The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


dmsnyder's picture

Apple Breakfast Cake

I happened upon the formula for “Apple Breakfast Cake” while browsing Michel Suas' Advanced Bread and Pastry looking for something or other I've now forgotten. My wife loves cakes that are loaded with fresh fruit, and the photo in the book looked pretty wonderful. I was also thinking about the fabulously delicious Coffee Cake we were served for breakfast several mornings at SFBI, and hoped this cake might be as good.

I'm not a cake baker. My one attempt at a genoise resulted in a wonderful, eggy-flavored, dry and crumbly, 8-inch cookie. That was 20 or 25 years ago. I have recovered sufficiently from that traumatic humiliation to be able to consider baking something called a “cake” without panic. The process for Suas' Apple Breakfast Cake had only one step that seemed like it might present a challenge, so I decided to make it.



Baker's %




2 7/8 oz



2 ½ oz



2 ½ oz

Walnut pieces


1 5/8 oz

Butter, melted


2 ½ oz

Apples, peeled, diced


1 lb, ¾ oz

Vanilla extract


½ tsp

Bread flour (KAF AP)


4 3/8 oz

Baking powder


1 tsp



¼ tsp



2 lb, 1 ½ oz



  1. I used two whole large eggs.

  2. I rinsed and drained the raisins, although not instructed to do so in the recipe.

  3. I toasted the walnuts for 8 minutes at 325ºF.

  4. I used two golden delicious and about 1 1/2 braeburn apples.


  1. Spray an 8 inch cake pan with nonstick spray (or butter and flour it).

  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.

  3. Whip the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage.

  4. Add the raisins, walnuts and meted butter. Mix to incorporate.

  5. Fold in the diced apples and vanilla extract.

  6. Fold the sifted ingredients into the mixture until well-incorporated.

  7. Pour the batter into the pan.

  8. Bake at 335ºF (168ºC) for about 45 minutes. (I found my cake needed 60 minutes' baking to be sufficiently browned and firm. This may be because of the added water in the plumped raisins, or just because.)

  9. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or onto a cardboard circle.

  10. Glaze with a flat icing made with powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest. (I did not make the icing. I just used a light sifting of powdered sugar on each slice, just before serving.)


Suas' description of this pastry is, “This country-style cake is tasty, moist, and dense with apples.” All true. The cake is very moist. The texture is close to that of a moist bread pudding. There is really just enough batter to hold all the apples, raisins and walnuts together. It is rather sweet, but not too sweet. I just dusted slices with powdered sugar and was glad I skipped the icing. The cake is quite rich. I think it makes a nice dessert for any meal or a little something to have with a cup of tea or coffee. I couldn't make a whole breakfast out of it.

This is a lovely cake. It is delicious to eat and has aided in my recovery from the old cake trauma.


Librarian's picture

Austrian Easter bread, farmer's recipe


It is that time of the year again, where I can't wait for the taste of sweet bread with smoked meats, hardboiled eggs and

freshly grated horseraddish. It is very traditional to eat this kind of bread for the Easter holidays, some even put raisins

in it and there is a much softer almost no crumb version out there. Oddly everyone seems to fancy the contrast of

meat/radish/horseradish on a very sweet bread, but only for the holidays. It is a tradition,what can I say. My mom

scored this recipe from a farmer and she called me very excited to try this. I thoght it was about time to not only soak in

so many wonderful reciped but share a somewhat special and different one. So this is the 2nd year I have a go at it,

I have gotten a bit tired of the neverending sourdough fermentation times and my inability to keep track of time.  

This although is very different , it is a straightforward bread, you do not need a lot of time for it, and since it is so

enriched it does not benefit from long fermentation periods. I forgot how much fun it is to work with live yeast and

the sensational rise you get out of it, i doubt there can be a good sourdough version of this bread it is jsut perfect the way it is:

If former easterbread disappointed you because it was too soft, too little crust for you then you really

should try this it will reward you with a mouthwatering smell in your kitchen and a great aftertaste for your tastebuds

besides it is a LOT of fun to work with such a potent dough without all the wait usually included :)



1000 g of bread flour

500ml of milk ( regular version, no skim milk )

130g of softened butter

1 lemon ( organic )

40g of live yeast

6 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of salt

lard ( from the pork )



I got very lucky these days finding the right kind of flour, more so because it is also very cheap it seems to have

an extreme tendency for perfect gluten development. Here bread flours are marked W700 this one is marked the

same way but milled a bit rougher than all the rest and binds very well. I recommend flour just like that.



To get started warm up the milk just a tad over handwarm, take a small bowl and dissolve first the sugar then

the live yeast in it. It is important to work with warm milk be careful to not get it too hot to kill off the yeast.

I followed a little discussion some time ago on sugar/yeast yes no.... All you need to do 

is take 2 bowls add yeast into it once with sugar, once without and observe. I always add the sugar it helps

your bacteria much faster along the way :) Let me prove that point, i started halfway with the bowl,

5 min later....

If you do not have live yeast I believe the correct formula is 2/3 dry yeast and 1/3 instant yeast instead

of the ammount of live yeast:


Pour the yeast and rest of the milk into the center of the bowl add the softened butter and one skin of a zested big lemon

be generous when you grate your lemon , add the salt and knead by hand, it is a fun dough to do so, once the dough is

firm and it should be firm, add one scooped table spoon of pork lard it will make the dough very silky and tasty.

I do not recommend omitting the lard and lemon since these 2 ingredients are what make this bread so special....

In the meantime put your oven on 180 degree Fahrenheit. As I mentioned before this dough does not benefit from

long fermentation and that is exactly the fun part for a change. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at

least to double( better triple ) in size within an hour at room temperature, the dough should be warm from the warm

milk still and smell sweet/lemon like, an awesome smell :). Here is my dough not even after 40 min, it tripled:


Knead the dough down to original size, a technique I almost never see in American recipes but very common here, is to do

exactly that, a double rise. Since time is no issue we can help the process along with our oven at 180F( 80celsius). Once the

dough is kneaded down divide in 3 parts and generously slash an X on top. Since this dough is highly active, try getting some

surface tension onto it as described in Peter Reinhards BBA. I kind of failed here a bit as you can see later. I didnt have a

baking stone nor did I find the right rack as I baked at my friends house. I would definitly use a stone if i I had one there...

There is no need to prepare the oven for hearth baking whatsoever even for phase 2:



I had to wait maybe 10 minutes till this happened at only 180 . Guess I did not build up enough surface tension.

Once doubled in the oven slide out the rack and cover the breads with a 50% egg yolk 50% milk mixture, crank up

the oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit /  180 degrees Celsius

and slide the bread right back in, no need to wait till it reaches that temperature. Wait until the bread is golden

brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped.  I use hot air surround fan setting, if you do not have one

add 10 degrees.


Here is a shot of the final result, last year I had the height a bit better under control, you can also make the surface

more even when shaping, I did not bother it gives the bread a rustic look, and it is a farmer's recipe after all.


Here is a comparison shot the next day between an enriched sourdough I created ( curd cheese as enrichment/

pumkin seeds) You can see there definitly is a crumb and crust on this bread, much different than the storebought

ones that feel and taste like sweet Mc Donalds buns. This is one of the few breads that once taken out does not

benefit much from being toasted it will stay fresh quite a while and goes great with jam but also with the ingredients

I mentioned within the introduction. A special tip would be butter/hardboiled egg and some grounded horseraddish on top.

If you decide to make this bread I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Submitted to the YeastSpotting page










MadAboutB8's picture

Somehow, durum flour eluded me. I thought that fine semolina was durum flour (given that they're both comes from durum wheat). I thought durum flour was called fine semolina in Australia. 

Thank to Sylvia (SylviaH) for pointing it out in her blog post together with pictures that they're totally different. I then just knew that I had made semolina bread all along with fine semolina thinking that I got the right ingredient (mind you, the breads tasted lovely and the crumb strucdture was fine with fine semolina as well). 

So, I was very excited when I finally found the durum flour at an Italian grocer. First recipe that comes to my mind was pugliese.

I used the recipe from Peter Rienhart's BBA, with 40% durum flour. The dough hydration is 77% without considering mashed potato. I also included about 20% mashed potato in the recipe (recipe only calls for 12% but I got the more from the left-over). So, the effective hydration could very well be close to 90% if taking into account the liquid from mashed potato.

This was the wettest dough I worked with so far. It was far too wet to knead, so I had to do the stretch and fold in the bowl for a number of times to develop the dough strength. It was fascinating to see the dough structure changed from pancake-like structure, to develop membrane and bond together. Ahh, the wonder of wheat!

The bread was lovely and chewy. Semolina tasted somewhat different from wheat, it's nuttier and sweeter. I also wonder what the flavour profile would be like if made using sourdough culture instead of yeast?

For full blog post and recipe, you can find it here.


txfarmer's picture


Dude, where's my bread?! Quite a few people have asked me whether my 36 hour soudough baguette dough can be used for other breads, of coure! The most natural vaiation is of course ciabatta, another hole-y bread. I again used a mixture of rye starter and white starter (something about this combo makes the flavor better), and raised the hydration to 85% (10% rye in the dough, so it's probably similar to a 82% hydration white dough).

AP flour, 425g

ice water, 350g

rye starter (100%), 100g

white starter (100%), 50g

salt, 10g

- to make the dough and do bulk rise follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here

- at the end of bulk rise, dump the dough on counter, divide in half, and let rise on parchment paper for about 70 min(about 73F), until very bubbly. I actually used half of the dough to make this ciabatta, the other half to make two (insanely wet and hard to handle) baguettes. The baguette doughs got 40min rest, then 30min proof after shaping, which means they can be baked with the ciabatta dough at the same time.

- before baking, flip the ciabatta upside down and score baguettes if you are making them (nearly impossible since the dough is very wet and full of air bubbles)

- baguettes were baked for  25min at 460F, ciabatta got 30min, followed by 10min rest in a turned off oven (with the door slightly cracked)


Deep dark big holes that one can get lost in


The baguettes were similiarly hole-y, however, I wouldn't recommend making baguette with such a wet dough, just a night mare to shape and score


I had some ciabatta after my weekly long run this morning. Very flavorful, but I had to eat a lot of pieces to get full!


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

prijicrw's picture

I used Hamelman's formula for this classic Vermont Sourdough. Used Heartland Orgranic flours that I found at Whole Foods. Dough was hand-kneaded and retarded overnight. Baked on 2 inch firebrick and covered with aluminum roasting pans ($1 at Dollor store) for first 20 mins of baking. Sorry there is no crumb shot, but trust me that it was as soft as a pillow! I attribute my success to the gentle kneading, organic flour, and aluminum covers. Enjoy!

Mebake's picture

This is yesterday's bake, a sourdough rye from Hamelman's "bread". I used dover farm organic whole rye flour, and sifted it to obtain something near to medium rye flour called for in the recipe. I followed Hamelman's instructions to the word, including the addition of yeast to the final dough. i have baked higher ryes before, so i was pretty comfortable with handeling the dough. This recipe is very easy to understand and bake, as opposed to other higher percentage ryes in hamelman's book. I used 12.9% protein strong bread flour from waitrose.

The sourdough levain was ripe in 8 hours at 26c. I chose to proof the dough seam side down in a brotform, and used a bamboo skewer to pinch holes in the batard.

This is by far the best rye i've baked. I'am now encouraged to bake this recipe again!



MadAboutB8's picture

I was still trying to use up the coconut that was approaching its use-by date. Apart from making Cherry Ripe macarson the other week, I was thinking about coconut bread.

Trying to replicate the coconut bread from an Asian bakery that we love (it's buttery bread with random moist coconut filling throughout), I was thinking about making the bread into babka-shape with the coconut butter filling. I also made half of the batch into coconut rolls baked in a muffin pan.

This might not sound like traditional babka with one layer twisted dough, coconut filling and no struesel, it probably looks like one. Babka style shaping does make the bread pleasing to the eyes.

My house were filled with the wonderful aroma of coconut when the bread was being baked. With its sweet, creamy and toasty aroma, coconut is one of the most aromatically appetising food item, in my opinion.

Full post and recipe can be found here.


gingersnapped's picture

my starter (affectionately named "dr. hip hop", which has definitely stuck) is definitely getting stronger with the twice daily feedings (have kept to co-op flour and will be moving back to bread flour today since i've run out until the weekend), although isn't really back to one hundred percent and still takes closer to 3.5 hours to double.  i have not been throwing away the extra that you scoop out of the dish -- i've been reserving and then cooking new loaves with it and running up a list of baked goods that also include starter.  it's not super strong, but i've been augmenting with some instant yeast and got great results.  i was a litlte irritated to have to do that at first, but the bread came out so great i was really excited to have made something good again.  i was just working with white flour, none of the healthy junk like i usually do, and everyone agreed that was the best :)  even me, miss weight watchers weird ingredients ancient grains only scarfed down a few white scraps when the opportunity presented itself.

questing right now to find the best white loaves.  if you google amish white bread there's a great recipe that comes up on allrecipe; that's where i subbed in the starter+yeast and it rose faster than anything i'd ever worked with before.  also used a tangzhong because i love the way the cooked gluten gets the bread so cottony.  but the perfecentages weren't quite right...trying again with another set of loaves with the same recipe but carefully noting my changes.  i reduced the oil (and subbed out half for coconut oil), upped the salt, made a smaller tangzhong so the recipe wouldn't be as wet and also mixed in 2 TB of chia seed gel (gives it a nice speckled look, plus the chia seed gel should hold in the moisture of the loaves similar to the tangzhong and give it a nice earthier flavor).  possibly it may taste to healthy.  if the dough still smells "healthy" when i go to bake it i'll coat it in melted butter, hopefully no one will notice.

i'm trying to really walk the line between good gluten development and dough that's too sticky.  too sticky/wet dough can have enough gluten development, but it's moot if you can't work with it.  the white loaves earlier couldn't really be handled, but with the reduced oil and my careful measuring and noting of the water, lessening of the tangzhong and fully incorporating the oil this time around the development was really really nice.  sticky but stretched with the consistency of a weak rubber band.

i baked up another set of loaves with a whole wheat, spelt and rye mixture.  haven't tasted it all yet -- had a really nice crusting (but not ideal, i wonder if it's possible to get such a typical artisan crust with whole wheat flour?  maybe that's another thing special to white).  this was 100% starter, and i left it out for a little less than 24 hours to proof (i haven't been able to revive a starter loaf that's gone into the fridge, and when i leave it out that long the sourdough gets SO SOUR.  it tastes like there's vinegar in the bread, but even better is that when you add a little bit of butter it tastes like cheesebread.  also my 12 hours plus work day prevents me from having too much control on rise times). 

i was happier with the crusting than the first time i almost burned the house down trying to work out the steam situation (and shocked i didn't burn myself), but the loaves were definitely too wet.  looking forward into cutting into one of them last night.  i did a tangzhong with a third of the spelt flour to see what would happen.  spelt has low gluten development so i thought super-hydrating it might be an interesting experiment.  i'm really fascinated by that particular method, especially since there's so little information available on it in english on the web.  i think it will end up with a wetter loaf/denser crumb, which with the vinegar taste is fine by me.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler


 Having recently finished a six month long baguette quest, I wanted to reflect a bit on what I've learned.  The pictures above tell the story--from my initial hamhanded attempts, through my disasterous return to using Stone-Buhr flour, through the last few weeks when everything started to come together.  Here's a few thoughts about home baguette making--perhaps they can guide anyone else foolish enough to tilt at that most challenging of home baking windmills:

  • Practice Matters: My baguette shaping and scoring skills improved mostly with time--over six months I made 81 demi-baguettes (27 batches of 3), with something like 270 slashes, making up more than 44 pounds of dough.  Mind you, this is less dough and slashes than our good TFL member Larry does in a day at his bakery job (though maybe a few more discrete baguettes, since they're smaller).  

  • Consistency Matters: All those things that you read in baking books and on this forum about getting "the feel" of the dough?  It really takes sticking with one dough for a while to get it.  Knowing that the dough remains the same takes the guesswork out of the inevitable variations in dough consistency.  I think I learned more about "feel" in the last 6 months than I did in the 2 years previous.  By the last few weeks, when the dough was unusually slack, or tight, I knew something was amiss and needed to be compensated for.  

  • Flour Matters: This one surprised me.  Certain flours seem to do better for different fermentation methods.  My old standby, Stone Buhr bread flour, performs beautifully with delayed fermentation formulas, like pain a l'ancienne.  Really, if you can find some, try it for a pain a l'ancienne or similar recipe; the flavor is amazing.  But my old standby performed terribly in a poolish.  Who knew?

  • Equipment Matters: While home bakers are limitted in their choices for the most important piece of equipment--the oven--there are a lot of small bits of equipment which are cheap and quite helpful.  I found the lame, flipping board, and linen couche that I ordered from SFBI/TMB to be invaluable in transfering and scoring my baguettes without degassing them too much.  The total cost was something like $40 for those three.

  • Everything Matters: This sounds more glib than it is.  When it comes to baguettes, all the little pieces have to fall into place.  I'd read about this before, but making them every week really brought this home.  Part of it is that the shape itself is hard to do, part of it is that the traditional scoring is even harder, but part of it is just that baguettes are less forgiving.  A slightly dense batard with slightly chewy crumb is still quite tasty, wheras a baguette, with the higher crust-to-crumb ratio, will be downright unpleasant.  Getting a baguette to have crisp crust and an open crumb requires a good bake with steam, and proper scores.  But if you don't shape it with a tight enough gluten sheath, it won't rise well, and will impossible to score.  And if you don't pre-shape properly, shaping is difficult.  And preshaping correctly requires the dough have been mixed and folded sufficiently. get the idea.  All of this is true of other shapes, of course, but the finicky baguette magnifies all flaws.

That's all I've got.  Finally, for anyone who's interested, a review of my final baguette method:


  • 150 g. bread flour

  • 150 g. water

  • .18 g. yeast

    Final Dough

  • 300 g. bread flour

  • 150 g. water

  • 1.9 g yeast

  • 9 g. salt



  1. Mix Poolish night before, let sit ~12 hours 

  2. Mix all ingredients with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes

  3. Knead on counter ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 

  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula (I actually do this on the bench with my hand, so I can oil the bowl). 

  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold

  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into ~250 g. pieces, pre-shape oblong (I do a modified version of Hamelman's pre-shaping technique for boules--fold in half, then tuck the dough into itself with the fingers. For an oblong, on the last tuck I twist my wrists inward such that it turns into a stubby torpedo shape) 

  7. Rest 10-20 minutes

  8. Shape as baguettes--I settled on the "fold over the thumb and press" technique, twice in one direction and then once in the other, sealing the last against the work surface. 

  9. Place on couche, cover with the folds

  10. Proof 1 hour, then start checking for full proof

  11. Pre-heat oven and stone to 525 degrees  (note, my oven runs at least 25 degrees colder than it says) at least 45 minutes before baking. Place two metal loaf pans in the oven on a rack below the stone.

  12. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan.  

  13. Pull the loaf pans out of the oven. Soak two towels in a bowl of very hot water (my tap water gets plenty hot), transfer to the loaf pans and put them back in the oven.

  14. Score the baguettes.  Using oven mitts, slide parchment onto stone, throw 1 cup hot water onto the oven floor lower temp to 485.  

  15. Bake 26 minutes, removing the steam pans and turning the baguettes around after 13.

  16. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door and wait 8 minutes before removing the baguettes.

 Happy baking everyone


txfarmer's picture


I have posted about how to make very soft, very fluffy, yet still bouncy sandwich breads with lots of flavor(see here). The key isn't any gimmick or special ingredient, it's intensive kneading, a full long bulk rise, and proper shaping. I have posted the windowpane picture in the earlier post, but still got some questions about it. Here I will try to describle how the dough would progress during intensive kneading:

1. Dough starts to come together, but if you pull a piece, the dough would easily tear, won't form windowpane.

2. Keep kneading, the windowpane gradually starts to form, but it's thick, and won't extend very far. If you poke and get a hole, the edge is rough.

3. keep kneading, the windowpane becomes very extensible. The windowpane is thin but very very tough to break. If you poke a hole (I actually have to use my nail), the edge is smooth.

4. Keep kneading, the windowpane becomes even thinner, more transparent, but it becomes more delicate, easier to poke holes. The edge of the hole is still smooth.

5. Keep kneading, the dough starts to break down into a puddle of mud.


Stage 3 is the "golden point" for creating sandwiches with the best texture, and highest volume. 4 is a little over, your bread will still be high and nice, bu the texture would be a bit rough.  Of course it will take a few trail and error to get to that point reliably. In addition, if you are making a sourdough version like I do here, the bulk rise would take a lot longer than the dry yeast version. During this time, the dough is still getting stronger, which means, we need to knead the dough a tiny bit less than stage 3. This time I stopped kneading probably 30secs before it reaches stage 3, and the bread I got is the softest, most shreddable, bounciest I have ever gotten.


Sourdough Incredibly soft white bread

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain

Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

- levain

starter (100%), 13g

milk, 22g

bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- final dough

bread flour, 203g (I used half KAF bread flour and half KAF AP flour for a balance of chewiness and volume)

sugar, 25g

butter, 25g, softened

egg whites, 60g

salt, 3g

milk, 102g


1. mix until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec:P)

2. rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.

3. takeout, divide, round, rest for 1 hour. shape as instructed here.

4. rise at room temp for about 6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.

5. bake at 350F for 45min. brush with butter when warm.


Crumb shots from different parts of the bread, all very velvety soft, with no pores.


So soft that it's hard to cut, much easier to tear off pieces


Amazingly soft and flavorful


Sending this to Yeastspotting.


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