The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


occidental's picture

I've been attempting to improve my baguette making skills over the past few weeks.  This weekend I came up with my own formula based on a few of the things I learned from my last effort's with Pat's (proth5's) baguette formula.  Most notably I wanted to come up with a relatively low hydration formula using AP flour.  I also wanted to get a bit of whole wheat flour in the mix as well, and come up with enough dough to make two decent sized baguettes .  With that in mind I came up with the following formula which I calculate to be at 66% total hydration:

  • 100 g starter (60% hydration)
  • 280 g AP flour
  • 30 g ww flour
  • 210 g water
  • 12 g salt

I followed the steps below:

  • Refresh starter the night before
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl to a shaggy mass, allow to autolyse 30 minutes
  • Fold in bowl, about 20 strokes two times at 30 minute intervals
  • Remove from bowl, stretch and fold then place in container and bulk ferment approximately 3 hours
  • Divide dough and shape two baguettes, allow to rise approximately 2 hours
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 475

All went well, including shaping, which I always struggle with when making baguettes.  At this hydration scoring goes better for me than if I am working with a higher hydration dough.  Here is a visual of what I came up with:

I was pretty pleased with crust and crumb and went to the taste test and that is where the disappointment set in.  This was the flattest tasting, most flavorless bread I can recall tasting.  I sat and thought "What went wrong?"  The solution didn't come to me right away, but later in the afternoon I remembered I didn't ever add the salt!  I've forgotten the salt before but I've always remembered at some point and have been able to get it worked in before baking.  Well, I guess it's another lesson learned.  I finished up the first loaf with the help of lots of honey and jam.  I took the second loaf and did with it what I have been doing with a lot of my leftover baguettes:  sliced, added butter and garlic salt, wrapped it in foil and placed it in a ziplock in the freezer.  I come home from work and throw the foil wrapped frozen loaf in the oven for about 30 minutes at 325 and you have great tasting garlic bread to accompany your dinner.   Hopefully using it as garlic bread will help the flat taste!

MadAboutB8's picture

I can't recall I ever had whole-wheat pizza.  It sounds rather un-Italian but I want to experiment a little and see how the whole-wheat pizza would turn out. It would be great if it works so that we can, at least, claim that it's wholegrain pizza and somewhat a healthy choice, even though it is fully loaded with cheeses, chorizo, and etc, lol.

I used pizza base recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker Apprentice and replaced 70% of bread flour with whole wheat flour. 

Instead of tomato sauce, I spread the pizza base with basil pesto (I got three big jars from CostCo that will last for so many pizzas and pastas) and topped it with mozzarella cheese, onion and chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage). The cooked pizza then topped with baby rocket leaves (arugula). Chorizo is something I love to cook with. It has such an intense well-rounded flavour that complements any dishes really well.

The whole wheat pizza crust works quite well. It is not as moist and soft as the one made with white flour. The crumb is also not as open but it is tasty nonetheless. I also feel that the whole-wheat base is crispier than the white flour base.  

For more details and recipes, you can visit the blog =>


hanseata's picture

A while ago I bought a new baking book full with mouth watering photos of gorgeous looking loaves: "Brot", an introduction to Germany's best bakers and their signature breads. Luxurious as this book is, its principal purpose seems to be promoting culinary travels to the featured bakeries, not giving readers understandable instructions on how to make those lovely loaves at home.

The sourdough starter you simply "buy from a bakery" - no mention of hydration levels - and breads are baked "at falling temperatures". And if you obediently follow the recipes' baking temperatures and times you will end up with howling smoke alarms, crazed pets, and charred bread corpses - the instructions are probably meant for wood fired ovens. The publishers obviously printed the recipes in as they came from the bakers, never bothering with having them edited.

So I was up for a great challenge - would I be able to overcome these handicaps?

The first bread I tackled was one from my hometown Hamburg, "Hamburger Kräftiges", a hearty rye sourdough. In the book it looks like this:

"Hamburger Kräftiges" from "Brot - Deutschlands beste Bäcker"

This is the original recipe (2 breads)

520 g rye sourdough (from a bakery)

500 g rye flour type 1150

350 wheat flour type 550

540 g water (25 - 28 C)

 25 g sea salt

 16 g Bioreal-yeast


Knead all ingredients for 8 minutes at low speed, adding the yeast after 2 minutes. Cover and let rest for 1 hour. Shape into a round loaf, place on a baking sheet and proof for 1 - 2 hours, in a draft free location.

When surface shows distinct tears, place in 260 C/500 F preheated oven (no slashing). Pour 50 - 60 ml water on another hot baking sheet or oven floor. After 20 minutes, drop temperature to 220 C/425 F. Overall baking time: 60 - 70 minutes.


Wanting to start with one bread only, I took half of the recipe. To make the rye starter, I used the 3-step build from Martin Pöt Stoldt ("Der Sauerteig - das unbekannte Wesen) with 60 g ripe rye starter, 100 g rye flour and 100 g water and had a pleasantly sweet smelling active rye sour (100%).

A cold retardation seemed a good idea, and working with P.R.s stretch and fold technique, also. All went well, but when I took the dough out of the refrigerator I wasn't quite sure whether it had overproofed, it seemed to have grown more than I expected.

I shaped a boule and proofed it on a parchment lined baking sheet, waiting for the "distinct tears" to appear. The loaf grew, showing a little cracking, but not anything dramatic. I didn't want to wait until it overproofed, and put it in the oven. I knew that the baking temperatures and times had to be off, so I reduced the heat after 10 minutes, and checked the bread after a total baking time of 40 minutes, the internal temperatures registered already 210 F.

The bread didn't look bad, but not at all like the one in the book:

Was the photo in the book photoshopped? It looked much lighter than my loaf. And why didn't I get those pretty tears in the crust?

The bread tasted pretty good, too, but I wasn't satisfied - I wanted the one from the stupid book!

I posted those pictures, and friendly TFLers made some helpful comments, but nobody could figure out why my bread looked like a disadvantaged sibling.

Revengefully I didn't touch the book for a while and worked on other projects. But since I usually don't give up easily, and so far had managed to adapt many German bread recipes to American ingredients (and better techniques), I started pondering over the recipe again.

What made my bread look so different? Why had it almost overproofed in the fridge? And then, belatedly, I did some research in the "internets". I started with the mysterious "Bioreal" yeast. No wonder it had risen so much - this organic instant yeast contains less yeast cells than regular one, therefore 8 g was too much. For the amount of flour 6 g should be enough.

For the wheat in the recipe i had used bread flour - I know it's approximately the equivalent to German type 550. But what about the rye? Without thinking I had taken what I had: whole rye flour. And there it was! With help from Wikipedia I found out that German rye type 1150 was an "in between" white and whole rye. After some calculations I believed I could substitute type 1150 with a mix of 52% whole rye + 48% white rye. (I had some white rye from testing NYBakers recipes, but didn't use it).

Finally, why had the bread on the photo such dramatic cracks, and mine only puny little tears? I found the answer to this question in a TFL post, about proofing a boule on a baking sheet seamside up, not down - to achieve just such a distinct pattern!

So I tried the "Hearty Rye from Hamburg" again, with these modifications. I also changed the temperatures and baking times to the ones I use for "Feinbrot" and many other lean German mixed rye wheat breads.

I liked this result much better:

It also tasted better - according to my husband this was: "the best bread you ever made"! (He is the best of all husbands - he says that every time, when he likes a new bread).

Hearty Rye from Hamburg - crumb

This is my recipe adaptation:


60 g rye sourdough starter (100%)
100 g water, lukewarm
100 g whole rye flour
270 g water (95 F)
6 g instant yeast
all starter
110 g whole rye flour
140 g white rye flour
175 g bread flour
13 g salt


Prepare starter.

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add to all other ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix at low speed for 1 - 2 min. until all comes together. Let rest for 5 min.

Knead at medium-low speed for 2 min., adjusting with water, if necessary. Dough should still be sticky. Resume kneading for another 4 min., the last 20 sec. at medium-high speed.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Stretch and fold 4 times, with 10 min. intervals (total time 40 min.) After last S & F, refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

Preheat oven to 500 F/260 C, including steam pan.

Shape dough into boule, place seam side UP on parchment lined sheet pan. Proof at room temperature for 45 - 60 min., or until dough has grown 1 1/2 times, and surface shows distinct cracks.

Bake 10 min. at 475 F/250 C, steaming with 1 cup boiling water, then reduce heat to 425 F/220 C and bake for another 10 min. Rotate bread and remove steam pan. Continue baking for 20 - 30 min (internal temperature 200 F/93 C).

Let cool on wire rack.

UPDATE 10/15/11: in the meantime I made a side by side comparison with American medium rye (a lighter variety, not a medium grind!) and imported (so to speak) German Typ 1150. American medium rye is a perfect substitute for German medium rye types 1150 or 1370, and my sample tasted even better:

nberrios's picture

Neo-Homesteading's picture



Recently I watched "how to cook your life" and reviewed it on my blog. The movie really was inspiring for me. I become overwhelmed with a lot of things in daily life and often find that I dont take the time to truly appreciate making the things I enjoy, or even if I make something I enjoy (like bread) I dont really take the time to actually appreciate the process. The perfect partner to that movie was this honey oat bread I made. I found that its perfectly sweet and nutty tasting from the oats. I especially found it delicious left over, toasted in a pan with olive oil and topped with homemade cranberry preserves. 


Honey Oat Bread, External Blog Post Link:

Cranberry Preserves Recipe:


Neo-Homesteading's picture




Recently I experimented with a basic lean pizza dough and made these rolls. They were great for sandwiches and my sons favorite, cheesy bread. They're similar to focaccia rolls however its hollow in the middle and more like a pita.

Neo-Homesteading's picture


Every weekend I find myself making breakfast and more often than not my family asks for pancakes. Recently I decided to make a diner classic, pumpkin pancakes with a twist I used my sourdough starter. They were perfectly flavored, slightly dense but delicious!


External Link to recipe and blog post:

Dwayne's picture

I've had a hard time with bagels.  I have asked a few questions here about my wrinkled bagels that I've made (thanks Mark Witt).  I made Bagels while being a recipe tester for Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day".  I also have made them from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" but they were always wrinkled.  While testing recipes for Norm & Stan I had some success with their Montreal Bagels.  I did not do anything very different, these just turned out.  So I have been frustrated with bagels.


Completely unrelated, I had borrowed "Dough" by Richard Bertinet from our library and in there saw how he shapes rolls and in one chapter he cuts rolls into stars.  The star rolls looked great and I tried out this technique on some Buttermilk Clusters (recipe found on this site).


It occurred to me to try this cut on bagels and so here are my results.  I used the recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart.  I did not retard the dough over night.


After mixing and kneading, I let the dough rise while I did some outdoor chores.  I then scaled them into 130 gram portions and shaped them into tight balls using Richard's method.  Question: Why do we do this for Boules but not bagels or did I miss this?  I then let them rest for about 20 minutes.


I got out a Starbucks gift card that was all used up (it is also doubling as a dough scraper until I find a real one).  I then put a little oil on the edge that will do the cutting and made my first cut.


I then made 2 more cuts.


Once the three cuts have been made you turn the dough inside out so that the points of the star are on the outside.  Put the best side up on the oiled parchment paper.


Here is one batch of bagels proofing for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes I boiled them (actually the water was not quite boiling) for 20 seconds a side, put topping on and baked on a hot stone.


I made two batches of bagels and it used up all but about a cup of flour from a 5 lb. bag.


I tried Onion for the first time.  I took some dehydrated onions and let them steep in hot water and then drained them.  I sprinkled some of the onions on the top of the boiled bagels just before putting them in the oven.  I also used Poppy seeds and Black Sesame Seeds.


Here are a few more pictures.


So, many thanks to Peter, Richard, Mark, Norm and Stan.  I am pleased the way these turned out.

Happy Baking,


txfarmer's picture

The formula is very loosely inspired by a bread in Beth Hensperger's "Bread for All Seasons", but I made so many changes, it no longer resemble the original.


The formula has both bread and ww flour, as well as some cornmeal. I planned to soak the cornmeal overnight but totally forgot, luckily, my fermentation schedule is very long (nearly 20 hours), and the dough was plenty wet, so cornmeal had enough time to soak in water, the buns were tender and soft anyway, no need for pre-soaking. Pumpkin adds lovely color and moisture, along with red cranberries and fragrant pecans, it's a bread screaming "Thanksgiving".

Thanksgiving pumpkin buns (my own)

Note: total flour is 263g, 15% is ww, the rest Bread Flour

Note: cornmeal is 18% of total flour (I don't count cornmeal toward total flour amount)

Note: 19% of total flour in levain


- levain

100% starter, 14g

flour, 43g

water, 23g

1. Mix and let mature at room temp for 12 hours.

- final dough

bread flour, 173g

ww flour, 39g

cornmeal, 47g

butter, 26g (softened)

honey, 39g

salt, 5g

pumpkin puree, 47g

milk, 89g

water, 59g

dried cranberries, 39g

toasted chopped pecans, 39g

levain, all

2. Mix everything but salt , butter, cranberries, and pecans, autolyse for 40 to 60min.

3. Add salt, knead until gluten starts to form, add butter, until pass windowpane test. See this post for how well the dough should be kneaded, with cormeal and ww flour, the windowpane is slightly weaker, but I still could pull a very large transparent windowpane dotted by grains. Add cranberries and pecans, knead by hand until evenly distributed.

4. Rise and room temp for 2 hours, fold once and refridgrate immediately overnight.

5. Take out dough and divide into 7 pieces, round and rest for one hour. Shape into rolls and put in a 9inch pie/cake pan.

6. Rise and room temp until more than doubled, (do finger test and it barely springs back), about 6hours for me at 75F.(Dallas was so warm recently)

7. Brush with egg wash, bake at 375F for 30 to 35min.

I kneaded more dough than the formula above indicates, so make a mini sandwich loaf with the extra dough, nice volume. This shows that even with whole grains added to the dough, you can still make soft and tall sandwich loaves.

15%ww, 18%cornmeal, the texture is still "shreddably" soft.

Pumpkin, cornmeal, honey, along with cranberries and pecans, this bread has most of the Thanksgiving staple foods in it.

With some turkey meat, a Thanksgiving feast all in itself!

Sending this to Yeastspotting.


Daisy_A's picture

Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies - Daisy_A

My, these were delicious and soo simple, too - no really!

I am no pastry baker but have been trying to produce a small, flavoursome treat to be eaten at the end of meal with coffee (a bit like the French mignardises), or to give away as gifts. I have been trying macarons, with greater and lesser degrees of success. However I longed for a break from their minxy ways and have realised that it is maybe not a great idea to start with macarons on rainy, autumn days, sigh…Enter the cheering Mexican chocolate cookie.

I have to say from the off that this is not an overly sweet biscuit. It is made with strong, dark chocolate, cut with ancho chile. Although the pepper brings out the flavour of the chocolate, rather than dominating it, the overall effect is of eating a rich, dark chocolate mousse, intense but not particularly sweet. Outside of baking days it takes us over a year to get through a bag of sugar so this is just the effect I was looking for. However it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

It makes me laugh when British food critics praise the pairing of chocolate and chile as a daring new combination. It's thousands of years old, a Mayan or Aztec food. I don't know if these cookies are made in Mexico. I'd be glad if anyone could enlighten me. However, following recent debate on Eric's post about spicy sugar, I think one could make them from Mexican chocolate, particularly the dark chocolate discs used to make drinking chocolate, which are infused already with flavours like chile, cinnamon, vanilla and orange. The formula I used lists chocolate and spices separately. For this bake I used Green and Black's Organic 70% cocoa solid Dark Chocolate with spices added to the dry mix. Would love to try this with Mexican chocolate, though.

I first came across a number of formulae for this biscuit on Tastespotting. I first used a Spanish version from the blog L'Equisit. That post drew on this formula in English from Kitsch in the Kitchen. Both were adapted from a recipe in Cindy Mushet's (2008) Art and Soul of Baking. Josim also adapted a similar recipe from Leanne Kitchen's (2008)The Baker on this blog, which makes key adjustments such as using brown sugar. I haven't had time to try that version but it looks good too! Thanks to Sonia, Taranii and Josim for bringing these cookies to my attention and into my life, :-)

This is the basic formula from Taranii's Kitsch in the Kitchen, 19 August, 2010. I used grams but halved the weights and made a few adjustments. as noted below. I've made some notes on method but fuller information is on the links above.

Formula for Mexican Chocolate Crackle Biscuits (adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking) makes about 20 biscuits

20g (1 1/2 tablespoons) butter

2 teaspoons coffee liqueur

85g (3 oz) bitter-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 large egg

50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, plus 50g (1/4 cup) extra for coating, if desired

50g (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour

45g (1/4 cup) whole almonds, lightly toasted

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon anco chile powder 

45g (1/3 cup) unsifted icing sugar (reserve to coat the cookies before baking)


Adjustments and notes on method

The formula I followed this time did not have vanilla or orange zest in but I would certainly like to add those another time. I also didn't add cinnamon, despite it being a key ingredient. This is because I managed to make myself allergic to it when living in Granada, Spain by brewing a cinnamon tea so strong that it made my lips blow up bigger than Mick Jagger's. Cinnamon/canela is such a signature Latin spice, though, I'm sure it is well worth adding it if you can. To compensate, I added a tiny pinch more red pepper. I also added a tiny pinch of salt as I was using unsalted butter.

The formula calls for ancho chile, which is quite mild and sweet. It suggests regular chile powder as an alternative. Ancho chile is available at Mexican grocers in London but is not widely available elsewhere. However I think many regular store brands of chile would be too harsh for this recipe. I used a sweet and aromatic Spanish red pepper powder (pimentón dulce).

I didn't have coffee liqueur and didn't fancy stoking up the coffee machine for just one teaspoon so added a particularly aromatic artisan-made grappa that my dear pil brought back from Italy. Not a Mexican flavour but it worked well :-). I also added an extra edge of the knife's worth of baking powder to the dry ingredients and a tiny, tiny pinch of cream of tartar to the egg and sugar while beating the mixture.

I made half the mixture as a test run. This would normally make the measuring of tiny amounts of spices difficult. Luckily my kitchen drawer contains coffee as well as teaspoons. Given that these are around half the size of a teaspoon, if the formula calls for 1/4 of a teaspoon I use a 1/4 of a coffee spoon :-)

Another key change I made was to use almond meal rather than using whole almonds and grinding them. This was because my food processor doesn't chop nuts that well and I had meal around due to the previous macaron making. I realised when reading the recipe back that this meant that the almond wasn't toasted. Another time I would still use meal but toast the meal itself in the oven, as some bakers do to dry it for macaron making. However not having to use the food processor for such a small amount of almond flour made mixing the main dry ingredients that much easier. I put them all into a small jam jar, stirred them round, put on the lid tightly and gave them a good shake about until they were well combined. (Picked up that tip from Stan who does that to mix leaven and water - thanks Stan). In my version the dry mix was almond meal, plain white UK flour, baking powder, spices and a tiny bit of salt. The icing sugar was reserved for a coating.

I wasn't sure how much egg to use for half a 'large egg'. I ended up using 1 small to medium egg and this was fine. However the cookies were so yummy I'll use full measures next time.

First step is to combine butter, chocolate and liqueur in a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pan with 2 inches of boiling water. Final mixture was lovely and glossy.

While that is cooling the egg is beaten with the granulated sugar for 5-6 minutes until light in colour. I added a knife's edge of cream of tartar to this mixture.

Chocolate mixture is folded into the egg mixture, then the other dry ingredients are added and folded in. At this point the mixture looks like a stiff and glossy chocolate mousse. I chilled it for 1 hour, but it can be chilled for up to 2 hours.

I halved a recipe for around 20 cookies so I was expecting to produce 10. I couldn't, however, work out how I could get 10 equal sized cookies by moulding them with a tablespoon, as advised, so got all bakerish and weighed them. This came out of macaron experiences, which made me realise that the best way to get delicate cookies to bake through evenly in a very short period of time is to make them the same size. It also avoids arguments over who got the biggest cookie!

I was unsure how big to make the original balls so went for 19-20 g. I got exactly 8 balls of that size out of the dough I had. Some recipes roll the balls in granulated sugar and then icing sugar; some icing sugar only. I went for the second option. I think I could have rolled them a bit more lightly. I felt I had to really press them to get the sugar on but I suspect now that this is not necessary. The icing sugar started to absorb into the surface after about a day, although enough lingered to maintain the contrast. I don't know if adding granulated sugar as well would minimise this? Didn't do it as I didn't want such a sugar rush. If using the cookies for gifts or for a dinner party it's also best to move them with a slice. Picking them up leaves fingerprints - ask me how I know! Only did it once...

The balls looked like little truffles going into the oven. Once in, though, they spread out and crackled quite a bit, ending up the size of small, regular cookies. They were great! However if I wanted a smaller size to go with coffee, I think I would have the confidence to start a bit smaller next time.


While baking In the oven, the mousse-like mixture spread, developing lovely-looking cracks on the outside, which were highlighted by the white icing sugar. The method I used advised cooking for 11-14 minutes at C160 (Gas Mark 3), turning the cookies once. I went for a time in the middle - baking 6 minutes, turning, 6 minutes more. I used a stout steel pan and a 'bake-o-glide' sheet, in the middle of the oven. After 12 minutes the biscuits released from the paper and seemed done.

I then read other recipes, which called for a baking time of up to 25 minutes and was worried that my biscuits would still be mousse-like in the middle. However, you can see from the 'crumb shot' that they were fine. I have to say though, that correct cooking is probably an oven by oven thing. I am beginning to suspect that my oven bakes higher on the lower Gas Marks than advertised. Can't currently check this as my internal oven thermometer bit the dust.

The cookies cooled down, got glammed up. had their pictures taken and then got eaten - SUPER YUM!

Apparently they will keep for a week in an airtight container (like they'll go that long without being eaten), so one poster suggested making them for Christmas presents. Their other name is snowball cookie. Aren't they just so Christmassy, like little, edible baubles?


© Daisy_A 2010 FIrst published on The Fresh Loaf, November 22, 2010 at 16.36 GM time. I love to share bread stories and read other bakers' posts about bread. If you republish this page for 'fair use' please acknowledge authorship and provide a link to the original URL. Please note, however, I do not support the unauthorized and unattributed publishing of my text and images on for-profit websites..


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