The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Okay the Hungarian rolls filled with walnut are absolutely to die for! This is one of the best things I have ever taken out of my oven!

I baked a half recipe of Bakery Challah:

This enriched dough is similar in many ways to my beloved Pulla, but uses more egg and water rather than milk. The crumb is more open in this loaf, but I do miss the cardamom and perhaps will add some next bake -- a kind of hybrid challah/ pulla bake.

I have had great sweet levain, YW levain pulla results, so I took a similar approach to this challah using about 10% each YW sns SL. This challah has a nice open crust and makes dynamite French Toast, fried in butter and topped with maple syrup or cinnamon and sugar or both. YUMM!

I am really enjoying this book! It is almost time to try the almond horns again . . . oink, oink. The problem is we are getting bombed with snow and I love the skiing, so ski mornings and bake afternoons. It is a happy combination!

Best regards, Brian

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I followed the three stage build by the book and only varied from the formula at the proof and bake stage. I shaped a boule and proofed seam side down in my new brotform, then baked in a hot cast iron dutch oven. I did score the loaf and I thought it looked like I had deflated it, but the loaf sprang nicely and the seams burst organically.

I have a fairly new Henckels serrated bread knife and I had to saw for quite a while to get through the crust. The crust has a nice snap when you bite into it, a very soft crumb and wonderful flavour!

This bread made a superb Montreal smoked meat sandwich and this bread will be going into my regular baking rotation. Next bake I will add the onions, dehydrated and fresh, fried in oil along with the onion water. I really liked how that kicked up the flavour profile in my last Peter Reinhart deli rye version.

I have one more loaf to bake so my friends and neighbours will be very happy with me today. Next up is the Hungarian walnut filled rolls,

Norm and Stan, I am LOVING your book!

Best regards, Brian

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Once again from Peter Reinhart's BBA, but I did change up a couple of things in this half version. I soaked 2 Tbs of dehydrated onion and 1/2 Tbs dehydrated garlic in boiling water. I reduced the amount of milk from his suggested 114g to 54g and used the onion water for the rest of the liquid.

At Josh's suggestion, I also built two rye starters using dark rye flour, one from my sweet levain and the other a yeast water/ rye starter. Boy did those two changes ever improve the flavour profile! Reducing the milk also gavbe a better chew and the bread didn't tear apart when i was cutting it.

I also used the rehydrated onion and garlic in the starter, did not have enough volume by weight, so fried up another 100g of onion in EVOO and added to the starter. I let the starter get happy on the counter for 4 or 5 hours and then into the fridge overnight.

This bread makes a serious smoked meat sandwich!

Happy baking folks! Brian

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I spied some chocolate hazelnut pastry in the deli yesterday and that set off the craving. I did a google search and came up with this recipe:

I scaled the formula to one half  and discovered I had only 20g of brown sugar and needed 105g. I improvised by adding 60g white sugar and 25g malt syrup. The results are outstanding! Next bake of these goodies, I will use all brown sugar, but reduce the amount and continue to use the barley syrup. YUMMMMM!

Happy baking folks and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! Brian

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This bake was one half of Peter Reinhart's recipe from BBA. I used 50g of sweet levain and 50g yeast water levain. The dough more than doubled in an hour in the bulk ferment and even half the recipe tested the capacity of my Lodge DO. This makes a wonderful sandwich bread -- piled high with Montreal smoked meat and grainy mustard. YUMMM!


50g sweet levain

50g YW levain

128g dark rye flour

80g water

170g onion, sauteed in oil

I let this get happy for about 4 hours and then began the mix.

Final dough

228g strong bread flour

64g dark rye flour

14g brown sugar

8g salt

1 tsp caraway seed

114g whole milk

100g water

I mixed, rested for 20 minutes, then kneaded for 6 minutes, then into an oiled bowl to bulk ferment. In an hour this cough had more than doubled, so degas, stretch and fold  and pre-shape. After 10 minutes I shaped a boule and proofed in a linen lined wire mesh colander suspended in a mixing bowl. After 30 minutes proofing the oven went on at 400F. After an hour of proofing I scored and baked in the hot cast DO covered for 12 minutes, then uncovered for another 24 minutes convection turning every 4 minutes. 

Happy baking! Brian

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This pulla raised with both sweet and YW levains is a Christmas present for my friends who are having this 'orphan' for dinner tonight.

 I used Ibor's 3 strand octopus braid for the first time after watching his very skilled hands work several times on the excellent videos her has posted here:

Well this braiding produced a much different loaf of pulla than I have ever baked and should make a fine Christmas gift!

Well it is time to go for dinner, so the crumb shot will have to wait.

Merry Christmas everyone!  Brian

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The yeast water really makes for some amazing oven spring. For this bake I used 50g YW and 25g sweet levains both at 100% hydration and less than 300g total flour, all AP except for the levains and still got this monster, mutant loaf:

Once again am egg wash and a generous sprinkling of sugar and ground almond. Sadly I was out of slivered almonds.

Happy baking folks! Brian

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Holy oven spring Batman! This was essentially the same as my last pulla bake but used only YW levain to leaven the loaf. I also used only 30% bread flour and 70% AP. The dough felt quite a bit more extensible than just using strong bread flour. Yeast water makes for some mighty tasty pulla and sweet dough and the loaf volumes are truly astonishing to me!

I once again brushed on an egg glaze and sprinkled liberally with sugar, ground almond and chopped slivered almonds.

Just the thing with a good cup of strong expresso coffee from my Bialetti moka -- Spanish style cafe con leche, half hot milk and half expresso. Yummmmm!

Happy baking folks! Brian


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I was quite a bit more patient this time, letting the dough tell me when it was ready and this is the best pulla I have ever baked! I topped it with the egg wash, sprinkled liberally with sugar, ground almond and slivered almonds. I totally forgot I was going to bake this as a chacon and went in to auto pilot and divided the dough into 2 balls then one ball into 3 for braids . . . Next time I will try a chacon pulla! A skibum moment!

I scaled this recipe to 2/3 my grandmothers recipe posted in varda's Pulla post, with weights.

280 grams milk scalded

6 cardamom pods, hulls removed and seeds ground, infuse in hot milk

140g sugar

188g strong bread flour, next time I will mix AP and BF, just to see

1 egg, 50g

50g sweet levain

50g YW levain

The levains were fed a day before and left on the counter to double or more and collapse.

When the milk has cooled to 80F make a sponge with the above ingredients and let it go for a couple of hours or more until nice and bubbly.

Next add 1 cup, 135g flour and mix until smooth.

2/3 tsp coarse sea salt, forgot to weigh

80g melted butter, beat the dough until it is smooth and glossy and all the butter has been combined.

175g or more flour, gradually add this until you have a firm dough that is not sticky.

Rest 10 minutes once all the flour is combined. Knead 4 minutes, rest 10 and knead 4 minutes.

The first bulk rise took about 6 hours and it more than doubled, nearly 21/2. Degassed and did a couple of S&F's, then bulked it a hour on the counter then into the fridge for 16 hours at which point it was again 21/2 times bulk.

After an hour on the counter to warm up, I divided the dough into 2 batches, one for pulla and one for cinnamon buns. After pre-shaping, resting rolling out the dough and braiding the loaf, I let it proof for about 2 hours and baked 20 minutes 400F convection, turning once and finished at 400F no convection for 4 minutes turning once.

I had this apre ski with beer and can't wait to have it for breakfast with strong coffee! Great pulla! I think my granny is smiling right now.

Happy baking, Brian



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I again baked this Forkish style, proofing seam down and baking seam up with a slash. It looks like the well sealed seam bloomed open.

Formula wise, this was identical to my last bake:

300g total flour, using strong bread flour and 10% durham semolina

231g water

8g coarse sea salt


I used 25g YW levain and 25g sweet levain @ 100% hydration and mixed about 24 hours after the levains were fed. they stayed on the counter until bed time then went into the fridge.overnight then back onto the counter to warm up for the mix.

Holey oven spring Batman! Wow does that YW ever cause an oven explosion!

Sometimes an old skibum needs a multi-purpose kitchen. Hey, I can tune my skis while the pizza dough rises.

Happy baking folks! Brian


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