The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Today was a lovely day in Arizona. Still in our little rental RV. The garden is taking off and I'm procrastinating on buying dirt for my new garden area where the tomatoes need to get transplanted. That will be a hard day or two of work. So, I bake and train my dog instead.

I started my PR's whole wheat sandwich bread last night. This has become one of my three "go-to" breads for me. (Eric's Fav Rye and Hamelman's multi-flour miche being a couple of others) I decided to double the recipe as my mother says it was her "favorite" out of all the breads she tried so far and I'm going to see her tomorrow. I substitute soy milk for milk in the recipe which seems to work just fine. This time I also had stone-ground flour from Flourgirl51 which I had never used before. (her rye flour is wonderful!) So, I was wondering how a 100% stone-ground whole wheat would turn out compared to one made with King Arthur's flour. The other changes I made were coconut oil instead of veggie oil (or butter) and barley malt syrup for the sweetener. (he leaves all these substitutions fairly open in the recipe and I have used the soy and coconut oil before but I used honey and King Arthur flour the last time.

Results-taste is excellent. Crumb is surprisingly very open and less dense than with the finer store bought flour!! Perhaps because I was concerned and kept it extra hyrdrated to the point of extreme stickiness? I also did a couple of S/Fs this time as with the double recipe I couldn't use my machine so my kneading was inadequate so this could also have effected crumb? I highly recommend this sandwich bread if you're searching for a solution to the whole wheat "brick" that so many readers complain about (although I have yet to have too much trouble with myself)

Onto other adventures in baking...Hubby begged for more crackers. Being "me" I simply couldn't leave a good thing alone so I changed my original cracker recipe. Thankfully, it came out even better. Here is the recipe. (can you believe I wrote it down?)

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup rye flour

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/8 cup nutritional yeast (finally found something to do with the stuff!!!)

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp flax seeds

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/4 tsp each of ground garlic, cumin, cayenne, chipolte

1 tsp salt and coarse ground pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water

Mix into a loose, crumbly dough that comes together in a ball. Put into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to about 450. These can cook on a stone. (except in the RV, I used a cookie sheet upside down, that's another story) I rolled out about 1/3 the dough as thin as possible on a Silpat. (you may have to kind of put this together with your fingers as you go, it's a bit crumbly) It will look a little rough, try to smooth out the cracks in the middle so that it's all one sheet, don't worry about the edges.

Bake about 6 minutes. Check to see that's it's toasted dark brown but not burned. Take out and cool flat (I used a cool cookie sheet for this while I cooled off silpat for another batch)

Took me awhile to get the timing right in my oven, I'm sure you'll have to do some trial and error to get just the right doneness without being burned.  I think the recipe is very flexible just so long as the oil/flour/water percent is about the same. (I used all spelt last time)

Tastes like an expensive, health food store multi-grain crispy cracker.

To go with-I made homemade hummus with garden fresh parsley/mint and Meyer lemon juice. MMMMMM!Whole wheat sandwich bread

txfarmer's picture


Apparently I was in the mood of trying new things, with this bread I used: new recipe (Almond Milk Loaf from Dan Lepard's "A handmade loaf"), new yeast (a natural yeast from Japanese Shirakami-Sanchi region), as well as new bread pans from China, good thing everything turned out well!


First, the yeast - it is advertised as "natural yeast" collected from Shirakami-Sanchi, supposedly it's more active in cold environment than normal wild yeast, and it brings nicer flavors to the breads. It's in powder form, packaged in 10g envelopes like following. It looks very much like active dry yeast, and the way to use it is similar to fresh yeast - 2X of the weight of dry yeast in the recipe, needs to be activated by warm water (35C) for 10 to 15 minutes, fermentation speed is comparable to dry yeast also. Since it's not kept in a starter, it doesn't bring any sour flavors to the bread. It needs to be refridgerated after the package is opened. Honestly, while it's easy to use and my bread rose with no problem, I can't taste any special flavor from the yeast. No "subtle sweetness" as advertised, nor any complexity as from my normal starters. It's said that this yeast has special health benefits, which I can't verify either way. These were a gift from my friend in Japan, I don't think it's available in US.


Now the recipe - I LOVED it! It's a pretty straightforward lean dough with "quite a lot" of added almond paste. It's called almond milk, but there's no milk in it, just almond grounded with sugar and water. The bread has an even crumb, very frangrant and falvorful from almond. Perfect for both savory and sweet toppings. Highly recommended! Apprently the recipe is online here(, but you really should get that book, everything I made from it has been great.

Finally the pans. This bread was baked in pullman pans with lids on in the book, my pullman pan is way too big for trying a new recipe, so I used some mini cute pans from China (gifts from friends again). Had to try out different dough amount to get it right, as you can see I put too much in one, had to forget about putting the lid on:

Put too little in another one, which never rose to the lid, but the third one was just right:

As you can see, the shaping method for sandwich bread is a bit different here. It's a common way to shape Asian style sandwich bread. I don't know exactly why, but I suspect two reasons:

1. Asian style dough is usually very soft and enriched, and 2. Asian style loaf pans are long and narrow like the ones I used here. Both tratis mean if we roll the dough into one cylinder and put it in, it's not easy to get it even length-wise, by dividing the dough and roll seperately like following, it's more likely to get an even top. That's my theory anyway. I quite like the result.

Put the leftover dough in my 5X3 mini loaf pan, and it was a beautiful fit

Learned about the new yeast, the new pans, as well as a new favorite recipe, with delicious bread to boot, not a bad day!


turosdolci's picture

Why not try something different for Valentines Day and give your love ones a real double chocolate treat. These biscotti are perfect and wrapped in a pretty red box with ribbons would be a real surprise when opened.

Big Brick House Bakery's picture
Big Brick House...

My friends thought I was crazy when I started grinding my own flour, but my love of baking I couldn't shake and I open my award winning bakery.  Any one should be able to live their dream!  I get a lot of inspiration from everyone loving the same thing - bread, and the baking of it.  I sell the supplies or my bread I don't care as long as you have a passion for it... 

 The Big Brick House Bakery is a small family bakery in Wabash Indiana.  Freshly milled flour began with Leigh 5 yrs ago; it came to her attention that once a grain has been milled, the nutrients evaporate over time.  She purchased a Stone-mill, a miniature version of the ones that use to set along the rivers, and began on this adventure to incorporate the fresh flour into her bread and pastas.  The Big Brick House Bakery stone mill is used daily to grind small batches to provide you with the freshest and most nutritious whole grain products in Wabash County and the surrounding areas. Their fresh flour makes the integrity and flavor of their Artisan bakery products.   The Big Brick House Bakery now offers 14 different types of grain, some organic, purchase a kit that Leigh has developed for the home bread machine.  Leigh makes several of her breads on a daily basis.  These same breads won her the Indiana Artisan award in October of 2008.  At this time she is now offering flavored breads using cheese, herbs, and vegetables.  Leigh also makes pies and cakes from scratch, just the way they were done for several generations.  Now Leigh is offering Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free items, recreating recipes to work with any dietary needs.  

The quant retail store opened in June of 2008 in the sun room of their Eastlake Victorian home. Locally produced eggs, honey, maple syrup, fudge are also sold here. 

On Facebook you can also interact with Leigh and other fans. 


ananda's picture


I thought some detail on creating laminated dough for croissants etc may be a popular subject.










Strong White Flour








Milk Powder




Fresh Yeast




Cold Water

















  • Mix the ingredients for the dough to form cool, developed dough.
  • Put in a plastic bag in the chiller and rest for 30 minutes. Cut the butter into 4mm thick strips and put back in the chiller.
  • Roll the dough out to a rectangle 8mm thick. Put the butter pieces flat onto 2/3 of the rectangle, and fold as below:


  • Turn the dough piece clockwise through 90°. Roll out to the same size as before, fold as above, and turn. Repeat once more.
  • Chill the billet for half an hour and give 2 more folds and half turns as described. This gives 168 layers of butter in the croissant dough. Chill again for half an hour.
  • Roll the dough piece out to 5mm and use a croissant cutter to cut out triangle shapes. Stack into piles of 6 and rest covered for 2-3 minutes.   You can use a template made from wood, or, cardboard, to cut out the individual triangle shapes instead.   Please see the video, at 1 min 35secs, for a brief view of the croissant cutter on the left of the screen.
  • Tease out each triangle, fold up the top edge and roll up tightly. Roll out the feet to pointed ends and move round so these feet join up to make the classic shape.   See Vicki demonstrating this in the pictuure below.   For Pain au Chocolat and Pain Amande, cut the dough into strips, 6 x 10 cm; cover with small chocolate chips, or a thin layer of almond paste, and roll up so the seam is well pressed down on the bottom.
  • Place on silicone lined baking sheets and brush with beaten egg.   For the pain amande, dip in flaked almonds
  • Prove at 38-40°C, 80%rH for 40 minutes.

Bake in a hot oven, 235°C for 12-15 minutes; a deck oven should be set at 7 for top heat, and 5 for bottom.   No steam is used, and a damper is not needed.

[Almond Paste to make Pain Amande]

150g Icing Sugar, 150g Caster Sugar, 300g Ground Almonds, 50g Egg, beaten, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice



Key Principles of successful laminated dough:

  • 1. The dough should not be too wet. If the dough is soft, it will stick to the bench and the pin, and the laminations will quickly be ruined. If the dough is too tight, it will be difficult to roll out without the dough insisting on springing back. Some have advised that the dough need not, therefore, be fully-mixed. This is because all the rolling and folding will continue the dough development. My own thought on the matter is that the dough should be developed to the level allowed by the choice of flour used. So if a top grade flour is used, the dough should be mixed accordingly. If the flour is not so strong, it will not tolerate intensive mixing anyway; by hand, or, machine.
  • 2. The best way to deal with dough which springs back is to allow extra resting time. Allowing plenty rest between turns is the first key principle to grasp. If you compare the folding process to working out bicep muscles in the gym, you should not go far wrong. Bicep curls would be repeated to the point where the muscle is so tensed up it cannot do any more. After a period of rest the same moves are repeated. The moves are designed to strengthen the muscle by continued work. But there has to be rest in between to allow the muscles to relax. It is exactly the same for the gluten-based protein fraction in the dough.
  • 3. The other key principle is to be able to work cold. It is generally cold and raining here in the UK, but I am aware many who write on this site have problems creating cool enough conditions in the kitchen to lessen the burden of making these items; I wish I lived where it was warm too, don't you believe it! Here are a few options:
  • Use a chilled marble slab, or, a refrigerated work surface.
  • Use crushed ice in the dough, or chill the dough water for an extended period prior to dough mixing.
  • A good trick is to chill the dough overnight. Give the dough 3 half turns, then bag and chill overnight. Waken up early the next morning, give the dough its last half turn and process from there. Bake off the croissants and serve straightaway for breakfast. You have just made yourself soooo popular with everyone in the house, forever!
  • 4. What about the choice of laminating fat? Commercial croissants tend to be made with specialised and plasticised fats. This means the final product tends to be just a lot of air! Worse still if the fat is cheap, the melting point will be high, and the product will stick in the roof of the mouth [palate cling] These fats are not exactly renowned for their health-giving properties, either. So they are used on cost and performance grounds. As far as I am concerned croissants are made with all-butter. It is possible to buy a concentrated butter commercially. This is great, because all the water has been removed, so it means the butter block can be rolled out to a sheet, without it melting. Household dairy butter has a water content of 15-20%, so the problem with not working cold, is that the butter can easily start to melt, meaning the death of all the laminations you have worked so hard to achieve. So, performance-wise, butter is not the best, but for flavour, it obviously has no competition. I'm pretty sure concentrated butter is only available commercially; this is definitely the case for the UK and rest of the EU too.
  • 5. Regarding lamination; due care and skill is the 3rd principle. I teach that croissant are given 4 half turns. Danish are often given only 3. Full puff paste employs equal laminating fat to flour used in the dough. This is usually given 6 half turns. The more turns, the more layers created. Above I state 4 turns gives 168 layers. Another 2 half turns works out as follows

168 x 3 = 504   504 x 3 = 1512.   So many layers is incredibly difficult to achieve.   Yet, to commercial bakers it is essential.   The number of layers dictates the amount of "lift" in the product, giving greater volume to weight ratio!   This affects product yield; well-aerated puff paste yield more products.   Given these doughs use expensive ingredients, a baker cannot afford to miss out on achieving correct product yield.

  • 6. In terms of volume and lift, it is important to explain how this works with yeasted doughs like these. When the product goes into the oven, the fat layers melt into the dough layers beneath, creating cavities between the dough layers. These cavities are filled with steam from the water content of both butter and dough. The steam exerts pressure on the dough layer above, causing the product to expand. See diagram below. So, it follows that the more layers, the greater the pastry will rise. So, what of the yeast? Well, the benefit is in terms of a first fermentation for sure, but it has to be achieved in cold conditions, as we have noted. This should mean the yeasts are far from worked through when the croissants are set to prove. Note the yeast level is relatively high. Any benefit has to be derived from rapid expansion as the croissants hit the hot oven. So, testing the dough for evidence that fermentation is slowing down is not a relevant test. We have no need for any sort of complex fermentation at this stage.

7. Lastly, oven treatment tends to be incredibly forgiving to croissants , so long as the oven is hot enough. Although, I think I'd be hedging my bets with items that were becoming tired and spent, in line with the notes just above.   My practical classes last anywhere between 3 and 5 hours.   3 hours is really not very long to make these items with skill from start to finish; and the resting between turns really can be so crucial here.   But I cannot think of a single class I have facilitated on this product where the students have been anything other than delighted by the tasks they have carried out, and the products they have made. It's the colour, and aroma; these items just look and smell great when they are baked. Fabulous!

 See the photos attached below, and the link to the video below that.


Here's the video:

rossnroller's picture

I watched a doco on TV recently on the erratic but – to my mind – much under-rated 60s UK band, The Small Faces. Their 1968 ‘concept’ album Ogden’s Nutgone Flake, a psychedelic rock classic, was one of the first albums I bought. I still treasure this unique work – for the great music, the warped and inspired narrative in “Unwinese” by Stanley Unwin, and the eccentric fold-out tobacco tin cover (in good nick, this album is now a prize collectors’ item fetching $300+ …but I’d never sell mine).

One of my favourite tracks is Song Of A Baker. Strange, but in all the times I’ve listened to this song, I’d never really pondered on the lyrics until the TV doco – even though I know them by heart:

There’s wheat in the field
And water in the stream
And salt in the mine
And an aching in me

I can longer stand and wonder
Cos I’m driven by this hunger

So I’ll jug some water, bake some flour
Store some salt and wait the hour

When thinking of love
Love is thinking for me
And the baker will come
And the baker I’ll be

I’m depending on my labour
The texture and the flavour


I can no longer stand and wonder
Cos I’m driven by this hunger

So I’ll jug some water, bake some flour
Store some salt and wait the hour…


I found myself greatly moved as I finally properly ‘heard’ those words after all these years of listening to the record. I was moved not only by the lyrics, but because of the beauty of the song, because of the nostalgia it evoked in me, and because of knowing of the tragedies that would befall The Small Faces, both as a band and individually (they were unmercifully ripped off – killed off, effectively – by unscrupulous management; singer/writer/guitarist Steve Marriott subsequently developed schizophrenia and died in a house fire a bankrupt alcoholic without ever receiving a royalty payment for his work in the band, and co-writer/bassist Ronnie Lane died way too young of MS).

But back to the lyrics. Why did they finally ‘speak’ to me this time, and with such emotional impact?

Well, this is the first time I have listened to this song since I discovered sourdough bread baking at home and joined the movement of which all here are part. Spend a moment with those lyrics, and I think you will understand...but also, there are personal aspects to my reaction I will spare you here (if you're interested, see the end of this post for a link that will take you to the full gory details).

Of course, metaphorical possibilities leap out of the lyrics of Song Of A Baker, but there can be no doubt that The Small Faces understood the calling of the baker, the peace to be found in the process, the wonder of conjuring bread from ingredients as simple and seemingly disparate as grain, water and salt. To bake bread is to invite the best of nature to your table. Who would not welcome such a guest?

Then there is the most important element of all – the secret ingredient of all good bread, of all good food. Except that it’s not really a secret. The Small Faces knew it. My mother knew it. All good cooks and all home artisan bread bakers know it. It is that great X factor, love. Anywhere else, I would fear ridicule for that statement, but not here.

Anyone interested in hearing Song Of A Baker can do so via my regular blog, The Boomtown Rap (this post is an abridged version of one I have just uploaded: link here).



meadmaker's picture

Almond Biscotti 2/3/2010

I followed one of the recipes on here ( ), and it turned out yummy! It was one of the recipes that I had all the ingredients for here at home. As for the almonds, I had a bag if Smokehouse Almonds that I rinsed the seasoning off of, before putting in the oven to roast. (Thanks to Turosdolci for the recipe!)

The one difference in outcome was that mine was a bit darker on the inside due to having added a bit more cinnamon since my cinnamon container is several *cough-cough* years old.

As for what to do with all this, I'll probably pack them up for my husband to take to work tomorrow. They are delicious!

korish's picture

I have baked bread for few times and feel comfertable working with the dough, but sweeets that's another story. This is my first posting sweet cookies here I origenaly had it on my blog


One of my favorite cookies that I had as a child were mint cookies with mint glaze on them, it was so refreshing to have a mint cookie with some milk on a cold winter night. With valentine's day just around the corner I decided to find my moms recipe and recreate them with a twist so they would fit more with valentine theme. This is a simple recipe that is easy to make and kids will enjoy helping.

Cookie Ingredients.

2 eggs yolks. (keep the whites for glaze)
2 cups organic sugar.
2 cups sour cream or heavy whip.
5 cups Organic white flour.
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 1 table spoon vinegar*
1/2 teaspoon of mint extract. (the amount depends on type of mint concentrate that you are using, here we will assume that this is a basic store bought mint extract).

Glaze Ingredients.

2 egg whites
2 cups of powdered sugar.
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
1/2 teaspoon of mint extract.
food color.

*First we should look at soda and vinegar, take your baking soda and combine it with vinegar in a separate cup.

Combine all the ingredients, add the baking soda and mix with mixer or by hand till the dough is one consistency, the dough is somewhat wet, you might need to oil your hands when working with the dough. Place the dough in a fridge for 1/2 hour to cool.

Glaze instruction.

Combine all the ingredients and mix till the glaze is semi stiff, don't mix the glaze early because it will start drying out and will become hard to work with. The best time to do this is when you start baking you cookies. Add your color to the glaze while mixing otherwise it will be snow white.


Take your dough and divide it in 2, oil the surface and roll it out with a roller in to 1/4 inch thick sheets. Cut the dough in to desire shapes, the dough is somewhat sticky so be careful when removing it from the surface, place on cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes till the cookie is golden on the bottom and still light on the top. You don't need to oil the cookie sheet if you are using heavy whip.

When the cookies are ready remove them from the oven and glaze them ether by dipping them in the glaze or by using a brush. I found it easier to use a silicon brush and to apply the glaze while the cookie is still hot, this way the glaze will melt and have a nice and even consistency.



korish's picture


This was first posted on my blog Healthy Living @

Not to long ago Grand Central Bakery in Portland OR sold raisin panini, but according to my brother in law who drove out to the bakery regularly just to pick them up, they stopped making them, so with that said I decided to create my own version of panini. In the process of my last bake I took 2 kg of the dough that was made for bread and convert it to panini dough. Since I was going for a healthier version of panini I used spelt based sourdough.

Dough recipe.

400 gr 150% hydration rye starter.
800 gr Organic whole Spelt flour.
200 gr Organic dark rye flour.
600 gr Organic white flour.
30 gr Salt.
2 handful of raisins (reason I don't measure these is that you can never have to much raisins and same goes for walnut).
1 handful of walnut.

Soak your raisins in water for about an hour, then pat them dry with a paper towel, the reason for doing this is that they will have lots of water and it will make your dough to moist.

Mix your starter with water, add flour and salt mix, for 3 minutes.

Rest the dough for about 20 minutes in a bowl.

Knead for 5 minutes.

Rest again for 30 minutes.

Take your dough and dump it on a counter add your raisins and walnut to it and knead for about 10 minutes you will have to adjust the dough by adding more flour to it, the best way to do this is by taking your hands and sticking them in to the flour and mixing the dough, this way the flour will be absorbed evenly, you might have to repeat this for few times until your dough is nice and elastic.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise for 4 to 6 hours or until almost double.

Divide the dough into small rolls, just smaller than tennis ball size and let it proof for 1 to 2 hours. The best way to check if it's ready is if you use a finger press test.

Place in your wood fired oven, spray some water above it to create steam, close the door and let them bake for about 15 minutes. Don't forget that they are smaller and will bake faster than your bread so check on them after 10 or so minutes.

Let them cool and enjoy as a healthy desert, they are perfect with some cream cheese or some jam.


You can see more images on my blog.


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