The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Shiao-Ping's picture

Boxing Day, a gorgeous day! 

All is quiet, on this early morning, except the gentle breeze.  The air is crisp and the sky is blue over the tree hills out of my tea room.




The Poinciana in my neighbourhood is firing in red, such colour of celebration.




Hope you all had a great Christmas day yesterday!  Since my last post in May, a few times I had wanted to write and say Hello.  The last time was after my son’s graduation in November when I read his Reflections - Robert Frost: The Road not Taken, his last writing in school.  It reminded me of the piece he did almost seven years ago when he started Grammar School.  How time had flown.

My daughter and son’s God mother had asked for Olive Sourdough and Pain au Levain for Christmas lunch.  As I have not baked very much for a long while, being in Taiwan most of this year, and as my husband had just put in a new oven, I was not sure how my breads would turn out. 








 Olive Sourdough

  • 95 g liquid starter (fed 90% plain flour and 10% organic wholemeal rye flour)
  • 427g flour (90% plain and 10% organic wholemeal rye) *
  • 247g water (72% hydration)
  • 150g kalamata pitted olives (30% baker’s percentage)
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 8 g sea salt

 Pain au Levain

  • 95g liquid starter (fed 90% plain and 10% organic wholemeal rye)
  • 427 g flour (90% plain and 10% orgain wholemeal rye) *
  • 247g water (72% hydration)
  • 10g sea salt

      *      My starter was a bit soupy, not very strong, so I fed it an unusually large amount of flour.

              Fermented flour to final dough flour was a low 10%.  

     **    Dough temperature was 24 C.


These days I have adopted a very minimalist approach to the whole procedure – from mixing the ingredients in the bowl, kneading via stretching and folding, to fermentation in the bowl.  I stop stretch-and-folds the minute when I feel any resistance in the dough. 

With these two breads, the fermentation was 5 and a half hours from time of mixing to just before the shaped dough went into the fridge.  

Thanks to David’s method of the magic 21-hour cold proof (see his San Joaquin Sourdough), the breads were exceptionally moist, the crumb translucent, the texture springy, and the flavour so creamy.






Baking has never been so easy with this new oven.  It does steaming by itself.  The crust came out shining and crisp.  It is like a professional oven at home.   

We are blessed with an unusually mild summer for our Christmas this year in Brisbane.  Everything has turned so lush with the recent rain. 

Hope we all bake more delicious breads next year.  Happy New Year, everyone! 





proth5's picture

As the few of you who read my posts know, 2011 was the year when I wanted to concentrate on formula development.  But as I found myself winding up the year and looking on to the next, I thought it might be time to look through my vast collection of “vintage” recipes and pull out something from a distant and fading past.

This almost always leads me to the collection of recipes from my grandmother. Of course, at this festive time of year, I am the one tasked with baking a treat that is known only as Grandma’s Brown Christmas Cookies. While not a secret family recipe, it is not worth posting here as it involves an ingredient that is somewhat difficult to obtain (and may or may not be especially legal to have) and large numbers of tiny cookie cutters – which, frankly, are not easy to come by.  No, it is my job to turn that out for the relatives until my death – when no one will make it anymore.

But, there are recipes that are more accessible to the average home baker and this year I decided to resurrect the making of “Crispy Cookie Coffeecakes.” I will reproduce the recipe as per the original (in hopes that this miracle of the “interweb” may preserve it after my inevitable demise) – and the offer my changes.  So here it goes, another “don’t tell the doctor, but we’re baking PA Dutch stuff” recipe from my grandmother.


1 package or cake Fleischmann’s Yeast, active dry or compressed

¼ cup warm, not hot, water (cool to lukewarm for compressed yeast)

4 cups sifted flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp grated lemon rind

1 cup (2 sticks) Blue Bonnet Margarine

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, lemon rind, ¼ cup sugar.  Cut in margarine with a fork.  Combine eggs, milk, dissolved yeast and add to flour mixture.  Combine lightly.  Cover tightly. Refrigerate overnight. Divide dough in half. On a floured board roll each piece into 18” x 12” rectangles.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixed with cinnamon. Roll up tighty beginning at the wide end.  Cut each roll into 1” slices.  Place cut side up on a greased baking sheet.  Flatten with palm of hand.  Bake at 400 degrees F. about 12 minutes.

Makes 36


My changes

Butter instead of margarine.  I cut this butter into smallish cubes and kept it chilled. I did convert the flour to 4.25 oz per cup and weighed instead of measured.

I noted with great satisfaction that my grandmother dissolved – not proofed - the yeast and then used a scant 2 teaspoons of instant yeast mixed directly into the flour mixture.  I used reconstituted powdered milk and increased the quantity by ¼ cup while omitting the lukewarm water.

I used a dough blender to cut in the butter. 

While I was doing that, I had a flashback to blitz puff pastry.  Because that was what I was making.  My grandmother didn’t go into the folding process, but this was blitz puff pastry dough.

The dough is quite alarming when it goes into the refrigerator, but in the morning turned out to be a lovely, soft dough.

I rolled it out into the 12 x 18 rectangle (liberal flour is needed on the board) and then folded it in thirds and rolled it out again. I consider that future iterations might well include better folds, but I had a busy baking schedule ahead of me and I wanted to get on with it.

I goosed up the cinnamon sugar mixture by using half brown sugar.  I baked on parchment paper lined half sheet pans (the cinnamon/sugar filling runs a bit, so containment is helpful.)

I had to bake the things for 17 minutes.  I had a distant memory that when I used to eat these they had frosting on them, so I concocted a quick butter/vanilla/powdered sugar/milk glaze and spooned it on when they had cooled slightly.


Now back to Sherman’s planet where I once more take up my ongoing triticale quest.

“My teacher” gave me a memorable quote something to the effect that if one is working with grains that might not be considered optimal for baking, adding enough sugar, butter, and cream will almost always move one closer to success. So I am shamelessly stealing a formula from “my teacher” and tailoring it to my own obsession – triticale


Mostly Whole GrainTriticale flour                 545 grams            100%

Sugar                                                                     136 grams            25%

Baking Powder                                                  33 grams              6%

Salt                                                                         3 grams               .5%

Butter (unsalted, diced pliable soft)        136 grams            25%

Currants tossed in a little extra flour        109 grams            20%

Eggs, Large                                                          60 grams              11%

Buttermilk                                                           204 gram              37.5%

Heavy Cream                                                     289 grams            53.1%

Cinnamon sugar mixture – or just sugar

In the formula above, the 60 grams is really one large egg.

The flour is about 85% extraction, sifted through a #50 mesh, with the bran milled to a powder.  It’s a nice flour, not exactly silky, but much finer than standard whole grain.  The original formula calls for whole wheat pastry flour, but be bold home millers – try the triticale!

And here we take a mental detour to comments made by “my teacher” – who like me grew up with the Imperial system and has not the reverence for the metric espoused by so many on these pages. Yet, because of certain extenuating circumstances, this formula had to be written in grams.  There were dark mutterings about people feeling that they had to measure everything in grams to bake good bread and strange oaths about never seeing the day come to pass when a scale was needed that measured in fractions of grams. At this point, I swear, I didn’t even say anything, when my teacher looked me directly in the eye – “Yes, when you deal drugs, you need that accuracy.”  For one of the very few times in my life – I had no snappy retort.  You see what I endure – and yet, I am proud to call this person “my teacher.”

(BTW: for you metric enthusiasts, I’ve spent over half a century baking with pounds and ounces, I have a feeling for them.  Half a pound – I know what that looks like in several different ingredients.  A kilo?  Beats me. When I work with people who are new to baking, I use pounds and ounces, but suggest that since they don’t have the years invested in that system that they start fresh and create their references in metric.  Seems like the sensible blending of the worlds to me.)

But back to the scones.

Mix the dry ingredients and the sugar. With paddle attachment of your favorite mixer, blend in the butter until it looks like small peas. Add the currants (I actually used dried cherries, chopped up a bit), mix and then add the liquid all at once.  Mix to a soft dough.  I actually mixed the triticale version a bit longer than I would have mixed wheat.

Use a scoop of desired size to create rounds on parchment lined sheets (I used a standard ice cream scoop sized disher).  Egg wash the tops.  If desired, sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar (I use the formula from Advanced Bread and Pastry) and bake either in convection or standard oven at 350F for 13 – 18 minutes.

Also, yum. I’ve baked this formula with wheat and the triticale texture is very, very similar. They are very delicate scones in either medium and do with some cooling before they can be eaten without excessive crumbling.

And so, as promised, a picture:

Happy Baking!


codruta's picture

Merry Christmas, dear TFL members, wherever you are!

 These are some romanian traditional sweet breads made for holidays "cozonac", usually made with a nuts or poppy seeds filling, but I made them with raisins and figs and candies orange peel.

And these two breads are San Francisco Sourdough, I'll post the formula next days. It is made in four days, from start to finish, but the result is amazing.

And last, but not least, 70% rye + 30% whole wheat, after Hansjoakim favorite.


It looks like angels are everywhere these days!

Best wishes to all of you, peace, health and happiness. Thank you all for your support and inspiration in 2011.


PiPs's picture


Christmas baking
Stollen, Golden Raisin Wholemeal, Pain siegle de Thezac, Pain au Levain, Country breads and Miche


breadsong's picture

Hello and happy holidays everyone!
Here are a couple of things under the tree for Santa :^)

"Walnut" Cookies:

                                                      ...and a Sourdough Loaf :^)

This is the cookie recipe (super-tasty); the cookies were baked in walnut cookie molds.
The shaping idea for the sourdough is from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads (shaping for the Anise Kuchen), using strips of paper loosely fastened around the loaf prior to proofing then left on during the bake. Indentations remain, leaving a place for ribbon :^)

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season!
:^) from breadsong



SylviaH's picture

Wishing you all the very best for the Holidays and the New Year ahead!

'Peace On Earth'








teketeke's picture

Happy Merry Christmas to everybody! and thank you so much, Robyn (RobynNZ)!  She is the one of  TFL members who taught me the great Christmas tree recipe that she found, and more than that, she is  the one who encouraged me to join with TFL. I was very nervous to write about my bread in English. I can't thank her enough as I see that she has been helping everybody here beside me. 

You can see the detail from here.

I hope that everybody will have very nice Christmas and a Happy New Year,



loydb's picture

Today was the final stretch before heading to the in-laws for Christmas. I spent pretty much the whole day in the kitchen, minus a trip to the grocery store. The takeaway:

First, this was week 3 of the Inside the Jewish Bakery challenge. I haven't actually gotten to taste the results, so my comments are limited. I did a four-high braid, and had a little trouble getting the ends to stick together. I ended up wetting my fingers and kind of blending it, which seemed to work. There are some shots of the initial braiding and the final rise at the bottom. On top of the two challah loaves, I also did a pullman pan full of PR's pannetone recipe. I used dried strawberriers, dried orange-infused cranberries, and dried sour cherries that I soaked for a day in apple brandy (plus the vanilla and orange extract). For the nuts, I used 5 oz of macadamias and 2 oz of almonds. Finally, another pan of Mohn bars from week one of the ITJB.



breadforfun's picture

I baked several loaves in anticipation of the holiday weekend.  These are all from published sources, so no recipes, but wanted to share the photos anyway.  Happy holidays to all and happy baking.


Sourdough walnut from Reinhart's BBA (his basic SD recipe with addition of toasted walnuts).


PiP's Hybrid Ciabatta that I modified slightly to use a biga instead of starter. I need some practice shaping, but it is relatively easy ciabatta dough (relative is the operative word) to work with.


Sunflower Seed Coronne, also from BBA with the addition of a "string of pearls" gleaned from "Baking with Julia." There was also enough dough left to make a small pan loaf.


Lastly, Semolina bread with soaker and fennel seeds from Hamelman's "Bread."





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