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Cat and I decided to go for a hike yesterday on Mount Sutro, the wooded mountain in the middle of San Francisco.  Since we knew we’d be in for some calorie-burning, we stopped on the way at our neighborhood pizzeria, Pizzetta 211, a tiny place that is often rated as the best in the City.  Cat had a bacon and butternut squash pie with chipotle crème fraiche.  I had one with homemade sausage, radicchio and Gruyere.  Sorry, I didn't have my camera along.

Though the toppings on their pizzas are often unusual (e.g., Pancetta, farm-fresh eggs, fingerling potato slices and sage), and always delicious, what makes their pizza so great is the perfect thin crust—tender but firm in the middle and super crispy around the crown.  It’s also a really friendly place, staffed with latter-day hippies who are very serious about their ingredients.

As we were finishing up, and resisting the ginger cake and apple tart, I asked the fellow who was clearing our table what flour they used in the dough.  He told me they used Giusto Baker’s Choice, an all purpose flour, and asked if we had other questions.  Since he seemed to want to chat, and since I’ve always wanted to make pizza like theirs, I told him I’d love to watch their dough-making process some time.  He didn’t invite me to do so, but he launched into a lengthy discussion of their dough-making process.  From the conversation, he gathered that I knew a thing or two—but not three—about making pizza, and his explanations were sophisticated and enlightening.  Turns out he’s the founder of the place and the pizza master. 

I won’t go into all the details here, but—in short—he starts with a sort of poolish, about 90% hydration with cool water, then adds the remaining flour gradually during a 30 minute slow-speed mix.  He didn’t know the hydration; he mixes by feel.  The dough is then refrigerated overnight, punched down and scaled in the morning and put back in the fridge until used; they’re shaped right out of the fridge.  This seems like a pretty novel approach, one he developed over many years of experimentation.

He told me a modified—simpler—recipe is on (, but it’s worth it to experiment with different hydrations, different mixing times and different retardation times, until we get it like we like it.

I will start these experiments soon.

As for my own baking, it’s mostly been repeats of favorites lately, after several weeks of pastry and bagel trials.

Last week I made double knot rolls and sandwich buns from the ITJB Honey-Whole Wheat Challah.

And yesterday I made a couple half-kilo boules of Tartine Basic Country Bread, with my usual twists (–-more-whole-wheat-smaller-loaves-and-half-retar).  I retarded half the dough and baked two more today.

Happy Baking!


GSnyde's picture

Though my favorite bread to eat alone or with a dab of butter or cheese is French-style sourdough, there is nothing better than a good Jewish deli-style brunch, featuring bagels and rye bread.

This morning we had some old friends over—East Coast-raised Jews; serious eaters.  It was advertised as a lox and bagel meal, but while planning the meal, I remembered that these friends had expressed extreme interest several months ago when I told them about my homemade pastrami.  And I had frozen some of the pastrami.  So, in addition to bagels, I made some sour rye bread yesterday, too, and thawed and re-heated the pastrami.

I used my favorite bagel formula--the ITJB Krakowski formula, but with 25% KAF Bread Flour and 75% Sir Lancelot—but didn’t shape many of the bagels with the Krakow twist (sounds like a dance … kinda like the Warsaw watusi).  They were very pretty and quite delicious. 

Our friends brought some excellent Pacific Ocean lox (with Coho Salmon).  But the pastrami was the real hit.  And the rye bread (from Greenstein’s formula via dmsnyder) was much admired. 

It was a real deli meal right here in San Francisco, where—for all our touted food variety—one can’t find a decent deli.  Another mutual friend—one of the Philadelphia Ginsburgs--dropped by for just a few minutes and had a quick bite, swooning at the bagels and the pastrami, and then left with a bag of bagels-to-go for his family.

All agreed that it was like a taste of the Old Country.   It makes me feel like I’ve done a service for the culturally deprived.  And the best news is there’s enough left over for Pastrami and Eggs for dinner, with both bagels and rye toast!


GSnyde's picture

I have said before that gluttony is among my favorites of the deadly sins; the craving for fat, salt and sugar is a delightful vice.  Favoring gluttony, though, runs contrary to my part time dedication to rationality; good sense indicates that gluttony can be detrimental.  This dissonance—which regularly afflicts bakers—is my topic today.

More particularly, I want to resolve that dissonance by showing that a semi-scientific experiment with pastry can employ the rational mind in the service of gluttony and vice versa.  One might—or might not—conclude that animal passion and mindfulness can co-exist happily in a wholeness of human experience.  Or one might conclude that the chubby guy is rationalizing his excessive indulgence.

The subject is pastry—specifically the Mini-Schnecken and Bear Claw recipes in Inside the Jewish Bakery.   The goal is to bake goodies to match (or come close to) the remembered experience of the Ideal exemplars of these treats.

I have previously baked Bear Claws using Danish Pastry Dough (a recipe from Fantasia Confections) and The ITJB Coffee Cake Dough.  Neither was bad.  The Danish Dough was poofier and lighter than my ideal and the filling in the Fantasia recipe expanded monstrously (too much egg, I think).  The ITJB Coffee Cake dough version was closer, but a bit too heavy and dry.  The ITJB filling was perfect!

Last week I made some ITJB Mini-Schneckens using the Cream Cheese Dough formula, and a filling of Olallieberry jam and cake crumbs.  I followed the formula to a fault…the fault being that the formula failed to say that the dough ball was to be divided in two before being rolled out to 18” x 8”.  So my cookies—with double the dough and double the filling--were more like mutant Danish in appearance.  Really good tasting though.  The cream cheese dough—consisting of only cream cheese, butter, flour and a dash of salt (no sugar!)—bakes up light, tender and totally delicious.

So, this weekend, purely for science, I made another batch of the cream cheese dough and a smaller batch of jam filling (Stan told me the filling should be spread very thin).  I divided the dough in two, and rolled out half—nice and thin—to 18 x 8, and smeared a thin coating of jam filling on.  I rolled it up and cut it into 1” pieces.

The result, while not exactly like I remember, is terrific.  The shape is about right, the texture is moist and delicate, and the flavor is incredible—not too sweet, but fruity and rich.

The other half of the Cream Cheese Dough was destined to be Bear Claws, my favorite breakfast pastry.  I rolled the dough out to about 12” by 6”, so not as thin as for the Mini-Scheckens.  I smeared the ITJB Almond Filling over a little less than half of the dough sheet, leaving a margin to seal with egg wash and finger pressure.

Then I proceeded with the Bear Claw shaping—folding the dough over the filling, stretching the whole thing lengthwise, then cutting it into pieces and shaping the claws (all with a bench knife).  The round ones pictured below are rolled from scraps of dough.

These Bear Claws are the best!  The dough has a wonderful tenderness and the savoriness contrasts nicely with the sweet filling; the whole flavor is only slightly sweet.  They look nice, too, though I regretted not having slivered almonds handy.

Though seeking to replicate a remembered gustatory experience is not a very scientific objective, I can say that I did carry out an experiment—minding the variables, observing the conditions, following a protocol, and evaluating the results.  The fact that the end result was the scientist and his lab assistant practically rolling on the floor in flavor ecstasy will not be written up in the scholarly journals.

I know I should try to tame my sweet tooth.  But the spirit of scientific inquiry compels me to bake more pastries until all the data is in.

Note for David:  the ITJB Cream Cheese Dough is what you want to use in your Cheese Pocket experiments.  Very tender, not sweet, but quite rich.  Very much like the Karsh’s cheese pockets.


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Today I baked two things from Inside the Jewish Bakery: one worked out very well, and one didn’t.  The double knot rolls with Honey-Whole Wheat Challah dough are just as I hoped.  The Mini-Schnecken came out all wrong.

First, the Mini-schnecken.  These are supposed to be like rugelach, except rolled up and cut rather than rolled in a crescent shape.  I used the cream cheese short dough from ITJB, and it was easy to make and had a great texture.  But as I was rolling out the dough to add the filling, I realized that the dough sheet was way too thick.  I followed the instructions, rolling one recipe of the dough out to 18” by 8”, and ended up with a sheet of dough that was about 3/16”“ thick, and when I added the amount of jam filling the recipe called for, that was too thick too.  I wonder if one recipe is supposed to make two sheets of 18x8 and the filling is supposed to cover both (more thinly).  That would make a product more like my experience of rugelach.

In any case, though they look nothing like mini-schneckens, they are delicious (some Apricot and some Olallieberry).  I especially like the dough…might be great for bear claws.  Here’s some photos:

The double knot rolls were a breeze to make.  I hand kneaded the dough and it had a great silky consistency.  The instructions in ITJB for shaping the rolls were excellent.  And the resulting rolls are superb.  They’ll be great with leftover turkey.


GSnyde's picture

Not much novel in my baking life lately.  

Last weekend I tried bagels using 50% Type 85 flour and 50% High-gluten white flour (Sir Lancelot).  The results were ok, but not as good as my previous formula (75% High-gluten flour and 25% bread flour).  These were too extensible (could have lowered the hydration with the lower gluten flour blend) and the ends didn't want to cohere.  The flavor was nice, but I think I'll stick with the proven recipe.

Friday I made a couple pizzas using Reinhart's Neo-Napolitano formula.  This one was delicious, with tart apples, walnuts and gorganzola.

Then, today I made a nice batch of San Francisco Country Sourdough using my usual formula.  

Perhaps next week I'll try more goodies from ITJB.


GSnyde's picture

I received my copy of Inside the Jewish Bakery a few days ago, and fairly quickly settled on the Bear Claws as the first recipe I wanted to try.  I’m kind of an almond paste freak .  You could call me a “MarziFan”.  

I made Bear Claws the first time a month or so ago, using the recipe from Fantasia Bakery.  That one used a Danish pastry dough—which was delicious—but the filling wasn’t right…too thin and eggy.  Stan and Norm’s filling, using a good portion of cake crumbs, looked promising.  The Bear Claw recipe in Inside the Jewish Bakery uses what they call “Coffee Cake Dough”, enriched with egg, sugar, shortening and milk powder, but not super sweet and fatty.

I’m not going to post the recipe, unless Stan says I should, but I’ll give you a bit of a narrative.

The dough takes a long time to come together.  It’s fairly batter-like.  It may be that my Bosch is not the ideal mixer for a dough like this; a KitchenAid might work better.  After about 20 minutes of mixing, the dough took almost two hours to double.  Then I punched it down, formed it into a ball and put it in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight.  The next morning it had doubled again and was nice and poofy.


This morning I made up the filling (almond paste, sugar, egg, cake crumbs, water, milk powder, salt) and divided the dough ball into three (the recipe says divide in three, but then refers to two batches making six pastries each…confusing).  The dough had a very nice texture, it is soft even right out of the fridge, and needed lots of flour on my prized New York Bakers kneading board.   But it was extensible enough to roll out to quarter inch thick strips.

The dough sheet is brushed with butter and the filling is spread over half (ok, I admit I made a bright yellow Pillsbury cake mix cake for the crumbs).

Then, its folded and sealed and stretched and divided.

Then the pieces are cut and bent to make the bear claw shape (some nicer than others).

After about a 75 minute proof, the pastries are brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sliced almonds (the recipe omits the almonds, but I don’t like my claws bare).

After baking, they get a brushing of simple syrup.  And they’re ready for their close-up.

These are delectable!  The filling is just like the best bakeries’.  The dough is not too sweet and has a nice moist texture, but with an eggy crust.

One recipe into my experience with Inside the Jewish Bakery, I’m happy, and looking forward to trying more.

Thanks, again, Norm and Stan.  Good work!


GSnyde's picture

They say everything happens for a reason, and I believe them.  But I can’t always identify the reasons some things happen.  Why was this bake of the San Francisco Country Sourdough (my version of pain de campagne) the best ever?   This was probably the 7th or 8th time I’ve baked it, but this one had that je-ne-sais-what like my best bakes of Tartine BCB and last week’s bake of Hamelman’s pain au levain.  Beautifully caramelized, golden brown, crispy crust; moist, airy-but-substantial crumb, with nicely gelatinized membranes; complex wheaty flavor with a hint of rye.

I guess I should compare this to other bakes of the same formula.

Here’s what was the same:

  • The ingredients and the basic technique (described below).

Here’s what might have been different:

  • My starter was very active (after last week’s near-death experience).
  • Both the primary ferment (3 ¼ hours) and the proof (2 ¼ hours) were on the long side.
  • My handling/shaping skills are improving, and I got a nice taut sheath.
  • I made a recipe-and-a-half so I could cold retard one loaf’s worth to bake tomorrow for some friends.

Whatever factor(s) made the difference, I hope I can do it again.

And excellent with some early Autumn barbecue.

San Francisco Country Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne) version 10-8-11

Yield: Two 750g Loaves; or Three Mini-Baguettes (235g each) and one 800g Loaf; or One 1000g loaf and two 250g baguettes; 0r Three 500 gram loaves; or…   



100 grams   AP flour

24 grams  Whole Wheat flour

12 grams  Whole rye flour

170 grams   Water, cool (60 F or so)

28     Mature culture (75% hydration)

FINAL DOUGH (67% hydration, including levain)

640 grams   All-Purpose flour (83%)*

85 grams  Whole wheat flour (11%)**

45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)

435 grams   Warm water (80 F or so) (56%)

17 grams   Salt (2%)

306     Liquid levain  (48%)   

* used CM Artisan Baker’s Craft (malted)

** used CM Organic Hi-protein fine whole wheat


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 15 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F

2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl and let stand for an autolyse phase of 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency. 

3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 20-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.  If the dough has not increased in size by 75% or so, let it go a bit longer.

4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):  After second S&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience.

5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: [Note: if bulk retarded, let dough come to room temperature for 30-90 minutes before pre-shaping.]  Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30-45 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.

6. PROOFING: Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.

7. BAKING: Slash loaves.  Bake with steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 450 °F after it hits 500F after loading loaves.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes (10 for baguettes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (for 750g loaves; less for smaller loaves).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.

Happy baking!


Submitted to


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I’ve been experimenting with bagels and pastries and I haven’t made sourdough in San Francisco for over a month, and I’d forgotten to feed my starter.  Then, we replaced our refrigerator and some things were unrefrigerated for a spell one day last week, including my starter.  This is not just any starter.  It is the starter made famous (in the bread baker section of the internet) by my brother David’s moving story (

When I opened my starter jar Friday to feed it in anticipation of this weekend’s baking, it smelled a bit nasty, and looked lax and wimpy. I feared I’d killed it.  I fed it the usual white-whole wheat-rye mix at 60% hydration, and went to bed hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through the embarrassment of explaining to David that I was an idiot who could not to be trusted with the well-being of vital microbes.  Saturday morning the starter showed life (whew!), though it had not bloomed from feeding as usual.  So I remained concerned.

I made up the levain Saturday evening for my Sunday bake, and Sunday morning it looked, felt and smelled right.  Disaster averted!

My bake this weekend was Hamelman’s Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat Flour.  David has been encouraging me to try Hamelman’s Pain au Levain and its variations.  Reading the formulas, this one seemed like it would be resemble my favorite pain au levain (from Acme Breads in Berkeley).  And it does.

This marked the first time I’d mixed sourdough dough in my new Bosch mixer.  The mixer came in handy since the formula calls for mixing in the stiff levain after the autolyse, and that’s always tough by hand.  The BUP handled it easily and quickly.  I mixed only about 90 seconds and the dough was supple and shiny.

I’m happy with the results.  The crust is crisp and the crumb hits that wonderful sweet spot between chewy and tender.   The crumb aeration is just what I always hope for in this type of bread.

The flavor is complex, slightly sour.   I'll bake this bread again and again.

David was right…again.  Good bread.


GSnyde's picture

I tried two very different doughs in my new Bosch Universal Plus this weekend.  The machine performed very well, and the breads were all good.

I made a batch (three pan loaves) of Hamelman’s Oatmeal Bread.  The machine handled the dough very nicely, and kneaded it to a moderate window pane in about 5 minutes (with a couple stops to scrape the bowl and shaft).  This formula calls for high gluten flour, along with whole wheat and rolled oats.  I had previously used bread flour, but used Sir Lancelot this time.  The resulting bread has a slightly firmer chew (a good change), but is still tender and moist.  The flavor is wonderful.  It was perfect for roast turkey sandwiches.

Then I put the BUP to the real test…bagels.  One major reason for getting this mixer was to let a motor knead stiff bagel dough, and save me from the sweat and strain.  In about 14 minutes of mixing/kneading on low speed, the BUP turned out a beautiful, silky dough.  I used 75% Sir Lancelot and 25% BRM enriched flour (a bread flour), and otherwise stuck with the Krakowski recipe in the upcoming Inside the Jewish Bakery.  After fermenting, the dough was very elastic, and it took quite an effort to roll out the strands.  After having experimented both with diastatic malt and honey in the boiling water, we’ve settled on honey for superior flavor.

The flavor and texture are very pleasing and they look nice too.

 So far, I love mah BUP.


GSnyde's picture

 Since my Danish pastry adventure last week, I’ve been keeping it simple.  Last Sunday I baked some of my San Francisco Country Sourdough (8.5% whole wheat, 6% whole rye, 40% liquid levain, 75% hydration).  I’ve reported variations on this formula before, for instance here (…and-oven).  Last week I used bread flour in the levain instead of all purpose, to get a bit chewier crumb.

It rose mightily and had good oven spring.  And the crumb was a bit denser than usual due to the higher-protein flour in the levain.  It had a nice,  mildly sour flavor.

Then today, I baked Maggie Glezer’s “My Challah”, with shaping assistance from my live-in semi-professional braiding advisor.

We did have a wide variety of previously frozen baked goods this weekend.  Brother David and his wife Susan were visiting, and we had some baguettes and some Tartine BCB and some of the gooey delicious Pecan Rolls I baked last week.  I heard no complaints (not that I was listening).

I also understand that David and Susan stopped for lunch today at Della Fattoria in Petaluma on their way back to Fresno.  Perhaps we’ll get a report on that nearly legendary bakery (maybe there are legends about it; I’ve just never heard them).

In addition to good eating, we enjoyed the cool North Coast weather and our late Summer garden, with its multi-colored Heathers.



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