The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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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.



E poi, ci sono occasioni in cui ti chiudi nella tua cucina per riflettere.....

E soltanto nel silenzio di quel piccolo spazio intriso di profumi, ricordi, tanti ricordi, nella tua mente i pensieri tornano indietro nel tempo, al 2012 per l'esattezza, quando fu il caso che mi consentì di assaggiare un Pane integrale di grande valenza, un vero Pane d'Autore, eseguito da uno straordinario Professionista....

Ed allora tu lasci che le tue mani impastino farina, acqua e buon lievito e pesi con la bilancia di precisione quei pochi grammi di malto che sapranno fare la differenza, e aspetti pazientemente, che dalla tua passione e dal tuo tanto studiare scaturisca il risultato tanto atteso.

Sarà stato un caso??

Quella straordinaria eleganza e leggerezza, tanto cercata e studiata in un impasto integrale, mi ha regalato questi straordinari Panini e so, che è soltanto il punto di partenza .....e continuerò a studiare!!

A presto carissimi Amici.


nmygarden's picture

This will necessarily be brief, but I wanted to post yesterday's loaf, Spelt Sprouted Wheat Date Walnut. I've been in the office more than home lately, so this one got only the attention I could provide when I could provide it, but turned out well despite the inattention. Ingredients included:

Sprouted wheat grains - about 2/3 c.

250 g Whole Spelt

350 g BF

60 g Wheat Germ

500 g Water

150 g Starter (@100%)

12 g Salt

2 Tbsp Walnut Oil

Walnut pieces, toasted - 2 handfuls

Dates, chopped - 2 handfuls

The procedure was abbreviated - soaked the wheat grains and allowed them to sprout for 24 hours (not quite long enough for this particular wheat, an organic I got through my CSA). Autolysed the flours, wheat germ and water for a couple of hours, added the salt and starter and left it at cool room temp overnight. Next morning, I did about 4-5 stretch and folds at irregular intervals over about 4 hours, incorporating the grains, oil, nuts and dates. Preshaped, then shaped and into a basket for a final rise of 2 hours. Turned out onto parchment, slashed and baked on a stone at 450 F under my cloche for 15 minutes, then about 25 minutes more at 425 F and 5 minutes with the oven off and the door open to crisp the crust.

The house smelled rich with toasted walnuts - it was so hard to leave it to cool, but I did get a piece later once it was sliced and ready to freeze. The walnut comes through, the whole grain flavors, too and a sweet surprise when you bite into a date. This one was worthy of making again and demonstrates that even when neglected, SD can make good bread that is good for us.

Happy Week and Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!


STUinlouisa's picture

Very seldom do I repeat a bread, always something new and interesting to try, but this one was so good had to try again. Plus it's a test drive for rolls on Thanksgiving. The Millet porridge gives the crumb a moist almost fluffy at the same time texture and the sprouted grains add some sweetness. 

Also out for a test drive are some corn muffins made from some fresh ground organic corn meal, fresh ground white whole wheat and some AP. These are naturally leavened and  treated more like a raised bread than a quick bread. The liquid is milk and some sorghum syrup and coconut oil are added. Right now in the bulk ferment stage.


CanuckCamper's picture

Good morning everyone.  I've been following this site for a while now and have been baking out of Ken Forkish's FWSY cookbook.

I baked his Pain de Campagne this morning (hybrid levain & instant yeast).  It is a proof in the fridge overnight recipe.  Both loaves "looked" great coming out of the fridge.  I think they passed the finger-dent test but I am a little unsure about the test.

I am having trouble moving the loaves between the basket and the dutch oven.  They always seems to fall/deflate.  I'm guessing this is over proofed but unsure.  I am following the timeline in the recipie to a "tee".

The picture attached shows how the loaves slumped in the dutch oven and pressed up against the sides.  I also don't get the large natural seams that I have seen other posters get

I'm unsure of what I'm doing wrong.  Thoughts welcome.

The bread tastes fantastic so no issues there.

Thanks for your help.



Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Made these to give to patients leaving the recovery room at the local hospital.

Bread flour, WW flour,  spelt, oatmeal and topped with chia seeds. 12-14 ferment depending on when they hit the oven. One left I will try tomorrow.

dabrownman's picture

Lucy went back to a more simple recipe this week that had some overlooked ingredients of late hoping to take her sprouted grains baking in another direction.  As it turned out, the only ingredient we don’t use often in this bake was the hazelnuts – the 2nd most overlooked nut in breads after pistachios.


It is such a hassle cracking both for breads and I do admit that Lucy is pretty lazy but still, we should try them in bread more often.  The simple part pf this bread was that there were only 2 sprouted grains used and only 2 total for this bread – a new leaf being turned over perhaps? Probably not .


Per our usual we chucked the sifted out bran from the sprouted grain flour into the levain but only for the 3rd build.  It turned out that the 25 week retarded rye sour starter was not only the last of that vintage but also very week and it has been cold at 65 F in the kitchen..


We noticed that it was a little slow last week but had another batch of rye sour that had been retarded 12 weeks ready to go so we put some of that in for the 3rd build as well and upped the time for the 3rd build from 4 to 8 hours making the total levain build 16 hours.  All the builds were done on a heating pad because of the cold . 


Because we got a late start with the levain due to not getting the sprouting started on time we didn’t have any time to retard the built levain like we normally would.  We also noted that the sprouting took 20% more time due to the cold too. 


Since we were short on time and it was colder we upped the pre-fermented flout 40% for this weeks bake to get a bit more sour and speed since the bulk ferment in the fridge was going to be cut from 21 to 14 hours – no sense sacrificing sour for less time if it can be helped.


We did out usual 1 hour autolyse of the dough flour and water with the pink Himalayan sea salt sprinkled on top.  Once the levain hit the mix we did 4 sets of 30 slap and folds on 30 minute intervals and 2 sets of 4 stretch and folds on 45 minute intervals where the nuts and seeds were incorporated on the first set of stretch and folds.


Once the last stretch and folds were done we formed a boule with stretch and folds and put the dough in an oil lined stainless bowl and covered in plastic wrap for a 1 hour bulk ferment on the counter on a heating pad before being placed into the fridge for the 14 hour retard.


Once the dough came out of the fridge we let in warm up on the heating pas for 2 hours flipping it over once before pre-shaping and final shaping into a batard and being placed into a rice floured, cloth lined basket for a 2 hour final proof in a trash can liner on the heating pad.

Squash pie with media Creama.

The dough was un-molded onto parchment on a peel slashed 3 times and slid onto the bottom stone at 450 F with mega steam for 15 minutes of steam.  Once the steam came out we turned the oven down to 425 F convection this time and continued baking for 15 more minutes until the bread thumped done.


Sourdough English Muffin, Swiss Cheese, Egg and Sausage Sandwich.

It sprang and bloomed well and browned up nicely after the steam came out to the lovely yellowish, brown color only durum, in this case Kamut, can give you.  It is a nice looking loaf of bread.  Can’t wait to see then inside and taste this bread – but it ahs to cool first.


For a 50% whole grain bread with this many add ins, the crumb came out very open, glossy, soft and moist.  A real rt to say the least.  It was sour yet full flavored because of the sprouted flour, seeds and nuts .  This will make a great sandwich bread sometime tomorrow!.  Our daughter got engaged last weekend and with Thanksgiving coming up this next week we will be busy.Lucy and i send out best to you and yours.


SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



25 Week Retarded Rye Sour






12 Week Retarded Rye Sour






Whole Rye






22 % Ext. Sprouted Kamut and Wheat






LaFama AP
























Levain Totals


















Levain Hydration












Dough Flour






LaFama AP






78% Extraction Sprouted Kamut and Wheat






Total Dough Flour






























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter


















Add Ins












Squash Seeds






Total Add Ins












Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole & Sprouted Grain







 Don't forget a salad with those smoked ribs and chicken thighs

 Here is the whole Pumpkin Pie as it came out of the oven!


PalwithnoovenP's picture

I just saw this photos again while I was browsing my album in my phone and they were almost a year old! These are made during my stay at the dorm while having my practicum. They are so easy and fun to make so I thought I'd go post them!

In our house, we don't have a microwave so even if mug cakes are already trendy I still can't experiment on them until I lived in the dorm. The dorm is complete with appliances from a stick blender to a rice cooker to a coffee maker to a microwave! Perfect! People around me are asking where am I getting those fragrant freshly baked cakes without any oven in the dorm, and I say in the microwave that they just use to reheat their food; they were really surprised though it is already common. I think any recipe will work in a microwave though some recipes might have a different texture than when baked in the oven.

For quick breads, baking in the microwave is quick and instant gratification. Mix a small amount of ingredients right in the mug, pop in the microwave and in 2-3 minutes you'll have your treat ready. It is also excellent for portion control. Or if you're in a hurry put a full recipe in a large microwavable bowl/container and in more or less than 5 minutes you'll have a large cake for everyone, perfect for a casual get together.

Strawberry swirl Calamansi mug cake- yellow cake rippled with strawberry jam soaked in calamansi (local lime) syrup

Cooking time depends on the wattage of the microwave. See Gemma Stafford's guidelines for more details here, she really inspired me to try bold things in the microwave and I created my own recipes inspired by hers. Pictured at the top is a calamansi mug cake, yellow cake with the juice of a local lime which has a very distinct taste. I don't even know the wattage of the microwave at the dorm so I just cook in short increments until done. I also used my largest coffee mug which has a capacity of 1 1/4 standard cup.

Plantain-Chocolate mug cake with Pistachio ice cream

Gemma's Chocolate-Banana-Peanut Butter mug cake 

Always clean the sides of the mug before baking if you're giving these to someone for a better presentation. Also be careful with saucy cakes, for my FIRST try I made a chocolate pudding cake and it boiled over and I have to clean the whole microwave. I always give some to my dormmates so I befriended many of them (most are Koreans) and in return I always received something from them like...

Rice Cooker Cheescake with caramel topping

Purple Yam Ice cream Chocolate cake

Unsliced kimbap ~ Eat like ice cream!!!

I hope you like these too!

Thank you very much!


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