The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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alfanso's picture

Just for a change of pace I thought that I'd try a riff on the Raisin-Pecan WW Levain that I've been baking, which are based on Ken's Artisan Bakery's gems.  A voyage not too far offshore to visit an Apple-Walnut WW Levain version.

Pretty much a straight exchange of fruit and nut for other fruit and nut.  Taking a suggestion that I'm sure I've seen on TFL, I started out with dried apple rings, and soaked them in apple cider for a day.  The idea being to attempt to introduce a stronger apple flavor than what I might otherwise get from just using fresh apple.

These seemed to have a particularly robust oven spring, although the shaping and scoring adhered to my standard method.  The left of the two batards had a double score down its spine, but the oven spring would have none of that, and burst the division between scores right open.  The grigne on the right batard, in the last picture, is so wide that it completely burst apart where the end of the score usually has the two sides of the bloom meet.  Okay, I'll accept its apology!

Gave away the baguette to an (un)suspecting compatriot with the caveat that neither man nor beast had yet ever tasted these, and reminded him to ensure that his health care policy for the family was paid up ;-) .  I'll get a report back tomorrow.  If he still looks healthy and with no sallow complexion, I'll try the batard myself!

Okay, so my friend didn't come down with the whooping cough or the heebie jeebies or any other illness from the bread.  But I snuck in a few bites last night before it was determined that he was still ambulatory!  And then I had some toast this morning too.  

Anyway, I was surprised at the distinct lack of apple taste in the bread.  Much more lost in the flavor panel than the golden raisins, which the apple replaced.  The raisins gave a distinctively sharp burst of flavor completely unmatched by the apple.  As far as the walnuts, they have a dry mouth feel in general, and carried over to the bread as well.  I didn't glean much value to replacing the pecans with them either.  I may give this another go, but if/when I do, I think that I'll sub out some of the water in the hydration for apple cider.  If that doesn't give the batard a kick start, I'll chalk it up to just another adventure here on the Isle of TFL.

The crumb shot below.  Considering the amount of oven spring, the batard exhibits a surprisingly denser crumb than I would have anticipated.  Not a complaint, just an observation.



PalwithnoovenP's picture

I made some boiled dumplings (jiaozi) the other day to expand my repertoire and just to try something new. They are rustic, comforting and a really nice alternative to buns, noodles and rice. Read here for more information and how to make them from scratch. Baozi and siumai are my favorite Chinese snacks and these are a new addition to those. I like their simplicity compared to steamed dumplings and pot sticker, drop the into boiling water and when they float they're done. Serve it with your favorite dipping sauce.

The dough before resting, very dry.

The dough is very simple with only three ingredients; flour, water and salt. As usual, I made these without a recipe and measurements. I just made a very dry dough and allowed it to rest for two hours. This resting is a crucial step for a proper dumpling dough, at first it looks very dry but after resting it will be a silky, smooth dough. It is easier to make dumplings with a drier dough so they can withstand boiling. For the filling, I just added stuff that we like.

After resting, it is kneaded some more and allowed to rest for a shorter time. It is then divided and rolled into sheets. I divided the dough into twenty pieces and rolled them five at a time and filled them immediately to avoid drying out. I made large three inch dumpling to cut down on prep and rolling time because I am the only one rolling, filling and cooking! Each dumpling wrapper must be rolled individually with thinner edges than the middle so when they are folded, the top pleats and bottom are somewhat of equal thickness. I made three different dumpling shapes to practice my pleating. This video presents eight beautiful techniques for wrapping dumplings.

After resting and second kneading, it's much softer, smoother and more manageable.

After a seven minute boil, they are ready. I served them on a very old plate. This is already my plate since I was five years old and I bet it's much older than me. The filling was meaty and flavorful and the dumpling skin was chewy yet delicate, silky and smooth. It's so delicious further complemented by the dipping sauce. If you make this, be sure to roll the wrappers thin enough and if you want to serve them in soup, go ahead! They will just be less delicate than wontons but they are a different beast and have their own charm.

I have more than enough wrappers for the filling so to avoid putting them in the fridge for later use, I turned them into noodles. I just cut them into half moons and boiled them. Oh my! This dumpling dough also make fine noodles. They're very delicious just with soy sauce without anymore accompaniments.

Thank you very much!

rolls's picture

carol field's puglese from the Italian baker, baked in a pot :)



jaltsc's picture

I came across a recipe for "Pugliese Bread" years ago and used to bake 600 gram loaves due to the size of my kitchen oven. A few years ago I bought a bread oven that is able to handle larger loaves, and has holes on top which make it possible to use a pressure sprayer to produce steam and then be closed off. I recently started to bake 2+ kilo loaves and my friends love the results. I bake them for 85 minutes. This results in a very dark crust that crackles for 5 minutes after being taken out of the oven, and a very tender crumb. Whatever is not eaten that day, I halve the bread, let it rest for 5 hours and then slice and freeze it. When the slices are warmed, the crust retains its original crispiness and the crumb is remains tender. I use a little yeast along with sourdough starter. The yeast was in the original recipe, but I reduced it, and I substituted sourdough starter for the biga in the original recipe. The 2 day slow retardation  in the refrigerator develops a lot of small bubbles in the dough. 


 2 x 2361  gm.Round Loaves  

       2   t                       Yeast

1474   gms.                Water (68%) 

1000   gms                 Sourdough Starter

      2    Kg.                  AP Flour

  100   Gms.               Rye Flour

  100   Gms.               WW Flour 

      3    T+ 1t               Salt

      2    T                      Diastatic Malt


  1.  Combined all ingredients except salt
  2.  Mixed until combined
  3. Added Salt on top of dough
  4. Autolyzed for 20 minutes
  5. Mixed additional 8 minutes
  6. Wet and solid structure. 
  7. 4796 Gms.
  8. Divided in two 2350 Gm.(Appx.) pieces
  9.  Placed in 2 oiled plastic containers .
  10.  Refrigerated for 2 days

11. Took out and let warm for 3 hours

12.  Formed into 2 Round Loaves

13.  Placed on 2 bread peels (Can also place on large sheet pans)

14.  Let rise for 2 hours

15. Scored with straight blade…5 scores in each direction

16.   500 F Degrees – Sprayed with water for steam.

17. Reduced to 450 F Degrees

18. Baked 85 minutes

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

.wild rice roll This is a shot of the wild rice and onion rolls I made for yesterday.

Beka's picture

Mmm... that *time* of the year again when all the pumpkin recipes start poppin' up everywhere. I live in the lovely equatorial tropics, which means our pumpkins are of the green-and-white variety and we get them all year round (just without the carving). I believe that this recipe works for American pumpkins as well.


Japanese Kabocha Pumpkins

Fancy some pumpkin scones? I love this recipe - it makes a sticky dough, which turns in scone that is deliciously moist. Only 1/3 cup of butter (2/3 of a stick) is needed for each batch! It's my mother's favourite, and I make sure she has a stash on them in the freezer for afternoon tea.


It's an original recipe adapted from a sourdough scones recipe - the conversion worked quite well! I made this instructional video a couple of years ago, and the printable recipe is below (unfortunately it's in gram measurements). If you try making these scones, do let me know! I think it'll be awesome for a warm autumn afternoon, or anytime really.






ph_kosel's picture

My friend Leo died earlier this year.  He was pretty sick towards the end.

Leo loved Choreg, a sort of Armenian holiday bread his mother used to make.

To try to cheer him up a bit I found a recipe on the web and made up a loaf for him, the first time I'd ever made Choreg.  

The recipe I used was this one:

I found the nigella seeds and mahleb on Amazon although I actually used some mahleb I bought at a middle-eastern specialty market here in town.

I followed the recipe as closely as I could although I made one large braided loaf in stead of two smaller loaves as instructed.  Because of the high butter content or for other reasons the strands didn't adhere to each other the way I'm used to.

The bread rose well and I baked it in a steamed oven, getting a beautiful braided lof that was easier to pull apart than to slice. The mahleb gave the bread a delightful cherry-like aroma which filled the house when I baked the loaf, and later the car when I took it over to Leo's house.

Everyone who tried the bread said it was lovely.  The crust was particularly light and nice, and the crumb was soft and delectable.  I was not fond of nigella seeds when I used them before and had actually thrown out my stash, but the nigella I got from Amazon in the proportion the recipe called for added a nice crunch without overpowering.

Here are links to the ingredients I bought on Amazon: nigella seeds ( and mahleb ( .  They both seemed to be of good quality.

Leo was one of my professors when I studied engineering many years ago.  Over the years I've attended many parties in his home and he's been a frequent visitor in mine.  He was sorely missed at thanksgiving this year.


alfanso's picture

The first two for our S.F. friends visiting with us earlier this week, and the third for our TG dinner with cousins nearby.  Happy Thanksgiving.  alan

A pair of Greenstein/Snyder Jewish Rye loaves 

A pair of Raisin-Pecan WW Levain Batards, plus one little baguette just because...

A pair of SJSD Batards 

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I've never had a pumpkin pie in my entire life because pumpkins and/or squashes are just meant to be savory here. I can't imagine pumpkin as sweet before, then it became a trend to put it in desserts because of the flavor and health benefits; still haven't tasted a sweet with pumpkin. So, pumpkin is generally accepted now to be used in sweet and savory alike but the idea of pumpkin pie with spices (some even call for black pepper and coriander) is still perplexing because the use of spices with sweets is not much accepted, it sure tastes alien here!

Last week, there was a conversation about pumpkin pie on Dabrownman's blog and it really made me want to taste pumpkin pie. I like to taste one to know the reason why every American I knew love the taste of sweet pumpkin with spices in a pastry shell. For me as always there's no other way to taste it than to make it myself as soon as possible.

(This is long post with a ton of pictures because I'm so happy of what I've achieved)

This weekend, my cousin brought us half of the lovely pumpkin (I don't know if it's a pumpkin or squash; what I just know is when I became aware of this world is THIS is the pumpkin or squash that I knew but I'll call it pumpkin in this post) that they harvested weighing more than two kilos. I said to myself that maybe it's really meant and it's the right time for me to make some pumpkin pie.

This pumpkin pie was totally unplanned! I tried to get my palate accustomed first to sweet pumpkin by just dipping my toes in the water, pumpkin sweets with simple clean flavors. First, I thought of making a pumpkin flan but I saw some spices used in pumpkin pie in my bunch of things so my thoughts shifted to a crust less pumpkin pie. When I am to begin my mind was struck again that it won't work so I changed my mind again, I'll just make a pumpkin flavored custard tart. Then again I got really curious about the taste of a pumpkin pie and I got all the ingredients I frequently saw on pumpkin pie recipes so finally I've settled that I will give it a shot. Okay, I am ready to check the internet for an exact recipe but there was no connection! I'll just have to rely on my memory on what I've seen on that recipe. I remembered it has maple syrup, evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

I really winged this pie, the filling and the crust! I don't have a recipe to follow and I don't have many of the required ingredients in the kitchen. Well, it's not a problem! I am the kind that doesn't hesitate to improvise or substitute.

* I don't have evaporated milk but I have condensed milk- reduce the sugar and add some water. Solved!

*No maple syrup but I have golden syrup and honey- use honey because it will complement the spices better. Solved!

*No ground ginger- use fresh ginger. Solved!

*No butter for the pie crust- use oil and a bit of technique. Solved!

I didn't measure anything too because that's my game, it's where I'm used to. I made four mini ones and one large pie in my llaneras which are flan molds. Unfortunately, my molds won't allow me to crimp the edges which is my favorite part of pie making and I'm so good at it! :P

For the crust, I've read before that oil pie crusts are not as flaky as butter ones so I tapped on my background in oriental pastries. The spiral pastry made with alternating layers of water dough and oil dough is super flaky without even a chunk of butter and works every time so that's what I used here. I made both doughs by adding water and oil little by little until they had the right consistency. 

For the filling I cut off a decent-sized chunk from the pumpkin, sliced it thinly and boiled it until very soft. I then mashed it by hand and added other ingredients with cinnamon being the backbone of the spice flavor. I tasted and tasted it before adding the eggs and made it overly sweet on purpose so when the eggs are added, the sweetness will be right. I also went heavy with the salt for a tremendous flavor boost. Not so fast! Before adding the eggs I saw it was too thin because of too much water added as compensation for the condensed milk, it was like soup! When the eggs are added it will be much much more fluid unlike the pumpkin filling I saw on videos so I made a brave move, I cooked the filling on the top of the stove sans œufs until thickened. When I tasted it, I liked the flavor much better than the uncooked one, more intense and slightly caramelized. Yesterday I remembered txfarmer's favorite pumpkin pie that I read long ago and decided to read it and I was shocked (I've already made and eaten the pie before I read it) that it also calls for heating the ingredients before filling the pie so maybe this is a technique to keep. When the mixture was cool, I then mixed in the eggs.

I suddenly had plan; instead of baking the unbaked dough filled with the filling in my clay pot over a wood fire, I will employ a different technique to test a theory. I will try to bake this in a frying pan on top of our gas stove! To ensure a crisp crust, I will bake it first without the filling utilizing conduction from the mold to cook the dough on the bottom then I will flip it so the radiant heat from the pan will cook the dough from the top so it's really dry and crisp; then to ensure a silky filling, I will bake it at a low temperature and since it is technically a custard or flan, it can be steamed too!

What sounds good in theory doesn't always go smoothly in practice. The dough is a bit difficult to conform to the shape of the mold especially with the large one, I really rolled it into an oval to minimize waste and luckily none was wasted. I intended to serve these as a late afternoon snack but since it was unplanned and I began very late, I had to rush it that resulted in some mishaps. I forgot to  prick the base of the crust and five minutes later they have all puffed up like a balloon so I pricked them with a fork as best as I can to keep them flat. When the crust was cooked I immediately put the filling in and pour water on the pan to steam it, again as an effort to serve it that afternoon so I forgot to shake and tap the pan to raise the air bubbles so they left a mark at the top. I quickly covered it with the lid too not remembering to put a cloth so condensation dripped on the pies and left white marks on the top and a crack on one. If those didn't happen then this pie would have a very smooth top and a more vibrant color. Alright, I learned my lesson! 

The crust was VERY flaky and crisp, this one even managed to keep the spiral pattern too! It may not look like it was because it's pale but it really is. The crust without any barrier from the filling is still crisp even after four days in the fridge! It also goes well with the filling, what more if it's a butter crust!

The custard was smooth and silky, no cracking or weeping. It didn't dome over like most "baked" pumpkin pies. Its texture inside is closer to the one posted by txfarmer. It was spicy, yes and I admit that I really like it as first time maker and eater and I understand now why Americans love it, personally I would love it more if it was more spiced. Now, why it lasted for four days? Because I'm the only one who ate it! People here can't get past the aromatic spices especially the ginger and said "If it was just pumpkin then it would have been delicious or I could have eaten it!" No problem! More treats for me!

It was so delicious but it can be made better. This will be my adjustments next time:

*Use a proper all butter crust- it's my favorite and has the best flavor.

*Add some alcohol- I think it will be really nice; rum, brandy or whiskey, maybe a splash of Kahlua or Tia Maria will be good too for some coffee undertones.

*Add some nuts- walnuts or pecans would be a nice contrast to the silky filling.

*Use brown sugar and/or molasses- I think it is the ultimate complement to the pumpkin and spices.

*Stick to the sweet spice quartet- I'm not a fan of ginger so I'll ditch it. I'll add cloves because that's what I like then use more nutmeg and less cinnamon. I'm sorry cinnamon, it's time for you to move aside and let nutmeg take center stage.

*Make two batches- one for my spice loving self and one for my pumpkin loving friends!

I would like to close this with a satisfying sweet meal. Thank you very much!

Anne-Marie B's picture
Anne-Marie B

Instead of discarding some when I feed my rye starter, I have been experimenting with cakes and baking. I found this recipe on the internet but used a cup  of leftover sprouted grain whole wheat flour instead of cake flour. Before it went into the oven, I thought there was not nearly enough batter to make a decent sized cake. But it must have quadrupled in volume and came right up to the rim by the time it finished baking. It is moist and surprisingly light. I think I have just discovered my favourite chocolate cake.


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