The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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emkay's picture

The Chinese like soft and fluffy white breads. The whiter, the better. It might explain why something called Hong Kong flour exists. The HK flour is bleached and low in protein so that the resulting bread is super white and super soft. I don't really mind if my Chinese breads turn out white or not. So I just use what I have on hand which is Central Milling's Artisan Bakers Craft, a 10.5% protein, organic, malted, unbleached flour. The results are definitely more off-white than white. Soft and fluffy is easy. Enrichments such as butter, egg and milk will do the trick. Using a tangzhong aka water roux helps with the softness and keeping quality.


This bun is a purely Asian creation. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with Mexico although buns with a cookie-like topping are reminiscent of conchas. I don't know who invented it first and I have no idea why the Chinese like topping breads with a cookie batter, but it's pure genius. The cookie melds with the bread dough and creates a thin, crispy, cookie-ish layer. Depending on the ingredient ratios in the cookie batter, the layer can be fused with the bread and cannot be peeled off. Or if the cookie batter is stiffer, the baked layer can be peeled or flaked off the bread and eaten separately which is the way I did it as a child when eating boh loh bao aka pineapple buns (which have no pineapple in it at all).

I used instant espresso powder in my cookie topping, but instant coffee powder can be used instead. You can leave out the coffee and have a plain vanilla topping. I used a tangzhong milk loaf for my buns. They turned out super soft, fluffy and shreddable. The topping was crisp on day one, but softened considerably by day two.




I left a few without topping. The topping weighs down the bun a bit so the topped ones spread out instead of up.


The bottom of the bun.


The crumb.



Bakers' percentages for the bun dough

100% flour*, 75% whole milk*, 10% sugar, 12.5% egg, 1% instant dry yeast, 1.5% salt, 10% butter

[* 5% of the total flour was used in the tangzhong. TZ ratio was 1:5 flour to milk.]

Bun dough recipe

To make the tangzhong: In a saucepan whisk 20 g AP flour into 100 g whole milk until it's pretty smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 149F/65C. It should be pudding like. Allow the tangzhong to cool before using it in the dough.

380 g AP flour

200 g whole milk, 85-90F

40 sugar

50 g egg

4 g instant dry yeast (SAF red)

6 g salt

40 g unsalted butter, softened

all of the tangzhong

  1. In a KA stand mixer, mix everything except the butter on speed 1 for 3 minutes.

  2. Add the butter and mix on speed 2 until all the butter is incorporated, about 2 -3 minutes.

  3. Bulk ferment at room temp until doubled, about 1 hour.

  4. Scale each bun at 55 grams. (I got 15 buns.)

  5. Proof on sheet pans at room temp for 30-45 minutes.

  6. Pipe cookie topping onto each proofed bun.

  7. Bake buns at 375F for about 15 mins or until golden brown. Best served warm.   

Coffee cookie topping

50g unsalted butter, softened

50g granulated sugar

50g egg, lightly beaten

70g AP flour

1 tsp instant espresso powder

1 tsp water

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Dissolve the espresso powder in the warm water and mix in vanilla extract. Set aside.

  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  3. Beat in the egg until well combined.

  4. Beat in the espresso mixture.

  5. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated.

  6. Transfer topping to a pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tip.

  7. Store in the refrigerator until needed. (Can be made 2 day in advance.)

  8. Allow the topping to soften a bit at room temp for about 5 or 10 minutes before piping it onto the proofed buns.

 :) Mary

isand66's picture

  One of my favorite breads is my Sourdough Date Bread which was inspired by my good friend Khalid.  Since I recently picked up some fresh dates from the supermarket the other day I figured it was time to try it again but with some slight modifications.

I didn't buy enough dates so I had to reduce the amount used slightly which didn't seem to make that much of a difference.  I also used a higher percentage of French Style flour which I recently purchased from KAF.  I really love working with this flour so I wanted to use a higher amount than before while also removing the Spelt and Durum flour but keeping the freshly ground whole wheat.

The final change was to add some chocolate raspberry balsamic vinegar to bump up the flavors a little.  I thought this would add a little more sweetness to the bread and compliment the dates well.

The final bread came out excellent with a nice dark crust from the sugars in the dates and wonderful sweet and tangy flavor which goes well with just about anything.  The crumb was nice and moist as well.

Please note:  the dates are simmered in part of the water used for the main dough and instead of chopping them up  I just mushed them a little in the bowl which worked out fine.


Sour Dough Date Bread Act 2.2 (%)

Sour Dough Date Bread Act 2.2 (weights)

Download BreadStorm .bun file here.


Levain Directions

Step 1

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.

Step 2

Mix the flour and water with all of the levain from step 1 and let it sit at room temperature again until it is doubled.  At this point you can either use it right away or put it in the refrigerator and use it the next 1 to 2 days.

Date Preparation

Make sure there are no pits in the dates and do not trust the package like I did which claimed they were pitted dates.  Simmer the dates in 226 grams of water until they are soft.  After you remove them from the heat, add 100 grams of cold water and let the dates sit until they come back down to room temperature.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours with the remainder of the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the dates, butter and salt and mix on low for 2 minutes and speed #2 for another 2 minutes or by hand for about 6 minutes.   You should end up with a cohesive dough that is slightly tacky but very manageable.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.  I made 1 large Miche for this bake.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.  (Note: since I made one large bread I needed to lower the oven further to 425 F. for about half of the baking time to prevent the crust from burning).

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.




dabrownman's picture

Lucy noticed that we were out of Jewish Deli Rye sandwich bread and pumpernickel too so she was flummoxed as to which one she would craft up a recipe for this week.  Of course she chose pumpernickel since I is always her favorite kind of bread but, since I had recently smoked a corned beef, freezing half, I told her the pumpernickel would have to wait.


She knows out favorite JDR is tzitzel and we have messed with the formula  several times trying to get it right – without total success but we love the final SD bread anyway. It eventually became a 40% whole rye bread that was a little less hydrated than out usual bread for that amount of whole grains.


Lucy then decided to continue our sprouted grain baking by using 30% sprouted whole rye and wheat in the mix and increase the amount of whole grains to 60% by using 30% whole un-sprouted rye and wheat as well.  In the past, 30% sprouted grain in the mix became somewhat of a fermenting nemesis making a long, shaped proof in the fridge of 20 hours problematic.  We thought we would give it another go to verify the previous outcomes.


We sprouted the equal parts of rye and wheat on Monday and dried them outside in the AZ sun at 105 F on Wednesday before the monsoon rains came around dumping 2 of rain is a very short period of time.   We milled the sprouted and whole grains together and sifted out the 15% hard bits totaling 42 g which we fed to the 9 week retarded rye starter to make the levain over 3 builds.


The first build was 2 hours the 2nd stage was 3 hours and 3rd stage was 4 hours.  Once the levain rose 50% in volume we retarded it for 12 hours.  An hour after the levain came out of the fridge the next day, we started the 1 hour autolyse with the remaining dough flour, red malt, sprouting water and water with the salt sprinkled on top – so no chance for forgetting it.


I know what you are thinking.  Tzitzel not made with any sprouted flour or even any whole meal flour either.  It is made with medium rye flour, bread flour and commercial yeast.  Lucy’s Sorta Tizitzel Like Sprouted Sourdough is getting pretty far from the mark but since she can’t read or understand English – it isn’t all her fault.


I think she just called it that to please her master and feed his Tzitizel Fever Fetish.  Still, it sounded pretty good if the sprouted flour didn’t create its usual run away fermenting mass that would eat the fridge and probably the most susceptible and most tasty part of the kitchen.


Tough to beat  good, bacon, brie,  blue cheese mushroon burger - once a month!

Once the levain hit the mix, we did our usual 3 sets of slap and folds of 7, 2 and 1 minute – all on 20 minute intervals.   Since the hydration was low for this amount of whole grains. We did 2 slaps to each fold and I can say thy dough completely quit sticking to the counter after the first 7 minutes.  With 30% whole rye in the mix you have to change your rule of thumb about quitting the first set of slap and folds when the dough stops sticking to the counter.  It was sticking much but there was a bit left behind – so no worries.  By the time we finished up the slap and folds the dough came off the counter clean.


Can't remember the last time we had grilled lamb chops.

We incorporated the aromatic seeds into the dough on the first set of stretch and folds and they were thoroughly incorporated after the 3rd set.  The S&F’s were done on 15 minute intervals unlike the slap and folds.  We normally would put more aromatic seeds in this bread but we wanted to get a better feel for the difference in taste using 30% sprouted whole grains and didn’t want as much competition coming from the seeds.


Once the S&F’s were done, we shaped the dough into a boule rather than the typical Tzitzel batard.  It was immediately bagged in a trash can liner and placed in the fridge for a 20 retard but decided we would check it at 16 hours anyway.


We took th proofed dough out of the fridge at the 20 hour mark and let it warm up on the counter for an hour before firing up the Mini oven.  We got 2 of Sylvia’s steaming cups ready in the microwave, upended the dough onto parchment on the top vented cover of the MO’s broiler pan, slashed the boule T-Rex style and slid the whole assembly into he mini oven at 500 F for 15 minutes of steam.


After 4 minutes we turned the oven sown to 475 F.  It is nice to be baking Mini Oven Style again.  After the steam came out, we turned the oven down to 425 F convection this time and continued to bake another 12 minutes until the bread reached 210 F on the inside and was removed to the cooling rack.


We love a rich beef stew even in the hot Az summer.

This bread smelled great when it was baking and filling the kitchen with that aromatic seed smell known to make master bakers fall their knees crying and also so their apprentices can get to them to do a nose rip so no one knows what their master is crying about for sure.  Lucy is famous for her nose rips and my wife and I have the scars to prove it – think Chinatown.


This bread browned up very well, sprang a bit and bloomed enough to reveal the nasty dinosaur footprint.   It came out of the oven very crisp with small blisters.  We will have to see how the crumb came out after lunch.  We had to dig out some smoked pork from the fridge for today's lunch after we tasted this bread.  This might be the best high percent whole grin Jewish deli rye style bread we have ever made.  The crumb was open, soft and moist.  The subtle aromatic seeds came through just enough.  The sprouted grain gave the bread a more complex and deeper flavor.  This is one fine sandwich bread.  Can't wait to but some smoked corned beef on it.



RyeSD Starter Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



9 Week Retarded Rye Starter






15% Ext. Sprouted Rye & Wheat
























Starter Totals


















Starter Hydration






Levain % of Total Flour












Dough Flour






85% Ext. Sprouted  Rye & Wheat






KA Bread Flour






Total Dough Flour


















Sprout Water 180 & Water






Dough Hydration












Total Flour w/ Starter






Sprout Water 180 & Water w/ Starter












Total. Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Grain - Sprouted Grain






Spice Mix






Red Malt






Hydration with Starter & Adds












Spice mix is 6 g caraway and 2 g each anise, corriander & fennel



And Lucy say's not forget the salad.

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Another loaf made using the "Sponge and Dough" method, only this time the sponge contained whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten.

70% Stone Ground Red Whole Wheat Flour
5% Malted Milk Powder
2% Vital Wheat Gluten
0.5% Salt
0.6% Instant Yeast
0.18% Soy Lecithin Granules
73% Water (variable)

30% Bread Flour
4% Brown Sugar
3% Shortening
1.5% Salt

The method used is the same as in White Bread. The total amount of flour used in this recipe was 18 ounces (510 grams). The finished loaf weighed in at 2 pounds (907 grams). A Cuisinart DLC-2007 seven cup food processor was used in the production of this loaf.
The photo below shows the dough ingredients in the food processor work bowl before being blended with the metal chopping blade. After several pulses to blend the ingredients, they are dumped on top of the sponge and mixed by hand with a brotpisker (dough whisk).

The metal chopping blade was removed and replaced with the plastic dough blade. The roughly mixed dough is then dumped in the food processor work bowl as shown below:

As can be seen from the photo, the dough ingredients have not been completely incorporated into the sponge (yet). Once the food processor is turned on, all of the ingredients are incorporated within a few seconds. Total remix time: 45 seconds. After mixing, the dough is turned out and rounded as shown below:

After a short rest (known as "floor time") the dough is panned, proofed, and baked.

ExperimentalBaker's picture

Baked my first San Joaquin Sourdough based on (Thanks to David!)

I reduced the hydration to 70% instead of 75% since I am not comfortable with high hydration dough yet.

My shaping has room for improvement.

Crumb shot.


Flavour-wise, it is fantastic!

CeciC's picture

This is a simple recipe with overnight poolish, since I havent got time to refresh my starter last week so I used overnight poolish instead.

33% preferment @ 100% poolish

70% hydration (withholding 5% to mix with yeast n salt)

10% Rye

90% white bread flour

Build the poolish 12hours before i mix the dough, with unexpected even I have leave it in the fridge for a couple more hours.

Mix the dough and autolyse for 1hour

Dissolve yeast in the remaining water, squeeze into the dough mix well till they come together.

bulk fermentation: 2 hours

Divide the dough and rest for 15 mins

final proof: 1.5 hrs

Bake in dutch over @ 240 covered 25Min, 15Min uncovered.

It has light crackling crust n very soft crumb.

It is a very good indulging bread, sometimes we just need a break from all the wholegrains. :P

My new family members

PetraR's picture








I fed the Starter at 9.55pm tonight for tomorrows baking and put a rubber band where it was when just fed.

I covered it with plastic wrap and poked 5 tiny holes in it.

Here you see * Gordon * grow:)

* I hope he wont try to get out of that Jar. eeeek *

I love working with Stiff Starters, feeding is less messy and maintaining so much easier.


And off topic, these are my 2 dogs Ben the yellow Labrador who is 9 years old and Eddie the red merle Border Collie who is 4 years old.

They just finished playing with fetch in the Garden.

The headless young Man is my oldes Son:)


Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

This loaf was made using the "Sponge and Dough" method.

66.7% Bread Flour
3% Dried Buttermilk Powder
0.5% Salt
0.6% Instant Yeast
0.18% Soy Lecithin Granules
62.5% Water

33.3% Bread Flour
4% Sugar
2.8% Shortening
1.5% Salt

The sponge was fermented at 78°F for 8 hours. Remix was performed in a Cuisinart DLC-2007 seven cup food processor equipped with a plastic dough blade. Total remix time: 45 seconds. The photos shown below were taken while the remix was in progress.

The weight of the dough was just shy of 2 pounds at 31 ounces. After remix, the dough was rounded and given a short rest before being shaped and panned. An over-sized 10" x 5" x 3" pan was used. The bread had a rich aroma and pleasant taste due to the 8 hours of fermentation during the sponge stage.

cmatecun's picture

Inspired by one of the many killer loaves I had eaten at High Street on Market in Philadelphia, I decided to try and recreate their buckwheat cherry bread. They haven't shared their recipe, so I played around with a basic sourdough cherry bread recipe and subbed in 20% buckwheat flour. 

This version ended up with a moist crumb, a chewy crust, and a great flavor balance from the nutty buckwheat and the tart cherries. Just as good as High Street's, if you ask me. It's delicious toasted for breakfast or just devoured on its own. 

To start off I fed my starter at night to create the leaven. The next morning I mixed the final dough, mixing the leaven, water, and flour together and letting it autolyse for 30 minutes. After the autolyse period I mixed in the cherries and salt using the finger pinch technique (thank you Chad Robertson) and tossed it in the oven at 85 degrees for its bulk fermentation. Following the Tartine method, I turned the dough once every 30 minutes for the first two hours of bulk fermentation (4 turns) and then left it to sit undisturbed for one more hour. 

The dough looked ready, so I pre-shaped my boule and let it set for a 20 minute bench rest. One more shaping and off into the fridge it went for 18 hours. 

I baked it the next morning in my Lodge enamel/cast iron dutch oven. 20 minutes covered at 450 degrees and then 14 minutes uncovered with the oven on convection bake at 440 degrees. 


1 spoonful starter

30g buckwheat flour (Bob's Red Mill)

30g bread flour (King Arthur)

60g filtered water


Final Dough

120 g leaven

270g bread flour

30g buckwheat flour

210g water @ 85 degrees F

8g salt

150g dried tart cherries


-Mix dough with leaven, adding in cherries and salt after 30 minute autolyse. 

-4 hours bulk fermentation at 85 degrees with 4 turns during the first 2 hours. 

-Pre-shape followed by a 20 minute bench rest, followed by the real shaping. 

-Proof in the fridge for 18 hours. 

-Bake covered at 450 for 20 minutes

-Bake uncovered on convection at 440 for 14 minutes

breadpastrypassion17's picture

Recently obtained and Associates in Arts, Baking/Pastry degree.  Unable to find work because of no Bakery experience although I did 600 hrs in a bakery as an apprentice.  That does not count.  Can anyone help with suggestions?

Desperately seeking to fulfill my passion, baking bread and pastries.




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