The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


mrjeffmccarthy's picture

This is a popular flavor I do for our local farmers market. The loaves are packed with pimento cheese (that a friend makes,) and topped with a dutch crunch that uses corn grits instead of rice flour. These things are dang tasty. Please excuse formatting, the formulas are cut and pasted from my recipe spreadsheet. 

Grits Dutch Crunch Recipe (prepare the day before)

60g active sourdough starter 
450g cornmeal grits
70g honey
60g olive oil
8g salt
115-175g (or more) water 

Mix all ingredients and mix to combine. Let ferment at room temp until risen slightly and it looks and smells fermented. The amount of water may vary depending on your grits. Add enough water so make a thick paste, not a stiff batter or dough. Extra crunch paste does ok in the fridge for a day or so but will brown up too dark after that. 

 Pimento Cheese Bread  

1232g bread flour
144g kamut flour
72g spelt flour
44g wheat germ
28g salt
1186g h20
220g active sourdough starter 

2 pints of pimento cheese (I didn't weigh this, I just put in what I had bought. Could go more, could go less)  

Scale the first four ingredients and mix to homogenize.

Scale the salt into a small vessel and set aside.

Scale the water into a large bowl. Ladle a small amount of the water over the salt, and set aside 

Autolyse 30 min to overnight (I do all my dough overnight as I am hand mixing) 

Add the active sourdough starter and mix to incorporate. If you did a short autolyse, develop your dough's gluten in the desired fashion. 

Rest the dough one hour before incorporating the reserved salt and water mixture. Bulk ferment the dough 3-6 hours depending on ambient conditions. Stretch & fold the dough every thirty minutes for the first 2 hours, then as needed throughout bulk. Add the pimento cheese during the second set of folds. 

Scale the dough at 360 g, with the added cheese you should get 8 or 9 pieces. Pre shape, rest 20 minutes,  then shape into little boules. 

Transfer the dough to baskets to proof. I do mine overnight in the fridge. When the loaves are ready, transfer to the dutch oven, sprtiz with water and spread on the pre prepared dutch crunch in a thin layer. I've tried these both slashed and not slashed. I think they look nicer without being slashed. 

Bake your breads in preheated dutch ovens at 550F for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 475, rotate the pans, and bake an additional 10 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake 4-5 minutes more, until the Dutch Crunch is a nice, reddish, golden brown. 

Cool 20 minutes before eating, trust me I burned my mouth. 


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

This has got to be the absolutely best way to caramelize a bunch of onions (in this case, about 8 largish ones). Last night I sliced them all with the mandoline (still made me cry), filled up my crock pot and tossed them by hand with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a bit of salt.

They cooked overnight (about 10 hours) on low, then a couple more hours with the lid partly off to cook down the liquid. I'll now freeze them in 100 gram batches for use in all kinds of things!

So, other than pizza (already planned), what are your favourite bready things to make with caramelized onions?

joc1954's picture

 I used recipe for Challah from Hamelman's book "Bread" for preparing the dough. The only difference was that I used milk instead of water. The dough is on stiiff side so it is relatively easy to work with it.

I did 5 strand braid for the bottom, the middle one was 4 strand and the top one 3 strand. The weight of the dough for one strand in the bottom braid was 130g, middle none 115g and top one 100g. The decorations were made from dough for pasta without egg (flour 150g, oil - 2 tablespoon, water - enough to get smooth but very stiff dough, 3g salt - 2%). For the final I used egg wash but this was done somewhere in the middle of the bake when the dough already stopped raising.

Actually this was my second braided bread in my life and I am really happy that I god a gold award for it on sa state level assessment of braided breads.

Happy baking!




nnehme's picture

I have been practicing for several months the scoring and this one seems to have worked. This is a 80% bread flour , 20% spelt flour with 75% hydration. 

joc1954's picture

Another version of decorative bread scoring with zebra pattern, this time on a 100% semola rimacinata loaf with 70% hydration and 15% inoculation, cold retarded for about 10 hours only.

My oldest grandson is a big fan of "Pane di Altamura", so I like to bake the bread from semola rimacinata to make him happy. Actually I got only semola flour so I used my home mill to re-mill it twice and get rimacinata flour.

The crumb was extremely soft and puffy.

Happy baking!


joc1954's picture

This bread was inspired by some post on Facebook some time ago. Since the "Eclipse Challenge" I never used the charcoal colour in the bread and therefore I thought that it's time to practice a bit with decorative scoring.

The recipe for the bread is simple - strong bread flour, about 63% hydration and 20% inoculation, bulk ferment for about 3 hours and cold final proofing in the fridge for 24 hours. The white dusting was done with bread flour and scored with a razor, baked in iron cast skillet.

Although the crumb might look unpleasant to somebody there is no change in taste and if one would eat this bread in the darkness he would never notice any difference. Actually the crumb is very lacy, puffy and soft for such low hydration.


trailrunner's picture

Basically the same process as the last bake. So little hands on that it is amazing to see what the dough becomes with just time and two s and f's. The one thing I will change is I won't be doing a bulk ferment any longer. I remember why I hate having to wait around for the dough to get warmed up and risen before baking. I will shape and retard in the banneton.  I like baking the cold dough as it is so easy to get out of the banneton. Other than that I won't change any of the technique . It all went flawlessly. 

I found a way to add cinnamon without placing it in the dough. I don't soak my dried fruit but I do mist it several times as I am working in the kitchen and keep it covered to get it hydrated. This time I misted and also tossed it with 8grams of cinnamon. Wow...the fragrance!  I stole a piece of raisin off one of the loaves and it tastes great. It doesn't get the flavor all through the loaf but I do have pockets of sweet cinnamony goodness now in the bread. 

500g KA bread flour

250g Red Fife flour

250g Kamut

400g Spelt levain 100% hydration ( added more flour and water to leftovers from yesterday and let it go about 4 hrs - young levain) 

320g milk ( I didn't have fresh so made double strength powdered milk ) 

50g maple syrup

50g yogurt

320 g Banana Yeast Water

20g Kosher salt

8g cinnamon on about 250g  diced dried figs and crimson raisins and hydrated by misting. 

Mixed flours, milk and YW  ,syrup and yogurt . Used as few strokes as needed to hydrate all. Covered and set in warm 80 degrees F oven. Left till puffy. about 3 hrs. Folded in damp salt with few strokes and then folded in all levain. Covered and left in same 80 degree F oven till quite puffy about 3 hrs. Removed and did 2 s and f. On the last S and F folded in the fruit. Placed in oiled bucket and left overnight. More than doubled. Removed and shaped cold using the pinch a seam method , nothing more. Took about 2 1/2 hrs to rise up. Bake preheated for 15 min  roaster at 500 -10 min covered, 475-10 min covered and 475- 20 min uncovered. Threw in 2 icecubes at the start. 




banana yeast water

banana yeast water

young spelt levain

folding levain into dough

about 50% done folding

after the dough with levain has rested 

turned out dough on floured counter ready for s and f


after 1 fold 


after 2 folds 

macerated dried fruit


after retarding in bucket all night cold 34 degree F refrigerator


shaped cold loaves ready to rise 


risen and ready to bake


turned out of banneton ready to bake 

baked loaf

Elsasquerino's picture

Been away a few weeks 'cheating' with a few hybrid loaves, Hamelman and Forkish's books are full of sourdough recipes with a pinch of commercial yeast. It feels a bit wrong... But tastes so right! It's like playing pool after playing snooker, still great fun but seems too easy. 

I stuck rigidly to Forkish's recipe, although not so much to his timings. I utilised the fridge overnight after maybe six hours on the counter and allowed an hour's warm-up before shaping this morning. 

The hydration worried me a little at 78% but it was surprisingly easy to handle, the kitchens pretty cool right now which I'm sure helped.


Blonde, you can see what inspired the name. The loaves are very pretty to look at and range from straw yellow to a dark bronze like a sunset. Aesthetically perhaps my finest to date.

The oven spring was pretty special, this batard almost ripped itself in two!

I've become obsessed with heavily sour, rye levains lately and this one didn't quite tick the flavour box in that respect but then it doesn't mean too. It has a gentle tang and it is tasty, just not my favourite. Lovely crispy crust and soft light crumb. It was just warm when I cut it, early for me I usually allow an overnight cool before cutting but had to treat myself tonight.

Thanks for looking.

Danni3ll3's picture


This is my attempt at the loaf that Bread1965 was trying to recreate quite a while ago. I was able to get my hands on the real version of this bread and it is delicious! In this recipe, I tried to be faithful to the order of the ingredients listed on the package. The last 4 ingredients always puzzled me because they were after the salt until I clued in one day that they are used for the topping and are not in the bread. That would explain the tiny amounts.




100 g of rye berries

968 g of unbleached flour + 37 g

75 g golden raisins

75 g dark raisins

50 g canola oil

25 g ground brown flax seeds

25 g toasted brown flax seeds

50 g toasted golden flax seeds

50 g honey

25 g dried apples

25 g raisin juice concentrate (recipe follows)

650 g water + 20 g

22 g pink Himalayan salt

250 g levain (80% hydration)(Instructions included below)



10 g rolled oats

10 g sunflower seeds

10 g brown flax seeds

10 g poppy seeds

  1. A couple of night before making the dough, mill the rye berries and sift out the bran. Mill the bran again on a finer setting. Reserve all of the bran and the sifted rye flour for the levain. Add the 37 g AP flour to the sifted rye flour. 
  2. Make the raisin juice concentrate (recipe below) and reserve. 
  3. The morning before making the dough, start building the levain as follows: Build #1: 10 g starter, 18 g water, 18 g bran. Let rest 7 hours. Build #2: 36 g each of water and rye/AP flour. Let rest 7 hours. Build #3: 60 g of water and 83 g sifted/AP flour. Let rest overnight. I used it after 12 hours. 
  4. The next day, mix the unbleached flour, all of the raisins, the ground flax seeds, the brown and golden flax seeds, the honey, the dried apples, and the raisin juice concentrate and the water. Mix well until all of the flour is hydrated. Let autolyse for an hour or so in a warm spot. 
  5. Add the salt, the oil and 250 g of levain to the dough. Mix well using the folding and pinching method. Add the 20 extra grams of water and continue folding until the dough feels cohesive. Let rest 15 minutes and then do more folds to make sure that the levain is evenly distributed. Rest 15 minutes and repeat as this is a fairly stiff dough. Place in a warm spot and do 2 sets of folds 1 hour apart. Let rise until double. This took forever (7 or so hours).
  6. Divide into 3 round loaves (~765 g each) or two larger batards and do a loose pre-shape. I pulled all the outside edges to the middle and rolled the boule over on top of the seam. Let rest for 15 minutes. While the dough is resting, lightly sprinkle rice/AP flour in the bannetons and then sprinkle the topping mixture on top of the flour. Do a final shape by cinching the dough and shaping tightly into a boule or a batard.  Place seam side down in the bannetons and cover. Retard overnight in the fridge (10-12 hours).
  7. The next morning, heat the oven to 475 F with the Dutch ovens inside for at least 45 minutes. Place parchment rounds on the bottom of the pots, score the loaves and gently drop the boules inside seam side up. I usually don’t score loaves especially since I bake them seam side up but these looked like they were going to need some help. Cover and drop the temperature to 450 F, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove lids, and bake for another 20 minutes at 400 F or until the insides measure 205 F. 
  8. Cool for at least a couple of hours before cutting and enjoying!


Raisin Juice 


2 cups (260 g) raisins

4 cups boiling water


  1. Coarsely chop the raisins and place in a large glass bowl. Pour the boiling water over the raisins and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the raisin sugars to seep into the water for at least 3 hours.
  2. Strain the raisin water through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it boil gently until the mixture has thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup.


The loaves really did not rise very much in the fridge and the oven spring was adequate, but not impressive. I am sure that a lot of this was due to the stiff dough. Next time, I will definitely increase the hydration as the raisins and flax absorbed a lot of the liquids. 


And just for Bread1965 who insisted I stay true to the original in shape and otherwise, I did make one batard by cutting one batch in half and I followed Trail Runner’s method of baking in a granite wear roaster. I also added a bit of water under the parchment paper. This whole method worked very well. 


Overall, the loaves have a nice colour to them and feel lighter than I expected considering how much stuff is in them. I am very curious to see the crumb. I suspect it might be fairly closed but then, that is what the original is like. Hopefully, it tastes as good as the original. 

And this is what we woke up to this morning!

Cedarmountain's picture

I have been tinkering, experimenting with various porridge breads for the past while; various attempts to create a lighter crumb, more custardy texture, deriving different flavours in the breads using various porridge mixtures while trying to keep a solid nutritional profile with the fresh milled grains and additions, using younger levains, varying final dough hydration. But sometime I just want a good porridge bread, like the one I first discovered working my way through Chad Robertson's Tartine was one of those days  Nothing complicated, this is an oat porridge bread made with fresh milled Red Fife (25%), filtered water (75%), young levain (22%), sea salt (2.2%), oat porridge addition (20%) after the third series of stretch and folds; FDH was probably about 80% after addition of the porridge.  Cold proofed overnight and baked in a Creuset covered 500 F/22 minutes; 450 F/10 minutes and uncovered out of the pots directly on the oven stone 450 F/20 minutes. Simple is often the best...



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