The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


dstroy's picture

This year our daughter turned 6 and she wanted a "cake with rainbows...and also roller skates" because her birthday party was going to be at a skating rink with her friends.

I have seen various pictures of rainbow cakes on the internet for a while now and have been wanting for ages to have an excuse to try it, so I was happy to finally get a chance!

The "recipe" is really was just a matter of some extra time and lots of cleanup in the kitchen after. But so cool, and there were lots of ooohs and aaaahs from the kids when that first slice came out looking so unexpectedly beautiful!


First, I wanted to start with a simple white cake. All the recipes I was finding in the books we have at home looked a little bit complicated, or they were more yellow cakes rrather than white, but I found a recipe online which I tripled to fit my big tube-pan that was super simple (and turned out to be really really yummy too) The original recipe was for a 9 inch pan but 3 of those worked out to be just perfect for my pan, even allowing for some batter-loss in this process when pouring this stuff into my cake pan.

Super Simple White Cake:

cream together:

  • 3 cups white sugar

  • 3 sticks of butter (1 1/2 cups)

then add:

  • 6 eggs

  • 4-6 teaspoons vanilla extract (honestly I got distracted at this part so it could have been as little as or as much as)

mix the dry ingredients and add to the batter mix:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

And the original recipe said to mix this in last, but Floyd told me that I was going to burn the gears on his stand mixer if I didn't add the liquid in so I mixed the milk in right away after adding the dry stuff and it worked out just fine.

  • 1 and 1/2 cup milk

OK so now we have the batter - next comes the fun part!

Divide into a bunch of different bowls and color with food coloring. I happened to have a stash of "neon and pastel" color gets on hand as well, from previous decorating projects, so this cake got the entire color spectrum from the rainbow!


Next we start pouring our batter, one color at a time, into the well greased tube cake pan - one on top of the next.


I wasn't perfect with it - just tried to have some of each color as even as I could get it across the top of the last layer.

When I was done pouring all the different colors, it looked like this:

Next it went into the over at 350 degrees (F). The original recipe had something like 30-40 minutes for a 9 inch cake pan, but since this was tall and more it took more like a little over an hour. I just kept checking it to see when a toothpick came out clean.

The cake came out looking like this: (By the way I have never figured out how to make a cake not crack like this, but *shrug* it's also a great excuse for extra frosting, and we are big fans of the creamcheese frosting so....)

Now the cake needed to cool and I wasn't going to frost it until the morning of the party, so this gave me time to make the roller skates out of marzipan, using some of those color dye gels while I had them out. I learned my lesson from the Lego cake from last years birthday cake for my son so and made sure that there were enough roller skates to give one to each kid:

I made some flowers with the stuff I had left-over too.

Now the next morning I made a big batch of the super delicious cream cheese frosting and instantly took care of any cake-crack blemishes and then piped the rest on for decoration.


2 packages of 8 oz cream cheese + 2 cups confectioners' powdered sugar

2 packages of 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 cups powdered/confectioner's sugar - whipped with an electric beater until smooth.
Then add 1 cup heavy whipping cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency - DO NOT OVERBEAT! (I made butter one time letting that mixer go too long! haha)

Now look at this! Is this not the neatest thing?:



GSnyde's picture


I took a week away from baking last week.  It could have been a visit to the East Coast, or a pulled muscle in my back, or a very unpleasant gut infection.  In fact, it was all three.  But the good news is (1) the absence of discomfort now seems like heaven, (2) I didn’t forget how to bake, and (3) I got the chance today to try the Central Milling “Organic Type 85”  high-extraction flour for the first time.  And I never knew what I’d been miche-ing!

Brother David had a good experience with the same flour ( which I had scored a few weeks earlier.  David suggested I try the Miche recipe from Peter Reinhart’s A Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  So, I did.


I hadn’t previously tried any of Reinhart’s sourdoughs.  His Miche method is elaborate (though, I gather, not as elaborate at Suas’).  You make a liquid levain (kinda like a bubbly bowl of superglue).   Then you use it to make a stiff pre-ferment that is refrigerated overnight.  Then you mash it up with flour, water and salt, knead for 15 minutes, ferment three hours, shape in a huge boule, proof for two to three hours and bake with steam.

I departed from Reinart’s method in a few ways—some because of preference, some because of necessity.  First, I used the Organic Type 85 flour instead of sifted whole wheat.  Nicky Giusto at Central Milling had said that this flour is the closest to the flour used by Poilane.  Second, instead of just letting the dough sit for a three hour primary ferment, I did a few stretch and folds. Third, because of the large size of the loaf and the small size of my oven, there wasn’t room for steaming apparatus.  So I tried the stainless-steel bowl method for the first time.  With a 16 quart bowl!  Note the bowl overlaps the stone; I was concerned about this, but I don't think there was too big a shortage of steam.


Here’s the loaf after the bowl was removed.


I also got to try the SFBI couche material for the first time, using it to line a big bowl for proofing the loaf.  As David had said, the fabric is like Teflon.  Looking forward to trying it for baguettes tomorrow.

Working with a four-and-half-pound ball of dough was a new experience.  Hand mixing and kneading that quantity of fairly stiff dough was a good workout.  The texture of the dough became silky and airy, and it behaved well.

The bread came out nicely.  The crust is crispy (for now) and the crumb is wonderfully moist and toothsome.  The flavor is delightful—nutty and complex.  I think I will try the Organic Type 85 flour in a 50-50 mix with white flour some time.

This bread was a perfect accompaniment for a chicken stew, and would be great for a BLT or toasted with jam.  I’ve never had a “real” Poilane Miche, but I’m pretty happy with my facsimile.




And I’d never before baked anything bigger than Tasha (who is rightfully tense since she is not--in theory--allowed on the counter... one of those silly human rules that only applies when they're watching).


Tomorrow, I’ll use a combination of Central Milling flours in my San Francisco Country Sourdough.  I need to finish before dinner with David who’s coming to town for his next SFBI adventure.



dmsnyder's picture




This is the Miche from Peter Reinhart's “The Bread Baker's Apprentice” (BBA). I followed the instructions Reinhart provides, with the following modifications:


  1.  I used “Organic Type 85”flour from Central Milling as the high-extraction flour.

  2.  Rather than using 100% high-extraction flour, I substituted 10% Whole Spelt flour in the final dough.

  3.  I did two S &F's at 1 and 2 hours into a 3 1/2 hour bulk fermentation  

  4.  I pre-heated the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and the oven steaming apparatus recommended by the San Francisco Baking Institute. I bake with steam at 450ºF for 25 minutes, then turned the oven to convection bake, set the temperature to 425ºF and baked for another 40 minutes. (This is a higher effective temperature than Reinhart calls for, because of the convection setting.)



It produced a boldly baked, high risen loaf with a dark, crackled crust. It has a wonderful aroma.

The crust stayed crunchy as the bread cooled. The crumb was dense, which was not surprising at this hydration level, but it was not as well aerated as I had hoped. The crumb was somewhat chewy, and the flavor was wheaty and moderately sour. There was no grassy-bitter flavor.

Poilâne said that the flavor of his bread was best on the third day after baking. I'm taking some of this loaf to San Francisco for a taste comparison to the Miche that brother Glenn baked today, and we'll see how the flavor develops over a day.


Submitted to YeastSpotting


louie brown's picture
louie brown

I am glad to be able to add this bake to the experience of others with our new toys, the cast iron combo cookers. I love cast iron so it didn't take much to have me clicking away on Amazon for one of these. It's a terrific piece of cookware that I expect to use for other things as well.

I thought readers might be interested in these results. I began with Hamelman's formula, but, as usual, I went astray, adding at least twice as many seeds and grains as called for. In particular, my wife especially likes toasted sesame seeds and steel cut oats in there. I actually lost track of how much I put into the dough. I was a bit concerned when I saw the volume of the soaker this morning. Nevertheless, I pressed on. I had hydrated about half the flour overnight with all the water, so this morning it only remained to add the rest, along with the liquid levain and the soaker. 

Long story short, I baked the batard naked, using my new favorite steam method, two towels and a brick in a roasting pan, over which boiling water is poured. This gives steady steam for as long as you like. The spring was quite strong, opening even the grigne to another layer, as shown. I may have scored the ear a little too deeply. Some people like it that way.

The loaf on the left was the first in the cooker, cold. The slashes were a bit shallow. The loaf filled out and began to tear from the bottom.

The loaf on the right went into the hot cooker. It was interesting, as they say, getting it in there, but all went well. I had scored this one considerably deeper and it gave a nicer form. 

I put some cornmeal on the bottom of the cooker.

Given the weight and density of these loaves, the spring for all of them was excellent. You can get an idea of this from the crumb shot. They are very nearly 4 inches tall, with a nice profile. I've shown the bottoms of all three for your interest as well.

The batard, baked in the open, was done in about 30 minutes, 15 minutes with steam and 15 without. The boules got the same 15 minutes covered and then 30 minutes uncovered. All three started at 500 degrees and were reduced to 450 convection after uncovering. The crust on the first boule is much softer than that on the second. As to taste, many of you know this bread. Of its kind, it really cant be beat.


JoeVa's picture

Un aggiornamento sull'ultimo mese. Dopo il fantastico paesano che potete vedere nel precedente post "Working for Favaglie Bread Baking" ho avuto un paio di settimane senza pane, o meglio di pane ne ho fatto ma è andato direttamente alle galline!

Last month update. After the great country bread you can see in the previous post "Working for Favaglie Bread Baking" I had a couple of weeks without bread, I mean I baked but the bread went directly to the hens!

Il processo è stato totalmente fuori controllo per ben due fine settimana, pane di gomma, veramente pessimo, ma alla fine ho capito cosa non andava ed è ritornato il mio pane, addirittura migliore di prima!

The process was totally out of control for two weekends, gummy bread, so bad, but I finally figured out what was wrong and my lovely bread is still here, even better than before!

Il freddo ed il nuovo lotto di farina sono arrivati in contemporanea ed hanno creato non pochi problemi. E' incredibile quanto la prima lievitazione sia sensibile alla temperatura, anche solo pochi gradi possono fare la differenza.

The cold weather and the new batch of flour arrived at the same time and they got me many problems. It's amazing how the bulk rise is temperature sensitive, even a few degrees can make the difference.

Ho dato la colpa a tutto, dal mugnaio (scusa Fulvio) al lievito ... ma la colpa era soltanto mia, mia e basta!

I blamed everything and everyone from the miller (sorry Fulvio) to the levain ... but the fault was mine!

Ieri ho riproposto il paesano con alcune variazioni, giusto per vedere cosa sarebbe cambiato. Ho provato ad esaltare al massimo l'aroma del frumento. Per fare ciò ho usato un solo lievito naturale liquido su farina bianca (perché più neutro e meno invadente), niente segale, ed ho sostituito un pò dell'ottima base di Buratto (tipo 1) con della Macina (tipo integrale).

Yesterday, I proposed again my country bread with some variations. I tried to bring out the best flavor of the wheat. To do this I used a single liquid levain feed on white bread flour (because it is more neutral and less intrusive), no rye, and I replaced some of the excellent base of Buratto (type 1, T80) with some Macina (whole).

La farina "Macina" (Mulino Marino) è il massimo per chi adora il frumento, è potente ed intensa, niente a che vedere con le altre farine integrali. E' un'integrale scura, non chiara, credo per la presenza nella miscela di grani di varietà caratterizzati da cariosside ambrata scura o rossa.

Macina flour (Mulino Marino) is the best for those who like wheat, it's powerful and intense, nothing to share with the other whole wheat flours. It's a dark whole flour, not clear or whitish, I think because of the presence in the mixture of grains characterized by a variety of caryopsis with dark amber or red color.


In sintesi:

  • 15% Manitoba (usata nel lievito liquido) + 25% Macina + 60% Buratto
  • Idratazione 77% (un paio di punti più alta, per compensare il W del nuovo lotto di farina)
  • Temperatura impasto e prima lievitazione 27-28°C
  • Autolisi di 50 minuti (per compensare il P/L un pò più alto del nuovo lotto di farina)
  • Impasto molto breve
Main points:
  • 15% white brea flour (used to feed the liquid levain) + 25% Macina + 60% Buratto
  • 77% hydration (a couple of point upper, to adjust the W of the new batch of flour)
  • Desired Dough and bulk temperature 27-28°C
  • Autolyse 50 minutes (to adjust the higher P/L of the new batch)
  • Very short mix

Inoltre ho migliorato decisamente tutto il processo di lavorazione, la filosofia vincente: fare meno è fare di più.Ho ulteriormente ridotto i tempi di impastamento e migliorato la tecnica di piegatura, nonchè di formatura. Praticamente faccio tutto in ciotola, compresa la formatura, non sporco niente ed il pane è fantastico.

Moreover I improved the overall baking process, the winner philosophy is: less is more. I have further reduced the mixing time and improved the technique of folding, as well as shaping. Basically I do everything in the bowl, even the shaping, all is clean and the bread is fantastic.


Non trovo le parole per descrivere quanto sia soffice, leggera, liscia, setosa ed umida la mollica di questi pani. Quando metti la pagnotta in verticale sul tavolo ed il coltello la taglia per metà, rompe il primo strato di crosta e poi affonda nella morbidissima parte centrale tagliandone la mollica. Senza presunzione, ma non ho mai trovato un prodotto di questa tipologia nei panifici qui in Italia, neanche dai migliori amici panettieri il cui pane è certamente buono ma nettamente diverso.

I cannot find the words to describe how soft, light, smooth, silky and moist is the crumb of these breads. When you put the loaf vertically on the table and the knife cuts to the middle, breaks the first layer of crust and then sinks into the soft middle part cutting the crumb. Without being presumptuous I never found this type of product in the Italian bakeries, not even from the best professional bakers friends whose bread is certainly good but clearly different.


E questa volta una foto del fondo, dopo che il pane si è raffreddato cantando.

And this time I have a shot of the bottom, after the bread cool down singing.


Inoltre, in questi giorni ho avuto modo di leggere "Tartine Bread" di Chad Robertson. Davvero una bella storia! Inoltre ho trovato veramente incredibili quanti punti in comune ci sono tra la mia lavorazione e quella di Chad, dalla scelta delle farina al "lievito giovane", dall'impastamento breve alle caratteristiche desiderate nel prodotto finito. Davvero un bel libro.

Moreover, these days I red "Tartine Bread" by Chad Robertson. Truly a wonderful story! I also found it really amazing how many similarities there are between my work and that of Chad, the choice of flour to the usage of what he define a "young levain", from the short mixing to the desired characteristics in the finished product. A really nice book.

turosdolci's picture

Leftover Panettone makes a flavorful bread pudding.  A warm dessert for Christmas or New Years Eve.

LindyD's picture

For the past year and a half I’ve been trying to generate a healthy dose of steam in my extremely well vented gas oven. Steam that would be present in good volume for at least the first 15 minutes.  My experimentation had mixed results.  The bread tastes great, but I want the appearance be as good as the taste.

I’ve tried water in a preheated pan, ice cubes in a preheated pan, a cup of water over preheated lava rocks in a pan, spraying the bread, covering the bread, plus the great tips offered by Giovanni and SylviaH using hot wet towels.  While these techniques sure did humidify my house, open cuts and a nice grigne just didn’t materialize. 

One method that did work with some success was SteveB’s.  Alas, my thrift-store aluminum roaster cover is a tad wider than my stone, so I don’t have a good seal between the lid and the stone.  

David Snyder had written about the steaming technique recommended for home bakers by SFBI 

It looked interesting, but I didn’t want to buy yet another gizmo.  So I made my own version by  poking holes through a foil loaf pan (three for a buck at the local dollar store) and setting it on top a layer of lava rocks in the bottom of a metal loaf pan.   The holes were large in the first version.

I experimented with both steaming versions over Thanksgiving weekend using Hamelman’s sourdough formula.    

The loaf in the background was baked covered, using SteveB’s technique. Oven and stone preheated to 500F, loaf loaded and covered (the cover was not preheated).  Two shots of steam were directed through the hole in the cover, plus one cup of water was poured into a wide broiler pan containing lava stones (done because of the cover overlap).  I forgot to turn down the heat until I removed the cover, 15 minutes later. Bake finished at 460F.

The loaf in the foreground was baked uncovered.  After loading the bread into the preheated 500F oven (and stone), one tray of ice cubes was placed in the foil tray resting over the lava rocks on the left side of the oven and about 1.5 cups of water poured into the broiler pan containing lava rocks on the right side of the oven.  Temp reduced to 460F.  After 15 minutes the broiler pan was dry and emitted no steam so it was left in the oven.  The foil-trayed loaf pan was removed.  Although I screwed up the scoring on the bread in the foreground, the results looked promising.

I didn’t think the sufficient steam had been generated, so I made much smaller  holes in another foil pan and replaced the original version. 

I mixed the same dough the following weekend.  Oven and stone again preheated to 500F.  A  batard was scored and loaded.  This time TWO trays of ice cubes were dumped into the foil tray and 2.5 cups of water poured into the broiler pan w/lava rocks.  About 16 minutes later I removed the loaf pan; I could see the steam still coming off the lava rocks.  I left the broiler pan in, as that water had evaporated.  Here’s the result.   

To make sure this was no fluke, I followed the same procedure with the second batard.  It worked again!  

I am overjoyed to finally have figured out how to generate an abundance of steam in my oven for those crucial first minutes.

Finally, my bread looks as great as it tastes! Thank you SteveB, David, and all the other fine bakers who have been so inspiring.

gene wild's picture
gene wild

Not sure I did this right it is my first time at trying to upload a picture.

Today was also my first go at a Challah. I used the BBA formula. While not perfect I think it came out ok.




In the preview I don't see the picture but will send this anyway as a test if nothing else.



txfarmer's picture


I am gearing up for the holiday baking season, stollen, panettone, coffee cakes, cookies are flowing out of my oven. This particular coffee cake came from two sources: the dough recipe is by Maggie Glezer (can be found here), it has sour cream and mashed potato, in addition to quite a bit of butter, which means the dough is incredibly soft and delicate, perfect for a sweet bread. Furthurmore, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, convenient for busy holiday season.


The shape and filling came from Carole Walter's "Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More", what I like the most is that the chocolate sauce is not overly sweet, and it looks very unique and pretty. A crowd pleaser.

Scalloped chocolate pecan strip("Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More")

water, 60g

sugar, 20g

espresso powder, 2g

bittersweet chocolate, 71g, chopped

lemon juice, 1/4tsp

vanilla, 1/4tsp

butter, 14g, softened

pecan, 60g, chapped coarsely

sweet dough, 1lb (either from above or any other dough you prefer)

1.Mix together water, sugar, espresso powder, chocolate, lemon juice, vanilla, heat with low heat, until chcolate melts, and big bubbles start to form. Takeoff from stovetop, stir in butter. Cool completely until thickened, it would be like thin fudge.

2.After fully fermentated, roll out the dough into 14X9inch square, with 14inch side facing you. Spread choclate mixture on the dough, leaving borders empty, spread pecans on top, press down slightly.

3. Roll up from the long side, seal well, put on a baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down. Press down lightly to flatten. Use scissors to make cuts on one side of the dough log, 1inch apart, 3/4 of the way deep. Do the same on the other side, but space the cuts so they interweave with the cuts on the first side. Turn the cut parts upward to expose filling.

4. Proof until double, about 1 hour, brush with egg wash, decoreate with pearl sugar, bake at 350F for 30min until golden.


The original formula also include a sugar glaze on top, I didn't think it was necessary, but if you like it sweeter, certainly use one.

Submitting to Yeastspotting.

jeric's picture

I have never made bread before with out using the pre made frozen dough you can buy at the grocery store.  However I do make pizza dough all of the time!  And it turns out fantastic.  I did that by hand.  So now I have finally gotten a kitchen aid stand mixer which I have wanted for I don't know how long, and I am trying to make bread.  It seems like my dough is coming out drier then my pizza dough did.  The only thing that I can really think of being different is that I put 2 tsp of olive oil in the mix.  Any one got any suggestions.  I really love making the pizza dough, and I thought I would try my hand at bread.  I just love the whole process of creating great food!




Subscribe to RSS - blogs