The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


GSnyde's picture

I joined in the Dutch Oven craze with a Pain de Campagne bake a few weeks ago, and the outcome was fine, but I think I get my best results with Sylvia’s magic towel technique.  So, for my first try at a Tartine-like Country Bread, I baked two sloppy boules on the stone.


I used the formula Brother David posted last week (, except I used professionally-milled flours rather than home-milled (since I don’t have a hackmesser of my own, nor a KitchenAid grinder attachment [which would not be very useful in that I don’t have a KitchenAid <geez, this sentence has lots of digressions>]).  I used my favored white flour, Central Milling Co.’s Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft, along with KAF Whole Wheat flour and BRM Whole Grain Spelt flour.  (This was the first time I’d used spelt flour and now I have a hankering to fry up some of those small Pacific surf fishes so I can have smelt on spelt.)

The 77% hydration dough was silky and malleable, but it was gumby-in-a-toaster-like to shape.  With a good deal of flour on the board and on my hands, I managed to form pretty tight boules.  I proofed one in the garage (52 F) so they could be baked in succession without the second one being overproofed.

As soon as they were gently plopped from the bannetons to the peel, they spread out.  But they did rise nicely in the oven.


And there was much crust crazing.


And this is kinda what I like the inside of my bread to look like.


The texture is about ideal for me—very moist, tender and airy crumb, but with some chew to it.  The flavor is good, but not the most interesting.  Not quite sour enough and I miss the touch of rye I usually have in my Pain de Campagne.

I think the next test is to try to get the flavor of San Francisco Country Sourdough with the crumb texture of this loaf.  Maybe 70% white/20% whole wheat/10% rye with 75% hydration and a three hour primary ferment.

Of course, Tasha thinks I should forget about bread and learn to bake kitty treats.




Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I never got around to posting last week, but I did get around to making yet another batch of poolish baguettes.  The only real change was to use King Arthur All-Purpose flour in the final dough (making up 2/3 of the total flour with the Bread Flour in the poolish).  Also, thinking that my lame was getting dull, I tried scoring with the other side of the blade (switching from "Method 1" to "Method 2" as dmsnyder terms them).  I wasn't enturely impressed with the results.

Results: Exterior


Results: Crumb


The results were okay--crumb had a nice texture, flavor wasn't bad, crust was well carmelized but kinda chewy.  Bottoms burnt, scores are a mess.  The previous two weeks the results had been so much better.  My fault or the flour?  Probably mine, but I'd had such luck before...

Partly discouraged, partly looking for variety, partly because I've been craving a sourdough baguette for a couple months now, this week (#15 if you're keeping track), I swapped out the poolish for 300g of 100% hydration starter (still used commercial yeast in the final dough though).  The dough wasn't nearly as easy to handle as the standard poolish dough--it was looser, stickier, and gave me grief shaping (somehow I managed to have one end sticking while the other end was over floured and sliding instead of rolling).  I did take steps to prevent burnt bottoms, raising my stone one level in the oven--this seemed to do the trick.

Results: Exterior


Results: Crumb


I wouldn't call this a success, per se--the crust and crumb are pretty ugly, no?--but the flavor was very nice, and the crust had a nice texture to it -- chewier than I'd want for a normal poolish baguette, but quite good for a sourdough.

Now here's the question:  I really ought to give the King Arthur AP flour another chance in a normal poolish baguette.  But I think the sourdough version has a lot of potential--if I could get more used to handling this dough, I think I could get something pretty nice here.  Which do I pursue?

(In all likelihood, this will be determined by whether or not I remember to take out and refresh my starter on Wednesday or Thursday next week, mind you.)

Happy baking, everyone.   I got some King Arthur durum flour as a Christmas present and tomorrow I'm baking Pugliese :)

GSnyde's picture

My first try at scones (with thanks to Breadsong!)


Breadsong’s post last week about flaky scones ( got my sweet tooth going (and so soon after the holidays).  My wife and I love scones—if they’re flaky, tender and a bit moist inside--but had never made them.

The two variations--cheddar cheese and Irish Cream with chocolate-chip--breadsong baked looked scrumptious, but I decided to change them up a bit.  I made a small batch using her cheddar cheese scone formula, but added crispy bacon chopped into bits. 



And for the sweet scone, I used her second formula as the starting point, but instead of Irish Cream and chocolate, I mixed in dried pineapple soaked for three days in dark rum and Grand Marnier, and I added small quantities of rum, Grand Marnier and orange extract to the dough.  This was an attempt at a “mai-tai scone” but didn’t really taste like a mai-tai so much as a rum punch.


Breadsong’s formula and technique produce scones that are flaky, light and tender, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Both varieties came out wonderfully, but the rum-pineapple version is especially good.  I had intended to ice them with a rum-lime icing, but my Number One Taster said they didn’t need anything on top.   

Here’s the ingredients list for my adaptation of the sweet scone formula (for 18 small scones).

1 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp baking powder 

1/4 tsp kosher salt

scant 1/4 cup golden brown sugar

2 ½ Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple (soaked three days in dark rum and/or orange liqueur)

Just less than 1/2 cup heavy cream (100-105 grams)

½  Tbsp dark rum

1/4 Tbsp Grand Marnier or Curacao

1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Half-and-half (for brushing)

Having been warned about the importance of keeping the dough cold, and knowing my first try would not go fast enough, I took a couple precautions.  I dusted the silpat and dough lightly with flour before I rolled the dough out each time; I put the mixing bowl in the fridge for a while before using it to mix the dough; and—as breadsong recommended-- I did my best to keep my hot hands off the dough. 

It worked out well, and I will try some additional variations soon.  I think the bacon-cheddar scones would be even better with the addition of green onions. Or give it an Italian accent with pancetta and parmagiano.  And the rum-fruit scone could use any one of a number of kinds of liqueur and dried fruit.  Maybe use eggnog in place of the cream in a rum-raisin scone.

Breadsong, my wife wanted to make sure I passed along her gratitude for sharing your winning recipe.  Truly awesome outcome, and on my first try.

My thanks, too.



txfarmer's picture

There have been a lot of discussion here on TFL regarding covered baking, ranging from covering dough on stone with a roasting pan, to baking in a dutch oven like a no-knead dough, to baking in a "combo-baker" as Tartin Bread Book suggests. I recently got a 2.5 quart oval enamel cast iron pot at a very good price (William Sonoma winter sale is a gold mine!), so I finally can try my hand on covered baking.


This light rye recipe is from "Tartine Bread Book", with only 15% rye, and some ww, this is really just a country loaf. Hydration is nearly 83%, so the dough is very wet and sticky. This is actually my main motivation for using the pot, such wet dough tend to spread a bit on stone, before it gets a change to spring up. I have so far work around the problem by baking smaller loaves (500g to 600g rather than 1000g+), and manage proofing/dough strength very carefully, however the covered pot does seem to have an advantage over baking stone in that regard.

Moist and open crumb:


Here're my thoughts on baking in a cast iron pot so far:


- Better volume and shape due to a)more direct heat all around the dough rather than just from the bottom; b)limited spreading space, which means the dough size and the pot size need to be matched well. This is especially significant with high hydration doughs.

- No need to steam. This is less important to me since the "hot water in cast iron pan trick" has always worked great for me.


- it's dangerous (much more so than steaming the oven IMO) to handle a hot hot hot pot/lid, while trying to drop a "nearly same size" dough into it without losing too much heat. I have never used a cast iron pot before, so my head dosn't grasp the idea of "it's REALLY a bad idea to grab the lid with your bare hand after preheating it at 550F for over an hour"! Here's the damage, OUCH!

- The size and shape of the dough are very restricted. This 2.5quart one is a bit small, I have gotten a 5.5 quart one (also on sale, yipee!) online, with the bigger one I will be able to bake larger loaves with high hydration, which is the best reason to bake breads in a pot IMO.

- It's a bit tricky to play with time/temp to get a crackling crispy crust, especially with such wet dough. Here's my procedure that finally worked: preheat at 550F for over an hour, with lid on; drop in dough, cover (with a glove!), keep at 550F for 5min, drop to 450F for 15min, take out lid, bake for another 20min, turn off oven, crack the door open a little, and let the pot/dough sit in oven for another 10min. With that procedure I got a crust that cracked, singed, and remained crispy after cooling down. This is for a 600g bread, for larger loaves, I imagine more time would be needed.


- The instruction in the book says to drop the dough from proofing basket directly into pot, then score, this seems impossible to me. Maybe because my pot is quite deep, and the one in book is quite shallow, but there's no way I can flip the dough in there without sticking to something, or missing the pot, or most likely both. So I first flip the dough out of the brotform onto a parchment paper, cut the paper quite close to the dough size, score, THEN lift the corners of the parchment paper and drop the whole thing into the pot. It was scary, but worked, the parchment inside didn't seem to negatively affect the crust.

- The pot I used was Staub, the reason I like it better than other brands is that the metal handle on the lid (the one that burned off my 3 fingers) can take heat up to 500F accoding to the manual. I called their customer service, and was told it actually can take 550F. This is a lot higher than the plastic handle on some of other brands, including Le Creuset.

- I actually baked another loaf using baking stone and normal steaming method (side by side with the pot). Since the pot was covered when I steamed the oven, I don't think it affected the dough in the pot. The following is the result for baking stone, dough size is 500g, stone was preheated at 550F for over an hour along with the pot/lid, loaf was loaded 5min after the pot, so 15min with steam at 450F, then 20min without steam at 450, also stayed in the oven for 10min after it's turned off. Good volume and crust, but it did spread a bit on the stone. Since the shape and scoring are all different from the one in pot, I can't really draw too much conclusion from it, but I imagine a well fit cast iron pot would make it rounder and a little higher.

- The following is a side by side comparison of crumb, they are identical IMO


In summary, the "baking in a pot" experiment is a success. I would definitely use thise method for very high hydration doughs, IF their shape and size match the pots I have. For the other breads, I would stick to baking stone and steaming.


Sending this bread, along with 3 well cooked fingers, to Yeastspotting.

ilan's picture

It’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t post anything because I was lazy… I did bake, a lot. From bread, flat bread, pizza and more (next blog entry will be on one of them).

Today, I will continue with my sandwich bread. The recipe is not so different from the previous one, but this time I reduced the amount of yeast by half, added more sugar, and changed the ratio of water & milk. Nothing fancy here, but it taste good.

I love sweet basil, and a pesto made out of it is an excellent addition to a lot of dishes.

So bread filled with it, will be fantastic to eat with a tomato salad with some mozzarella cheese.

In the past, I did add pesto to my dough during kneading, but the bread was not as good as I expected.

This time I decided the filling will go into pocket in the dough. 

What I did is basically braided bread and each of the braids is filled with my pesto. This time, to fulfill my curiosity, I went for 2 halves, each is braided out of two strands and then shaped into a circle. Both halves were placed together to create one bread.


The Recipe:

The filling:

A bunch of fresh sweet basil leaves

1 claw of Garlic

Few pine nuts

A walnut or two

A pecan nut or two

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup of Olive oil

Salt and paper (prefer the coarse salt – will help grinding the other ingredients)

Crush all ingredients in a food processor (or pestle and mortar) until you have a smooth mixture.

The bread:

-      3 1/4 cups flour

-      1 ½ teaspoons of yeast

-      1 tablespoon sugar

-      ½ cup of milk

-      ¾ cup of water

-       1 egg

-       3 tablespoons of olive oil


Mix the yeast, milk and sugar, wait 5-10 minutes

Add the flour and water and kneed for 5 minutes, add salt, egg and olive oil, kneed for another 5 minutes.

Let rise for 60 minutes

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, form a long strand from each.

Use a rolling pin to spread each strand (make some room for the filling), fill each with the pesto and roll (see pictures below).

From each pair of rolled strands, form a braid, and then roll it like a snail.

Put both parts in the form, let them touch, we want them to become a single bread.

Let rise for 40-60 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Bake in high temperature with steam for 15 minutes (240c)

Reduce the heat (180-170c) and remove the steam, bake for another 40 minutes.

The process:



The outcome:

Until the next post



cranbo's picture

I make a 60% rye bread, and I use a buttermilk & rye soaker. Hydration is around 65%; remainder of flour is generic bread flour. I knead in a Kitchenaid for about 7-10 minutes total. I also stretch and fold 2-4 times, depending on how lazy I am. 

The unbaked dough of the last 2 I've made starts to "rip" after I start to fold it. I doubt I could windowpane it. Is that typical? I know rye is low-gluten, but could I be overkneading it? Seems unlikely, but I'm looking forward to feedback.


Elagins's picture

hi all,

thought you might be interested in what i've been up to lately, so here are some recent pics.

the book is moving along.  the editing is done and i'm going over the corrected manuscript and getting some more photos together.  our publisher has a designer working on the internal design, and i gather that the finished book is going to run somewhere around 320-360 pages.  we're moving toward the prepublication home stretch and i can't believe it's actually happening.

besides all that, some of you have probably noticed that we did a radical redesign of the website.  after over a year in business, we decided it was time for a more polished look ... the idea being that we're pretty sure we'll be in business for a while.  thanks to everyone in the TFL community for your support and encouragement.

Stan Ginsberg

so here are the pics:

French cookiesCheckerboard cakeRainbow cookies

SylviaH's picture

This is one of my favorite whole grain breads, Miller's Loaf @ 100 'sourdough hydration' for the added wholegrains.  I added the 'harvest grains blend' from KAF, I often order this mix when they have free's very convenient and always very fresh.  The Miller's Loaf with whole grains is a recipe from the Northwest Sourdough breadsite.  Since I was baking today I decided it would be a good opportunity to make a French Apple Tart by Sarah Moulten, it is featured this month in Saveur Magazine's 100 Chefs edition.  

I also made fresh ravioli for Mike's carb's boost, before his bike race tomorrow.  I have been enjoying making fresh pasta with the new electric pasta roller attachment's for my KA mixer.  I love this set and glad I went electric attachments, rolls very thin pasta with ease. 












            Recipe calls for:                       Small disk of pasty for an 11 inch tart pan.  The dough is rolled very thin.  Less fattening!



                                Tender and moist apples, with a lovely very thin buttery crust and not overly sweet, the taste of fresh apple is delicious!


          1.  1 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

          2.  tbsp. unsalted butterk cubed and chilled

          3. 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

          4. 7 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and halved - I used a combination of apples I had in my crisper.

          5. 1/4 cup of sugar - I used bakers sugar with 1 tsp. instant clear jel powder

          6. 1/2 cup apricot jam

               Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving... the whipped cream was very nice with this tart


1 - Combine flour, 8 tbsp. butter and slt in a food processor and pulse until pea-size crmbles form about 10 pulses. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. ice-cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3-4 pulses.  Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Unwrap dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface.  Using a rolling pin. flatten dough into a 13" circle and then transfer to a 11"tart pan with a removable botto; trim edge; chill for 1 hour.


2.  Heat oven to 375F.  Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together.  Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves.  Place 1 fanned apple half on out edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves.  Separate remaining apple slices.  Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern.  Fill in any gaps with remaining apple.  Sprinkle with sugar (combined with gel or sometimes I use tapicoa flour - if used) and then dot with remaining butter.  Bake until golden brown, 60-70 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, heat apricot jam in a small saucepan until warmed and loose; pour through a fine strainer into a bowl and reserve.  Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam.  Let cool completely before sicing and serving with whipped cream.


I set my tart onto a pizza sheet, while baking, or you could use a cookie sheet, to save any mess that might happen.










Jo_Jo_'s picture

Ok, hope I am doing this right, just making an entry to my original blog. 

I really really was hesitant about making this bread, since normally I don't really care for corn bread all that much.  It's usually to sweet for anything but chili.  Boy was I surprised, it really turned out awesome!  I actually ate a little bit of peanut butter on a piece today, and was again surprised with how much flavor it had and the sweetness was not overwhelming at all.  Here's a couple pictures with a link to more pictures of how I made this bread.  It also has some explanations:

From Anadama

I noticed a while back that the photos seem to have trouble loading form this site, so I am hosting my photos on another site and linking to them.  It seems to fix this problem, and has the added advantage of allowing me to post a lot more pictures in case someone wants a closer look at how I made these.  Next week I will be making the "Alien" bread that my family saw in my book.....


Jo_Jo_'s picture

I thought I would try creating a blog of my bread making, starting this new year with my new Kitchenaid 600 pro and a new book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I am also determined to learn how to use baker's math, although I find it rather confusing especially when I am so used to looking and feeling the dough to see if it needs more water or flour. 

I made 3 batches of bread this week.  The first was my sourdough using a 100% starter of all purpose flour and water.  Here is a picture of my active starter, plus a link to more pictures of how I feed the starter:

From Feeding Starter


I used this fancy recipe.... 

From Sourdough Batch day 2

What can I say?  Basically when I measured out a cup of flour it gave me 148 grams, and I simply used that as the starting point for my bread.  I've been making this same loaf for years and it works for me.  My newest starter is about 3 months old and really starting to get some good flavor to it.  I have pictures etc of the first days batch here:

Just click on the link for all the pictures and explanations.....   From Sourdough Rolls

Since if you click on Sourdough Rolls above right under the picture, and it takes you to a zillion photos and exactly how I made this bread I thought I would leave it at that.  I made a second batch also, but when I scored the tops I didn't do it well enough and while they turned out nice with good crumb inside I didn't like them as well.  As with all good things, can't have great results every time....

Sidenote:  I love whole wheat bread and used to make sourdough bread using 100% whole wheat, but it upsets my tummy now so I pretty much stick to bread flour and all purpose flour.  I usually only make small rolls, since I make a 1/3 whole wheat for my husband who has trouble with white flours.  I have been thinking of trying the whole wheat recipes again to see if by some miracle I can eat them again. I so miss the taste of a really good whole wheat bread.

More later..... Anadama bread


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