The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


varda's picture

Not quite two years ago, when I joined TFL, I had a simple goal:   I wanted to figure out how to make Tzitzel bread which was a favorite when I was growing up in St. Louis Missouri.   I had recently started baking bread, and I figured how hard could it be.   When I searched the web, I found nothing for Tzitzel, but plenty of recipes for rye bread - many of which I tried.  Nothing was even remotely like what I remembered, and given my level of expertise, it was pretty poor eating.   I joined this site where I had been lurking for awhile and asked the question.   Again, no one seemed to have heard of it.   I did get a lot of great advice for baking Jewish Rye, and settled on "Jewish Corn Bread" which was a combo of some points in a comment by Norm (nbicomputers) on a David Snyder post, and one of Greenstein's recipes from Secrets of a Jewish Baker.   This kicked up the quality several notches, but still wasn't right.   When I started my quest, I had emailed the retiring owner of the St. Louis bakery, Pratzels,  where my father had bought Tzitzel.   Early on she told me that it was "just" a Jewish Rye wrapped in corn meal.   Later, when I knew more, I asked her again, and she told me that it was made with medium rye and bread flour.   It wasn't until a few weeks ago, when I got my latest shipment of King Arthur flours, that I had some medium rye to play with.   At the same time, admiring a gorgeous Challah posted by dawkins, I gave up my resistance  and bought a copy of Inside the Jewish Bakery.   And there was the answer - I was off base using the corn bread recipe.   I should have been baking Jewish Deli Rye.   On page 74 the authors include a paragraph saying that to make Tzitzel one should modify their Jewish Deli Rye thus and so, and voila - Tzitzel.   And so ---- Tzitzel.   Thank you Norm and Stan!  


Szanter5339's picture

Baked honey but I am not happy with myself.
The cake but I'm good I am at odds mézessel. They are so ugly and does not show you. You'll have a lot to learn from modeling!
Not pretty but it's mine. I can say that I played good.
In the spirit of a snowman I have tavaj photo playground. Very cute photo!

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

I just wanted to say Happy Holidays to all the other cyberbakers who contribute to this website. Thanks to all the feedback on a variety of topics. During the months on this web site I have made enormous improvements in my bread baking.

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

A simple cherry pie with a double (cream cheese) crust I made around Thanksgiving.

Both crust and filling from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible.

The little white balls you see are tapioca, which thicken the filling.


txfarmer's picture

Sending this toYeastspotting.
Click here for my blog index.

After weeks of driving, moving, and settling down, I've finally gotten my new kitchen more or less in order and ready to start baking/bloging again. Loving everything about Seattle so far, the active lifestyle, the urban living environment in downtown, the seafood, the "green" mentality -- I even like the grey weather! It's good for making laminated dough... :P

Now back to bread, this is a very Asian bread, I don't think I have seen anything similar in a western bakery. It's essentially the love child of Danish and Asian Style Soft Sandwich bread, inheriting the best qualities of both parties: nice and crispy on the outside, soft inside, and full of buttery goodness. While still a laminated dough, in order to rise high in the sandwich tin, it differes from croissants(tips here) and traditional danishs in following ways:
1. For croissants and danishs, we usually keep the dough fairly dry to ensure crisp and clean layers. While more kneading would make layers seperate more, resulting in a better crumb, we usually don't knead the dough to fully developement for the ease of rolling out. However, Asian style soft sandwich breads need to be kneaded very well to pass a very thin and strong windowpane test, otherwise the bread volume would suffer, and the texture won't be shreaddably soft (see details here). For this bread, we do knead the dough well (similar to other Asian style soft sandwich breads). In the mean time, the dough is kept pretty wet to have more extensibility, which make it possible to roll out.
2. Since the dough is fairly wet, and shaping procedure is different from traditional croissants, we don't expect as many honeycomb-like holes in the crumb, instead, crumb just need to be fairly even and open. In the mean time, the final dough doesn't need to be rolled out very thin (15mm instead of 4mm for croissants). For those reasons, the amount of roll-in butter is considerably less than croissants.
3. While for this particular batch in the first photo, I did one 4-fold, and two 3-folds, but this bread usually requires less folding than croissants. The most common method is one 4-fold, and one 3-fold, which I tried in another batch with good result.
In summary, since the dough requires less folds, and doesn't need to be rolled out very thin, it's an easier laminated dough than croissants and danishes. However, it does have different challenges: the intensive kneading to full developement, the final shaping which requires concise cutting and weighing, as well as braiding.

Laminated Sandwich Loaf (Adapted from many different sources)
Note: for details and tips on making croissants, please see this post
Note: for tips on kneading soft sandich loaves see this post
Note: this recipe makes about 930g of dough, less or more depending on how much you trim off the edges etc.

starter (100%), 44g
water, 75g
bread flour, 134g

1. mix and leave at room temp for 12 hours.

-final dough
bread flour, 361g
milk, 145g
egg, 77g
sugar, 60g
salt, 10g
instant yeast, 7g
butter, 41g, softened
levain, all
roll-in butter, 245g

1. Mix everything other than butter, knead until gluten starts to form. Add in butter, mix until fully developed. see this post for details.

2. Round, press flat, put in fridge immediately for 2 hours.
3. Make butter block, put in fridge for at least one hour before using.  Take out the dough, roll out, and enclose butter. (see this post for details)
4. Roll out to 20X60CM, fold one 4-fold as in the following pictures. Put in fridge for one hour

5. Roll out again and do one 3-fold, put in fridge for one hour. (see this post for details)
6. Repeat 5. (optional)
7. Roll out dough to 1.5CM-2CM thickness. Length of the dough piece  would depend on the tin you use. Since we are braiding them, you will need the length to be about 2X length of the tin.
8. Cut the dough into thin pieces. This is where experience becomes important. We are braiding 3 pieces into one group, each group need to have a certain weight. Do note that if a tin requires more than one group of dough, each group should weigh the same, otherwise bread would appear uneven at the end. In another word, for each tin, select a weight for each dough group (less for flat top, more for round top),  then stick to that weight for each group of dough.
a) For my bigger Chinese pullman tin (pictured on the left), I need 2 groups, each group has 3 pieces, and each group (all 3 pieces together) weigh 225-250g (225g if cover of the tin is used to make a flat top shape, more if cover is not used to make round top as in the picture).
b) For my small Chinese pullman tin, I only need one group of 3 pieces, each group (all 3 pieces together) weigh 150g (if cover of the tin is used to make top flat).
c) For 8X4 US loaf tin,  I suggest to use 2 groups, each group has 3 pieces, and each group (all 3 pieces together) weigh 250-270g.
d) For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest to use 4 groups, each group has 3 pieces, and each group (all 3 pieces together) weigh 195-215g.
9. For each group of 3 pieces of dough, braid them. Make sure the cut surface is facing up, to expose the layers. Fold ends under, put into tin.

10. Proof at around 27C until 80-90% full, about 4-5 hours in my case. Egg wash if you are not using the pullman pan cover.

11: Bake at 425F for 10min, lowered to 375F and bake until done. The bigger Chinese tin which took 450g - 500g of dough, needed about 40-45min of TOTAL baking time. The smaller tin which took 150g of dough, needed 30min in total. If colors too much, cover with foil.


If the gluten network is fully developed, the bread should be proud and tall, with clear layers visible.

If the pan cover is used, the dough amount needs to be fairly accurate for the pan, other wise it's each too short (not reaching the top), or bursting out (the cover can literally be blown open). This neat rectangle shape is nicknamed "golden sticks".

The crumb soft but open with honeycomb structor.

In general, I feel it's easier than croissants, since you can fold less and doesn't have to roll out as thin. However, the success does depend on proper kneading and careful piecing and shaping.


PiPs's picture

I have baked the ciabatta formula from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking many times. For me it’s a reference point of what an ideal ciabatta should taste, look and feel like … oh and the aroma of the fermented biga is pretty special too. 

In contrast, I have eaten naturally leavened ciabattas and find I am a little disappointed with the texture. I enjoy the taste … but the chewiness and tougher crust feel out of place. For me a ciabatta should be almost weightless, brittle and singling loudly when removed from the oven. Its crumb translucent and fine … and yes holes … lots of holes  :)

I decided it was time to try and get the best of both worlds in a ciabatta – the delicate crust and crumb from the commercial yeast and the flavour and strength from a stiff levain - a hybrid ciabatta.

I expanded my levain with the standard mix of AP flour and freshly milled grains with the plan of using it fairly young thus keeping the acidity reasonably low.

Next the hydration … now this is something that I think I can push further very easily.

I set the hydration for 85%, but with a twist in the mix. Instead of building strength with plenty of stretch and folds as per Craig Ponsford’s ciabatta formula I planned to use a double hydration method.

The double hydration method I used was this … add enough water in the autolyse and initial mixing to bring the hydration to 75% while holding back the remaining water and salt. After a thorough kneading (15 min) add the remaining water and salt then mix until dough combines again. The mixed dough felt strong even before the bulk ferment and even stronger after two stretch and folds. In hindsight I think only one stretch-and-fold would have been necessary (if at all)

It bulk fermented for 2.5 hrs before I divided and shaped the puffy dough. By this time the dough had gained so much strength that I probably could have shaped into batards if I was feeling game.

After proofing I baked them in a very hot oven and managed to get a nice little steam burn on my thumb from cracking a bubble as I turned the loaves half way through the bake.


Pip’s Hybrid Ciabatta mkI

Formula (makes 4 x 500g ciabattas)




Total dough weight



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Prefermented flour



Desired dough temperature 24°C






Levain build – 4-5 hrs 24°C



Starter (not included in final dough)



Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)









Final dough 24°C






AP Flour



Instant Yeast











  1. Autolyse flour and water 45 mins (hold back 100 grams of water)
  2. Add levain, instant yeast and knead until well developed, roughly 15-20  mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 100 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly)
  3. Bulk ferment 2.5 hours with two stretch-and-folds in the first hour. This could be taken back to one stretch-and-fold as the dough had gained considerable strength by 2nd set of folds.
  4. Divide and shape. I did a letterfold and placed seam side down.  With less stretch-and-folds this may work better. Dough was a little to tense. Maybe even just cut and prove with no shaping.
  5. Flip the dough off the couche and transfer to peel. Dimple by pressing fingers into dough. Peel into a very hot oven with steam and bake for 35 mins at 250°C until very well browned.


They had amazing ovenspring and sang proudly when removed from the oven to cool. The crust is a dark red with expansion cracks running along the top from the letter fold seam. I then summoned all my self control and allowed it to cool before slicing into it. Whew … exhausting!

The crust cracked and shattered as the knife descended through it before revealing a open and opaque crumb. The kind of crumb I love in a ciabatta. Delicate! The flavour of the levain brought a much cleaner and lighter taste to the bread than the biga … a taste I think I prefer.

Were there holes? … well yes, but not quite as large and random as the glezer formula, but I think that has more to do with the extra handling I gave the dough during the bulk ferment.

But will I bake these again? Yep, very happy, but I will change a few things. I like the double hydration method and will use it again but I think I can increase the hydration to 90% easily while doing away with one of the stretch-and-folds. Perhaps even a tad more whole grains next time … I do like to see flecks in the crumb.

I would love to say we built gourmet sandwiches with fresh basil, plump sun ripened tomatoes and the finest olive oil … but in reality we made toasted cheese soldiers for the kids.

…and what do Aussie kids have on there toasted cheese soldiers?


… and do you know what?… they tasted awesome!

All the best,

loydb's picture

This went badly, badly wrong. Yes, that's how it came out of the oven.

They can't all be home runs...


Szanter5339's picture

So bake the bread.




davidg618's picture

The families--DNA'ed and extended--loved last year's bread and cookies, so we chose to do it again this year. Pictured is last week's baking. It's not everything but the freezer was chock-a-block, so we're starting shipping today to make more room. We found shipping Priority mail gets fresh or fresh-frozen sourdough--with refresh instructions (375°F oven, 5 mins.)--delivered still palatable and tasty. This year's packages hold a loaf of sourdough or Orange Pecan loaf, a dozen and a half of assorted Biscotti and, of course, a dozen of my rendering of Grandma's Welsh Cakes. This year's Biscotti: Tart Cherry-Pecan, Citron-Macadamia Nut, Almond-Ameretto, and Chocolate-Chocolate chip-Chipotle. Sixteen mailing, and then there is the neighborhood cookie swap, and special friends to gift. We love this time of year!

David G




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