The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
chouette22's picture

It has been on my mind for a while to put a post together - my last one is from nearly two years ago! I better get this up before the winter semester starts on Monday.
I always get so inspired from all the wonderful things you are putting up on this site and cheer you on from the sidelines. 

These are a few things I have been making in the last months.
My son has been home from university over the Christmas break, and it has been so much fun feeding him. He lost about 6 pounds during the end-of-semester stress and I was more than happy to put those back on his ribs! :)

Below: Four Galettes des rois for this afternoon. We had friends over for this typical Epiphany celebration (January 6th), but since everyone was working then, we got together today for champagne, coffee, tea and galettes. The 3 in the back are the typical French ones, the Brioche in the front is a F/Swiss crossover. All of them have the frangipane filling. Picture top right: this is the 'fève' that you bake into the cakes - whoever gets the piece with the 'fève' will be king/queen for the day! Lots of fun for everyone, not just the kids. 

I often make David's baguettes; for me it's the best recipe out there. I have tried so many and always keep coming back to this one. 

For one of the holiday parties I brought this spinach-ricotta filled sun.
On the right: Walnut focaccia with Gorgonzola. 

Before the semester was over in December, I brought the following stuffed breads into one of my French classes.

A yeasted 'rose' brioche.

I LOVE these crisps! An upscale deli in our area sells this type of artisan crackers (like the Raincoast crisps) for the price of gold, or nearly. So I studied the list of ingredients and with a Google search found an excellent recipe. I have been making them at least once a month. I use mostly WW and some AP flour, and add prunes, cranberries, raisins, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds. 

A cake for my kids, it's one of their favorites: Bienenstich (bee sting). 
Bottom: fruit bread and vegetable tart.

Bread experimentation with some herb and veggie decorations.

I need to make macarons at least once every two months so that I don't forget how to be successful with them, since they are so finicky.
Chocolate pretzels for my kids. 

Cinnamon-sugar pull-apart breads for when our neighbors came over for coffee.
A pumpkin torte for Thanksgiving. 

Tartine breads

I made several Nutella brioches during the Christmas season as gifts. Each of my neighbors got one as well as several friends.

An army of teddybears, from a Japanese blog. Cute but also really delicious. Very crisp. 
Four Swiss Zöpfe for the office assistants of my college department.

Bottom left: This is the cookie plate I gave to each of our neighbors for Christmas, together with the Nutella brioche shown above. 

Two more gifts: A chocolate-chip Zopf and a chocolate Fougasse with an epi baguette for good décor. 

Happy baking in 2015!

jeano's picture

One of Mr Jeano's buddies expressed a wish for a loaf of sourdough, in the context of hearing another buddy was to be blessed with some rye bread. (The rye bread recipient had never eaten rye until he had some at our place). The buddy who wants sourdough commented his wife had gotten some at the grocery store and he'd really enjoyed it for sandwiches. (I will bet you almost any amount of money their local grocery doesn't carry unbleached flour, let alone bake any quasi-artisan bread).

 I am pretty sure this stuff he's had is SDINO and told Mr Jeano, I don't think I'll retard these loaves, I dont want to give his tastebuds too big of a shock.

No crumb shot until tomorrow after buddy picks his loaf out.

Sjadad's picture

Failure to plan. That was my situation this morning. I wanted to bake bread but failed to plan for it yesterday so I had no refreshed starter to elaborate, no poolish, no biga, no preferment of any kind. So I decided it was about time that I tried Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta. I made the semolina version. 

I followed the formula exactly, using the greater amount of water. I baked with steam for the first 10 minutes and left the oven temperature at 500 F the entire time. The loaves were done in 15 minutes. 

I'm very pleased with the color and texture of the crust, the openness of the crumb, and the flavor. I'll be making this one again. 

Jane Dough's picture
Jane Dough

I had a bit of levain left from my experiment with a Forkish loaf and I hate to throw it away.  I kept it on the counter feeding it a bit each day until Thursday when I said "that's it".  I followed gsnyde's San Francisco country loaf (found at this link, adjusting the formula to accommodate my 143 g of levain because you can't throw it out darn it.  Anyway thank you gsnyde.  It is one of my best loaves ever.  It has a nice crisp crust, a tangy and nutty full flavor, and is one of the lightest sd's I have produced to date.  I proved seamside down in the banneton and then baked seamside up and let the loaf make it's own path in the spring.  I even stuck the proved loaf in the banneton in to the freezer for 7-8 minutes before placing it in my Lodge cast iron DO.   I am quite happy with how my "spent fuel" regenerated  itself.

I have a couple of things I'm concentrating on  - shaping and less flour in my banneton.  "Work in progress" would be the operative term. Critiques would be most welcome.  I baked the loaf earlier than I might have other times (on purpose).  I felt I had the appropriate poke with this even though I often wait for more volume (a mistake oftentimes).  I also think I handle the dough too much when shaping and maybe force too much gas out of it.  Of course by the time I realize I'm doing that it's too late.  As stated I'd appreciate thoughts on that.  I think the bake times are good usually.  This one in particular has a lovely gelatin-like crumb.  The flour combo helps that I think - 83% AP, 11% WW and 6% rye.  The bottom crust is good - not thick or hard to chew and not too dark.

I had a piece for toast this morning.  And as I was contemplating the various aspects - flavor, crumb etc. I thought " oh I should have put some fennel or anise or caraway or all three".  Needless to say I have already taken another 10 g of starter out of my stock and have started building another levain.  I'm telling you it's a disease! This natural levain baking is a sickness.  I'm not that interested in yeast although from time to time it's what is called for.  It's the satisfaction of knowing that you really really did this from scratch I think with sd.  How much more basic does it get - flour, water, salt?

Finally, I would like to tell you that I started to post this at 6:00 am this morning. I have done a few other chores.  However in my wonderfully simplified life with all my electronic gadgets and all my different email addresses, I found that posting to the blog to be not quite as easy as I had anticipated today.  Once I had worked my way through the fact that my iPhone was kind of full (it's ONLY 16GB!), I found I had at some point backed up my iPhone to iTunes on a Windows laptop and wouldn't you know it - I needed the password to back it up all over again.  After some searching in my standard locations, I found that old password.  Who knew you needed the same password to back up again.  I mean I could see you would need it for restoring but can't I have a new password for backing up? Please?  I then found I had rotated photos. The good news was that I still had photos - somewhere.  That was next - rotate the photos.  And then the post...

And finally here I am - I finally got it done!

Happy Weekend all!

PY's picture

since i made an acetobacter YW and my sourdough died at the same time (double whammy) i have to resort to commercial yeast while waiting for the rebirth of my sourdough.

bought the hario skerton coffee grinder to grind some buckwheat...was easy enough.

varda's picture

This week I've been honored by a visit from Pat Roth (aka proth5.)    I invited her here and happily enough she decided to come and share some of her baking wisdom with me.    One of the things I particularly wanted to master were those pesky brioches à tête.   How do you keep those heads up high?   How do you keep the neck from thickening until they look like body builders with no discernable distinction between body and head?   

These are urgent matters but first

--------------------------a shaggy dog story---------------------------------------

Years ago I worked in Boston.   On my way from the subway to the office I stopped in at the Pregnant Building at a little cafe in the lobby where I got my morning coffee and a spectacular brioche.   This being long before I started baking, I assumed that everyone could make such amazing brioche.   Little did I know.  

Then the tragedy of 9/11 struck.   All the big buildings in Boston started upgrading their security.    Since the pregnant building was the tallest in the area, their upgrades  were the most extreme.   Before I knew it I could no longer get into my little cafe as it was barricaded behind a security desk, and only those who had access to the building could get to it.   I searched half-heartedly for a new brioche source but nothing that I found was even close.   I tried to get an id for the building.   No dice.   I gave up.   

A couple of years later, remembering those brioche, I stopped by to see if the cafe was accessible and yes it was.  I was overjoyed but not for long.   Each time I stopped in there were no brioche on the shelves.   Finally I asked what had happened.   In the two years that I had been barred from the building, the baker had retired. 

Fast forward many years.   I have now made brioche many times, but the results have always lacked the artistry that I remember pre 9/11.   My brioche has to be better or the terrorists will have won.   Enter Pat Roth.

---------------------------End of shaggy dog story-----------------------------------------

A few important things about brioche:

Everything has to be very cold.   We weighed out and refrigerated all ingredients overnight.

Butter should be cold but plasticized by pounding (with a wine bottle in this case) before adding to the mixed dough.

The dough has to be mixed until it is very, very strong.

Here is Pat checking it out - is it strong enough?

With the cold weather all my doughs are drying out before I can even get them shaped.   But no need to worry.   Pat taught me to place the preshaped dough balls into a closed container so they stay moist before shaping.

She also taught me a new preshape method - stretch out, fold in half, turn so edge is on counter, fold in half and roll for a second.   Very fast, very tight.   Rest the dough and then shape into a ball.   The preshape gets you most of the way.

Then things start to get hard.   Make a pool of flour on the counter.   Flour the side of your hand, then start rolling a neck into the ball.    Not too much flour or it will just flatten out.  

Straighten up that bowling pin and place upright in a brioche tin.   

Now the really hard part and since I was working so hard no time for pictures.   With your left thumb press the head back while taking a floured right index finger and pressing it straight down from the base of the neck almost to the bottom of the tin.   Rotate all around until it looks like the picture at top.  

Proof well, egg wash and bake.

And now the really good part:

and even better...

Thank you Pat!

dabrownman's picture

Lucy decided to do another take in her minimum 15 grain no more than 30 ingredient challenge bake found here:  but this time using sprouted whole grains for 50% of the grain and cutting way back the other ingredients to a total of 22 (LaFama AP, KA bread flour, salt, water, IPA  added to the 16 whole sprouted grains.  22 is a pretty big number around here so it seemed fitting for this challenge bake.


We used a new IPA for the dough liquid in this bake - A Desert Magic IPA from Mudshark Brewery located in Lake Havasu,  AZ.  I did get a swig of it this time and thought it tasted pretty good.   My daughter’s boyfriend was kind enough to leave one in eh fridge after New Year’s.   He also left a Four Peaks Peach Ale that probably won’t make it into and bread


We followed our usual MO for this bake.  A 3 stage levain build that was retarded 24 hours, 3 sets of slap and folds of 8,1 and 1 minute  and 3 sets of stretch and folds all on 20 minute intervals where the dough was kept warm on a heating pad.  Since it is cold we added in a 1 hour bulk ferment before shaping, putting it in a rice floured basket, bagging and retarding it for 15 hours instead of 12.


We cut the hydration down to 78.5% from 80%, increased the levain to almost 15% from 11%, increased the sprouted grains to 50%.  We also used our new Lodge combo cooker that Hanukah Joe brought and our new dehydrator that Santa brought – nothing like celebrating both holidays when these things can’t be found at Goodwill for a buck!


We let the dough warm up on the counter for 2 hours, before un-molding, slashing and  loading it into the 500 F combo cooker and baking with the lid on for 20 minutes at 450 F.  Once the lid came off, we turned the oven down to 425 F and removed the bread from the bottom of the combo cooker 5 minutes later and let it finish baking on the stone until it reached 203 F on the inside which took another 20 minutes. 


Yep it is a Ande's Mint Fudge brownies with a dark chocolate ganache top and sprinkles of more Ande's mint chunks on top - delish.  Lucy says no to forget a home salad with home grown cherry tomatoes and greens with chunks of Gorgonzola. 

It sat on the stone in the off oven until it reached 205 F.  It blistered, bloomed, sprang and browned to a very dark patina.  We will have to wait and see how the crumb came out but so far this one has promise for the first bake in 2015.

The crust stayed crisp and was fantastic!  The crumb was soft, moist, open and glossy.  This bread tastes as good as it looks and the extra sprouted grains is what makes it taste so unusually good.  Can't say more with a full mouth.

This bread made for a fine lunch including : a grilled chicken sandwich with 6 year old aged cheddar, a garden salad, sweet potato, apple, berries and Triple cream blue infused Camenbert called Cambozola.


SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



7 Week Retarded Rye Sour Starter






80% Extraction Whole Sprouted 16 Grain






20% Extract Whole Sprouted 16 Grain
























Levain Totals


















Levain Hydration






Levain % of Total Flour












Dough Flour






80% Extract Sprouted Whole 16 Grain






KA Bread & La Fama AP 50/50






Total Dough Flour


















LakeHavasuMudshark  Desert Magic IPA












Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter






LakeHavasuMudshark  Desert Magic IPA












Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Sprouted Grain












16 whole sprouted grains include equal amounts of Desert Durum, Buckwheat,


einkorn, quinoa, millet, oat, corn, rye, spelt, emmer (farro), Kamut,



wheat, semolina, barley,  Pima Club and White Sonora





 Lucy invites everyone to take part in her at least 15 grain but no more than 30 ingredient challenge bake.


jeano's picture

Eric's formula calls for neither a bold bake, nor making a ginormous boule instead of two smaller ovals, but I have been using my immense IMUSA caldera for big miche-like loaves for a while and couldn't resist giving an excellent deli rye a Forkish twist.

This one was baked in the preheated caldera for 27 minutes at 465, then with lid off for another 18 minutes, then I left it sit on the baking stone with the oven door closed (oven off, fan still running) for another 6 minutes or so.

I subbed whole and medium rye for white rye four, and included anise and fennel seeds as well as caraway. Crumb is soft and delicious, crust crunchy-crisp and caramelized.

jimcornwall's picture

What is the best way of telling the internal temperature of a sourdough loaf?  Probe thermometers will create holes in the loaf. Any Ideas?  Also There is quite a difference in prices for thermometers that seem to have the same capabilities.

Thank You


Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

I put a lot of energy into flavor and feel of my bread and usually it has a look that I am happy with too. But I really love seeing loaves that are decorative and have beautiful shapes. I am so often impressed with the loaves of people like Anna Giordan.

I had to make loaves for small table settings. Since it was the holidays I did a typical boule, but paired them with a wreath shape inspired by Anna's La Spiga Francese

These were made with 50% Rye starter, 50% wheat starter.  The dough was about 12% Rye, 12% whole wheat.

24 hours bulk ferment.  I increased my normal formula about 15% and then made two loaves, so they are a little smaller so that having both on the table was not overwhelming.

The wreath shape needs work, but as a pair they worked well. This was also a way to let those that love crust enjoy the wreath and plenty of crumb in the boule for those who prefer that.



Subscribe to RSS - blogs