The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


mse1152's picture

Greetings, bakers,

Tonight for dinner we had salad and the 'Rosettes of Venice' rolls from Carol Field's The Italian Baker.  I don't know why I never tried them before, but they were fabulous!  The recipe wants 500g of biga, and I had 486g of biga in the freezer, so I declared that was enough biga to attempt these.  They take about 5-ish hours from start to finish.  They look like hole-less bagels or kaiser rolls, but are much softer than either of those...maybe the 1/2 cup of olive oil had something to do with it.  The recipe said you should get 12 to 14 rolls, but I made only 8.  At that size, they'd make wonderful sandwich rolls, which I intend to verify tomorrow.



Soft and tasty, with just enough sugar to notice.  They're glazed with egg white, and I decided they also would benefit from a sprinkle of sesame or poppy seeds, and just enough kosher salt to give them a little bite.



To make the biga:

Mix by hand, mixer, or food processor:

1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup plus 1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. room temp. water (weird measurement, I agree)

330g unbleached all-purpose flour

Let the yeast stand in the warm water about 10 minutes.  Add remaining water, then the flour, a cup at a time.  Rise the biga in a covered bowl at room temp. for 6 to 24 hours.  Then you can refigerate or freeze it till you need it, or you could use it immediately after it's risen, I suppose.


To make the rosettes:

1 tsp. active dry yeast

2 Tb. warm water

1/2 cup olive oil (the recipe wants 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup olive oil)

3 Tb. sugar

500g biga

300g unbleached all-purpose flour

5g salt

1 beaten egg white for glazing

Combine yeast and 2 Tb. water in a large bowl.  Let stand about 10 minutes.  Add oil, sugar, and biga.  Mix by hand or in a mixer till biga and liquids are fairly well blended.  Add flour and salt and mix or knead until dough comes together.  Knead by hand (8-10 minutes) or mixer (3-4 minutes on low speed) until dough is moist and elastic.  I used a Bosch mixer, and on low speed, the dough really didn't come together well.  After a couple of minutes, I finished kneading it by hand.

Put the dough in a bowl rise, covered with plastic or whatever.  Let rise about 2 hours, at approx. 75 degrees F.



Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat or roll to 3/4 inch thick (mine were thinner, maybe 1/2 inch).  Use whatever you have to cut out a circle of dough, about 3-5 inches in diameter, depending on whether you want small rolls or sandwich buns.  Here's the tricky part, so read it a few times:

Assuming you're right handed, place your left thumb at the 9 o'clock position of the dough circle, with the end of the thumb in the middle of the circle.  Use the other hand to roll the dough from the 12 o'clock position down to the thumb.  Rotate the dough clockwise until the left 'point' of the roll that you just made is at the 12 o'clock position.  Place your left thumb again at 9 o'clock and roll that section of the dough down again toward your thumb.  Rotate and repeat the rolling until you have a sort of kaiser-type of roll shape, with leaves or petals of dough on top of the roll, or whatever you can describe them as.  Press down the middle of the roll to ensure the 'leaves' stay put.  I decided that as long as the rolls weren't flat, I was in the ballpark.  I didn't take photos of this step, since, not knowing how yummy they'd be, I had no idea I'd be posting anything!

Place the rolls on a lightly oiled or parchment covered baking sheet.  Cover with plastic or a towel, and let rise till doubled, approx. 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.  In the last 15-20 minutes of the rise, turn the oven on to 400F.  When the oven is ready, brush the rolls with beaten egg white.  Add any toppings you desire.  Bake about 20 minutes.  I rotated the pan halfway through baking.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!




Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

My wife's christmas present was a baking course at the Lighthouse Bakery, a small bakery focussing on teaching and some wholesale.

We were 4 participants and made some wonderful breads out of 5 different doughs using biga, rye sourdough, sponge, poolish and pate fermentee.

The most surprising and spectacular of the breads we made was the pugliese, which is also the "signature" loaf of the Lighthouse Bakery.

Liz and Rachel, who run the bakery, are happy for the formula to be shared, so here it is:

finished loaf

This bread is made with strong flour, water, salt and yeast, and yet has a sweetish, creamy crumb. It keeps well and is still excellent as toast 4 days after baking (given it survives that long).

Here is the formula:


The biga can be stored in the fridge and keeps for a week.

Ingredient Weight(g) Percent
Strong White Flour 500 100
Water 350 70
Fresh yeast 4 0.8

Mix and ferment at room temperature for at least 1 hour (until the yeast gets going), then put it into the fridge overnight. It will expand further, so choose an appropriate bowl.

Here a picture of the biga after 1 night in the fridge (the surface scraped off):




The given amounts make 1 loaf.

Ingredient Weight(g) Percent
Strong White Flour 500 100
Water 340 68
Biga 100 20
Salt 10 2
Fresh yeast 4.5 0.9

Mix and work the dough.

Our teachers recommend to use a mixer: 5min on medium speed and 5min on high speed.

I have no mixer; but I got great results with Bertinet's slap and fold technique.

Bulk ferment for about 3 hours (until trebled in size).

Preheat oven to 220C.

Shape into boule, be careful not to handle the dough too hard, it's quite sloppy at this stage.

Avoid using flour on the worktop.

Put the dough onto a baking parchament for the final proof (about 1 hour, check with the finger test).

Here a picture of the boule after final proof, it spreads a bit, which is not a bad thing:


Then dust it with flour and dimple it with your fingertips - a bit like captain Nemo playing the organ in his submarine.

Here is the result, ready to go into the oven:


Rather flat.

But the oven spring is quite amazing, and on the course when the oven door opened there was an astonished Ooooh in unison.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 220C without steam.

The result is the first picture in this post, here a shot of the crumb:


It needs to rest a couple of hours after baking, the taste improves a lot and you are rewarded for your patience.

I hope you enjoy making this bread as much as I do,



Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Or so it would appear.  Just look at these innocent, unbaked rolls.  See how happy they are:

And then see them after being baked:

Ahh! Demon rolls!

Just wanted to share. :)

Franko's picture

The loaf in the photo above is from a formula of my own that I've been playing around with for weeks now, trying to get a result I could live with. Finally after several previous unsatisfactory bakes, this latest attempt produced something close to the loaf I've been trying for from the beginning. The bread is a Country Style Rye with a mixed grain soaker and a levain, so nothing that hasn't been done before in many ways over many years by other bakers. Last week I made the dough and baked it in the Dutch Oven, and although it tasted fine I wasn't thrilled with the appearance. Photo below of last weeks effort.

The scoring was poor and it spread too much from what I believe was a combination of too long a final rise and too much initial steam generated from baking in the DO. That's my best analysis at any rate. The other problem was the formulation itself, which needed multiple tweaks to bump up the overall flavour, as well as the percentage of levain, which I'd originally had far too low . With the help of a spreadsheet I'd managed to put together a few weeks prior, adjusting the formulation was a quick and easy process compared to doing it the old way. More about the spreadsheet further down.

This latest bake went fairly well compared to the last, getting a good even jump in the oven, with the slashing opening up nicely minus any unsightly splitting or tearing. The colour is a bit darker than I'd prefer but with the high hydration of this loaf I thought it best to bake it as boldly as possible. The crumb is moist, dense, and flavourful, having what I'd call a medium sour tang to it. It's certainly a work in progress but it's getting there somewhat.


Making a bread formulation spreadsheet was something I'd promised myself to take a stab at sometime this year, having seen what a useful calculator they can be for adjusting formulae or quantities quickly and accurately, from using a few that my friend breadsong, had sent me late last year to try out. Being a complete newbie to this sort thing, it was a bit of a tough go in the beginning, but fortunately I had lots of expert guidance from breadsong while I plodded my way up the learning curve of making this spreadsheet . I can't thank her enough for all the tips and guidance she shared so generously with me throughout this project. This is just a very simple spreadsheet that calculates a desired final dough weight based on percentages. It's been formatted to look as close to a typical recipe layout as possible so that people who are unfamiliar with using a spreadsheet will hopefully find it easy to use. For anyone wanting something with a lot more functions and input, this one of mine will disappoint, but here's a link to Dolph's sheet that looks like it will do just about anything you could want. .

Another one you might try is from joshuacronemeyer's recent post of his nifty Dough Hydration Calculator.

For those who'd like to try out this one of mine, the sheet for the formula as well as the procedure are available through links at the bottom of this post. Please note that the spreadsheet file is only available by downloading it from the links provided. No email requests please. The links will take you to a Google Docs page that shows the spreadsheet with the recipe. You can use the recipe as is from the G Docs page or you can download your own copy of the file in either Excel or Open Office by clicking on 'File' , 'Download as', then select a file format (for most people it will be Excel) and it will download a functioning copy of the spreadsheet . Now it can be used by inputting your own desired dough weight in the yellow shaded cell, or change any of the numbers in the green shaded cells of the percentage column to suit your preference. The format can be saved as a template and used for other formulas as well.

Best Wishes,


Below are links to the sheet and the procedure






varda's picture

A recent blog post made me sit up and take notice. shows two loaves; one made with steam at the beginning of the bake, the second steamed later in the process.   The first one looks better by a lot.   Lately I've been making batards with two cuts.   The most frequent outcome is that one of the cuts opens nicely and takes most of the bloom of the loaf, and the second opens a bit, and then seals over.   In trying to diagnose this I thought it might be either a shaping or a steaming issue.    So I changed my batard shaping so that instead of rolling toward me (a la Ciril Hitz) I roll away (a la Mark from the Back Home Bakery).   The latter method seems to allow me to get a tighter gluten sheath so I'm sticking with it.   However, it didn't seem to solve the problem.   Yesterday, I decided to see if more steam at the beginning of the bake would help.   I made a pain au levain (almost the same as Hamelman p. 158 but with higher hydration 69% vs 65%, higher percentage of prefermented flour 17% vs 15% and a lot less salt.)   The only change I made to my regular baking process was to add a dry broiler pan underneath the stone during preheat, and fill it with water at the same time as loading the loaves.   This is in addition to my usual loaf pans filled with water and wet towels which I place on each side of the stone.  Here is the result:


Not a perfect loaf by any means, but the first time in recent memory where my cuts opened evenly.   Should I attribute this to the extra steaming at the beginning of the bake?  I think so.


breadmantalking's picture


There are, of course many variations of the perfect sandwich loaf. Probably every bread-baking culture has its version. And probably a lot depends on the kind of sandwiches the people of the culture like to eat. So, for instance, Jewish sandwich bread, at least those breads from Eastern Europe, tend to be heavy on the rye flour, sometimes with caraway and always smothered with something like corned beef and onions. In France the perfect sandwich bread is a baguette-like roll called 'pain ordinaire', or ordinary bread. This is no ordinary bread, however. It is typically loaded up with a good hard, sharp cheese and washed down with strong coffee. 


This bread is Italian in origin, at least from its herb content, but the style is definitely French. A hybrid of sorts. The original contained some coarsely ground black pepper, which I have omitted since I know my customers. Personally I like food with a little heat, but my house mates.... not so much. Anyway, this bread, because of the added herbs and spices is great for sharp cheeses, or pickled or cured meats (cold cuts, corned beef, sausage) and even crispy veggies. Or a combination. It has a fairly close crumb, which could be more open if you leave to rise a little longer. The crust is only a little chewy. But I actually like it the way it is, since the density helps hold the contents of the sandwich. Enjoy!!


Here's What You'll Need:

4 cups AP flour

3/8 cup uncooked corn meal (coarse - polenta)

2 tsp. granulated garlic

3 tsp. dried parsley

3 tsp. dried oregano

3/4 Tbs. yeast

2 tsp. salt

about 1 1/2 cups warm water


Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Mix all the dry ingredients, including the herbs and the yeast together and mix thoroughly.


2. Add the water mixing as you pour it to form a rough dough.


3. Knead this mixture on a lightly-floured tabletop for about 10 minutes until it becomes quite smooth. It will be a little tacky, but smooth, and not at all sticky. Adjust the flour and/or water as needed to get the right texture.


4. Place the kneaded dough into a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You may stretch and fold the dough halfway through if desired to develop the gluten more fully.


5. Form into a loaf shape and place into a prepared loaf pan. Let the dough rise again until it is about 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) above the lip of the pan.


6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F (175 C) for about 45 minutes. In a convection oven, bake at 300 F (150 C).


6. Cool on a rack.

breadsong's picture


Franko kindly referred me to an absolutely lovely bakery in Victoria, BC, called fol epi - 
(fol epi means 'wild wheat stalk').
I had the pleasure of visiting this bakery last month. Thanks Franko! - this place was quite a find!

Having enjoyed a heavenly pain au chocolat for breakfast, I went back to thank the staff,
and got to meet Cliff, the baker.
Not only does Cliff bake incredible things, he mills his own flour - and to top it all off, he sold me some of his bread and whole wheat flour. I was quite happy!

There's a blog post here that has some nice pictures of the bakery, and of course the photos on the bakery's website,, show lots of beautiful breads and pastries (at this point, the website may still be a work in progress in terms of text?).

My first bake with Cliff's flour is a 'wheat stalk' loaf, using the Miche formula from Advanced Bread and Pastry.
The wheat stalks were made with a live decorative dough (a Team USA 2010 formula featured in a BBGA newsletter I picked up while at IBIE last September).  The stenciling was inspired by something I saw on farine-mc's site, shown here.

With thanks to Cliff for his really good flour, and to BBGA/Team USA and farine for their creative ideas - although my execution is a bit lacking (perhaps the decorative stuff is best left to the professionals!):

Here's a comparison of flours:

The top is 75% sifted Red Fife
The left is 100% whole wheat
The right is Cliff's whole wheat (lovely colorful bits of bran) - I'm pretty sure Cliff said this was Red Fife too, but I'm not positive and kicking myself for not remembering!!!

Happy baking everyone,
From breadsong

gingersnapped's picture

I've been trying to do too much at once.  It occurs to me today that although my sourdough has been going for over a month now, I've yet to really bake anything successful with it (except for the buttermilk cluster, which was an exercise in accidental genius and a lot of time, I think).  The problem is, I'm usually going after recipes that are so wacko or are so much my own creation (throw some spelt in here, whole wheat here, lower hydration, etc) that there are too many variables to tell what the issue is.

Tonight for a fried I was working on making a sweet Amish friendship white bread recipe, with a tangzhong (which, as it turns out, there are no good internet resources for figuring out how to do a conversion for), and also a sourdough starter.  This...was not a good idea.  Too much going on!  So I bit the bullet, continued winging it, and added the imprecise tangzhong and sourdough anyway as well as some regular proofed yeast.

I'm hoping this will come together.  The tangzhong loaf a few weeks ago was the most brilliant brilliant bread I've baked in a long time and disappeared at a party.  But I'm eminently frustrated by the sourdough ciabatta rolls which are struggling to come together in their proof box.  The yeast just never seem to come back from the deep sleep.

I'm going to spend the next few weeks focusing on strengthening my sourdough (I noticed that after feeding it bubbled, but stopped bubbling UP.  This is no good.  I need to go back to basics), baking with instant yeast, and working on a spelt tangzhong (is it possible?) and my stretch and fold and technique with super hydrated doughs. 

I'm super frustrated that I don't have enough time during the day to do things like feed my yeast x3, pull dough out of the fridge to warm up, etc.  Toting dough to work isn't the brilliant or convenient idea I'd hoped for now that the boss is back...

cubfan4ever's picture

I just sliced into my first Pullman Loaf.  I was given a Pullman loaf pan as a gift and simply followed the recipe on the packaging.  It came from Williams-Sonoma.  Needless to say, I am thrilled. The slices are light, yet toothsome and has a mellow flavor, but addictiing.  I admit, it was a little challenging to knead the butter into the dough, so I cheated and used the stand mixer.  Here are two snapshots.

If anyone wants the recipe, I will add it.  I rarely post here, but am constantly lurking and learning!  Thanks!

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

On our last visit to my parents in Germany I chatted with my sister-in-law who lives in Switzerland - about bread.

She tried to make the Zopf many families enjoy in Switzerland on Sundays, but she couldn't reproduce the flaky texture which is so typical.

After a bit of research I found a recipe on which worked very well for me, and this Zopf has become quite popular with friends and family.

It is essentially like a Challah without sugar and goes well with all sorts of sweet toppings, as well as cheeses.

As flour you can get a special Zopfmehl in Switzerland, which usually is a blend of white spelt (10% to 30%) with plain white flour.

I used 20% spelt.

Here the formula:

Ingredient Weight Percent
white plain flour 800g 80%
white spelt flour 200g 20%
milk 300g 30%
water 300g 30%
egg 60g (1 large) 6%
butter 120g 12%
fresh yeast 30g 3%
salt 20g 2%
yield 1830g 183%

Mix ingredients without butter first, and work until gluten is somewhat developed.

Add butter and work the dough until it is elastic, smooth and makes a nice windowpane test.

Let double in size (this took about 1 hour at 23C), fold and let rest for another 30 minutes.

Divide and shape into a braid (I usually make 2 braids from this amount of dough, the recipe source suggests one big 2-strand braid)

Put ther braid(s) onto baking perchament, apply eggwash, let rest for another 15-30 minutes, egg-wash again.

Bake on lower shelf in pre-heated oven at 200C for about 50 minutes (depending on size, my half-size braids need about 45 min).

Part of the bread got eaten before I could take a photo, here is part of the remains (Iwill post a better picture when available):

Butterzopf 1

The crumb is flaky as it should be when you tear the bread:





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