The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


GSnyde's picture


When Brother David finished the Artisan II course at SFBI a few weeks ago, he didn’t have to plead with us to take some of the products of his craft off his hands. All of the breads were good, but two stood out—the Miche and the Walnut-Raisin Bread. I’m sure he will get around to baking the Miche at home, and I’ll try to be patient waiting for that recipe to be shared.

Happily, he baked the fabulous Walnut-Raisin bread at home the week after his course, and posted the formula ( The texture and flavor of this bread are very similar to Acme’s Cranberry-Walnut bread, which is one of our very favorites.

The other day, in my kitchen on the North Coast, I tried to replicate that wonderful bread. And my first attempt at a Suas formula was highly edible. Kinda purdy, too. It is an almost 30% whole grain bread made with a firm sourdough starter that accounts for about 15% of the final dough. The substantial volume of toasted Walnuts in the bread seems to complement the sourness of the dough, and the raisins add a nice bit of sweetness. My only departures from David's formula were to use Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft Flour (which includes a bit of malted barley) and our unique Mendocino Coast high-hydration well water.

The dough was very sticky and not easy to hand-mix. I tried to follow instructions, but I have to say that mixing at “Speed 2“ for eight minutes gave me serious tendonitis. As evidence of my very active sourdough starter, the dough rose very nicely in two hours.



I had made 150% of the amount in David’s formula to have a loaf to eat, one to freeze and one to give as a gift. I formed two batards and one boule, and proofed them in oval willow brotforms and a round linen-lined basket.


The batards were baked in our electric oven with the proven combo of Sylvia’s magic towels and lava rocks in a cast iron skillet. The boule was baked in the gas oven in an old Magnalite Dutch Oven (does that brand even exist anymore?).


As you can see from the top photo and those below, the loaf in the Dutch Oven came out with a lighter crust. I can’t tell you what the texture difference is, since the boule has been frozen for future enjoyment. The batard we cut into had a nice thick crust. Not very crunchy. The interior is wonderfully complex, with fairly-dense chewy crumb, crunchy walnuts and juicy raisins. The flavor is outstanding, nicely sour and well-balanced with wheat and rye.




The flavor is enhanced with Cotswold cheese or cream cheese.


This is a bread I will make many times again.


ananda's picture


Finishing the year with what seems to have become our "regular" House Bread of late.   There is one loaf at just over 1500g scaled dough weight, and one at 1000g.   Crust, crumb and all round flavour are just as I like and aim to achieve.  


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sourdough



Bacheldre Organic Dark Rye









2. Final Dough



Rye Sourdough [from above]



Organic White Bread Flour












Overall Hydration



% Pre-fermented Flour




  • Build the rye sourdough over 2 elaborations across a 24 hour period.
  • For mixing I used the "bassinage" technique, by holding back 75g of the water. This was to counter the lack of apparent willingness on the part of the flour to take up as much water as I was hoping for. Starting at 63% and I ended up with a respectable 68%, which seemed perfect in the final dough.
  • I let the dough stand for half an hour during the mix cycle, and thereafter it came together as a really good strong dough; given 25% Dark Rye.
  • 2 hours bulk proof, with 1 S&F after 1 hour
  • Scale, divide and mould. Final proof in bannetons. I held one back in the fridge for half an hour. Proof time for the first loaf was around 2 hours.
  • Tip the dough out of the bannetons, and cut accordingly before setting in the oven at 250°C. Bake with steam on a hot brick base. I turned the heat down to 220°C after 15 minutes, then down to 200°C after a further 30 minutes, baking out for 1 hour in total.

I measured the weight loss for the big loaf, and did the following calculations:

Finished Baked weight of 1325g, meaning weight lost 222g.   As a percentage of the moisture, this means 35.83% of the original moisture was lost, thus, 64.17 was retained.

Photographs of the finished breads are shown below.DSCF1601DSCF1598DSCF1600DSCF1601DSCF1602DSCF1605DSCF1608DSCF1609DSCF1607

There's a bit of illness in our home tonight, so NY will be low key.   However, I just want to wish everyone at TFL a very Happy New Year!   All the best for 2011


GSnyde's picture

The Winter Solstice and the Year-End/New Year is a time for re-collecting the events of the year, and also a time for renewal and reinvention. It’s a time for tradition and a time for new things, too. A good time to look back and look forward.

Mendocino Sunrise 12-23-10


As I look back on this year, one major event was the start of my bread-baking passion in August. By chance, my sister forgot to take the sourdough starter David had brought to my house to give her. So I adopted it, and the rest is….delicious. I recall some rookie mistakes and some great bakes. No question, I’ve learned a ton … and have many tons more to learn. Looking forward, there are a thousand things I want to try: some totally new things, and some tweaks to make the tried and truer even better. The year draws to an end, with family visiting our weekend house on California’s North Coast (Mendocino County). It’s been a nice break from the usual hectic schedule. And I am baking. Some “old” favorites, and some new experiments.

Our year-end tradition is to gather with my wife’s family in our warm house while the inevitable Pacific storms rage outside. And eat and drink. A lot. We have dined on Chile Verde with Red Rice (later reprised as enchiladas), Roast Goose with stuffing from (my) old bread, Charcoal-grilled butterflied leg of lamb with bulghar pilaf and pear-pecan salad (leading to lamb sandwiches on still-warm Challah and, later, lamb curry). But you probably want to hear about the baking. With all the sweet tooth’s around, and a “we-can-diet-next-year” attitude, I baked some sugary stuff. Some new things, and some old favorites. All were very nutritious—with fruit or nuts.


Some Fruit

For dessert after the Christmas Goose, I made Apple Crostada from trailrunner’s recipe ( My first try at this a few weeks ago didn’t work out—too much liquid in the dough made it tough. This time, using only 9 Tbsp of buttermilk, the pastry was flaky, as promised. The apple filling was spiked with a shot of Pyrat Rum and quite a bit of lemon zest. It was very nice with Hagen Daz vanilla ice cream.


Thanks, Caroline. This one’s a winner!

Some Nuts

Since reading Txfarmer’s blog entry about pecan buns made with brioche dough (, I knew I was a goner. My wife and I both love nuts, sugar, cinnamon and butter. And these gooey brioche balls are as good as it gets.

I’d never made brioche dough before. I settled on Peter Reinhart’s “Middle Class Brioche” from A Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The book describes the process very well. Hand-massaging a half pound of butter into the dough was almost too sensual. It poofed up hugely in the fridge over night. And the next day, I formed 24 airy butter balls, dipped them in more butter, rolled them in cinnamon sugar, plopped them on a bed of yet more butter and pecan parts, slathered them with a paste of cinnamon sugar and—yes—even more butter, and baked them, with my nose pressed against the oven vent. The results were absolutely heavenly! Melt-in-the-mouth dough encased in cinnamon-sugar, sticky with caramel and crunchy with nuts. As we say around here, “what’s not to like?”


With the last bit of brioche dough, I made some nice muffins.


A nice healthy breakfast.


Thanks for the great buns, Txfarmer!

Some More Fruit

Many years ago, we were invited to lunch at the home of one my senior partners. His wife was quite a cook, and baker! She made very tart lemon bars. You know, the kind with short bread topped with a lemon curd. They were the best I’d ever had, and I asked her for the recipe. I used to make them fairly regularly, but it’s been years. Having gotten a bag of beautiful lemons, these lemon bars just popped back into my head and would not go away. Though they have almost as much butter as the pecan buns, they taste so fruity, they have to be good for you.


Some Bread (Still a Little Sweet)

Though the sweet things I baked all have a bit of flour in them to hold the butter together, it was time to bake bread! And we had a large quantity of leftover leg of lamb. So I baked my absolutely favorite sandwich bread—Challah. This was my second try at Glezer’s “My Challah”. And, again, it came out nicely. A couple new twists (pun intended) this time: I used Central Milling Co.’s Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft flour and filtered water from our trusty well (the higher-hydration kind of water from our very wet Winter). The malted barley in the flour may have added a bit extra crunch in the crust.


And the Challah was perfect for sandwiches of sliced lamb, sliced cucumber, and lemon-garlic-mustard sauce. I’ll leave the sheep head to Hansjoakim.


The Challah-making process is now becoming familiar, and I feel ready to try a sourdough version, and maybe one of those beautiful round braided things.

Serious Hearth Bread To Follow

In the last couple days, I have been baking a couple hearth breads. They, too, made be very happy. My report will follow in the next blog post.

Wishing that you all enjoy the sweetness of good memories. And that the new year holds more.


Yolibread's picture

I have been baking french bread for a short time now, I have the color and rustic look shaping the loaf is not so much an issue, the crumb does not come out airy with the nice holes, what am I doing wrong? any input would be great. Thanks

janhusinger's picture

Looking for a Cloverleaf dinner roll recipe.  Can anybody help?

carltonb's picture

The kitchen side of my facility just purchased a Woodstone gas Fire Oven.

Like this one

We have been making lots of pizza, and traditional savory items in cast iron pots and plates.

It is now time to experiment with bread. It has been over 40 years since I have used an oven that gets up to 700 degrees. Any suggestions on baking bread in it.



Carlton Brooks



freerk's picture

For New Year's Eve I decided to share this wonderful traditional Dutch cookie-recipe.


Up to this day people in the northern and eastern regions of The Netherlands eat this waferthin cookie for NewYear's Eve.


They come in two varieties: flat and rolled up.


The flat ones you eat the 31st of December, the rolled up ones you can eat starting the 1st of January.


The flat wafers represent the old year that has fully unfolded. The rolled up wafers stand for the new year, that still has all of its secrets rolled up in it self



This recipe yields at least twice the amount shown in the picture.


To make the cookies waferthin you will need a WAFER IRON.


500 grams AP flour

450 grams white caster sugar

30 grams of vanillasugar

5 eggs

200 grams unsalted melted butter

lukewarm water if needed

Combine the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla sugar in a large coleander.

Mix at high speed over a pan of hot water ("au bain marie") until the eggs turns slightly whiter and the mixture is nice and frothy.

Take the coleander away from the hot water pan. Sift the flour into the mixture. Add the melted butter little by little to form a smooth batter, about the consistency of yoghurt. The batter should "ooze" from the spoon.

Add some lukewarm water if needed to get the right consistency.

Spoon a dollop of batter on to the heated wafer iron and press hard for about 8-10 seconds. The wafer should come out nice and golden brown.

When making flat wafers: leave on a rack to cool.

When making rolled up wafers: roll the wafer onto a fingerthick wooden ladle or thin rolling pin. Let them set for about 20 seconds and transfer to a cooling rack.


Wishing all of my TFL-friends a healthy, inspiring and positive 2011! Thank you for all the feedback on my posts. I hope you will all continue to make me a better home-baker in the coming year!


Warm greetings from Amsterdam,





Franko's picture


The Last Loaf of 2010

Earlier this month I made a trip down to Cowichan Bay to visit True Grain Bakery and to pick up 30K of Red Fife flour that I'd ordered for breadsong a fellow B.C. Resident and TFL member, and myself. Cowichan Bay is a small, rustic seaside village with a fair number of various shops and restaurants lining the sea side of the main drag, and is a popular tourist stop here on Vancouver Island.  The bakery itself has a funky eclectic look to it that is totally in keeping with the general ambiance of the village, with lots of bric a brac and paraphernalia decorating the walls. The staff were all very helpful and friendly, greeting me almost as soon as I walked through the door. When I told them I was there to pick up some flour that I'd ordered, the miller himself came out from the adjacent mill room with our flour and thanked me for the order, and asked if there was anything else he could help me with. Two weeks earlier I'd sampled some of their fabulous Christmas cake at one of our local craft fairs so I asked him to put one of those on the bill as well. After I'd settled the bill I asked if I could take a few pictures of the shop while I was there. He told me that'd be fine and allowed me access to the mill room so I could get a few shots of the mill setup.  I took a few photos of the bread display as well, but by now the small shop was filling up with customers, making it difficult to get any decent closeups of the breads. I can tell you that from what I saw of the breads it's all very good looking product, obviously made with a lot of skill and attention to detail. 

I'm looking forward to my next visit to True Grain,which will probably be in early Spring 2011, depending on how quickly breadsong and I go through our flour. Hopefully I'll be able to get some pics of the production area and the ovens at that time.


When breadsong and I were messaging each other to set up the arrangements for shipping and payment for the flour, she raised the question of whether the 75% sifted RF that we ordered would be considered a high extraction flour. At the time I wasn't entirely sure as I've never had occasion to use it either on the job or at home. After a quick search I found that high extraction flour lies between 75% and 100% . The best information I found was on Joe Sloan's 'Hamelman Challenge' Blog where he explains what high extraction flour is exactly and provides a conversion formula so that you can blend your own.

I've also noticed since then that Hamelman provides a description and formula as well in his side notes to the Miche recipe.

I sent breadsong the link and she ran the numbers through her Exel spreadsheet and sent me the results the next day. Darn good teamwork I thought.


Now that I had the information I needed I was finally ready to make a bread from Hamelman's book that I've wanted to make for a long time which is the Miche, Point a Calliere. This mix being a first run of the formula, I stuck as closely to Hamelman's recipe and instructions as possible, the major exception being that I built the levain over a 3 day feeding rather than 2 as the recipe calls for. One thing I've noticed since using the Red Fife is that it doesn't take quite as much water as regular bread flour to get a nice supple dough that's easy to work. In this mix however I stayed with the indicated overall hydration and made some minor flour adjustments during the second phase of the mix to achieve a very soft but cohesive dough that could be further developed through the fermentation and folding to follow. In total, I did a stretch and fold 4x over the course of a 2 ½ bulk fermentation,which gave it enough strength to hold a low profile shape after molding. The final proof was just a little over 2 ½ hrs and the dough weight before baking was 1.654kg /3.6 lbs and 1.371/ 3.0lbs after baking, a difference of just over 17%. The oven was steamed using Sylvia's method, and baked on the stone for 20 minutes @ 440 before removing the steam tray and rotating the loaf. Then another 30 min. @ 420 and 15 more minutes with the heat off and the door slightly open. Big loaf, long bake. I left the loaf wrapped in linen for 20hrs before I took the first slice just to let it settle and for the flavours to ripen. This bread is definitely not lacking in the flavour department, with a good sour tang, but the rich wheat taste of the Red Fife predominating overall. The crumb is chewy with some semi large holes and the crust is nice and crackly. This is one of those breads that doesn't need anything else with it to fully enjoy, but a slice of cheese or sausage, maybe a bowl of soup and a glass of red wine wouldn't take anything away from it either. Hmm, I think I just came up with what I'm having for a light dinner tonight. Some crumb and crust photos below.

Hope everyone at TFL has a Happy New Year, and all the best for 2011!




breadsong's picture

Hello, With many thanks to Franko for sourcing this wonderful Red Fife flour for me (so very kind)!
I've now the luxury of baking with this heritage, organic, stone-ground, 75% sifted whole-wheat from True Grain Mill, and I am very grateful.

These breads were made using Mr. Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Whole-Wheat (Red Fife) Flour, as Franko had done.
Franko really did a beautiful job on his bread; his post is here.

The Red Fife is a lovely, top-notch flour to work with, and my husband and I were very happy with crust, crumb and flavor it produced in this bread.
We cut into the small loaf, trying to wait a decent amount of time to let it cool off!
The dough was retarded in the fridge for 20 hours before baking.
I included a picture of the Red Fife flour below (on left side of plate; my other stone-ground whole-wheat flour on the right side of plate, for comparison).

Happy New Year everyone! from breadsong

Yolandat's picture

I had to work Chistmas day for the last time before I retire in January. It was a quiet day with lots of empty beds, quite unusual for out ICU. We had a lottery for Boxing Day and I won the day off. I visited with my sister and her husband for a while and went home and set up a batch of bagels for Boxing Day morning. I had some small spots where they spilt and I am not sure why. I couldn't find my timer and guessed on 2 minutes for the boil so that may be the problem. Noone seemed to care though and they tasted great.


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