The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


ananda's picture


Strange, but I am no longer working as a Lecturer at Newcastle College.   The decision to take voluntary redundancy felt right at the time, and I do not feel any different about that now, moving forward.

The TFL course was a great way to finish work at the College.   What better than being given a chance to teach a class of passionate, keen and like-minded bakers?   I left the write-up to Richard, and thank him for doing such a good job.   You can see it here:

Since then I have been back into College on 4 days, and some of this blog entry is about what I was getting up to back in the old haunt.   I have to say, I was on holiday at the time, and was lucky enough to be indulging myself in lots of fun with a favoured pass time; namely, making lots of lovely breads!   I spent 2 days on production, then I had a teaching contract for a day to earn some money, then a trip in to collect all the bread I had made the previous week, and say a final goodbye to the few people there.

My mission was to make a range of craft and genuinely artisan breads which I could sell at our Village Show, here in Powburn, which took place on Saturday 6th August.   The write-up follows below.

I negotiated an agreement with my previous line manager in College, allowing me to have 2 days working in the Bakery Kitchen to produce a range of breads for myself to sell at the Show.   I then wrapped and stored all the produce in the “walk-in” freezer, and met up with the Stores Manager on Friday lunchtime to collect all the bread and transport it to Northumberland ready for the Show.

I worked over Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th July, with some valued assistance from an ex-student, Dgilly, on the first day: thank you for that my friend!   There are some photographs below taken during both production sessions.

On day one we made the following:

    1. 12 small brown bloomers using an overnight sponge
    2. 6 large white bloomers using an overnight sponge
    3. 5 tinned Borodinsky loaves using the complex 3 stage process I posted on here:
    4. 12 large Gilchesters’ Miche; see my post here:
    5. 12 small boules of Pain de Siègle de Thézac, formula posted here: and here: and here: and here: and here: and here: 

On day two I made the remainder of the planned schedule:

  1. 12 Pane Siciliano, using an overnight Biga with some Gilchesters Pizza/Ciabatta flour and authentic Italian Semolina Flour [coarse, not re-milled].   The formula is posted below.
  2. 10 panned loaves of Rossisky, all rye sourdough loaf, with some red malt for flavour, and topped with cracked rye grain
  3. 6 large Chollah, as six-stranded plaits.   There is a detailed post here:
  4. 8 large Sourdough seed boule, based largely on my previous post, and on Hamelman’s original formula in “Bread”, pp. 176-77.   I used the twin leaven procedure of my post here:



Pane Siciliano Dough using a Stiff Biga


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Stiff Biga



Special CC Flour






Fresh Yeast









2.  Final Dough



Biga [from above]



Gilchesters Ciabatta Flour



Italian Coarse Semolina Flour















% pre-fermented flour



% overall hydration





All the bread was wrapped and frozen as soon as it was cooled, and labelled for easy identification.   It was neatly stacked in baskets on a set of dolly wheels, so we could transport it easily to load to my car.

In the meantime Alison went shopping to our newly re-furbished village Antique Centre and came back with some lovely large display wicker baskets and a huge piece of purple gingham cloth to use to cover the stall table which I had paid for.   The cloth had been made a by a company calling themselves “artisan”…how appropriate!   I called into the Bank for change for a float, late on Friday afternoon, and we made a last minute call out to the family for a proper cash box to use as a till.   Alison’s Dad came up trumps; thanks Maurice!

The other work was on the publicity side, and I have been given so much support here by Alison’s sister, Beverley, who works for a printing company in Cramlington.   Here’s a plug for Ravensworths, who have done me absolutely proud; thank you all, so much.

Beverley and my niece Eve arrived on Friday night loaded with the cash box, plus the following:

200 Business Cards; 2 large Address laminates; 4 laminates giving full details for each of the products; 2 price lists, as cards on stands; 2 pages of small stickers with my logo, to use to seal up the paper I was using to wrap  the breads at point of sale.             

The publicity information for all nine varieties is shown below:



This loaf replicates the complex 3 stage formula from Auerman, of the GOST

Standards introduced in the Soviet  era.   Originally considered to be  a loaf to commemorate victory in the Battle of Borodino in 1812, this version of the bread uses a Rye Sourdough plus a zavarkha  [boil-up] of molasses, malt, rye flour and boiling water.   The 2 are combined to form a sponge.   This is then used with further flour to form the final paste.   Considered to be “The Prince of Russian Breads”   Bitter-sweet overtones with an aroma given off from the freshly ground coriander seeds.


Organic Wholegrain Rye Flour, White Bread Flour,  Water, Organic Blackstrap Molasses, Red Malt from Barley, Salt, Coriander


  • No added Baker’s Yeast
  • Salt constitutes less than 1% of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from Rye and Wheat


Small Brown Bloomer



This loaf is made with a ripened white leaven as the pre-ferment at 37.5% of the total flour.   The remaining flour in the final dough is a wholemeal bread flour.  The leaven brings strength, maturity and flavour to the dough and produces a wonderfully bold and attractive, tasty loaf.   There is a small amount of bakers’ yeast and vegetable fat added to the final dough.



Wholemeal Bread Flour, White Bread Flour, Water, Salt, Fresh Bakers’ Yeast, White Vegetable Fat.



  • Salt and Vegetable Fat constitutes approx. 1.2% each of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from Wheat.


Six-Strand Chollah


This loaf is used as the centrepiece for certain Jewish Festival meal celebrations.   There are lots of different plaits which can be used.   The idea is to produce a showcase loaf which allows those participating to tear off portions of the bread, as a knife is not allowed to be used.   The bread is enriched, and I have used a short pre-ferment to encourage a reliable fermentation, plenty of loaf volume and the best flavour in the finished bread.   Note that this bread is sweetened, and that butter is also used, in addition to milk in place of the usual water.   A considerable amount of egg brings further tolerance in the dough through all the process stages.



White Bread Flour, Water, Milk Powder, Sugar, Butter, Egg, Salt, Fresh Bakers’ Yeast.



  • Contains Gluten from Wheat.
  • Contains Bakers’ Yeast
    • Contains Dairy Products including Milk Powder, Egg and Butter


Gilchesters’ Miche



This loaf is leavened solely with a wheat levain maintained using white bread flour.   The flour in the levain constitutes 27% of the total flour in the recipe. The  remaining 73% of the flour is Gilchesters’ Organic Farmhouse flour [a high extraction flour, approximately 85% wholemeal].   This means the bread is made using largely locally grown and processed ingredients.   Gilchesters grow single strain, tall-stemmed organic Sativa wheat on their farm near Stamfordham.   This is stoneground to flour at their own mill, the only mill to be installed in Northumberland in the last 150 years .



Organic Gilchesters’ Farmhouse Flour, White Bread Flour, Water, Salt



  • No added Baker’s Yeast
  • Salt constitutes approx. 1.2% of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from Wheat



Pain Siègle de Thézac



This loaf is leavened solely with a rye sourdough culture for plenty of flavour.   The rye constitutes 25% of the total flour in the recipe, the  remainder being white bread flour which gives a lighter eating texture .



White Bread Flour, Organic Dark Rye Flour, Water, Salt



  • No added Baker’s Yeast
  • Salt constitutes approx. 1.2% of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from both Wheat and Rye



Pane Siciliano



This loaf  has been made with an overnight pre-fermented dough called a “Biga”, using  a very small amount of  Bakers’ Yeast plus half the total flour in the formula.   The final dough contains a  mix  of half authentic Italian Semola di Grano Duro giving  a hint of straw colour to the dough, and the finished crumb.    The remaining half of the flour comes from Gilchesters, being an Organic Pizza/Ciabatta flour, very finely milled . The shaping symbolises the  eyes of Santa Lucia  watching over the faithful.   The legend is that Lucia refused to marry a Roman General as she had devoted herself to God during the pre-Christian Roman era in Siciliy.



White Bread Flour, Organic Gilchesters’ Pizza/Ciabatta Flour, Italian Semola di Grano Duro,  Water, Salt, Fresh Bakers’ Yeast



  • Salt constitutes approx. 1.2% of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from Wheat





This loaf is made only with 100% whole rye flour, red malt, salt and water.   It is leavened with a rye sourdough culture only, with no added bakers’ yeast.   The sourdough is given a full 18 hours fermentation before it is used to make the final paste.   The most basic of the Russian sourdough rye breads; this panned version has a topping of  Organic Rye Flakes to give an attractive appearance and some extra texture to the crust.



Organic Wholegrain Rye Flour, Red Malt from Barley, Water, Salt, Organic Rye Flakes



  • No added Baker’s Yeast
  • Salt constitutes approximately 1% of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from Rye and Barley



Seeded Sourdough Boule


This loaf is leavened with a rye sourdough culture and a wheat levain for plenty of flavour.   A soaker of golden linseeds in cold water is also used, in order to encourage high hydration in the dough.   The dough is retarded overnight for more flavour.   The other seeds used are roasted in the oven before being added to the dough.   The final dough has a portion of wholewheat flour added along with white bread flour. 


White Bread Flour, Wholemeal Bread Flour, Organic Dark Rye Flour, Golden Flaxseeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds Water, Salt


  • No added Baker’s Yeast
  • Salt constitutes approx. 1.2% of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from both Wheat and Rye



Large White Bloomer



This loaf is made with a yeasted pre-ferment, commonly used in French bread baking, called a “olish”.   This brings strength, maturity and flavour to the dough and produces a wonderfully bold and attractive, tasty loaf.



White Bread Flour, Water, Salt, Fresh Bakers’ Yeast, White Vegetable Fat.



  • Salt and Vegetable Fat constitutes approx. 1.2% each of the baked bread weight.
  • Contains Gluten from Wheat.


The Event


Still feeling sleepy on Saturday morning, I loaded up the car while Alison provided an essential breakfast of fruit and yoghurt with espresso coffee enabling me to come fully to life.   The weather was wonderfully sunny first thing, although we were aware the forecast for the day was not good…as is, apparently, frequently the case for the annual event in Powburn!


I drove onto the site, found the “Food Tent”, and my allotted table space, and set too unloading the car and preparing to sell my wares.   Soon after, my 2 trusty assistants arrived.   They had walked to the Show, as our car was FULL of bread!   Alison was in charge of wrapping the sold items.   I took the money and gave change.   Anna, our next door neighbour took charge of the little “tastings” table we set up, offering little samples of the bread with butter, olive oil/balsamic combo, or naked.   Anna, you were fantastic; thank you so much for your enthusiasm and your belief in me and the bread for sale.   As you can imagine, I was more than happy to provide further customer support by answering any questions and giving more information out as needed; “talk the talk!”

The Show began to fill with people, and the weather turned to rain, as the forecast had promised.   It did not, however, detract from what became a really successful and enjoyable day.   I sold 70 loaves, with just 6 left to bring home.   Financially, I netted just over £200.   However, the biggest coup was all the favourable publicity, and the interest generated amongst fellow local traders and those visiting the Show.   I was overwhelmed by those committed people out there, selling local and really special food, taking such an interest in what I had done, and clearly impressed with the integrity and authenticity of the breads I had made.   It made me realise it was all worthwhile.

As you can all imagine, I have been taking numerous steps to carve out a new and more exciting destiny for me, and for Alison, in the months and years to come.   This adventure at the Powburn Show was a big and fun part of the plan.

Some photographs of the day are shown below.

“Bread and Roses” is the theme I’m using.   How very apt: the loaves which sold out first were the most specialist, special and…expensive!   The “Chollah” was a hit, and interest in both the Russian sourdoughs was just so fantastic too!   The biggie was the Gilchesters’ Miche.   That was so pleasing for me.   I have put a lot of work into perfecting being able to work with this flour, as various blog posts will testify to.   Everyone was fascinated by the local aspect and the details concerning the wheat being grown and milled here in Northumberland.   This is just great; it confirms that the small producer has to produce food which is genuinely nourishing and sustaining, in all aspects.   It also has to be really special, and something the large producers are neither able, nor willing, to try to poach, rip-off and ruin.

Lastly, thank you to all my family for support and utter belief in me; especially to Alison, of course, for wanting to share my vision as part of our journey together as life partners.

My very best wishes to all


Mebake's picture

I have not made any bread blogs for a while now, as i was moving to a another apartment.

Yesterday, i saw a bag of sifted wholewheat flour (truns out to be a high extraction, as i was unable to get rid of tiny bran and germ particles through my sifter), and decided to bake PR's wholewheat sandwich loaf from it (Found in Whole grain breads book).

I prepared a BIGA, and a SOAKERin the morning 8:30 am, and headed for work. I used tiny amounts of yeast in the BIGA inorder for it to ferment slowly until i return home 8 hours later. The BIGA was fermenting faster than i had anticipated, and asked my wife to put it in the fridge, and take it out 2 hours before i return (Wives do come in Handy afterall! :P)

I have yet to try SF (subfuscpersona)'s suggestion on freezing the BIGA and then slowly defrosting it in the fridge 24 hours prior to the baking day. I'll try this method soon.

When i returned, i waited for the BIGA to Ripen, and Mixed all ingredients. I intensively mixed the dough by hand (ala bertinet) until i had a smooth silky elastic dough. moderate Window pane was possible with this dough. I devided the dough into 1.5Kg (for the Pullman look alike pan), and 1.3 Kg for the other pan (IKEA's) red pan.

I baked on a 40 minute 500F preaheated stone. For steaming, i used the wet towel method of Sylvia's. (My now reliable steaming method, thanks sylvia!).

The Pullman Loaf Crumb

The Regular Pan (IKEA's) loaf crumb

After having baked thrice with my two pans, I have come to a conclusion that The material used in my IKEA pan conducts and retains heat more than the silver deep pan (pullman lookalike).

The flavor is outstanding, thanks to the formulation of peter reinhart, and the freshly milled wheat flour. I also mixed in some extra bran wholewheat flour. The crumb is soft and rich, yet light. It toasts beautifully too. The aroma of the finished loaves is heavenly.






GSnyde's picture


Cat and I don’t throw dinner parties very often, but when we do we are reminded that we are pretty dang good at it.  And now that I have become a semi-competent baker, the parties are even better.

There were several reasons for last night’s event: (1) a business associate (and friend) of Cat’s is visiting from New Zealand, (2) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s boss, whom we had never hosted in our home, (3) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s brother and brother-in-law, who are also friends of Cat’s boss and always entertaining, and (4) we had so much bread in the freezer that Cat and I would have been eating Panzanella for a month to whittle it down.  Oh, yeah, and (5) we like feeding and fermenting friends into a frenzy of frivolity.

I should mention that “having the boss and his wife over for dinner” may sound like a tense occasion (ala how many old movies).  But in Cat’s case, her boss recruited her years ago, already knowing her intelligence, skill and good nature, and his opinion of her has only grown higher over the years.  I suppose we could have messed up her work life by poisoning the boss, but I didn’t even think about that scary prospect until now.  I am conscious of the reversal of classic roles here: the wife, a manager in a big corporation, invites the boss and his wife over for a dinner prepared by the husband (whom she likes to keep in the kitchen). 

The menu included baguettes and cheeses and toasted Curry-Onion-Bacon-Cheese Bread (–-one-sweet-and-one-savory) to start, with a main course of charcoal-grilled butterflied leg of lamb (Julia Child marinade), bulgur pilaf, and Panzanella with heirloom tomatoes and herb fried Tartine BCB (  Dessert was vanilla ice cream, awesome strawberries and Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies. 

Cat’s boss is a widely recognized gourmand and his wife was (before kids) a talented professional chef.   So I chose to prepare proven recipes (except the cookies, of which more below).  Having a Kiwi visitor was an opportunity to prove the superiority of California Lamb over the New Zealish variety (I don’t really mean that—the lamb in New Zealand is spectacular, much better than what they export to the U.S.).

Anyway, enough background.  I should say something about baking since this is still, to a large degree, a bread-oriented web site, pastrami and pickles to the contrary notwithstanding.

I have been experimenting with different baguette formulas lately, but the most reliable for me, and the one I like best, is proth5’s formula now known as “bear-guettes” (recipe below).   The dough is a dream to work with, and the result is crispy-crackly crust and tender creamy crumb…perfect as a cheese conveyance.  The formula makes 6 mini-baguettes.  I divided the dough after an hour of bulk fermentation and put half in the refrigerator for 90 minutes, so I could bake in two batches, the second after leaving enough time for the steaming skillet to get back up to temperature.  The results were quite satisfactory, with many oohs and ahs (attributable in part, I’m sure, to the creamy goat cheese the baguettes conveyed).

The main course was also very good.  Grilled lamb and bulgur pilaf are nicely enhanced by a puddle of tart vinaigrette from the salad.  Cat’s boss’s wife—the chef—commented appreciatively on how perfect the bread in the Panzanella was; she thought I’d gotten the bread from Tartine Bakery, and seemed impressed when she learned I’d baked it myself from the Tartine recipe.  As much as I treasure my wife’s favorable reaction to my bread, there’s nothing like unbiased third-party expert validation.  The feast was washed down with a pretty fair duo of 2001 pinot noirs, one from the Russian River Valley (Dehlinger) and one from Burgandy (a Gevrey-Chambertin).  

Then, the dessert.  I’ve toyed with chewy chocolate cookie recipes for years, my favorite being a Mocha cookie with bitter-sweet chocolate, fresh ground dark roast coffee and (I hate to admit) instant coffee crystals.  Somewhere recently I saw a formula for a chocolate bread with sour cherries and nuts, and thought that chocolate-cherry cookies would be pretty good.  So I modified my Mocha cookie recipe to replace the coffee with more chocolate and added dried tart cherries.  Awesome!  Very soft and chocolaty, with the extra chew and tartness of dried fruit. 

After some coffee and music, our guests waddled off into the late night and I’m confident Cat’s job is safe.

Here’re the recipes:

Proth5’s Bear-guettes

(adapted from dmsnyder’s report on proth5’s formula. See further notes at






Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast

“generous pinch”





Wt (oz)

AP flour




Ripe sourdough



Final dough



Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast









Total dough




Wt (oz)

Baker's %

AP flour






Instant yeast













                  Mix the poolish and the levain and let them ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

                  Mix all the ingredients except the salt to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

                  Add the salt and hand mix in a large bowl.

                  Bulk ferment for 4 hours with a stretch and fold at 2 hours. (I cold retarded half after the S&F for 90 minutes).

                  Divide into 10.5 oz pieces and pre-shape as logs. Rest the pieces, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

                  Shape as baguettes.

                  Proof en couche for 1.5 hours.

                  Pre-heat oven to 500ºF with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

                  Transfer loaves to peel. Score them and transfer them to the oven.

                  Reduce oven temperature top 460 F and bake with steam for 10 minutes, and bake dry for another 9-11 minutes.

                  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before eating.


                                    CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHERRY COOKIES





2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder    (Scharffenberger)

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

4 oz. Scharffenberger bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped or shaved

2 cups dried cherries





Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.



Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside.


In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chopped baking chocolate and cherries by hand using a wooden spoon.


Refrigerate dough at least one hour.


Drop cookie dough (about ¾ of a 1/4 cup measure per piece) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be at least 1 ½  inches apart.  Flatten each cookie a bit.



Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


davidg618's picture

These are #'s 4 and 5. I've made three earlier loaves, all successful, with similar oven spring. I've been experimenting with retarding sourdoughs. I'm so pleased with my Overnight Baguette's flavor and crumb--straight dough, retarded 15 hours @ 54°F--that I've reasoned retarding sourdough loaves should add sparkle to already good flavor. Using my old starter, the results were mixed. I realized excellent flavors, but the doughs were slack, and their oven spring weak.

With Debra Wink's help, we've saved my new starter--I thought it was a goner--and, encouraged by #'s 2 and 3, also retarded, I baked these today. The dough was retarded 10 hours, at 54°F, before shaping.

As you see, I've got excellent oven spring. I'm going to post a forum Help! re the ragged slashing. I've not been able to eliminate it. If you have any good advice please post it either here or on the forum thread; I'll title it Ragged Slashing. Sorry, no crumb shots, these are going into the freezer.

Here's a crumb shot of #2, which is almost gone. It's been a great compliment to some home cured and smoked pastrami.

David G

HokeyPokey's picture

I've made this recipe mid-week and only just got around to taking a photo to go with the blog. Just in time too, cause there is only about a third of loaf left - a very popular little bread that ia.

The idea for a banana bread came from  Shiao-Ping's blog (which does look amazing by the way), but I wanted something a little bit ligher and more brioche-like. I had three super ripe bananas left in a fruit bowl and a jar of peanut butter with my name on it, just begging to be spread on toast and munched up.

Here we are, a light, fluffy banana bread that is just so perfect with a bit of butter, topped with lots of peanut butter - super crunchy type too - yumm.....

Full recipe and more photos on my blog here

HokeyPokey's picture

London is going through a heat wave, its hot, properly hot, which means my starter is going super mental and I have to think of new ways of using it and new bread recipes.

This post inspiration came from a glass of orange juice and a bit of nagging from my husband. Result - two loaves of bread, a whiskey orange bread and a seeded bread, one for my breakfast (I am into sweet toast at the moment) and one for my dear husband to satisfy his seeded, crunchy bread craving.

More photos and full recipes on my blog here


stephy711's picture

For more cooking adventures, check out Garlic Knots


  • 3 cups (480 grams) bread flour
  • 1 pack active yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp melted salted butter
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley or 1 Tbsp fresh chopped italian parsley



  1. Mix sugar, yeast and ¼ cup warm water to let yeast proof for 10 minutes
  2. Combined flour, yeast mixture, salt, olive oil, milk and remaining water in a large bowl, stirring until it comes together.
  3. Knead for 8 minutes on floured work surface until dough passes the window pane test.
  4. Form dough into a lose round and let proof in a greased, covered bowl for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  5. Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into knots. Roll dough into a long rope like you would a pretzel. Tie a knot in the center.
  6. Fold the rope underlying the knot over the top, and fold the rope overlying underneath, securing in the center.
  7. Let rise another 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  8. While dough is rising, melt butter and combine it with garlic, oregano and parsley
  9. Brush butter over knots just before baking. Bake around 15-20 minutes until golden
tssaweber's picture

I spent another 10 days at [Professor] Mark's The Back Home Bakery. Other then working hard I had a great time up in the Rockies and enjoyed my time with Mark and his wife Sharon very much. It was great to see how he was able to organize his process to multiply his output and meet the demand of his divers clientele. I was not surprised that we sold out at all three Farmer's Market I participated. 

I leave it up to you to decide if I learned something!!


Thanks Sharon and Mark for you hospitality!


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yay! Thank you! After much research and tips and narrowing down the problem (via videos from King Arthur flour and seeing their dough in each step), I figured out that I wasn't kneading it correctly in the bulk fermentation step. I was doing the push-down and quarter turn method. No folding or stretching, because I wasn't even aware of that at all! Interesting how even the end result in bread can point to a problem much earlier in the process. With just folding and stretching, the dough became dramatically different, and the bread held its nicely curved lofty shape during baking! yay!!!!!!!

Now on to invest in a thermometer...

txfarmer's picture

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

Chocolate croissants, we all love them. When I saw in a Japanese baking book where they put cocoa in the dough as well, I knew I must make it. These are the bread equivalence of "a dark and mysterious stranger".

At first I thought it would be straightforward to adapt my previous croissant recipe: just add some cocoa powder and wrape in a chocolate baton right? Wrong. Nothing in croissant making has been straightforward for me. Before diving into the gory details of my 3 months struggle, you might want to check out the following two earlier entries for some tips and guildlines:

Lesson re-learned #1: Natural cocoa powder is acidic. I knew that before from caking making - you add baking soda to react with acidic cocoa powder to raise cakes, however, I didn't know it was THAT acidic. After adding cocoa powder, the dough was too weak to rise properly, they ended up like sad chocolate pancakes. I changed natural cocoa powder to dutch processed cocoa, immediately saw a difference. For the batch I am showing I used Herseys Special Dark Cocoa (hence the very dark color), which is a blend of dutch processed and natural cocoa, I imagin the volume would even be better if a pure dutch processed cocoa is used.

Lesson re-learned #2: Firm levain gives dough more strength then liquid starter/levain. Knew that one before as well, but the effect is really obvious here. I made a firm levain rather than adding 100% starter directly into the dough, the volume of croissants was further improved.

Lesson re-learned #3: Croissant dough needs to be cold. In my last croissant post, I wrote about how to make croissants in TX summer by rolling quickly and putting dough in fridge frequently. Well, since then, temperature has climed to 110F. Even at night/early morning, my kitchen (especially the counter top by the window) doesn't drop below 85. That's simply too hot, butter is melting into the dough as soon as it hits the counter top. To solve that, this is the setup I am using (a shoutout to my hubby who thought of and implemented the whole thing): frozen ice packs under a big baking tray, and a metal rolling pin which is filled with water then frozen.

The rolling pin and ice packs need to be put back into the freezer between rolling, which is a bit troublesome, but did I mention it's 110F outside?

Lesson re-learned #4: Dark chocolate can lower blood pressure. Knew that one before too, but not until my mother, who usually has high blood pressure, had two croisssants and started getting dizzy - her blood pressure was too low! We then tested with just the valrhona dark chocolate batons used for these croissants, apparently, just one was enough to lower her blood pressure to normal, any more would be too low! This is more effective (and yummier) then medicine!

Double Chocolate Croissant with Natural Starter

Note: makes 12 croissants


100% starter, 35g

water, 59g

bread flour, 105g

1. mix and let mature for 12 hours.

-Final Dough

bread flour (KAF), 422g

dutch processed cocoa, 20g

water, 85g

milk, 128g

sugar, 73g

salt, 10g

osmotolerant instant yeast (SAF gold), 4g, 1tsp+1/4tsp

butter, 21g, softened

levain, all

roll-in butter, 287g

1. Mix everything but the roll-in butter, knead until gluten starts to form. In my KA mixer, 3min at first speed, 5 min at 3rd speed.

Then following the procedure illustrated here. Do remebmer to enclose a chocolate baton while shaping, just place it at the bottom of the triangle piece, and roll up as usual.

 Very very very delicious, it takes so much work to make, be sure to use the best chocolate to ge the maximum impact!

For this earlier batch, I rolled the dough out thinner, did more turns while shaping, to create more layers. Well, more layers alright, but I don't think it's airy enough.

Anyway, I am happy my 3 month chocolate croissant battle is near the end, still not perfect, but I think they are quite sexy!



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