The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Paddyscake's picture

We spent yesterday taking our granddaughter Jewels to hear Mrs. Claus reading stories and her first visit with Santa. Being 17 months, she wasn't all that enthralled with the story time, but did enjoy marching around and having a great conversation with herself and whoever else wanted to listen. The babbling cracks me up, she is so expressive with her hands.

The holiday season brings those once a year baked goodies. I found a recipe for Guiness Stout Ginger Cake and wondered if it would be as wonderful as Qahtan's Guiness Stout Chocolate Cake. This bread is richly dark and the aroma is incredible. Tasting will have to wait until it has cooled. It has stout, molasses, fresh grated ginger, fresh grated nutmeg, cinnamon, cardomom, ground ginger, cloves.

Also baked off a couple loaves of sourdough English Muffin bread.

Would love to hear everyone's favorite once a year holiday bakes. I'll be baking off the requisite cranberry orange breads, our holiday fruitcake (this one is awesome, honest!) gingerbread popcorn and something new that you might suggest?

Thaichef's picture

Hello Everyone:

   I live in a small town in VA, and on a yearly basis new books are purchase for the library.  I requested the Bread Baker's Apprentice( because of the high recommendation from this site) for the library since we have nothing remotely close to what being recommended on this site. I copied Floyd's book review and  gave the list to the librarian who has to submit to the committee.  Well, the verdict came two days ago!

"No! the book is too old". They are going to buy " a quick bread book by Peter Reinhart since it is newer.  I believe that I read on this web site about the book that it is not very good.  The librarian asked "who are this people whom you said that you got the review from?" I gave her the Fresh Loaf web site but I don't know if she will ever look at it!!!! 

  I am very frustrated!  The bread book that they will buy for the library is recommended by the group thathave never bake! So this library has 50 books of quiltings and 3-4 "coffee table" bread books.  I know I searched and borrowed the bread books only to return quickly because it is "not" for people who are actualy bake (like me).  It dirves me crazy.

Any commments of how to make them see the light and perhaps buy the book?  I could buy the book myself eventually but it is still a lot of money for me!

  I will be teaching "bread baking" class at the same library on Dec.15.  Should I encourage the participants to help?




txfarmer's picture

This bread has two sources of inspiration. First is the basic sourdough formula from BBA, which is this week's recipe for the BBA challenge (yes, we are still hanging on, the end is near though); the other is the mexcali heat bread from the ever so helpful sourdough home website:


From past experience, I know it's not easy to adapt flavor combos into breads. For one thing, bread tends to dilute the flavors somehow, on top of that some ingredients may not play well with flour and yeast in the dough. This one is a winner though. Black bean really adds great flavor, as well as makes the crumb very moist. The amount of chipotle pepper and other spices are just right, noticable but not overwhelming.

The crumb is moist and reasonably open, begging for some guacamole or sour cream

I like how the "crown" shape turned out. I must've cracked the top surface accidentally during shaping, which caused some cracks in addition to my scoring mark, but it still looks good.

Here's my made-shift proofing basket, I put the dough inside bottom side up

I basically just halved the recipe in BBA, use black bean cooking liquid instead of water, add porportional amount of black beans and other spices. Gotta say I am not a fan of the sourdough procedure in BBA, it requires making a firm starter the night before, babysitting it until double (4+ hours), putting it in fridge, taking it out the next day for at least one hour to warm, then mixing into the main dough. Much more touble than making a firm starter then leaving it at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours like in other books, or just using the 100% starter directly like what I usually do. 


inlovewbread's picture


As of late, I have been taken by the flavor of durum flour in my breads. Most often I make Susan's sourdough and use about 15% rye and 5% durum along with the bread flour. I had been using more than 5% of durum flour but got a bit carried away. The flavor enhancing effect turns into flavor dominating if you go above 10%.(imho) Less than 10%, it adds a slight buttery flavor and beautiful color to the crumb.

But I digress. I had the question not too long ago about durum flour vs. semolina. My family likes the Semolina Sandwich Loaf (Dan Leader's "Local Breads" formula) and it takes half of the bag to make. Not having a local source for durum flour I had to order from KA and found the $8.50/3lb price to be a bit high. I am however, able to find bulk Semolina at a reasonable price. So I researched the internet and TFL for answers about durum flour and semolina. There seems to be quite a few terms to describe the same thing as well as milling terminology that muddies the waters on this subject. I did find one link where it mentions someone having luck with grinding semolina in their coffee grinder. However, no commentary or photos were provided (which are most helpful to me). I still had questions about how durum flour would perform versus semolina flour ground finely in my home mill. There was only one way to find out, and so I set about my own side-by-side comparison.

Just to consolidate some of the information I have found, here is a brief explanation of terms:

Semolina: In the U.S. describes the coarsely milled endosperm of durum wheat. Semolina actually refers to the type of grind/milling in the rest of the world (example: farina (Cream of Wheat) is same grind but from softer wheat). 

Durum Flour: Finely ground endosperm of the durum wheat berry. 


For a more thorough explaination, try these sites:


Additionally, if you type in "semolina durum" in the search on TFL you will get most of the threads that I read on the subject. I also googled, "grinding semolina into durum flour" and found some info. but not much.

Most of the information that pertains to this post as well as the Semolina Sandwich Loaf formula, pictures and discussion with more pictures can be found here:


So Here's what I did:

1: Ground semolina in my Whisper Mill home mill. (Ground using the pastry setting)

2: Mixed dough for Semolina Sandwich Loaf (Dan Leader's "Local Breads" formula) with finely milled semolina.

3: Mixed dough for Semolina Sandwich Loaf with KA Durum flour.

*The two doughs were mixed about 40 minutes apart so that I could bake them individually.


This test has a couple control flaws; one being that I don't have two of the same metal 81/2 x 41/2 bread pans. And second, the durum flour was purchased from King Arthur Flour and the semolina was purchased in bulk from WinCo. A better experiment would have been if I had two of the same exact bread pans and if I had ordered the semolina from KA as well. But time and money did not permit, and I also needed to use the WinCo semolina as this is my regular source. I also was curious to see how the bread pans would compare. 

Finely ground semolina on the left, Durum flour on the right.


The ground semolina was still a bit course even after milling on the finest setting. The durum flour is finer and silkier and less yellow in color. More like regular bread flour.

This picture shows the difference in bread pans. The loaf on the left is the ground semolina and the loaf on the right was made with durum flour. The oven spring was pretty much the same, as well as the coloring.

left: semolina        right: durum flour


Again, semolina on the left and durum flour on the right. Slight difference in color. 

My family tasted each one and spent a lot of time going back and forth trying to see if they tasted different. There was a slightly different taste to them- hard to describe. I don't think we would be able to tell the difference had I baked these on different days. But because we were tasting them in a side-by-side comparison- there was a subtle difference but neither was better than the other; just different. My husband thinks the difference in flavor could have been from the type of semolina I used. He thinks maybe it was a bit stale because I purchased it in bulk out of a bin and the bin was almost empty at the time. Could be. 

Bottom line: both tasted great and I think that finely ground semolina is a good substitute for durum flour. HOWEVER, in the future if I were to make this loaf again using ground semolina, I would add about 10%(?) bread flour to it. I think this would lighten it up and make it the same texture as the durum flour. 

CaptainBatard's picture

When you have a lot of time on your hands and want to test yourself....this a good bread to try. I originally saw this bread posted at Wild Yeast when Susan was having a giveaway for the SFBI book Advanced Bread and Pastry. I was very taken by those beautiful pictures of Caramelized Hazelnut Squares. I entered the giveaway (twice) and counted the days till I would have the book in hand to start those beautiful hazelnut know the ending...I did not win....but Susan was nice enough to send me a lengthy excel sheet with the formula and a few mixing notes. I had no idea what I was getting into! I started with the preferments which consisted of 2 stiff levain and 2 stiff sponges that eventually got added to a very wet dough....I was totally over my head on this one! I did not have the detailed instructions that were in the book but I proceeded to work my may through her excel sheet and put it together following her advise "think of it as  ciabata with nuts". After several folds with wet hands and a scraper and lots of flour on the bench...I managed to get it off the bench and into the oven...what you can not see is the part that oozed off the hearth and formed on the oven rack!

When I finally pulled them from the oven, a smile came to my face and patted myself on the back! The flour encrusted loaves reminded me of the snow that had just dusted the ground. I have to be honest...I could not wait for them to cool...The first taste I had was with a smear of Nutella ummmm. It does not get much better than that...except for the second tasting which was a slice of brie on the still warm bread. I have to add...I  just broke down and ordered the book today to see what the recipe really said...

Salome's picture

The Swiss have the reputation for being very punctual. Well, you might think now, that we're this time to early. But - you're mistaken.

The 6th of december is here Santa Claus' day, or as we say, "the Samichlaus comes". Sadly, the real Samichlaus doesn't come to our house anylonger as my siblings and me are considered to be too old by now. (Well, I understand, we're 22, 20 and 17 ...) But we still keep the rest of the custom up.

So every 6th of december we will gather at home, enjoy the traditional dinner consisting out of a Grättimaa, a small Samichlaus shaped out of a savoury enriched Challah-like dough (basically our normal Zopf recipe) , lot's of cheese, some dried meat, jam, nuts, tangerines, lots of sweets and hot chocolate.


the dinner table...


the Grättimaa before and after baking ...

and my mom had her annually mass-production for all friends and relatives who are fond of her famous Stollen. She sends them to friends who live scattered over Europe. After the butter brush they were to get a light confectioner's sugar shower.  (but first they had all to cool, therefore they are still missing it on the picture)

Happy Samichlaus to all of you, but especially to tssaweber and chouette22, the exil-Swiss here on TFL! =)


Susan's picture

Just yesterday's bread...

100g starter (100% hyd.), 315g water, ~1/4 cup mixed sesame seeds, 9g salt, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 400g All Trumps high-gluten flour, 50g coarse whole wheat flour

Keep your dough close to 76F throughout mixing and fermentation.

Mix starter and water.  Add seeds, salt and oil, mix.  Add flours, mix just until flour is wet, rest 30 min, fold 3x at 30 min intervals.  Let rise until near doubled.  Shape, put in triangle brotform, and deposit in fridge for overnight.  Bake at 500->460F after an hour out of fridge, under cover for first 20 minutes.  It's a little lopsided 'cause I swiped the loaf with the edge of the roaster as I covered it.  C'est la vie!

Susan from San Diego

CaptainBatard's picture

I wanted to make this Cranberry Walnut Bread for Thanksgiving but the timing did not allow me to do so. This is basically the same bread as seen at Bread cetera  and a slightly different version at WildYeast. The bread went together with out any real hitches. I did deviate from my usual methods...I mixed the bread by hand using the French fold method seen at Steve's site and here. It worked very nicely until I added the walnuts and presoaked cranberries. The dough got very sticky from the extra moisture on berries even though I did blot them dry. It was just a temporary setback...the dough absorbed it in a short time. I shaped the loaves and tried the fendu method for the first time and was very impressed how much they opened compared to the slashed one. The bread had a nice crumb and taste.



occidental's picture

I thought I'd post the resluts from yesterday's baking and see if I can figure out how to post pictures, so here goes.  This is the French bread from Ed Wood's "Classic Sourdoughs"  I don't use this book as much as others in the library but the timetable of the formula worked with my Friday / Saturday schedule.  The crust is nice and crispy and I did get some nice fractured crackles as soon as they came out of the oven.  Oven spring wasn't quite as good as I'd like and as usual, the biggest challenge for me is getting a good score.  Enjoy.




From bread

From bread

From bread

JeremyCherfas's picture

I was re-reading Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery and discovered the passage in whiich she describes the author Virginia Woollf's technique for making a cottage loaf. That sounded like fun, so I decided to give it a try, and was very pleased with the outcome. I blogged about it here.

Here's the loaf just after removing the cloche.

And here it is after final browning.

I'm very pleased with both cold-start and cloche techniques, and will continue to use them. Of course, I quickly discovered that they are old news here!



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