The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


varda's picture

Last week, Lynnebiz and I decided that since we weren't likely to get to Viet Nam or other exotic locales anytime soon, we would explore close to home.   So we took a food excursion to Watertown, Massachusetts.    Watertown, like all the towns around here, was settled by Europeans in the 1600s - in fact in 1630 only ten years after the original European settlement at Plymouth.   However, its face is continually changing as wave after wave of immigrants arrives.   This makes it particularly attractive for people who love good bread, and authentic food in general.    Today it is an ordinary middle class workaday town just outside of the city of Boston.   After having worked in downtown Boston for a couple or years, I thought I was being exiled to Siberia when I got a new job in Watertown - but I quickly found that I could eat better in Watertown than I had in Boston.   That was ten years ago, and if anything the situation has only gotten better.    The first stop on our excursion was to Arax, an Armenian grocery.

Workaday street by Arax Market

Wall of spices at Arax - remind me never to buy spices in the supermarket again

Second we went a few doors down to the Massis Bakery, also Armenian.   There we found:


cracker bread and pistachio treats

No, that's not a bagel - it's around 10 inches in diameter.

And my "travel" companion:

We moved on to an Iranian Bakery which was too dark inside to get much, but the window tells you something in itself -

and down the street to Sofra's which I'm told is some American entrepreneur's foray into the market:

They have interesting spices too - I got za'atar here for my Tunisian bread. 

I hope that Lynne will post too.   We went to several more places, and I didn't get everything.    So yes, the North End is nice, but so is this, and less on the beaten track. 

MadAboutB8's picture

My effort to try finishing some of our massive bag of potatoes continues. This time I was hoping to use up 2 kg in one go.

I love potato and rosemary in bread (they're great as pizza topping as well). Potato gives tender and mild sweetness to the crumb. Rosemary gives fantastic aroma to the bread. The two work together perfectly.

I adapted recipe from Peter Reinhart's BBA. I also included some cheddar cheese into the bread rolls and reduce the amount of salt by 40% as a result. Less salt in the recipe made the fermentation so much faster. I was surprised at how much effect salt has in the fermentation.

We had the rolls with potato soup, which worked perfectly. It might sound like a potato overload, bread & soup. However, the potato taste in bread was rather subtle, it's hardly noticeable.

The recipe and more photoes are here.


Mebake's picture

I thought i'd share my piece of illustration on the Stretch and fold in the bowl technique:



txfarmer's picture


I first learnt about Pain Pailasse from Don's post here, have been intrigued by the unique shape ever since. Since the original version is likely made with a wet white dough using levain, I thought it'd be appropriate to recreate it using my 36 hour sourdough baguette dough. Loving whole grain flavor in my baguetts, I just can't make an all white dough, so I used some rye starter to bring out extra flavor, the total rye ratio is 10%. Don kept his dough at 75% hydration, I used 78% to account for extra water absorbed by the rye flour.

AP flour, 425g

ice water, 315g

rye starter (100%), 100g

white starter (100%), 50g

salt, 10g

- follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here, but twisted two of the shaped baguettes to create Pain Pailasse, while keeping the other two as normal baguettes.


The "normal" baguettes were open, light, and moist as expected


The Pain Pailasse ones had good shape and crust


Seemed to have relatively open crumb, but not very evenly distributed


However, a side by side comparison shows that the crumb of Pain Pailasses(on the right) is much tighter than the regular baguettes(on the left)


I think lack of scoring was the main reason for tighter crumb, but otherwise, the loaves were still very flavorful and tasty. And looked unique as well. (the cross section pieces were from regular baguette.)

Submitting to Yeastspotting.

dmsnyder's picture

100% Whole Wheat Bread from BBA

I've been admiring the whole wheat pan loaves txfarmer has shown us in recent weeks. Her use of intensive mixing to achieve a higher rise and airier crumb has particularly intrigued me. (See SD 100% WW sandwich loaf with bulgur (cracked wheat) - discovered a new favorite ingredient). When I read her blog, I decided to make the same bread. However, on further reflection, I changed my plan. I have a favorite 100% whole wheat bread – that in BBA – and I really don't like the combination of sourdough tang and whole wheat flavors. So, I decided to fiddle with Peter Reinhart's formula for 100% whole wheat bread using some of txfarmer's techniques to see if I could get a lighter-crumbed version of a bread I already know well and love. The crumb texture I have gotten with this bread is moist but rather dense and crumbly, following Reinhart's suggestions for mixing time. This is not at all unpleasant to eat, but is very different from the airier crumb txfarmer and khalid have shown.

Reinhart's formula calls for a soaker with a coarsely-ground grain and a whole wheat poolish. As usual, I used bulgur for the soaker, and I used fresh-milled whole wheat flour for the poolish. The flour in the final dough was KAF Organic Whole Wheat. The procedures described are those I used. They deviate from both Peter Reinhart's and txfarmer's in significant ways.



Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Medium bulgur






The day before baking, measure the bulgur into a 3 cup bowl. Pour the water over it and cover tightly. Leave at room temperature until used.


Whole Wheat Poolish

Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Whole wheat flour



Instant yeast


0.028 (¼ tsp)




The day before baking, mix the poolish ingredients. Cover the bowl tightly. Allow to ferment until bubbles start to form (2-4 hours), then refrigerate.


Final dough

Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Whole wheat flour






Instant yeast


0.11 (1 tsp)




Vegetable oil (optional)



Egg, slightly beaten


1.65 (1 large)

Seeds to garnish (optional)


2 T



All of above



All of above



  1. Mix the soaker and poolish, as instructed above, the night before mixing the final dough.

  2. One hour before mixing, take the poolish out of the refrigerator to warm to room temperature.

  3. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  4. Using the paddle, mix at Speed 1until a ball forms on the paddle and the ingredients are well-mixed (1-2 minutes). Note that the dough should be quite tacky – neither dry nor sticky. Adjustments can be made by adding either water or flour during this step or during the next mixing step. (I added about 15-20 g additional water.)

  5. Let the dough rest, covered in the mixer bowl, for 20-40 minutes.

  6. Switch to the dough hook and mix at Speed 2 until a medium window pane can be made. (20-25 minutes) Note: Reinhart's instruction is to knead for 10-15 minutes, “less” if machine kneading.

  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.

  8. Ferment for two hours or until the dough has doubled in volume, with a stretch and fold on the board at 60 minutes.

  9. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form them into pan loaves.

  10. Place the dough into lightly oiled medium loaf pans and place the pans in food-grade plastic bags or cover well with a towel or plasti-crap.

  11. Proof until the loaves have almost doubled and are peaking above the rims of the pans. (About 90 minutes)

  12. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle.

  13. Optionally, spray the loaves lightly with water and sprinkle on seeds or rolled oats.

  14. Optionally, score the loaves.

  15. Bake for 45-60 minutes. At 30 minutes, rotate the pans 180º, if necessary for even browning. The interior temperature should be at least 195ºF, and the crust should be firm on the top and on the sides of the loaves. If necessary, return the loaves to the oven and bake longer. (My loaves were done in 45 minutes.)

  16. Immediately transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  17. Cool thoroughly before slicing.

I noticed two significant differences in this dough, compared to my previous bakes of this bread. First, the dough was less sticky than usual. Second, the loaves achieved significantly greater volume during proofing. I attribute this to the more intensive mixing, but also the S&F which serves to further strengthen the dough but also equalized the dough temperature and redistribute the products of fermentation.

Once baked, the loaves felt much lighter than usual. When sliced, the reason was quite obvious. Rather than the cakey, somewhat crumbly crumb this bread has always had in the past, the crumb was airy and, in txfarmer's words, “shreddable.”

Crumb from a previous bake of the BBA 100% Whole Wheat Bread, made following Reinhart's mixing time instructions

Crumb of the 100% Whole Wheat Bread from BBA mixed as described above


The flavor of the bread is basically unchanged, but the mouth feel is entirely different - light and mildly chewy. I was amazed.

I'm looking forward to having toast for breakfast.

Thanks, txfarmer, for your inspiring and informative postings!


Submitted to YeastSpotting








jschoell's picture

This was very easy and tastes better than your average sliced bread... It looks cool too!


Ingredients: (for white dough)

  • 2 cups bread flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 cups water

Ingredients: (for beet dough)

Do the same as the white dough in a seperate bowl, replacing the water with beet juice. To obtain beet juice, I shredded 3 pounds of fresh beets, loaded the shreddings into a mesh bag, and squeezed  out the juice. I recovered about a cup, so I added water to make 1 1/4 cups. 

Instructions: (remember you are making TWO doughs)

  1. Add all the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt) into two bowls and stir with spoon for about 15 seconds.

  2. Add water to one bowl and beet juice to the other bowl. Stir for about 1 or 2 minutes.

  3. Cover the top of the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.

  4. Let sit on counter top for about 12 to 16 hours (I ussually do this for about 13 hours), the dough will look all bubbly on the top when done rising.

  5. Generously sprinkle flour the top of your clean counter top or a cutting board (don’t worry about using too much flour, it won’t hurt it).

  6. Slowly pour the dough from each bowl on to the floured surface, using the silicone spatula to help it peal off the sides of the bowl.

  7. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and rub your hands together with flour.

  8. With you hands, gently stretch each dough out to a rectangle shape.

  9. Lay the beet dough on top of the white dough.

  10. Roll up the dough from one end to the other.

  11. Place the dough into a lightly greased bread pan (seam side down).

  12. Let dough rise till it is a bit above the top of the bread pan (about double in size or 1 to 1.5 hours).

  13. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

  14. Place bread in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

  15. Remove from oven, dump bread out on a cooling rack or your counter top and allow it to cool.

There is a delicious flavor from the beets...somewhat salty, a bit savory, and a smidge of sweet. The deep cherry red color emitted from the crust, but inside it lost the red component and is a boring brown. I think I'll try the beet dough on the outside next time.

Does anyone know why this happens?

GSnyde's picture


More experiments today.  I baked a Jewish-style rye bread for the first time and I riffed on Tartine’s Basic Country Bread.

The Rye and Wherefore


I have been meaning to bake a Jewish-style rye bread for quite a while.  It hadn’t made it to the top of the list largely because my wife, though a devout Carbotarian, is not a fan of rye breads.  I have very fond memories of the “corn rye” from Karsh’s Bakery in the old country (Fresno).  And, though I don’t like the dense high-percentage rye breads that some TFLers do, I do consider rye sandwich bread to be among the most important breads.

So, with promises not to include caraway seeds and—more important—promises to also bake Tartine Basic Country Bread, I managed to get the (completely unnecessary) spousal consent to bake a rye bread.

I chose the New York Deli Rye from Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  The formula includes about 35% white rye flour (I used Central Milling Organic Light Rye), half of it pre-fermented.  The formula calls for first clear, high gluten or bread flour.  I would have gone for the first clear or KAF Sir Lancelot, but I don’t have any, so I used BRM bread flour. 

The dough was nice to work with once I got it hydrated enough.  It was easy to shape into nice cylinders.  Both the primary ferment and the proofing took less time than the book specifies (I guess my kitchen is warm today).  The loaves came out looking pretty good.  I like the medium dense, medium moist texture. 



The flavor is good, but a bit too sweet from the brown sugar.  It made for an excellent corned beef sandwich (the real purpose of Deli Rye). 


Nothing wrong with this bread, but I think I’ll try another recipe next time, maybe a Hamelman.

Tartine Demi-Loaves


A couple weeks ago, I baked the Tartine Basic Country Bread for the first time, and I was delighted with it in every way, except (1) the formula calls for a levain that is twice the amount needed for the dough, and (2) the formula makes two one-kilo loaves, and that is just too big for our normal use.

I have said before, in discussions about humungous miches, that I just don’t think the texture and flavor differences of a huge loaf are as big as the inconvenience of trying to consume one.  I needed to find out if Mr. Robertson’s much ballyhooed BCB formula could be tweaked to work better for me.

So, I mostly followed the formula, but I made half the amount of levain called for (just enough for one recipe), and I divided the dough into one one-kilo boule and two small batards of about 500 grams each.


I used all Central Milling flours: Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft white flour and Organic High-Protein Fine whole wheat flour.  The fermentation time and proofing time were shorter than last time (again the warm kitchen).  I baked the small batards on the stone, and the boule in a Dutch oven. [edit: here's a photo of the boule in the DO].


Because of the smaller loaf size, the batards baked 18 minutes on stone with steam at 450 F regular bake, then 18 minutes dry at 425 F convection.  The internal loaf temperature was 209 F.  The full-size boule baked in a cast iron Dutch oven at 425 F convection covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 17 minutes.  Internal temperature was 210 F.

The batard was just as delicious, and the crumb just as holey and moist as the previous bake of this (full-size) bread.  


I have rarely achieved such a big grigne…from ear to ear (yes, I had a bit of fun with the scoring).


I failed to capture a photo of the equally broad grin of my Number One Bread Taster.  I think I’ll be baking this bread a lot more often now that I know that size doesn’t matter.



Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Victory is mine!  If you haven't been following my occasional series of posts, six months ago I set out to improve my baguette skills by making a batch Hamelman's "Baguettes with Poolish" every Saturday and blogging about it here.  I haven't been entirely rigorous about the blogging, but I've kept up the baking, skipping only one weekend in all that time.  Here's what I said I wanted to achieve in week 1:

My objective: produce a reliable, tasty and beautiful baguette through practice, trial and error. I don't really imagine that I will truly master the baguette--better home bakers than I have tried in vain, I know. But I'm hoping to turn what is usually a hit-or-miss process into something I can do over and over again well, if not perfectly.

I submit to you that I have achieved this objective.

Exhibit A: Last week's bake (week 26 if you're counting)

What is notable about this batch is not how well they turned out, per se (though they aren't bad, eh?), but the fact that I did several things wrong, and they still came out quite well.  The plastic wrap stuck to the baguette in the middle, making it hard to score, I forgot to turn the oven down from the pre-heat temperature for the first 6 minutes of the bake, and I purposely omitted the "leave in the oven with the door cracked" step because I needed the oven.  And still they were good.  Crust was a bit chewy, but it was thin, the crumb was nice and the flavor was great.

Exhibit B: Todays bake




 The scores didn't come out quite perfectly--the baguettes took longer than usual to proof, and may have stil been a little under-proofed.  But everything else was spot on.  Crust was thin and crisp, crumb open and creamy, flavor sweet and nutty.  If every baguette I ever make again is like this, I'll be happy.

More to the point, if every baguette I make again is a random draw from the last 4-5 weeks of baguettes, I'll be more than happy.  There is still room for improvement, but at this point I think the benefit of making my baguettes a little bit better is less than the benefit of making a wider variety of breads (or even a wider variety of baguette recipes), and much less than the benefit starting a new quest (I have a couple in mind, but that's for another post).

Thanks to everyone who has followed along with my occasionally long-winded adventure, and thanks especially to those (Larry in particular) who helped point me in the right direction early in the process.  It has been a wild ride the last 6 months (not least due to the birth of my daughter in week 6).  Sometime soon I'll write up a post specifically reflecting on the lessons I've learned from Saturday Baguettes.

Happy baking, everyone,



Barstow Lechef's picture
Barstow Lechef

What is the best humidity for proofing bread in a home made prooferr

Floydm's picture

In March I travelled.  A lot.  My best guess is about 10,000 miles.  And, of course, when I travel I search for good bread.

Vancouver from Granville Island

First up was a trip to Vancouver for a Canucks game.  I did not get a change to go to all of the bakeries that folks here recommended, but at least I did get a chance to try Siegal's Montreal-style Bagels.


I don't know for certain that these are authentic Montreal-style bagels but fresh out of the oven they were delicious.  I will definitely be hitting Siegal's again the next time I'm up there... Perhaps for a playoff game in a couple of weeks!

Next up, a trip to Chicago for Drupalcon.


The conference was two blocks away from Fox & Obel, an upscale grocery store with a very good bakery in it.  The bakery was recently named one of the ten best bakeries in the US by Bon Appetit magazine.   I did not get a chance to take a photo of any of their breads, but their Olive Ciabatta rolls fueled much of my visit.  And of course I had to try a Chicago style pizza while I was there.  I had a veggie one from Bella Balcino's that was quite good... not a total gut bomb, which I could not handle a few hours before hopping on the plane home.

A quick trip home and back east to Washington DC.

Washington Monument

Incredible weather, decent food, and the Presidential motorcade went past us twice close enough to see Obama's face.  Needless to say, my kids were thrilled.

After DC we went through Providence, RI.  I walked around the Johnson & Wales campus a bit and tried to go to a pizza joint that Peter Reinhart had recommended, but alas it it was closed on the night of the week we were there.

Final destination: Boston.

Mike's Pastry in the North End is famous for their cookies and cannoli.  The Cannoli were excellent but it was the pignoli cookies that really blew my mind.  I definitely intend to find a recipe for something like them soon.

And now we are back.  My starter survived just fine and made some lovely baguettes yesterday.




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