The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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hansjoakim's picture

...but bread is alright.

I wanted to experiment a little this week, so I decided to bake two new loaves. I think both turned out rather well, and I'll probably add them to the list of loaves I'm baking quite frequently. The first one is a loaf that goes remarkably well with most kinds of fruit, preserves, a wide range of cheeses and besides your dinner plate: A sourdough rye with toasted hazelnuts and raisins.

Sourdough rye with toasted hazelnuts and raisins

This loaf is based on my favourite 40% rye recipe, with a healthy filling of toasted hazelnuts and raisins. For this loaf, I used 15% each of nuts and raisins, based on the overall flour weight.

Sourdough rye with toasted hazelnuts and raisins

Above is the crumb; the significant amount of nuts and raisins makes sure you get a healthy bite of nutty sweetness in each slice :) And as I said, this loaf is spectacular with most kinds of cheese (trust me when I recommend goat cheese and/or strong blue cheese), and they're a great treat on hiking trips if you shape them into rolls:

Sourdough rye with toasted hazelnuts and raisins


The next loaf on the list, is a pain de campagne-style loaf with roasted tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes:

Roasted tomatoes

I had some tomatoes lying around that I wanted to put to good use, and figured I could put them in some loaves. I cut them into cubes, tossed them in olive oil, salt, pepper and basil, and roasted them good and long... to add more punch to the loaves, I also added a bit sun-dried tomatoes. I wanted a "rustic" look on these, so I didn't shape them into anything particular after their bench rest; I simply patted them into two rectangles on top of parchment paper on my peel. Still, they sprung up quite significantly in the oven:

Roasted tomatoes

A very tender and moist crumb, with a crunchy crust. I really like how tomatoes colour the crust and infuses it with dark spots... A great loaf for salads or pasta dishes!

If you're eating at my house, there's a good chance there's dessert waiting... It's been a gruelling long winter around these parts, and, in a desperate attempt to force spring upon these shores, I opted for a "fresh fruit" charlotte. "Fresh fruit" in that I had to resort to frozen berries to make the charlotte... Hopefully there's real fresh fruit around for my next attempt at this one ;) The recipe is taken from Suas' ABAP, and below is a photo of the mise en place for the charlotte:

Mise en place charlotte

Here's a 15cm cake form lined with a ladyfinger bottom and ladyfingers along the sides (trimmings and unused, wrinkled ladyfingers on the right). That was a time consuming task - getting all those fingers standing upright at the same time... I'll admit that my piping skills are not all that, so most of the ladyfingers had some "blisters" or wrinkles to them. Still - they lined up! Over the form are the two frozen discs that go into the charlotte: A berry compote on the left and a frozen disc of lemon crèmeux on the right. Not shown is the diplomat cream that is used for filling (I had to stash the bowl with diplomat cream in the fridge while lining up these guys). The filled charlotte (after the diplomat cream is set) is topped with berries (again, I had to resort to frozen berries... still tasted good though):

Fresh fruit Charlotte

And another one:

Fresh fruit Charlotte

English accent: "I got blisters on my fingers!" Seriously, this charlotte tasted great. The berry compote insert and the diplomat cream go extremely well together, and the lemon crèmeux adds a lot of fruity summer vibes to each spoonful. Yum.

The final bake, was some Paris-Brest pastries. I've never tasted the real thing (I'll do on my next trip to France), but I was immediatelly intrigued when I read about them in my pastry book. In short, this pastry was created in 1891 by a pastry chef called Pierre Gateau (no kidding!), who piped pâte à choux in the shape of bicycle wheels, and filled them with the most rich cream you can imagine (a comination of pastry cream, butter and praline paste). As monsieur Gateau owned a patisserie along the route of the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race, he made this pastry to honor the riders of the race.

Praline paste, which goes into the Crème Paris-Brest, is something I've never seen in stores around here. Luckily, I found a recipe for the paste in Friberg's pastry book (I love that his book contains a recipe for basically any pastry component you'll ever need):

Crème Paris-Brest

Above on the left is the butter/praline paste mix (it's a bit spotty in places, because I had a hard time grinding the hazelnuts fine enough in my processor), and on the right is my pastry cream. So, left + right (folded together) = Crème Paris-Brest:

Crème Paris-Brest

Now, if you've ever banged your head in the wall in utter frustration of never getting large holes in your crumb, I would prescribe making some choux pastry. That'll get your spirits up and help you regain your confidence:


No sourdough in these ones however... it's all about capturing the steam. Now, piping the cream in the middle of the choux "wheels" resulted in something amazingly decadent and rich:


As I haven't had these before, I can't say if I nailed the design or the look of a genuine Paris-Brest, but the taste was incredible. If anyone here has tried them, or made them, I'd love to hear from you! There are some things I'd like to discuss about this choux business. Anyways...the Paris-Brest: Light choux pastry with that rich praline cream sandwiched in between... ohlala. Tres bien! Bon appétit!


davidg618's picture

Curiouser and Curiouser

Recently, I was on the short-list--I don't think they had enough people show interest to ever have a long-list--for the editor's job on a carriage driving magazine . The organization's Executive Director interviewed me, via telephone.  Among her many questions was one that struck a nerve, my pleasure nerve: "Dave, I don't get it," she said. "You're retired. You got the world by the a**; why do you want this job?"

Without a moment's thought I answered her. "I'm seventy-two," I told her, "and I'm as curious today as I was when I was five. However, now I know there's a lot more to be curious about than I did then." Despite this brilliant answer, I didn't get the job. ( I do, however, write for the magazine.)

Among my many curiouslties is bread: eating it, buying it, storing it, serving it, and, most of all, baking it. I baked my first bread in a frying pan, over an open fire, in Northeast Pennsylvania. I was twelve, a Boy Scout, and taking one of the tests for the Cooking Merit Badge; the Boy Scout Handbook called the bread "Bannock". My finished Bannock's bottom was burnt, its innards were doughy, its outside crunchy and dense. It was delicious.

In my teens I watched my little Welsh grandmother bake bread, and rolls, and near the holidays date pinwheels, Welsh cakes (a fried cookie), and currant bread. On birthday's she made tortes from stacks of froice (welsh crepes) When I earned my driving license I delivered her makings to church bake sales, Saturday morning breakfasts, and a few regular customer who ended each week with a loaf or two of grandma's white or whole wheat. She charged fifty-cents a loaf--expensive, but worth it. I offered to help her, but she only smiled and kept kneading. Her small hands set a beat; her eyelids nearly closed. No way would she share that soul-mending meditation.

Married with children, on weekends, or home from the sea, I'd bribe my children with homefried doughnuts, white bread ala grandma, and near the holidays I continued the tradition: Welsh cakes, and date pinwheels where, and are, my signature offering in our commuity's Christmas cookie exchange. My children fled the nest, my months at sea grew, and my curiousity turned to new hobbies, among them beer brewing, and wine making. I just can't get away from things fermenting.

A decade retired, I have the the time now to do it all: cook, bake, brew, vint (is that a verb?) write, watch the Science Channel, and occasionally nap. And, curiouser and curiouser, my vocabulary, and knowledge grows and mutates; e.g, hydration, proof, and retard have taken on new meanings; wort, sparge, rack, sourdough, mirepoix, and King Aurthur populate conversations. I'm expected to show up at community potluck dinners with a bottle and a loaf; I've been sent home to fetch when I haven't. Until I found The Fresh Loaf I'd no idea this baking virus I suffer is endemic.

This is fun; I've never blogged before. If you chose to waste your time reading my mutterings DON'T expect daily entries. I'll drop a recipe now and then. Any one interested in Welsh cakes?


dmsnyder's picture

Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread is basically a pain au levain made with rye and bread flour to which is added toasted sesame and sunflower seeds and a soaker of flax seeds. It has a crunchy, rather thick crust and a pretty dense crumb. Its flavor is delicious - mildly sour, even when cold retarded overnight, with well-balanced overtones from the seeds. Its flavor is not as complex as Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain, which is simply amazing, but it is a wonderful bread.

This bread has enough substance and flavor to be eaten plain. It would be wonderful with a flavorful soup or stew or with cheese or a salad. And it makes delicious toast.

It's another bread, like Tom Cat's Semolina Filone, that I like a lot but have not baked for quite a while, having been otherwise occupied by a baking agenda with way too many breads.

I baked these boules on a stone, pre-heated to 500F. A cast iron skillet with lava rocks was used for steaming. The oven was turned down to 460F after loading the loaves, and I baked them for 40 minutes.

Sourdough Seed Bread

Sourdough Seed Bread crumb


PMcCool's picture

I finally remembered to take a camera with me while grocery shopping this afternoon.  For almost two years now I've been thinking "Gotta remember to  take a picture to show the other Loafers."  So, finally, here goes.

The Hy-Vee supermarket located at the intersection of 135th St. and Antioch Rd. in Overland Park, KS has an in-store unit from Wheat Montana that contains two micronizer-style mills.  One is fed from a hopper with Bronze Chief wheat kernels (a hard red wheat) and the other is fed from a hopper with Prairie Gold wheat kernels (a hard white wheat).  A customer places a bag from the center of the display on the stand beneath the wheat variety of their choice, and then pushes a button to grind the wheat into flour, which falls into the customer's bag.  See photo below:

Wheat Montana In-store Mill

This particular installation is in the middle of the "health foods" section of the store, in case any of you are close enough / curious enough to go take a look at it.

If you want fresh-ground flour without having to splurge on a mill for yourself, you might want to see if you can cajole your local grocer into getting this kind of set-up for a store near you.  Probably wouldn't hurt to check with the folks at Wheat Montana first to see if they are still making these units; no point in wheedling your grocer into getting something that isn't available.

Gotta run.  The hamburger rolls are ready for shaping.


gavinc's picture

I now get week by week repeated success with Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough which is our regular bread I bake each weekend.  My take-home message to all sourdough newbies is to persist and pay attention to detail.  It's tempting to skip and make do with estimates and a "she'll be right" attitude, but if I want consisency week after week with sourdough, I have to do all the below:

  • Always have a fully active starter to build a fully active levain.

  • Use baker's percentage and scale all ingredients-

  • Take the time to measure the temperatures of the room, flour and levain and work out the desired water temperature so you can achieve a final dough temperature after mixing of 24 to 25C. (Believe me this doesn't take long and is not difficult).

  • Fold during bulk fermentation. (I do two at 50 minute intervals and shape after a further 50 minutes).

  • Final ferment for 2 hours; (or retard in the fridge until the next day works great for additional flavour, but not essential).

  • Bake in a hot oven 235C for 40 to 45 minutes (I find lower temperatures will not get the oven spring).  Use steam.

This never misses.



SylviaH's picture

This is the first time to try this bread and first bread I have made from Bread Alone by Daniel Leader & Judith Blahnik.  I wanted a nice loaf to go with a variety of cheeses and this made a nice it says thinly sliced it makes a nice compliment to cheeses.  It's delicious, I think the grated walnuts in the dough,  plus the fact that I have access to some very fresh nuts in my area made this bread even more tastier.  The crust also has a very pleasing crunch, chew and lot's of flavor.  The crumb was pleasing and so is the color the toasted walnuts lent to it...  I was surprised at the size of the two hugh torpedo shaped loaves the formula made.  Next time I will try his formula for Pain Au Levain with Pecans and Dried Cherries, we have cherry pie so I didn't want overkill on cherries...though I do love them.

I Definately need to pitch my lame for new sharp one!!



chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

I am a little bit late but it became my habit now !! Hahaha

We celebrate sham el nessim the day after coptic easter. I would like you to read about it more in my blog here

This time I made some new shapes in sweet bread

, I sold some sweet buns


On my blog there is some pics for this occasion food like salted sardines and of course what I baked for this occasion .

Happy easter for all of you and happy sham elnessim too .


gothicgirl's picture

Posted on on 4/17/2009

Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit 

Often when I make dinner I skip any kind of bread item.  It isn't that I don't like bread with dinner, on the contrary I love bread with every meal, but I usually forget to make or buy bread and so we skip it.  I justify it by thinking of all the calories I am missing.

However, sometimes I remember the bread and when I do I usually make these biscuits.  They take five minutes to prep and get into the oven, they bake in 15 minutes and, if you have left-overs, they keep pretty well for a second meal - just reheat them in a 325 F oven for ten minutes. 

Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit 

These biscuits are perfect for a homey meal, and they are good for when you have company for dinner.  During the week they are not a chore to get into the oven, and you can easily double the recipe for a large gathering with little additional effort.

For the most part I am a traditional flaky biscuit kind of gal, and I will post a recipe for traditional cut-out biscuits one day, but these fluffy cheese streaked biscuits hold a special place in my heart because they are quick and delicious.

Garlic Cheese Drop Biscuits     Yield 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350 F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuits - Dry Ingredients 

Blend the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and garlic powder into a large bowl.

Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit - Ready to Rub the Butter inCheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit - Butter Rubbed In 

With your fingers, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse sand with pea sized lumps of butter in it.  Stir in the shredded cheeses.

Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit Dough 

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk in.  With a spoon, gently mix until the dry ingredients are just moist.  Do not overmix.

Scoop the biscuits onto the parchment line sheet (roughly 1/3 cup - I used a large disher) and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.   The tops will be pale, but the bottoms will be lightly golden brown.

Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit - Cooling 

Brush the tops with the melted butter and place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tops become golden.

 Cheddar and Garlic Drop Biscuit 

ehanner's picture

For months I have been trying to decide on buying a good quality grain mill and grinding my own fresh grains. I really don't want to buy what I can purchase easily locally, but we live in a rural area and it's a drive to a decent store that carries Organic. Jmonkey, Bill Wraith, Proth5 and many others have raved about how much better their fresh ground organic flours are. Today I baked up my first batch of Organic  Fresh Ground 100% WW bread. I used Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads Master recipe.

I'm still a little cynical about all this Organic and fresh ground stuff so yesterday I made a batch of the same recipe using Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground WW, which has been my usual WW flour. I was able to save half the loaf to compare with todays results. The bread was delicious on its own.

Today I used the flour I received from Country Creations mail order flour service. The price is right and due to a regional shipper I got the flour on my door step in 2 days for less than I would pay at TJ or Whole Foods. Rhonda took my order and ground the 2 bags I bought that day. The product is slightly grainy instead of the silky smooth KA brands but I think is fine for my use. I got good gluten development in the short mixing time and a nice rise during my over proofing :>(.

My family was asking what is in the oven since the aroma was stronger than my usual breads. The house filled with a rich wholesome aroma I have not experienced prior. When the loaves came out of the oven I was really surprised at the wonderful smell. I have always expected this kind of aroma but never experienced it. Knowing how much of our taste comes from sense of smell, I have high expectations.

Finally the taste test. My wife had been gone and so she was able to objectively try both versions and pass judgement. The overwhelming consensus is that the fresh ground is way better tasting and smelling.

So, I'm sold. Country Creations has a wide variety of the products I like to use and their prices are more than fair. To me it's a bonus that her farm is Certified Organic and also the taste test winner. It's a win win situation for us.

On another thread several members are discussing the changing flour situation and how hard it is to get a straight answer from TJ's. The Whole Foods is a huge place but they don't move that much product so I question how fresh it is, plus it is priced at double what I paid through these folks. I can't think of a reason not to support the small farmer/mill. Hey, it's Earth Day right? I'm taking a stand!


I was distracted and this got over proofed, sorry.


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