The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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If anybody wonders why, after a furious start, my Equal Opportunity Baking has somewhat slowed down - that didn't happen only because of my recent trip to Germany.

My last three breads proved to be tricky, they didn't turn out quite right. One was overly spicy, one too sweet and one too dry. On the other hand, they were not so disappointing that I didn't want to deal with them again, writing a bad review, and be done, once and for all. 

So I will get back to them, giving each of them a second chance to live up to their potential.

Though I had purchased "Bread Matters", by Andrew Whitley, a while ago, I hadn't really looked into it before I chose a recipe for my Fair Baking project. The Arkatena Bread, made with a chickpea starter, and inspired by a loaf the author found in a little village bakery in Cyprus, seemed intriguing. And I certainly go for a "bread with a hefty crust, chewy crumb, and intense flavor".

Like many baking book authors, Whitley doesn't cater to the sensibilities of thrifty housewives, making his starter large enough for the needs of small bakery - only to advise you later to discard the surplus. Though I'm not a miser, I hate trashing a perfectly good guitar starter, so my first step in mastering this recipe was recalculating the amounts I really needed for one loaf.

From then on it was pretty straightforward, though I have to admit I cheated a bit with the leaven. From my experiences with GF sourdough I know that chickpea flour (together with other gluten free flours), mixed with water, develops a lively fermenting activity if you just let it sit at room temperature over three days.

I didn't feel the urgent necessity, though, to make a leaven from the scratch, being the proud owner of a couple of healthy and hungry starters. So, instead of going through stage 1, I used a bit of wheat starter in stage 2, deducting the amount of whole wheat and adding the missing chickpea flour (from stage 1) to the production leaven.

Otherwise I followed the recipe instructions closely, but used steam for the bake, a measure Whitley, for some reason, doesn't suggest.

The result was this beautiful bread:

I couldn't wait to try it! But when I took my first bite, the only thing I tasted was FENNEL! Any other, more delicate aroma was completely knocked out.

Being a German, I love breads seasoned with anise, caraway, fennel and coriander - the typical German bread spices. And I do like fennel. But only as a hint of spiciness, not as full frontal attack. Whitley's original recipe has 6 g fennel seeds per 577 g flour = 1%!

We also found the bread could do with a little more salt (it had only 1.2%).

Everything else about the bread was fine, the crumb, the crust - and I still wanted to know how a chickpea leaven could flavor a bread.

So, after my baking break, when I came back from Hamburg, I made another Arkatena bread, this time with a little rye starter as stage 1 leaven. I added 10 g salt (instead of 7 g). And I reduced the pesky fennel to just 1 gram.

As before, the bread turned out beautiful:

I was a little impatient, and probably should have waited another 15 minutes before placing it in the oven, it "exploded" a bit. This time it tasted really nice, with a complex aroma, and still spicy enough with a hint of fennel.

Since I used a bit of mature starter, the overall development of the leaven didn't take 3 days, but only one.


5 g whole wheat or rye starter
15 g water
15 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
45 g all first step leaven
19 g water
23 g whole wheat flour
4 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
91 g all second step leaven
68 g water
28 g whole wheat flour
28 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
85 g all-purpose flour
100 g whole wheat flour
300 g all-purpose flour
10 g salt
300 g water
1 - 2 g fennel seeds
300 g production leaven (all)

DAY 1:

1. Prepare 3-step starter. Let the first step leaven sit for ca. 6 hours, the second one for ca. 4 - 6 hours, and production leaven for 4 - 6 hours, or overnight.

DAY 2:

2. Mix a dough with all ingredients except fennel and leaven, 8 - 10 minutes of vigorous action. Dough should be soft and elastic (82ºF/28ºC). Add starter and fennel, and work a few minutes more until smooth, but still somewhat sticky.

3. Transfer dough to a moistened work surface, cover with an upturned bowl (sprayed with water). Let rest for 1 hour.

4. S & F, using a scraper in each hand. Dip dough ball gently in a bowl with whole wheat flour, so that it's completely covered. Place in floured proofing basket, seam side up. Let proof for 3 - 5 hours (poke test, mine took about 4 hours).

5. Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC, including steam pan. Invert basket onto parchment lined baking sheet. Score 2 - 3 times.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400ºF/200ºC, and continue baking for 10 minutes. Rotate, and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes.

NOTE: When I make this bread again, I would try working with autolyse, instead of long "vigorous" kneading.

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Warnemünde is not only the harbor for Hansetown Rostock, but a graceful old Baltic Sea resort. Thanks to the former GDR's lack of money, none of the nice old houses was torn down to make place to modern non descript highrise hotels, like in West Germany.

When I first visited my cousin's family in 1957, houses were grey, with flaking paint, looking more and more dilapidated every year . That changed dramatically after the fall of the wall and the reunion 1989. All the houses were fixed-up, by and by.

The yacht pier, used by communistic party VIPs (and closed to the public), was opened and turned into a fish market,

with lots of smoke shacks (I never saw so many kinds of smoked fish before) and even an open air bakery

Those naughty boys on the bakery sign are Max and Moritz - characters from the classic German childrens' book.  After sneaking into a bakery, camouflaging themselves with dough, surviving being baked, and eating their way out of their bread armour, they get nabbed. Their long and successful carreer as juvenile delinquents ends as - kibbles for miller's geese!

Street bakery at the fish market pier (with a woodfired oven) with freshly baked Potato Carrot Breads.


In one of the many waterfront restaurants we had "all-you-can-eat" herring. You can't buy them in Maine, though there are plenty - they all end up at bait for the lobster traps. Much as I like lobster, nothing compares to fresh, pan fried herring.


Easter was cold but sunny, we walked along the Alster - a large lake in the middle of Hamburg -

had family dinner overlooking the habor, where paddle wheel boat "Louisiana" passed by


And when we went back to the airport, and had time for breakfast, we were utterly amazed to find this:

a bakery that made everyting from the scratch, from organic ingredients, right in Terminal 1

On the left is a dough divider (for rolls), the glass box a proofing cabinet.


"Marché Bakery" offers a large selection of breads and pastries. I chose this roll with a twist:

It was as good as it looked like! The best breakfast I ever had in an airport.


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Visiting my family and friends in Germany I took some photos I want to share.

My friend Michaela likes shopping at an organic farm store at Gut Wulfsdorf. I never sah Laugenbaguettes (pretzel baguettes) or Laugencroissants (pretzel croissants) before. The baguettes tasted quite nice, the crumb was airy but a bit chewier than regular one.

The breads are baked in a wood fired oven at the farm bakery. (This is a batch of Easter Bunny Cookies.)

All breads are baked at the same time, for one hour, but in different places in the oven, where temperatures are higher, or lower.


They use only beech wood, or beech wood shavings, from a local forest, to achieve an even temperature (they tried it once with mixed wood, and that didn't work).


Their whole grain flours are milled on the premises.

The vegetable section in the store: six different kinds of heirloom carrots, in red, yellow, white and black.

My cousin Uta has an incredible bakery around the corner. This is a Sunday breakfast basket - every one of these rolls tasted great.


And she baked us a wonderful Chocolate Apple Torte (I never heard of this flavor combination before - the apples went well with the rich chocolate frosting).

And when I visited the Hansetown Wismar, an UNECO world heritage monument - here the "Alter Schwede" (Old Swede) restaurant

we had in a nearby cafe this Marzipan Torte. It was really difficult to choose from Cafe Hegede's selection of mothwatering cakes.




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Was it my childish resistance against praying with St. Jeffrey's faithful congregation, or an unconscious dislike of dealing with a tome - so far I haven't baked a lot from Hamelman's "Bread". Though one bread, the wonderful "5-Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough", made it straight into Karin's Bread Hall of Fame, and his "Rye Sourdough with Walnuts" formula I used for testing a 1-step versus a 3-step starter (

For my "Equal Opportunity Challenge" I wanted kill two birds with one stone, giving "Bread" another chance, and finding a vehicle for the chia seeds I had just purchased for a bargain price. Therefore I chose a simple white loaf, one of the first formulas of the book: "Country Bread".

Working with the recipe wasn't very difficult. I refrigerated the mature pre-ferment overnight, and upped the amount of water in the dough a bit to accomodate the chia seeds (I didn't soak them, since, according to the description on the tag, "you can eat them directly out of the package"). The dough was slightly sticky, as intended, and I gave it an extra Stretch & Fold right away, and let it ferment for an additional 50 minutes after the last fold.

The result was a very pretty loaf, with a pleasant, slightly nutty taste - for people who don't care too much for sourdough tang. Unfortunately, the Andersons do not belong to these mild mannered goodie-two-shoes, we like our yeasts wild and free!

Therefore, this gentle bread will have to find another home, even jazzed up with chia seeds it is a bit too tame for us.

Country Bread - with chia seeds





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The best recipe collection (bread, rolls and snacks) of German bakers' magazine, "Allgemeine Bäckerzeitung", supplied the formula for my third "fair baked" bread.

A heavy weight, scaled for 21 loaves, with selling points, marketing tips, production cost and time calculation, including sales tax (7%) and even a suggested retail price (1.83 Euro). The production steps are briefly listed - no need to explain to professionals what they do every day.

  Die besten Rezepte aus der Allgemeinen Bäckerzeitung - Brot, Brötchen & Snacks

Scaling the ingredients down to home bakering proportions was not difficult (a minimum of 3 loaves), and the instructions, though brief, were precise, and didn't overtax my mental capacities.

The recipe said (more or less) only: "make a dough". I tried to stretch and fold it, but that didn't work too well, the dough was too wet. Therefore, instead of soaking only the flaxseeds in hot water for 1 hour (original recipe) I would include some of the flour in the soaker, to have a larger preferment, and more water already absorbed in the flour.

I like to retard my doughs, overnight fermentation works better for my schedule, and, also, improves the taste (the original recipe had only the longer starter development.)

The Bäckerzeitung says: "roll the shaped loaves over a wet towel, and then dip them into the (topping) seed mixture". Though this coated the breads nicely with seeds, they didn't stick well enough, and a lot of them fell off during and after baking. Next time I would either take care to press them more into the dough, or brush the loaves with egg white, instead of just moistening them with water.

The breads turned out very nice, crusted with seeds they looked quite attractive, and the taste? Modestly (haha!) I will only quote my friend Lynn - beneficiary of this triplet bake: "Our seedy, seedy bread was delish! We toasted it which really brought out the flavor of the seeds! Mmmmmmm!"



143 g whole wheat flour
  84 g medium rye flour
299 g water
     4 g salt
129 g flaxseed

  21 g rye mother starter (mine is 100% hydrated)
214 g medium rye flour
214 g water, lukewarm

all starter and soaker
130 g medium rye flour
143 g bread flour
187 g water
    5 g instant yeast
  12 g salt
129 g sesame, toasted
129 g hemp seeds
    2 g anise, caraway, fennel and/or coriander
 14 g sesame seeds (for topping)
 14 g hemp seeds (for topping
 14 g flaxseed (for topping)

 DAY 1:

1. In the morning, stir together all ingredients for soaker, cover and let sit at room temperature. Mix all ingredients for starter (in 1-step), cover and let ferment at room temperature.

In the evening, mix together all ingredients for final dough for 1 - 2 minutes on low speed. Knead on medium-low speed for 4 minutes (or knead by hand). Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for another minute (dough will still be somewhat sticky). Divide dough into 3 portions, place in oiled containers, cover and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 2:

2. Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using. Shape into sandwich loaves. Roll breads over wet towel, and then over seed mixture. Gently press seeds into dough. Place breads in oiled loaf pans. (No scoring). Mist with spray oil, cover, and let rise for 45 - 60 minutes, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size.

3. Preheat oven to 240ºC/465ºF, including steam pan. Place pans into oven, steaming with 1 cup of boiling water. Bake at falling temperatures: 10 minutes at 240ºC/465ºF, 10 minutes at 220ºC/428ºF, then turn loaves out onto baking sheet, remove steam pan and continue baking for 10 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF, and 10 minutes at 180ºC/355ºF. The internal temperature should be at least 200 F/93 C.

4. Let breads cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

Saatenbrot - Many Seed Bread




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Fellow baker Hanaâ ( instigated me to buy yet another baking book - as if my bookshelves were not already buckling down under the weight of my cooking library. She invited me to join her ABC baking challenge, every month trying out a new recipe, currently from Abby Dodge's: "The Weekend Baker". The author, contributing editor of one of my favorite magazines, "Fine Cooking", also posted the recipe here:

My husband loves sticky buns and their sugar laden relatives, but, though I like cinnamon, I was never very fond of the overly sweet stuff he would sometimes buy. Therefore, without Hanaâ's challenge, I would probably never have thought of baking cinnamon rolls.

What I especially like about "The Weekend Baker" and this recipe, are the several "do ahead" options. I prefer working with slow fermentation for my breads, and most doughs show their appreciation for the cold treatment with a significant better taste, so, after a 30-minute rise, I put my my dough to sleep in the fridge overnight.

I always try to incorporate some whole grains in my recipes, a substitution of 10% white flour with whole grains doesn't require additional liquid, so I replaced 47 g of all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

The recipe was easy to follow, and the next morning the dough had nicely risen in the fridge. I rolled it out cold - it will come to room temperature quickly - and the filling was no problem, either. Next time I probably would add some toasted, chopped nuts, though.

Cutting a roll of dough in even slices with a bench scraper or knife is not that easy, the layers slipping away over the crumbly filling. Using dental floss, as Hanaâ suggested, works much better.

I skipped glazing the rolls, nice as it looks, it adds even more sugar, without contributing to the taste. And even without this decoration - the cinnamon rolls looked beautiful when they came out of the oven and their wonderful aroma filled the whole house, so that I could hardly wait to try one until they had cooled down a bit.

"... now I know their taste - now I'm a believer..." you don't have to be a Monkee to love these treats!
I am converted, and my husband could wallow in them, so good are they!

They, also, freeze well, wrapped in plastic foil and then placed in a ziplock bag. To enjoy them you only have to nuke them for a few seconds, and then re-crisp them at 350ºF/175ºC for a few minutes in the oven.

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The second bread on my "Equal Opportunity Baking" list ( got its place near the top because of my curiosity.

In the past I had read several comments on the many errata in Leader's books, and, therefore, decided not to buy it. But Christmas came, and, being blessed with three daughters (2 step and 1 own), I found several baking books under the tree, among them "Local Breads".

With my fair baking pledge in mind, I searched for the errata posts in TFL again, and saw Mini's (MiniOven) comment on a translation error, a mixup between the German term for caraway = Kümmel (a typical German bread spice) and cumin = Kreuzkümmel (a spice used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes). Both taste totally different, and cumin has no part in traditional German cuisine.

I looked at the German bread section in the book, and found that Mini was right. Somebody had posted Sharon Burns-Leaders' contact address, and I emailed her about Mini's and mine observation. She answered me promptly:

"Thanks for the correction! Since it was pointed out it seems quite silly that we never questioned it! I do try to answer all of the queries from readers personally myself,  though reading through some of the posts on The Fresh Loaf was, I have to admit, a bit frightening.  We did work very hard on that book and I personally tested every recipe so the personal and passionate comments were a little hard to hear when they were critical, however, I am amazed, as always, at the dedicated and talented bakers that are out there!"

That was a very gracious answer, and I decided to cut Leader's book some slack, and find out for myself how his recipes are working. Because I like breads with walnuts, I chose a variation of his Whole Wheat Sourdough Miche, French Walnut Bread.

I have a lively 75% hydration starter in my fridge, so I didn't have to make a levain from the scratch. Leader's stiff levain contains a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, so I started with feeding my whole wheat mother starter with AP flour, adjusting the water to make the stiffer levain.

Since I had decided to give my new KA 600 Pro a chance, I mixed the dough with it,  again regretting my jump at Amazon's "Black Monday" bait, when the bowl started wobbling and would have jumped out of the holders if it wasn't held down with brutal force.

Long experience with nut additions told me not to wait until the dough had fully formed (it's a real big pain to work the nuts in at this stage - I really don't know why all baking books, from Reinhart to Hamelman insist on doing that!), so I fed them slowly to the dough while kneading.

I basically retard all my doughs, so I did the same with the French Walnut Bread, placing it in the refrigerator after an hour of rising, and a brief kneading. The dough was, as expected, a bit sticky, but not too difficult to handle.

Overnight the dough had almost doubled, and, after it came to room temperature, behaved exactly as it should. Instead of steaming, with ice cubes I used a steam pan and boiling water - why lower the oven temperature unnecessarily?

The result was a good tasting bread, with the typical purple-ish color (walnut "dye") and a nice airy crumb.

Next time I might just use S & F as in Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day", instead of a long, slow knead.




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My first "Equal Opportunity Bread" (see my last post) had to be a batch of rolls. I like having a supply of rolls in my freezer, when we come home from a trip, and want a bread that thaws faster than a large loaf. So I grabbed one of my most favorite baking books - hey, who said I couldn't include my favorites in my fair baking? - "Brot aus Südtirol". Richard Ploner's breads are all small, mini breads, or rolls. The (professional baker's) reasoning: "They should all have the same size in a mixed bread basket".

This baking book has everything going for it, interesting recipes and appetizing photos. Unfortunately, it has not been translated into English, yet. Because of this sad omission I am happy to be able to translate at least some of its wonderful recipes for English speaking bakers.

The one thing I always change - apart for an adaptation of the ingredients to what is available in the US - are the very short fermentation times. Ploner doesn't retard his doughs, but I do, and I am sure that even these nice breads benefit from it.

The original recipe lists sugar caramel color (15 g) - I didn't have it and didn't see a real need for it, either. Richard Ploner lets you choose between toasted soy flakes and pumpkin seeds - for me a no-brainer, since I love toasted pumpkin seeds, and buy them in bulk. The sesame seeds I toasted, too, to enhance their "nuttiness".



6 g instant yeast
280 g water, lukewarm
300 g all-purpose flour
100 g medium rye flour
100 g whole wheat flour
5 g malted barley flour (non diastatic)
5 g sugar (1 tsp.)
6 g sesame seeds, toasted (2 tsp.)
50 g pumpkin seeds, toasted, chopped
3 g whole caraway seeds (1 tsp.)
10 g salt

DAY 1:

1. Dissolve instant yeast in warm water. Mix with other dough ingredients to form a rough ball, 1 - 2 minutes on low speed (or with a wooden spoon). Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

2. Knead on medium-low speed (or by hand) for 2 minutes, adjusting with water, if needed (dough should be a bit sticky). Continue kneading for 4 more minutes, the last 20 seconds at medium-high speed (dough should still be more sticky than tacky).

3. Transfer dough to lightly floured work bench, and, with wet or oiled hands, stretch into a rough square, fold like a business letter, and then fold again like a business letter from the short sides. Tuck sides under dough to shape a ball, and place in oiled bowl, seam side down. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

4. Repeat S & F for 3 more times at 10 minute intervals (total time 40 minutes). After the last fold, place into oiled container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 2:

5. Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, it should have doubled in size (or shape cold, with then longer rising time).

6. Preheat oven to 428ºF/220ºC, including steam pan. Divide dough into 10 equal pieces. Pre-shape into rounds. Let relax for 5 minutes.

7. With both hands, roll rounds into 10-cm/4" long strands, with tapered ends. Place, seam side down, on parchment lined baking sheet. Score lengthwise. Mist with oil spray, cover, and let rise for 45 - 60 minutes, or until they have grown ca. 1 1/2 times their original size.

8. Bake for 12 minutes, steaming with 1 cup of boiling water. Rotate rolls, remove steam pan, and continue baking for another 13 minutes, until they are golden brown. Leave in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar for 5 more minutes, then let cool on a wire rack.

Malzbrot - These rolls went straight into Karin's Bread Hall of Fame - they are soooo good!


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Like some teachers have their "pets", I have some favorite baking books that I always turn to when I'm looking for new recipes. These books have old envelopes, supermarket receipts, movie tickets, and other odd papers stuck between pages as markers,  my own volume/weight conversions (or corrections), and lots of scribbled comments. And, they are also graded with stars, enthusiastic exclamation marks, or a scathing: "Not that great!"

Then there are The Others, bought or received as presents, that, for some reasons, never captured my attention, either because they have no attractive photos to inspire me, their design is too dull, their write-up too boring (yes, I am that shallow!), or I just forgot all about them. They end up in a dark corner of my bookshelf, forsaken and forlorn, probably hiding treasures that no one will ever know in the Anderson house - and NOBODY CARES!

This shameful negligence has to come to an end - these books are people, too! They, too, deserve a chance to be looked at, taken seriously, and, maybe, supply the next candidate for Karin's Bread Hall of Fame.

So my New Year's Resolution is this Equal Opportunity Pledge -  fair treatment of all my baking books, every one shall have a chance, no more "pet baking", but equal opportunity for all those disadvantaged recipe collections, that never saw the light of my kitchen!

LIST OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY BREADS (with links to the posts):

  • Richard Ploner: Malzbrot - Tyrolean Rye Malt Rolls ("Brot aus Südtirol") DONE!
  • Daniel Leader: French Walnut Bread - Pain au Levain Complet aux Noix ("LocalBreads") DONE!
  • Saatenbrot - German Many Seed Bread ("Die besten Rezepte aus der Allgemeinen Bäckerzeitung") DONE! 
  • Jeffrey Hamelman: Country Bread ("Bread") DONE!
  • Andrew Whitley: Arkatena Bread ("Bread Matters") DONE! 
  • Müslibrötchen - German Muesli Rolls ("Brot & Kleingebäck") DONE!
  • Bill Middeke: Beer Rye Bread ("Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club") DONE! 
  • Bernd Armbrust: Camembert-Trauben-Brot - Camembert Grape Bread ("Brot") DONE! (But needs more work)
  • Peter Reinhart: Croissants ("Artisan Bread Every Day")
  • Fanny Gerson: Mexican Conchas ("My Sweet Mexico")
  • Dan Lepard: Alehouse Rolls ("The Guardian")
  • Bäckerei Hesse: Herzbube Walnuss - Knight of Hearts Walnut ("Brot - So backen unsere besten Bäcker")
  • Jan Hedh: Cosa Nostra Bread ("Swedish Breads & Pastry")
  • Bauernbrot - Farmers' Loaf ("Brotrezepte aus ländlichen Backstuben")
  • Cornelia Zingerling: Mandel-Vollkorn-Brot ("Brot backen")
  • Niels Schöner: Pain au Levain de Sarrasin ("Notes From a Floury German Kitchen")
  • Vollkorntoastbrot mit Leinsamen - Whole Grain Toast Bread with Flaxseed ("Brot backen - Köstliche Rezepte aus der guten alten Zeit")
  • E. and J. Wood: Cranberry-Nut Sourdough ("Classic Sourdoughs")
  • Ayla Agar: Turkish Simit ("Classic Turkish Cooking") (this is a different version of Simit than the one I posted already).
  • Ute-Marion Wilkesmann: Allerweltsbrötchen - Ordinary Rolls ("Brötchen statt Brot")
  • Chad Robertson: Basic Country Bread with Sesame ("Tartine")
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum: Golden Semolina Torpedo - Altamura ("The Bread Bible")
  • Richard Bertinet: Breton Bread ("Crust")
  • J. Alford and N. Duguid: Ethiopian Spice Bread ("Flatbreads & Flavors")
  • R. Topp and A. Riffert: Heilkräuterbrot - Healing Herb Bread ("Vollkornbäckerei zu Hause")
  • Martin Pöt Stoldt: Buttermilch-Weizenvollkorn-Kastenbrot - Buttermilk Wheat Sandwich Loaf ("Der Sauerteig - das unbekannte Wesen")
  • Floyd Mann: Rustic Bread ("The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread")

So far, so good. There might be more.....

Malzbrot - Tyrolean Rye Malt Rolls - they went straight into my Bread Hall of Fame!

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Last spring Breadsong posted about Alsatian Beer Bread, a formula developed by Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, published in "Modern Baking", a professional bakers' website I liked the looks of her buns, and was intrigued by the beer crunch crust  (if it's crunchy AND made with beer, it must be good!) so I copied the recipe from "Modern Baking" to my ever growing to-do list.

Alsatia is famous for its  happy marriage between French and German cuisine, as shown in Zwiebelkuchen - Onion Tarte (, and Elsässer Apfeltorte - Alsatian Apple Torte. 

It's also home of one of my favorite authors, Tomi Ungerer, known for his quirky, illustrated books for children and adults, whose heroes are no mild mannered goodie-two-shoes, but usually just the opposite - like the stubborn cat boy in: "No Kiss for Mother". And even in his wonderful illustrations for a book of German folk songs ("Das grosse Liederbuch") he always manages to smuggle one little nasty detail in his otherwise idyllic scenes and landscapes.

Like me, Tomi Ungerer loves cats and good food, and is no tee-totaller. And as an Alsatian, he must love this bread, too.


 95 g all-purpose flour
 95 g bread flour
   3 g salt
    1 g instant yeast (1/4 tsp.)
119 g water
 28 g potato flakes
 98 g water, (to soak potato flakes)
all pate fermentee
250 g bread flour
125 g rye flour (whole or medium)
    9 g salt
    4 g instant yeast
220 g water
BEER CRUNCH (enough for 6 breads)
50 g rye flour
90 g beer
2 g salt
1 g instant yeast
rye flour , for dustin

DAY 1:

1. Prepare pâte fermentée. Let ferment at least 3 hours at room temperature, stretch and fold, then refrigerate.

 DAY 2 :

2. Remove pâte fermentée from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

In a small bowl, mix potato flakes with water.

 3. Combine all dry dough ingredients with pâte fermentée. Add cautiously 220 g water (not all might be needed). Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, add potato flakes and knead for another 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and continue kneading another for 2-3 minutes.

 4. Let rise for 1 hour. Divide dough into 3 pieces (350 g), pre-shape into rounds, let rest for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, combine ingredients for beer crunch in small bowl.

 5. Fold 3 sides of rounds into center to make triangles. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. Spread beer crunch over loaves, then dust with rye flour.

 6. Preheat oven to 470 F/245 C. Let breads proof for 1 hour at 81 F/27 C. (If rye flour is absorbed, dust again before baking).

 7. Bake for 20 minutes, (no steam,) rotate, and continue baking for another 20 minutes.


Comments: The original recipe lists only an unspecified pre-ferment. I used a pâte fermentée, but I'm sure a levain would work as well.

It also has 240 g water for the final dough, but cautions that might be too much. It was! The dough looked at first drier than it really was, and I had to adjust with more flour to keep it from being wet like Pain à l'Ancienne dough, and totally unshapable. Therefore I suggest using 220 g water.

The original formula's baking temperature (470 F) and time (40 minutes) reflects conditions in a commercial oven, after 20 minutes baking time the breads were already getting rather dark, and after 25 minutes the internal temperature had already reached 208 F, so I took them out. Thinking of David Snyder's San Joaquin Sourdough, I would next time bake the breads at 460 F, for about 27 - 29 minutes, plus leaving them longer in the switched-off oven to prevent the crust from softening.

All in all, a really nice bread, with a hearty note from the rye, a great crust, and an attractive look. I will add it to my repertoire.

Updated 2/11/12 to include some information Kim gave me (who had made this bread at a baking class with Chef Pierre Zimmermann).


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