The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


hanseata's picture

One of my favorite stores in Portland is Micucci's, an Italian whole and retail grocery. They don't only have Südtiroler Speck and the best Fontina, they also carry nice wines at reasonable prices (I'm too cheap to spend more than 7 - 10 dollars for a bottle - and choosing European wine is easy because of the standardized labeling).  There I purchase Italian 00 flour and spices in bulk, and such items as Marzano tomatoes, cooked chestnuts and gooseberry jam.

Micucci's also has a little bakery, selling pizza by the slice, sfogliatelle with ricotta filling, ciabatta and fluffy "Luna" breads. But what enticed me to show up last Friday at 8:00 sharp was their special "Wheat Walnut Poppy Seed Bread", cut in quarters from a large boule. You have to be there when it comes out of the oven - an hour later it may be already snatched up by customers waiting eagerly in line.

Micucci's Wheat Walnut Poppy Seed Bread

I really like this bread, but since we're in Portland perhaps once a month, and not necessarily on Fridays, I wanted to re-create this specialty at home. I also thought I could probably even improve it - it's slightly sweet than necessary. Looking closely at the crumb I realized that these dark spots were not all poppy seeds but some other black seeds, too. Smaller than flax, and darker: black sesame.

The dark reddish color of the slices must come from the walnuts, there are plenty in the bread. I don't know how it is leavened, but the tag doesn't specially mention sourdough. The crumb is fairly open - the dough must be well hydrated, and I doubt that it is 100% whole wheat. I wanted to try a spelt version, prefering its nuttier taste to wheat.

How large is the percentage of seeds? I measured walnuts, poppy and black sesame seeds, and eyeballed the amounts. Walnuts with 80 g/510 g flour, and poppy and sesame with 10 g each. Using a basic formula from Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" ("Transitional Country Hearth Bread"), I came up with this formula, exchanging spelt for wheat, and adding nuts and seeds. Since it was already afternoon, I didn't work with pre-doughs, but used the stretch & fold technique (from Artisan Bread Every Day").

Usually I bake these kinds of lean bread like my German Feinbrot (preheat to 500 F, bake 10 minutes at 475 and 30 minutes at 425 F) - the crust is thinner and crisper than the one from the original recipe), but I wanted to try a technique I learned from Martin Pöt Stoldt (, falling temperatures to imitate the slowly diminishing heat in a wood fired oven.


312 g water, at 95 F
    6 g instant yeast
284 g spelt flour
227 g bread flour
    9 g salt
  80 g walnuts, slightly toasted
  10 g black sesame
  10 g poppy seeds


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add to all other dough ingredients (except for walnuts) in mixing bowl. Mix together for 1 - 2 min. by hand or with mixer at low speed, until ingredients come together in sticky, coarse ball. Let dough rest for 5 min.

Knead dough for 2 min. at medium-low speed, feeding the nuts slowly in it, and adjusting with some more water as needed, dough should be smoother but still sticky. Continue kneading for another 4 min., the last 20 sec. at medium-high speed (or more vigorously by hand). Dough should be still somewhat sticky. Prepare clean, lightly oiled bowl.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. With wet or oiled hands, stretch dough gently into rectangle. Fold it like a business letter. Turn folded dough around and fold it from the sides again in 3 layers like a letter. Pick dough ball up, tucking sides under, and place it into clean bowl. Cover and let rest for 10 min.

Repeat those stretches and folds 3 times, with 10 min. intervals (total time 40 min.) After last stretch and fold maneuver, cover and immediately place into refrigerator for overnight fermentation.

The dough handled really well, was very smooth and elastic. - That's what it looked like after the final S & F. (a bit more orangey because of the artificial light). The next morning it had considerably darkened with a purplish hue, thanks to the walnuts, and risen to almost double its original size.


Remove dough 2 hrs. before using.

Preheat oven to 480 F/250 C, including steam pan.

Shape boule and place in banneton. Proof for 45 - 60 min., or until it has grown 1 1/2 times to almost double its original size. Turn out onto peel. Slash.

Bake with steam (1 cup boiling water) at falling temperatures:

10 minutes at 480 F/250 C, 10 minutes at 445 F/230 C, remove steam pan, rotate bread 180 degrees. Continue baking
10 minutes at 410 F/210 C, 10 minutes at 375 F/190 C, 5 - 10 min at 355 F/180 C (internal temperature should be at least 205, better 210 F/96 - 99 C). Bread should sound hollow when thumped on bottom.

Let cool on wire rack.



Walnut Poppy Seed Spelt Bread                                                 Crumb: not quite as dark as the Micucci version

The falling temperatures create a really amazing crust!! The bread tasted very good, but next time I would rather make it with a white sourdough starter - we love the little more tang.



Floydm's picture

I had a busy weekend and did not bake this weekend.  First time in quite some time, actually.

I don't think I ever posted the BBQ Chicken Pizza I made during the Super Bowl.

super bowl pizza

The crust is Peter's Neo-Neapolitan recipe that is my standard.  Cheap store-brand BBQ sauce as the sauce, chicken breast, cilantro, red onions, and a mixture of chedder and mozarella. Super simple and the kids loved it.

super bowl pizza

I made Current Cream Buns that weekend too but they got gobbled up before I could take a picture.

The other thing I've been making recently are Crepes.  Our new favorite filling is a pat of butter, a scant teaspoon of sugar, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Super simple but absolutely delicious!



txfarmer's picture


Continue to experimetn with whole grain in my baguettes (original recipe here, 3 earlier variations here, 3 more variations here, previous whole grain experiments here, with 60% whole grain here)

AP Flour, 100g

barley flour, 75g

ww flour, 250

ice water, 415g

salt, 10g

rye starter (100%) 150g

-Mix flour, ice water and autolyse for 12 hours.

-Mix in salt, starter, then follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here.



In last post, I was encouraged to "bet all my chips" and go for 100% whole grain, luckily I didn't! :P This intermediate step is important since I learned a few things which needs to be taken account into:

1. It rose way fast. I had to preshape right out of fridge without warming up since the dough was very bubbly and expanded already. I think with so much ww flour, I will need to reduce the starter amount to 100g or even less.

2. Hydration was 98%, because I know precisely that 100% would be too much. .... WHATEVER! Honestly, I just got scared by the concept of 100% hydration. At 98%, the dough was very sticky to handle, BUT the crust was thin as you can see from the picture above. With large holes in the crumb.

3. With so much whole grain and water, baguettes rose well, cuts opened fully, but the profile was a tad flat. I think it needs more S&F. And less starter/acidity might help with volume too.

Anyway, very good results with open crumb, relatively thin and definitely crispy crust, and most importantly, deep whole grain flavor.


I will be out of town this coming weekend, so the experiment will have to pause, but I will continue when I come back!


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

paulm's picture

I'm relatively new to sourdough and am trying various formulas in search of a basic white sourdough.  Here are my latest attempts:

Hammelmans Vermont Sourdough:


And here is the associated crumb shot:


BBA Basic Sourdough:


And here is the associated crumb shot:


I think my handling during shaping is what is causing the closed crumb but the crust and taste (especially when toasted) has been great.  I think I am leaning towards the Vermont Sourdough (the 3 oz of rye gives the crumb a nice color and taste).  It could have used a longer bake for a darker crust.  I baked the Vermont Sourdough directly on a stone and the BBA Basic Sourdough in a pre-heated Dutch Oven and both had pretty good oven springs.  All in all, I was pretty satisfied and will continue to practice my shaping to see if I can open the crumb up somewhat.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)





Love Loaf3

prijicrw's picture

I adapted this recipe from Hamelman's Bread, page 113. I followed his timings closley, and just changed the size of the recipe to what I feel works best with my mixer (Cuisinart 5 quart). I also changed the overall hydration from 68% to 65%. Loaves came out with a thin & crispy crust and light & nutty crumb - would certainly make great baguette dough.


270 grams flour

165 grams water

1/8 teaspoon yeast

5 grams salt

Final Dough

190 grams water

1/2 teaspoon yeast

275 grams flour

5 grams salt 


Makes two 450 gram loaves.

pixielou55's picture


Just wanted to crow a little today. I've been a member of this wonderful group for quite a long time and have always made bread but in the normal way most people do, not really understanding what's going on and making the same mistakes. I'm still stuck when I see a recipe I want to make but it starts out with "200g starter" - I would like to figure out how to make that a "yeast, water, flour" portion since I don't make starter (at this point, I'm not a sour dough fan).

I have always had my dough quite firm when it's time to bake and it is always a dense bread - sometimes gooey. This weekend I followed a recipe for baguettes from this list - I'm sorry I don't know who submitted it. But it was wonderful. There was a lot less kneading and more letting it rest (including in the frig for 22 hours). I stopped with the flour before the dough got to the normal consistency I get it to (gloppy like the recipe said) and and a little sticky kneading, I started to let it rest like the recipe said, and fold it every 20 minutes. Then I put it in the frig until the next day.

This is the first time I have ever had a dough feel like a rubber band! It was wonderful. I let it get to room temp and shaped it into baguettes (next time I will put in just a smidgen more flour to let it form just a bit more). I scored it then (was afraid it would do something if I scored after letting it rise the last time). I could see those big holes developing!

It was wonderful. I ate one whole baguette (but I got some exercise getting up and down to get another piece each time!). It had great holes in it and the crust was crunchy buy thin. This is so different from my normal heavy, gooey loaves.

My breakthrough was letting not making the dough so dense and doing more of letting the dough rest and folding - not kneading for 20 minutes at a time! It was fun to see it change so much just by resting.

I don't have a digital camera and my remaining loaf is 1/2 eaten already at work today. Next time I'll turn the overn down just a bit but whoever posted that recipe - THANK YOU - I've had a breadthrough!

Now I need to go out and get a scale - what a difference that would make!

I still have to learn how to make good whole wheat bread - it is too dense and gooey. But I'll get there some day.


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi, I'm Craig

I'm new to this site but I LOVE making bread! Love it, Love it, Love it! 

Last night I made an attempt at a heart shaped loaf of bread, to give to my partner on Valentine's Day: I was up all night cutting out little hearts that I'd stuck in the cooked bread :D 


Love Loaf5


GSnyde's picture



This week’s baking—and cooking-- were inspired by Fresh Loaf masters proth5, Wally, SylviaH, Hansjoakim, and AW.   There was duck confit, whole wheat bread, sandwich buns, and Pat’s “Getting the Bear” baguettes (aka “Bear-Gets”), including a Margueritte-shaped thing—"Le Fleur d’Ours".

First, let me tell you about the three-day duck.  After reading Hansjoakim’s blog post (, I tried to resist the temptation to make duck confit.  I could not.  I love duck, especially duck leg confit.  Han’s pictures and description started to wear down my resistance. Reading Michael Ruhlman’s blog post on the subject ( was the capper.

So I found a six-legged duck (Chernobyl brand).  Just kidding…actually I found a nice California-grown Muscovy duck and 4 extra duck legs (from a different duck…err…probably several).  I cut the legs off the duck so I’d have six for confit.  Friday morning, I rubbed the legs (the ducks’, not mine) with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed garlic, thyme and oregano, and put them in a zip-loc bag in the fridge for 24 hours.  Meanwhile, the excess fat from the duck and legs was rendered on the stove.  The legless duck was sprinkled with poultry seasoning, allspice, onion salt and garlic salt and roasted for dinner Friday (with yams and steamed snap peas…yummm!).  The fat drippings from the roasted legless duck was added to the other duck fat and refrigerated.

Saturday morning, I rinsed the cured legs, patted them dry and arranged them tightly in the bottom of our old Dutch oven, I melted the chilled duck fat in the microwave and poured it over the legs.  I added enough olive oil so that the legs were fully submerged.  Then I heated the Dutch oven slowly on the stove until just before the oil boiled, and put it in the oven at 180 degrees F. It stayed in that oven for 12 hours, except for an hour or so when I needed the oven for the sandwich buns described below; during that hour, I put the Dutch oven on the stove on low simmer.  I also made stock from the roasted duck bones.

Saturday evening, I pulled the Dutch oven out of the oven and let it cool for a couple hours, then put it in the fridge. 

They say the flavor of duck confit improves if you let it sit for days or weeks.  I’ m not sure this batch will last more than a couple days.  It made a splendid dinner Sunday.   I roasted two of the legs in a hot oven for 30 minutes, and served them over a bed of lentil ragout (French lentils, shallots, garlic, parsley, diced celery, diced carrot, duck stock and some good Syrah).


This confit recipe was not a difficult process (I skipped the stretch-and-folds with no apparent detriment to the texture), though it takes several days in elapsed time.  I have to say it is totally worth the effort.  The best possible preparation for a sexapedal waterfowl.   And the lentil ragout (my attempt to replicate a dish served at a wonderful local bistro called Fringale) was a great success.  Recipe provided on request.

Now, about the breads…starting with a 37.5% whole wheat sandwich bread.

I hadn’t made a whole wheat sandwich loaf since I was a real beginner (back last September), and it was only so-so.  But my wife and I do love whole wheat bread, and I recently acquired some special whole wheat flour from Central Milling: the high-protein, fine ground organic whole wheat flour they sell to Acme Bread.   I searched TFL for a recipe and found AW’s post with her friend Ben’s formula, which has become very popular on TFL (

I followed AW’s formula, substituting vegetable oil for shortening and a combination of honey and molasses for brown sugar.  In an embarrassing lapse of baking sense, I forgot to reduce the water to compensate for the liquid sweeteners, so the bread took a while longer to bake than prescribed, and the crumb is very moist.  Not gummy or unpleasant, just very moist.  It is soft but holds together well when sliced.   I also under-proofed the loaves and they blew out.  It’s not the prettiest bread I ever baked, but the flavor is outstanding!  Wheaty and molasses-y, it tastes healthy, but it’s good.  It made good duck breast sandwiches.




Then, about SylviaH’s buns!!

One of my great aspirations as a baker is to make good-tasting simple sandwich buns that hold up to sloppy sandwich ingredients like saucy barbecue beef.  I’d tried the Italian bread rolls ( and the sourdough potato rolls (  Both were good, but too heavy and too chewy for what I was after.  Brother David suggested I try SylviaH’s highly-enriched sandwich buns (  So, I did.

Having roasted a tri-tip (with Tony Cachere’s Cajun seasoning) during the week, I had a hankering for barbecue beef sandwiches.  I had half of bottle of the Firehouse No. 2 barbecue sauce in the fridge, so all I needed was buns.  Sylvia’s formula is easy and the results are excellent!  It’s basically a challah dough with some potato, and it tastes like delicious challah.  Eggy in a good way, tender crumb.  It held up well under barbecue beef.






And, finally, the “Bear-Gets”.

Proth5’s baguettes are legendary for good reason.  Brother David had recommended Pat’s prior formula, and I made them several times, and always loved them.  I’ve baked her new “Getting the Bear” baguette formula ( a couple times. It may or may not be better (which is better: magnifique or merveilleux?), but it’s real dang good.

I followed the formula, using my favorite white flour, Central Milling’s Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft, enriched with malted barley flour.  I made enough for four 9.5- ounce mini-baguettes and two 13-ounce Marguerittes, inspired by Larry’s recent adventures (  I had to do three bakes because of the size of my stone.  I baked a Margueritte and a mini-baguette Saturday evening after a 6-hour retard; then two batches Sunday morning.

The dough was incredibly airy, but easy to handle.  The crumb is just about perfect.  Here’s a crumb shot of a baguette followed by a piece of La Margueritte.



Making les marguerittes was fun.  This is the first time I’ve scissored dough, and it was a good experience.  I found the video linked in Larry’s post very helpful.  Nothing difficult about it, but there’s lots of room for improvement in the snipping and shaping.  The pull-away rolls from “le fleur d’ours” are delicious.


Anyway…that was a long blog post.  The next one will be shorter.  Tasha’s learning to write.




Sylviambt's picture

My first baguettes are in their second rise under a canopy of dusted linen and plastic. I'm glad they're under wraps. They are undeniably ugly. Instead of rolling out slender columns of dough, I created things that look like squat electric eels, large cucumbers, chubby rolling pins. I hadn't allowed the dough to rest long enough after pre-shaping. Darn.

Well, we'll see what I end up with in two hours.


Bronx-to-Barn Baker


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