concoct something myself to achieve the flavours I wanted.  The addition of spelt here and the absence of any butter gave me the slightly more healthy element I was looking for and the zest and various extracts provided the citrus bite.

These came out very well, perhaps by more luck than judgement !  They have a pretty solid initial orange kick followed by the separate flavours of the cranberries and nuts.  The quantity of chocolate I added I think was too little so you might like to up that should you choose to make these.



Pre-heat oven  - fan oven 180 (200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6)

Prepare 2 baking trays with Baking Paper or Baking Parchment (not greaseproof paper !)

Blend eggs and sugar together, add in the other wet ingredients, then add the flours and baking powder.

If the mix seems too stiff at this point add a little milk until it smooths out.

Fold in the filling ingredients (fruit, nuts, chocolate)

Spread 1/2 mixture on each tray in a long rectangle about 1-2cm high.   Use a spatula dipped in water to smooth the top suface.

Bake in oven for about 20mins until the mass is golden brown then remove from the oven.

Turn oven down to - fan oven 160 (180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4)

Allow to cool for 5 mins, peel off the baking paper, then use a bread knife to cut diagonal pieces about 2cm wide.  Arrange these on the baking tray cut side up and bake again for a further 10-15 mins depending on how crunchy you like them.


Enjoy !   I certainly am !


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Since I've been building up some new starters this past week I had some active discard to hand so decided to whip up some kind of wholewheat tinned loaf for some nice toast in the mornings.

Came out pretty well, nice texture and gentle malty flavour from the extract together with the rye starter depth.

White Wheat Flour 350g,  Wholewheat Flour 100g, Salt 7g,  Water 270g, Rye Starter 100g, 1 tspn malt extract

Mixed, rested 1hr, (S+F, rest 30min) x 4, shaped and tinned, proofed 2hrs and baked


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My first bash at the "Tartine Style Loaf" from the site.

This is an adapted recipe tweaked for European flour with 70% hydration.  For added depth of flavour I used a rye starter here.  Recipe and method very simple to follow.  No kneading required just a short autolyse and a series of 6 stretch and folds interspaced by 30min intervals.

I confess that when I upturned the banetton to deposit the loaf onto my hot bread stone my heart sank and I pretty much wrote the whole thing off right there.  It eased itself out painfully slowly but thankfully didn't stick at all but nevertheless, "flolloped" onto the stone and immediately spread out into what I could only describe as a 1 inch high pizza !  I figured I had messed up the hydration level somewhere and resigned myself to producing some kind of Tartine flatbread or focaccia that would hopefully still taste good.   What a surprise then to look through the oven door 10mins later and see that it had sprung up brilliantly like a pitta bread !

Both the smell and taste were very pleasing.  It has a good depth of flavour with both malty and nutty elements, a nice chewy texture and a satisfying crusty exterior.  There were one or two crumb holes that were too big, a result  of my failure to thoroughly knock them out during shaping, but that will improve next time around.   Overall, a lovely recipe.


Poolish  -  25g Wheat Flour, 25g WW Flour, 10g starter, 45g water

Dough   -  350g Wheat Flour, 40g WW Flour, 260g water, 6.5g salt


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Member Omid posted an excellent and very comprehensive blog on Iranian Barbari bread which can be viewed here if you haven't seen it:

The result is a wonderfully subtle bread with slightly nutty undertones and a structure not too dissimilar to french baguette.  End to end I was surprised at just how simple these were to make.  They are well worth a go.


The true recipe calls for a special flour called  “ard-e setareh”, which literally means "star flour" but I don't have this and have never seen it in the UK.  Thanks to Omid's comprehensive background info though I was able to select flour with a similar protein content of about 10-11%.  Actually, I used a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of T55 flour and my ordinary generic bread flour and as it turns out that worked rather well.

For my attempt at this I only made enough to make 2 small breads.  Using a domestic oven limits the length I can make the breads and I only have one rectangular bread stone so I baked them separately one after the other.

Flour (half T55 half generic)  -  366g (in total),  Water  -  250g,  Salt  -  7g,  Fresh Yeast -  1g


I mixed the above ingredients according to Omid's description, water, then salt, then yeast then flour.  Kneaded the dough gently for 5 mins then left to rest for 20mins.  Formed a boule with the dough then left it in a plastic bowl with a smaller upturned bowl on top on the kitchen counter.  Left it there to prove overnight.  As I got up slightly late the next morning the dough had proved some 12-13hrs (rather than the required 11hrs) but it looked just fine, nice and bubbly.

I split it into 2 portions of 306g each and formed each into a small boule and left on a tray, covered by a plastic bag for a further 2-3 hrs at which point they looked like this:

Whilst these had been proving I made up some "sauce" with just flour and water as per Omid's instructions and brought it to a gentle boil on the hob.  Then left to cool.   I experienced some difficulty here because when it was later cool, it was pretty thick and gloopy, almost set which was clearly not right, so I discarded 1/2 and put more water in it, re-heated and left to cool again and all was then well.  The sauce looked like this:

Next stage was the shaping which traditionally requires Wheat Bran to be spread on the table first.  Unfortunately I found that I had none of this so I used 100% Wholewheat flour instead and sprinkled this over a glass chopping board and placed one of the dough portions on it, gently stretching it out a little.  I gently smeared the sauce all over it and then using my fingertips put in the characteristic grooves as below:

Then simply sprinkled sesame seeds over the top.  Meanwhile my oven had been warming to it's top temp of about 240C with my bread stone inside.  Now came the slightly tricky bit, transferring the bread to the stone whilst stretching it.  Having tried this I have to say that the consumate ease with which the bakers do this in Omid's video clips is incredibly misleading !  There is definitely a knack there garnered from years of experience !  First attempts lifting the dough with plams face up were somewhat dodgy and hamfisted but I got the dough on the stone in the end.  Later when I came to do the second piece, I did it with palms face down and that worked much much better.  In fact after putting one hand underneath one side and lifting up,  the dough stretched nicely by itself as it came off the board.

Into the hot oven it went for about 12mins and out it came like this:

Looked pretty good to me for a first attempt !  Left it to rest for 5 mins then cut in half to examine the crust and crumb which looked like this:


As you can see the top crust was thin and slighly crispy, the base firm but not crispy and the middle soft and chewy much like a french baguette.  I was very happy to see the crumb looking similar to Omid's !  There are numerous YouTube clips of other people's Barbari breads out there but many are not using the long fermentation and the crumbs produced are nothing like the above.  So the long 11hr + 5hr fermentation really pays dividends I think.

Overall taste was subtle with just a hint of nuttiness presumably from the wheat flour underneath and the sesame seeds on top.  Very nice indeed though I confess that I found myself longing for a bit of sea salt which I next time I shall sprinkle on top.

As an experiment, I treated the second piece of dough slightly different.  I happened to have some hemp seeds to hand (supposed to be very healthy!) so I ground some of those and sprinkled them on top along with a few sesame seeds.  It produced deeper nuttier tones than the first and whilst not wholly "traditional" was a pleasant tweak but again what I really wanted was sea salt on top.

Overall this is a lovely bread and is surprisingly easy to make.  The long fermentation is well worth the wait to produce both flavour and crumb texture.

Many thanks to Omid for giving such a comprehensive explanation of Barbari bread and hope others will try this too.

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