The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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jj1109's picture

Now, posting this on TFL might be a bit like teaching your Nanna to suck eggs. or blow eggs. or whatever the phrase is, I forget.

But too bad, I'm posting it anyway :p

A few points first. Get a good knife, and know your loaf. I have two knives I use for my sandwich loaves - one is quite harsh on the bread and is no use in a soft bread, as it rips it apart. The other is great on the soft loaves, but just doesn't work well in the firmer styles. Practice makes perfect - you come to know what your knife will cut, and what thickness you can slice with it.

It's interesting though - I find if I stand straight in front of the loaf, square, I can never slice even slices, I always stand a little side on to the bench, and it works. It's probably different for you though!

grab that loaf, and put it on your favourite cutting board. Don't tell me you don't have a favourite... I guess that's just me then.

When making the first slice, you have to remember that most loaf tins aren't square at the end, but slope out a fraction. So your first slice will be thick at the top, and thin at the bottom. Use your finger to mark where you're going to slice...

then slice! once the knife has just bitten through the crust, slide your fingers over to hold the slice steady whilst you cut the whole way down. If you choose not to do this, it's a lot more likely to get slices that are thick at one end and then at the other.

Keep an eye on the knife the whole way down, it takes concentration to cut it straight. I prefer not to correct if it's going astray, but that's just me.

When you reach the end of the loaf, it gets a little trickier. Here's how I do it:

however you could also lie it down on the board and cut horizontally (very carefully!)

and you're done. sit back and admire your hand carved, beautifully even loaf.

Monkeyphish32081's picture

After reading Peter Reinhart's Bread Bakers apprentice and Whole wheat breads countless times, doing my best to get what I can from them, I caught my first sourdough using the pineapple juice sollution.  I was rather excited when I noticed it very active and kept feeding it.  I found a recipe on this site and thought it would be easy enough to try and to get more familiar working with a wetter dough.  I noticed that the bread lacked body and strength but baked with it anyways.  I was afraid that the temp would be too hot for too long but I wouldnt know unless I try.  I was pleasantly surprised when the dough was perfectly baked (maybe slightly dark but anyways) and the flavor was pleasant.  Next time I plan on working out the issue with the strength by mixing it for a longer period of time of adding vital wheat glutin and not baking it quite so long.  I feel wonderful and eager to try countless other recipes (and develop some of my own)!!

SylviaH's picture

My first attempt at some loaves from my 'bourke street bakery' book.  A bakery in Australia and their book was discussed in Shiao-Ping's blog posting.  It's a beautiful book filled with lovely color photos and recipes from this Australian bakery.  My first attempt at the 3 sourdough boule's and one large Apple and Oak battard, listed in the derivative breads chapter.


  My husband was very happy with the flavor and crumb of the boule and I loved the Apple and Oat with cream cheese for a nice breakfast toast.


Ingredients for the plain sourdough boule's

405 g (14 1/4 oz) white starter

765 g 91 lb 11 oz) organic plain flour - I use KAAP

400 ml (14 fl oz) water

20 g (3/4 oz/2 Tablespoons) sea salt


                    Mix the dough in the afternoon and retard in the refrigerator through the night.  Placed the loaves in warm humid place for 1-4 hours and bake to have fresh bread for lunch/ in our case early dinner.  Baked and steamed in a hot pre-heated oven on stones for 30minutes.




                               Three nice little sourdough boules


Apple and Oat loaf  -  I experimented ' because we were going out for the evening and I had no time left for bread making'  with this loaf by mixing and bulk retarding the dough and shaping the loaf the next morning before baking.  All in all it turned out tasting very good.  The stones were pre-heated at 500F before the temperature was reduced for steaming and baking. They were a little to hot for the loaves as the bottom was browned a bit dark.

If you wish, you can play around with the ratio of oats to dough in this loaf and change its texture.  Reducing the quantity of oats will mean it will not be as dense and can be cooked for a little less time.


70g (21/2oz) organic rolled oats

40 ml (1 1/4 fl oz water) This water is to soak the oats in for about 5 minutes.

715 g ( 1 lb 9 oz) sourdough  dough

185 g (6 1/2 oz) apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2-3 cm (3/4-1 1/2inch) pieces

Alternately, you can place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down.  Place in the refrigerator loosely covered with a plastic bag for 8-12 hours.

   Baked on stones in a pre-heated steamed oven 450F reduced to 425F for 35 minutes for two loaves.  I baked a little longer for the single battard.  For not getting all the attention this recipe deserved it turned out pretty tasty.





Julie J's picture
Julie J

Rene,  I am glad you liked the pulla!  I love it a lot too!  I know there is a large population of Finns living up in your area and you might be able to get fresher cardamom seeds in Michigan!  In NH, we have cardamom seeds at my health store, but cardamom loses flavor really fast, and I am always wondering how long it has sat at the store and lost some flavor!  Not that many people buy cardamom in that form!  I bring mine from Finland anyway, so I don't have that problem, thankfully!    Take care, Julie J

And to the Red Fox!

Thanks for the article about the lent buns!  I saved the recipe!  My husband has made them too and they are good too!   He said he just takes whipped cream and chopped almonds and cuts cardamom buns in half (pulla) and takes out some dough to leave room for the whipped cream and almonds!  He said you can use strawberry jam too, for a different taste!   The Finns use pulla as a base for a lot of different recipes!  I know my husband pats out little tarts with the pulla dough and fills them with cooked fresh blueberries!  This is good too!   Take care and thanks for the post!  Julie J

txfarmer's picture

if pizza and savory monkey bread meet and have a child, it will be this dangerously delicious bread. Recipe can be found here:


Very easy to make, a departure from my usual sourdough and lean artisan breads, but if it tastes so good, it can't be a bad thing!


Fresh mozarella cheese in each dough ball, wrapped in butter and more cheese and herbs, layered with bacon (bacon!), sundried tomato, olives, and green onion, trust me, no one can say no to this bread. OK, maybe vegetarines can, know what I mean.

xd's picture

Hi All,


I have been baking sourdough each week at home and I just had the opportunity to make bread for a supperclub.  Here in San Francisco chefs will get together to make a pre fixe dinner for any number of people.  I offered to bring bread to this event for 40 people.  It was a Spanish Tapas menu so I made lavash crackers, potato boules, and black sundried olive torpedo/baguette rolls.

Thanks to the great people on TFL I had the confidence and know how to pull it off.  Thanks to everyone who either asked a question or took the time to answer one.  I found most of my questions already answered and this made things a lot easier.


Xan deVoss


Marni's picture

I'm documenting the results of the help my wonderful family gave me this past month while I recovered from a bicycle accident in which I broke my left wrist.  Fortunately, I'm right handed, but the cast/brace severely limited my baking.  I'm not the only one who suffers if I can't bake - my family wants their bread, cookies and cake - and I now know without question that I am a baker for the love of it.  I missed baking!

Anyway, there was no kneading or shaping for me, (typing with one hand too!) so my family stepped in and did pretty well:

   He did the shaping above and we finished them together.

   Here he is rolling challah into ropes; we all had fun braiding.

The challahs below were shaped by my daughters who are    seven. One was a first braid accomplished alone and the other is an interpretaion of a rose.

My husband and I made the braid from a video we watched of Ciril Hitz.






The finished products:


He also helped form a couple sandwich loaves ( very sticky - very funny and sweet) and the girls helped with pizza one night too.

As one of my friends said, the kids gained some good life skills during these weeks.


Now, my wrist is healed and I have two sourdough rosemary boules coming out of the oven!



turosdolci's picture

Zuccotto is light Italian cake full with pastry cream, fruit and soaked with rum. Fill it with fresh fruit such as, strawberries, raspberries or peaches.




jennyloh's picture

I think I'm being ambitious here.  Building starters, and started with 3.  Actually no,  I didn't start with 3.  I started with 1 full rye.  50g/50g,  following by a 1:1 ratio and then 1:1:1 ratio by the 3rd day.  I realised too late that I was going to build a giant and alot of wastage. I decided to split them into 3.  

I wonder if they are ready or I should just go on feeding them? Looking for advice.


Rye Starter - Day 5 without refreshment yet.

I took out about 160g from this rye starter and then added 50g/50g.  I think I should have thrown out more.  It's not as bubbly as the one that I added whole wheat.


Starter 2:  Added White flour - Day 5 without refreshment (using Dan Lepard's % of white leaven formula)

80g of initial rye starter/100g white/80g water

It's more bubbly and seems to have tripled.  Is this ready?


Mother Starter (Peter Reinhart)

I actually read wrongly and used Reinhart's formula on the 4th day.  But it's also very bubbly.  Should I continue with this formula to create the mother starter as per Reinhart's formula?

80g rye starter/60g whole wheat/20g water


Looking for suggestions and advices.

DonD's picture


For the past 15 years, my wife Barbara and I and our best friends Jeff and Barbara have marked our annual rite of Spring with a visit to Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia as guests of Luca Paschina, the General Manager and Winemaker of the Estate which is owned by a consortium of Italian wineries based in Tuscany and headed by Gianni Zonin, the patriarch of the Zonin Family. The vineyards and winery are situated on the grounds surrounding the old estate of Governor Barbour where winemaking was first introduced by Thomas Jefferson. This Celebration of Spring is marked by an annual Morel Dinner that the Winery and its Restaurant 'Palladio' organizes usually the first Saturday in May. As longtime wild mushroom foragers, we are responsible for a morel talk and slide show as an introduction to the all morel dinner paired with various wines from Barboursville Vineyards. But the highlight of the weekend has always been the informal Friday evening before the main event get-together with Luca, his wife Patty and children and assorted friends from near and far.

 Entrance to Barboursville Vineyards

 Barboursville Vineyards

Al Fresco Dinner:

This past Friday, we took off from work early and drove down to Luca's house just in time for an Al Fresco dinner in his backyard with his family, his assistant winemaker Daniele, Domenico Zonin (eldest son of Gianni) and Christophe, a visiting French Wine Consultant. In anticipation of this get-together, the day before, I had baked a Pane Casareccio di Renzano loaf from Daniel Leader's 'Local Bread' to go with a whole Prociutto ham made from the leg of a pig named 'Spike' that was raised for a caterer friend and that I had cured for almost two years. The weather was gorgeous, the fellowship was excellent, the morels were plentiful, the wines were flowing and the prociutto and bread were not bad either.

 Pane di Genzano w/ Prociutto and Tomato

 Fresh Pasta w/ Sauteed Morels 

Pane di Genzano:

I followed Leader's list of ingredients and proportions exactly but downsized the loaf to a manageable 500 gms total of KA Bread Flour. I modified the procedure to include a 30 minute autolyse and a light 4 minute kneading with a dough hook on low speed followed by a 2 1/2 hour fermentation with stretch and fold in the bowl every 30 mins. I shaped the dough into a boule and proofed it in a banneton for 1 hour before scoring and baking. I baked it at 450 degrees F with steam for 1 hour and at 400 degrees on convection without steam for 25 mins. The loaf snapped, crackled and popped when removed from the oven and the crust developed nice cracks and remained crunchy until the next day. The oven spring was tremendous and the crumb was tender and open. The dark crust was nutty and the crumb flavor was sweet and complex with no trace of sourness. I read that this bread would last for several day without staling but I would never find out because the loaf was gone in no time thanks in no small measure to Luca's kids.

 Crackly Crust

 Tender Crumb

The Main Event:

We capped the weekend festivities with the Saturday evening Dinner in the Banquet Room of the Winery. The dinner which is always sold-out was a 5 course dinner featuring Yellow Morels from Michigan and Black Morels from Oregon paired with a selection of wines from Barboursville.

 Frisee and Grilled Asparagus Salad w/ Pancetta and Roasted Morels

 Braised Pork Belly w/ Cauliflower Gratin and Glazed Morels

I cannot wait until next year...

Happy Baking (and Eating)!



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