The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


turosdolci's picture

Charmeli are one of the only glazed taralli in Italy and are an Easter specialty. This taralli however can be found year round. Made with eggs and boiled before baking they are very light.


louie brown's picture
louie brown

My wife returned from Israel with some beautiful zatar. The word describes both an herb as well as an herb blend. She brought both, from a spice dealer in her home town, where her family has been living for about two hundred years. The spice dealer has been there about as long. The blend varies from place to place and typically, people argue over their preferences. Most of the blends have the zatar, thyme, sesame. This one has lemon salt as well. It's just a great herbal condiment.

Zatar calls for flatbread, although it's great on grilled meat, for example, especially chicken, and with Lebanese yoghurt.

So, some pitot, barely visible on the left, and the much more challenging carta di musica, also known as Pane Carasau in Sardinia. In this case, the instructions using volume directions that I located were way off for my conditions, so I mixed it up to approximate a dough in the low to mid 60's hydration. I used a combination of ap and semolina flour and some olive oil. I used a little commercial yeast, although I'm sure this isn't necessary. I hydtated a portion of the flour and water and a little yeast overnight before making up the dough, a sort of biga for flavor, as the dough goes very fast the next day with the commercial yeast.

These are rolled out very thin. An intensive mix helps with dough strength. Once on the stones in the oven, they should puff like pita, but much, much thinner. They are taken out at this point, separated into the two halves, and thrown back on the stones to crisp up and brown.

Fun to make and eat, if a little tricky. 

R.cubebaker's picture


     Hello, everyone.  I'm Teketeke's son (Akiko), and this is my first time baking bread. I made rosemary bread.  This took me about 2 1/2 hours. Oops, one of my loaves didn't de-gas much. This recipe was from the Food Network.

 It tasted great, I loved it, but I had to add a lot of water though because the dough was tough.


                                                                          1/4 ounces of active dry yeast (I used 6g of active dry yeast)

                                                                         2 teaspoons of sugar

                                                                          2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil+ some more for brushing and serving

                                                                          2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

                                                                          2 tablespoons of dried rosemary

                                                                          1 teaspoon of fine salt

                                                                          1/2 teaspoons of kosher

                                                                          one gram of freshly ground pepper 



                                             1.) Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water in a large bowl. Let it sit foamy, about 5 minutes.

                                             2.)Add 1 table spoon of olive oil, the flour, 1 ½ tablespoons of rosemary, the fine salt, and ¾ cup warm water, then stir until a dough forms

                                             3.) Put the dough on lightly floured surface and kneed adding water and flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic

                                             4.) Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand in room temperature until the dough rises 3 times its original height.

                                             5.) Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil. Add the dough and spilt into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece like a sphere. Then let the dough rise again until 2 times its size.

                                             6.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While waiting brush olive oil on the surface of the dough, then sprinkle with the kosher salt and ½ tablespoons of rosemary. Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a rack to cool. Serve olive oil and the pepper.


Best wishes,






txfarmer's picture


Had a little fun playing with shapes when making my weekly baguettes. The flower shape was introduced by Wally and Eric, and shaping video is here. The official version should have 6 petals, but I divided and shaped my baguette as usual, which are much shorter than full size baguettes (limited by my baking stone and oven size), went with 5 petals instead. The other shape was "dragon tail" introduced by wild yeast here.


They look pretty on the outside, AND within. The following is made with my 36 hour SD baguettes with rye starter (recipe here, the 3rd variation). Nice open crumb, with great flavor.


The next two pictures are from a batch made with my 36 hour SD baguettes with 45% whole grain (recipe here, the last variation)



The fancy shape may have made the crumb a bit less open, but not too much, pretty happy with the results.


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

sam's picture


I tried out an experiment with a SD barley + corn bread.  25% barley, 25% corn, 50% KAF bread flour.   I milled the barley+corn into flour.


Total Dough Weight     1812.00    
Total Dough Hydration   75%    
Total Dough Flour Weight   1035.00    
Total Dough Water Weight   777.00    
Preferment Flour Percentage   20%    
Preferment Hydration   125%    
Starter Percentage     20%    
Flour Weight     207.00    
Water Weight     258.00 starter flour starter water
Starter Weight (125% starter)   41.00 18.00 23.00
Soaker Flour Percentage   50%    
Soaker Hydration     95%    
Salt Percentage     1.8% corn barley
Flour Weight     518.00 259.00 259.00
Water Weight     492.00    
Salt Weight     9.00    
Final Mix (Addition)          
Salt Percentage     1.0%    
Yeast Percentage     1.0%    
Preferment Weight      506.00    
Soaker Weight     1019.00    
Add Final Flour     292.00    
Add Final Water     4.00    
Add Salt       1.00    
Add Yeast     10    
Added extra 50g water to Soaker      

Further notes:

I used all of the barley + corn for the soaker, and KAF Bread Flour for the rest.   The Soaker was very dense, clay-like, so I added an extra 50g water, but it was still clay.

After the levain (bread-flour) was ready, I mixed everything for a a good 8 mins in my stand-mixer to get any sort of decent gluten development.  I got a semi-windowpane.  Stretched + folded once at 60 mins during bulk ferment, 90 mins total.  After the bulk, the dough could stretch, but could still break apart fairly easily.  Shaped into logs, put into "Hearth Pans" that I got recently from USA Pan, final proof for about an hour.  Next time I will add a little more water.

The good:  TASTE is amazing.   It is the best tasting bread I've ever made.  I am really happy with it.

Here are the pics.   NOTE:   It was not the springiest bread in the world, and these pics were straight out of oven, I didn't wait for it to fully cool.  Sorry.  :)




Not the greatest...  but I am happy.


Jo_Jo_'s picture

Links to my fellow baker's in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, 2011!  Here are links to their versions of this bread.  They are all very talented baker's, who have gotten together to share their results from baking the Bread's in Peter Reinhart's book Bread Baker's Apprentice.
Our host Chris at A Ku Indeed!
I will post others as they finish theirs!

Today is the day for making my first English muffins.  I know that Andy will love these, in fact he has been waiting for these since Christmas.  Really I should have done them sooner, but there have been so many recipes to try and things to do that I just hadn't gotten to it.  Another storm rolled in last night giving us a ton of rain followed by a skiff of snow overnight, which means it's pretty chilly in the house today, so it's another perfect baking day! English muffins and crumpets always remind me of a time years ago when I was a young teen.  My mom took me to a small tea house and we sat and talked while we ate English muffins toasted with crab and jack cheese melted on top.   We each had a cup of fancy tea, and it was such a good day.  I remember feeling very grown up. That is a memory I will never forget, one of those times when you know that your mom loves you and wants to be with you. She asked for the recipe for those crab and cheese topped English muffins, and would make them occasionally throughout my teen years.  I can't remember if we had crumpets that day, but they also bring memories of growing up.  They always have butter and honey on them, and simply make my mouth water and my brain transports back to my childhood.  I think I will make them next....

From BBA English Muffins
Everything in it's place, so very organized.  Now if you know me well, you will realize that the bowl is sitting on another counter with everything except the buttermilk/kefir in it.  I started to put things away, when I realized I hadn't taken a picture of it so I hastily grabbed it all together in one spot and took a "pretty" picture so you would all think "She is so organized!".  I am the one that has to rerun the recipe in my head a dozen times to make sure that I didn't leave anything out. Here are the dry ingredients all added together.  I adjusted the recipe by using 50% fresh ground Winter White Wheat rather than all bread flour, replaced the sugar with honey, and used kefir in place of buttermilk.  I normally use the baker's percentages for the BBA recipes, but this time the recipe only made 6 English muffins which I figured we would eat pretty quickly.  I weighed everything according to the book, and used measuring spoons for the honey, salt and yeast.  I went ahead and put the entire 8 oz of kefir into the flour mix, figuring if it was to wet then I would simply add a little flour.  It was looking pretty sticky at this point, so I allowed it to autolyse for half an hour.  This seems to help a lot, especially when working with whole wheat flours. What starts out very sticky, ends up quite manageable after kneading it for 6 minutes after it's 30 minute nap. Here it is, with the bowl looking all clean on the sides.  I love when dough has this consistency, just makes it so easy to work with. Time to scoop it out of the bowl and form it into a boule.  I will let it rise for 90 minutes, possibly a little longer because it's cold in the kitchen today. It looks so small in the container I use to do the first rise.  Getting used to recipes that make a large amount of dough, which I usually reduce down to 2 lb so I don't get over run! Here it is after it's first rise, ready to be gently removed from it's jar and carefully made into small boule's. It just seems like such a small amount of dough to me! Wow, only a little over a pound of dough! I have these cool English muffin rings that I got for Christmas and have been wanting to try. I sprinkled semolina into the rings after I sprayed the parchment paper with oil. The rings have shortening on them, to keep them from sticking. Dough has risen for 90 minutes, ready to fry!!!! Things were looking pretty good at this point and I decided to fry three with rings off and three with rings on. I put the muffins into the pan, and then pulled the rings off these ones. They immediately started to spread slightly in the pan. I fried them for 6 minutes, and when I turned them over they were burnt on that side! Yuck, my pan was to hot even though it was set to the temp in the book. I then turned it down 50 degrees, and hoped for the best. I fried that side for 5 minutes. Here are the three I fried with the rings on, including when I flipped them over. At that point I took the rings off, and continued frying them. The pan was a much better temp, and I fried them for 8 minutes on each side. Here they are all ready to cool off and then to eat. They look pretty good! Crumb shot....
txfarmer's picture


Castella cake is a famouse Japanese dessert, it's essentially a sponge cake, raised solely by egg foam, with no butter or oil. It's soft yet slightly spongy texture, subtle sweet tastes appeals greatly to Chinese people, so this cake is very popular in China. Like everything in Japanese cooking, they have elevated this cake into an art form. The crumb is so even and delicate that it's pore-less, the bottom and top are flat with not a ripple, the taste is a delicate balance between honey, milk, and Aji Mirin(Japanese sweet rice wine, you can find it easily in any Asian market, if not, you can replace it with brandy or other liquor.). I make this cake often at home, using a traditional wood frame. Wood deducts heat slowly, which helps to bake the cake evenly, however, it can also be made in a metal or glass tin. Unlike most cakes, this cake is made with bread flour, not cake or AP flour, to obtain that "spongy" texture. For backgaround and a good recipe for this cake, please refer to this wonderful blog post, my recipe is different form hers, however, I did learn some critical techniques there.

The key to a successful castella cake is in the beating of the eggs, if you have made genoise before, the process is quite similar. If not, refer to this wonderful recipe, Rose has outlined exactly what needs to be done for a good genoise sponge cake, the same lesson can be applied here. Other than the egg beating, you might also need to experiment with tin size, and baking time to get the cake perfect, however, the effort is well worthwhile. I thought this is a fitting homeage to Japan and its people, given what they have been going through.


Castella (adapted from various sources)

Note: my wood frame is 14cm×24cm×8cm, it's made entirely with wood with no metal nails. A similar sized metal tin would work just fine, however the baking time will be MUCH shorter.


egg, 4

sugar, 110g

bread flour, 100g

honey, 2tbsp

milk, 2tbsp

Aji Mirin(Japanese sweet rice wine), 1tbsp


1. If you do use a wood frame, it needs to be pre-processed: wash then soak in water overnight, dry, bake in oven at 350F for 30min. This step would eliminate odor from the wood. To use the wood frame, put it on a baking sheet lined with aluminium sheet (the wood frame has no bottom), then line the inside with parchment paper. if using other tins, also line with parchment paper.


2. shift the flour 3 times. Yes, I know shifting is a lot of work, and do it 3 times is a hassel, but it makes a wold of difference in the crumb of the cake, so just do it! In fact the same thing can be said for pound cakes and sponge cakes, I didn't shift before, now I am a believer.

3.mix honey and milk, boil, mix until honey completely dissolves, set aside. (the bottle in the picture below shows the sweet rice wine)

4. Mix eggs and sugar, hold it over a pot of boiling water (bottom not touching the water), while mixing by hand, for one minute. This step is to warm up the eggs, to ensure a stable foam later on. Now remove from the boiling water pot, use wire attachment on a KA mixer, beat at high speed for 5 minutes, by the end, the mixture is thick, triple by volume, and very pale. Droplets should not disappear into the mixtured for at least 10 seconds when dropped from the beater. Yes, beat teh full 5 minutes, it may look ready and thick enough at the 3rd minutes, but it's infact not, you MUST mix at the highest setting for the full 5 minutes! Drop to medium speed and beat for another 2minutes, this is to stablize the foam structure. (note, if you don't have a stand mixer, you can beat the eggs with a handheld mixture for MUCH LONGER, something like 10min at the hightest speed. If you beat by hand, well, I hope you have good arm strength!)

5. Add the honey/milk mixture, beat at medium speed until blended in. Add sweet rice wine, beat at medium speed until blended.

6. Add flour in 3 batches, mix by hand to ensure no dry spots. Then mix at medium speed for about 3 minutes. This is unusual for caking making, usually we try not to overmix after adding flour, however, this cake requires a lightly spongy texture, that's why we use bread flour and mix quite a bit to develop some gluten. This is also why we really need a well developed and stable egg foam, otherwise after flour addition and mixing, a lot of foam would be destroyed.

7. Pour into tin, about 75% full, use a chopstick or toothpick to draw "Z" several time to eliminate any big bubbles.

8. Bake at 340F for 70min, if the top gets too dark, cover with foil. Note that due to the wood frame, my cake bakes for a long time, if you use a metal tin, it will be ready at around 50 min. The cake would slowly rise to the top, then slightly dom over during the baking process. When the top feels firm and the cake just starts to shrink back, it's ready (this is exactly like a genoise cake). The cake MUST be fully baked, otherwise it will shrink and collapse out of the oven.

9. Take out, brush with some melted honey, cover the top with plastic, flip over (so it's upside down), slip the whole thing into a sealed bag, and fridge immediately. It needs to be sealed and fridge while warm to retain moisture. It needs to be cooled upside down to avoid uneven (denser) layer at the bottom.

10. After 8 hours, take out, flip again so the top is up. The cake should be even height with the wood frame, no sinking, no shrinking. There will be some wrinkles on the side due to the parchmentpaper, this is normal.

11. To server, use a sharp thin blade knife to cut off the sides, then cut into thick slices.


A good castella cake should be smooth, delicate, yet have a bit of bounce.


Sweet and subtle, perfect with some green tea.

Yippee's picture

Under the ‘pressure’ from Akiko – “…tell me how it turns out, even if you are NOT SUCCESSFUL. Please tell me the truth…,” I handled this bake with intense focus as if I were sitting for an important academic examination. I even violated the baking curfew I had vowed to administer. But I can tell you now, I’ve had no regrets doing so, even though the after-effects of sleep deprivation made me walk around like a zombie the following two days.

Japanese style sandwich bread is nothing new to me. I had made numerous loaves of them when I started out baking bread two years ago. However, there was a new element in this bake – wild fruit leavens, which I’ve watched with great interests but have never taken the initiative to further experiment. Akiko’s informative post and beautiful bread have given me the push I needed. She has opened the door of opportunity for me to experience a new dimension of bread baking. Thank you, Akiko!


I followed Akiko’s formula and instruction closely with one exception: weight of the final dough was reduced for my smaller Pullman pan.


Here are some pictures of this 'new', wild yeasts leavened bread:


A similiar type of bread I  made before with commercial yeast:


Yippee's picture

I first experienced the magic of wild fruit yeasts when developing my three sourdough starters two years ago. All three of them were built from wild yeasts in raisins. Today, my second jar of wild fruit yeasts are brought to life. Through the glass, I can feel the energy of these invisible microorganisms, see cycles of new lives, and almost picture my new breads! My heart is filled with joy. I’m looking forward to the many fun and exciting experiments to come!



Here are some pictures of my wild fruit yeasts:


My first loaf using wild fruit yeasts as an exclusive leaven - Japanese white sandwich bread: 



Submitted to Susan's Yeastspotting!


jombay's picture

Hey guys,

I prepared and shaped a double test batch of the straight dough croissant formula last night, tossed them in the fridge overnight, then proofed and baked them at my baking & pastry arts skills class this morning.

I could have proofed them a bit longer but I had to get out of there as another class was getting ready to start. These were done all by hand. I guess I'll start trying the sheeter at work or school now.


Croissant Dough from Suas' Advanced Bread and Pastry

Ingr.                          Bakers %    Test

Bread Flour                100.00         1lb 1 5/8 oz

Water                        38.00           6 3/4 oz

Milk                           23.00           4 oz

Sugar                        13.00           2 1/4 oz

Salt                           2.00             3/8 oz

Osmo. Instant Yeast   1.20             1/4 oz

Malt                          0.50             1/8 oz   *I didn't have any so I cut it out

Butter                       4.00             3/4 oz

Roll-in Butter             25.00           8 oz      **Butter for roll-in is a percentage of the total dough weight

Added everything to my KA and mixed for about 5 mins on 2nd speed. Bulk fermented for about 3 hours at RT, then rolled in butter in 3 single folds. Shaped, retarded for about 12 hours, then proofed for maybe 3 hours. Eggwashed and baked at 400f.





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