The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
SylviaH's picture

This is my first time making and eating Panettone.  It was a lot of work but enjoyable.  This is my version of P.Reinhart's recipe in BBA.  While mixing this dough I couldn't help but to say to myself how it appeared like cake batter one minute and then dough the next!  I made adjustments in hydration and added some stretch and folds adding a longer time to the proofing.  I had ordered some paper bread molds two sizes.  I decided not to use the small ones.  They were so very small looking.  The large ones where a little to large so I didn't get the nice big ballooned top on my panettone and that was a bit of a disappointment, next time I'll know better.  I rigged up a cardboard box to hang my panettones..out of reach from my 3 always hungry dog's.  I used the lovely chocolate glaze from wild yeast's pannetone recipe and it is delicious.  It's basically just egg white, oil, coco powdered, corn flour, almond flour and sugar whipped.  My husband and I both loved the tender moist crumb and flavor and the crunchy coco topping sprinkled with swedish pearl sugar and almond slivers.  I will be making this bread again it is delicious and the aroma filled the house and my hands smelled lovely all day.

Happy Holiday!




Smita's picture

Three weeks of sourdough. Got my starter from a baking class and named him Clint. After Clint Eastwood - full of potential!

The basic recipe is as follows:


1/2 cup starter

2 cups whole wheat bread flour

1 cup AP unbleached flour

2 t salt

1.25-1.5 cups water


- Mix flours and water to form a shaggy dough. Autolyse - rest for 30 mins.

- Add starter and knead 8-10 minutes, till you get a windowpane.

- Add salt and rest.

- 3 stretch and folds at 20-30 minutes apart.

- Proof till double in size. Deflate and place seam side up a linen lined bowl or floured banneton.

- Then retard overnight in fridge.

- Next morning, set dough at room temp for 2-3 hours.

- Pre heat oven to 485. Plop bread into dutch oven, seam side down. Score and lower temperature to 450 or 440. Bake 35-35 minutes or till internal temperature is 210.

- Cool for an hour and slice.


Lessons so far.

1. Week 1: The loaf tastes terrific, but is a shining example of how not to fold and shape.

2. Week 2. Started paying attention to details: weighed EVERYTHING this week, checked temperature and in a rush of enthusiasm, made english muffins with excess starter.

3. Week 3. Best lookin' loaf yet! Big holey crumbs, perfect for dipping into some olive oil.

Lessons learnt:

1. Decided to be as empirical as possible but also not try to control EVERTHING. Must tell self to bake by feel as much as bake while following instructions.

2. This bread is great for sandwiches and for dipping. My next goal is to consistently reproduce them, and perhaps to try a celebration bread using the starter.

Feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Thanks in advance!




Marykaren's picture

I remember my mother baking Hutzelbrot but never learned how she did it. I've found several different recipes but I'd like to hear from someone who has actually made this bread and learn your recipe. I've been trying some  recipes, but can't get the soaked fruit to mixed with the dough. Also my tries have been dry.. which I don't think Hutzelbrot should be.

jlevinmd's picture

Been doing the no-knead thing for a while and got it down pretty much. Loaves come out beautiful with a crackling crust but after cooling for 20-30 minutes  on a wire rack the crust loses its crunch. Is there a way to keep the crunch?

Shiao-Ping's picture

We started our annual beach holiday this year without much preparation, unlike previous years.  It has been a very busy year, and so when we arrived at the North Folk Island Pine Tree-lined boulevard right next to the beach front, looking for our holiday unit, we were exhausted.  There was a feel of South of France here at this little north facing beach in the south of Queensland, bordering New South Wales. 

After a quick lunch, it was time to be off to the beach ....




On the 1st full day at the beach my son didn't surface until after 11 am.  I said to his Daddy that as soon as the young man woke up, he's going to want food.  Sure enough, the first thing that he said when he emerged was, "Pretty hungers; pretty hungers."   

The wind was howling after we had our brunch, no good for the surf, so the Daddy took the opportunity and went out with the daughter to get her surf board fixed.  He asked if the boy would want to come along.   Why would he? - There was chocolate milk and Tim Tam in the fridge; plus, there was cricket on the TV (Australia vs. West Indies)!  As they say, "You can lead a horse to a drink but the pencil must be lead."

I purposely brought only my starter and a selection of old, almost expiring, flours with me, but none of my usual implements for making sourdough bread.  When I found out that the unit wasn't even equipped with measuring cups, I thought to myself that I should have at least packed my scale.  No matter.  Early evening as I was refreshing my starter, my husband was making a celery/onion sauce to go with the meat pies being warmed up in the oven, and my children helped setting up the table.  Thirty-six hours later, these were my first holiday sourdough breads:








Evidently I mixed the dough a bit dry to achieve the nice openings on the surface but somewhat dense interior.   The flour I used was Laucke's multigrain bread pre-mixes with no commercial yeast.  I promised myself that the next sourdough I made would have a lot more hydration for more open crumb, as below:




I never envy commercial bakers' job but I often wondered why making sourdough bread was such a satisfying act and I think I got the answer during this holiday.  Whether or not we are happy with our sourdough and whether or not it is a piece of crafty work of art, no one can deny that there is a creative spirit in the making of it - the bread comes out differently every time!   It is like allowing a piece of us emerging and taking shape.  It is a means for expression.  

An Aussie participant in the SFBI courses that I took back in August told me that American all-purpose flour is equivalent to Australian plain flour that is available from all supermarkets and is used in pastry baking.  He is a very accomplished baker and works with Leon Bailey, the Australian master-baker.  The protein level of plain flour is roughly the same as in French style flour.  I experimented with 1/2 wholemeal plain flour and 1/2 plain flour and was quite happy with the result:




On many a night my husband cooked dinner and my children did salads and set the table while I sipped on my Chardonnay (they must have been secretly reading my blog where I said I don't know why housewives get excited about holidays).  One night my husband asked me to try Henschke's Pinot Noir that he was drinking.  I took a sip and said it's too young for me and that it would be good for many years to come.  He said, "A bit like me-self?" 






Half into the first week of our holiday I was already getting into a good routine of morning and afternoon exercises.  I thought of a book that I once read, Running High; how true, the wonders of endorphins.

As the week progressed, left-over sourdough was piling up in the freezer.  I've always loved the Italian Panforte and I also absolutely adore Stained Glass Fruit Cake, but I did not feel like any pastry making.   Perhaps I was a bit conflicted but, anyway, I used some of the left-over sourdough bread and made a Christmas Stained Glass Panforte, the only festival baking that I made (actually no baking at all, just cooking the fruits with the left-over sourdough and letting them set with the nuts):







                                           Very morish with a cup of homemade latte


When I was little I read stories that ended with "Happily living ever after;" and when I was a bit older I knew that they were fairy tales but I wondered what it was like.  Beach holidays can hardly be a Chinese thing and no exception to me.  But this time I had one of the better beach holidays that I could remember.  I think "Happily living ever after" is entirely possible if one just lives in the moment ... like a new born baby.

And thus we finished the two weeks' beach holiday - short enough for me to take, and long enough to make a difference.  Yesterday my kids helped me with the Christmas tree.  I have missed the many little figurines that happily adorned our Christmas tree for nearly a whole year and I am very pleased to say Hello to them again: 



      Father Christmas


                                Master Jester


                                                      One of the clowns


                                                                                       One of the fairies





Wishing all of you home bakers out there a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!



liza2's picture

Hello everyone, this is my first contribution. I've been lurking on this site for a while and have spent many hours reading and digesting the wealth of information here.  Now that I'm on holiday and have some spare time I can finally seriously get stuck into improving my breadmaking techniques and contributing my own experiences to this amazing site. I've had a sourdough starter for a few years but have never been entirely happy with my results.  The bread I've made with it has always had good flavour, but has been dense and heavy. For any New Zealanders reading this, I used the method described in Dean Brettschneider's "The NZ Baker" to capture the wild yeast and to develop the starter. I did this one year in early January (in Auckland) when the temperature was warm but not humid. I'd recommend this method as the starter has turned out very strong and enduring, even once when I'd forgotten to feed it for 3 months. 

Reading through the blogs and lessons here I realised that the problem could be that I've always kneaded my dough for 10-15 minutes. I discovered the stretch and fold technique and thought I should give that a try in order to get those nice big holes. I liked the sound (and look) of Susan's Simple Sourdough (9/09). I liked the way she keeps it simple, such as using a sheet of cardboard for a peel and a colander for a banneton. This is because I don't have the tools and its difficult and expensive to access the specialized equipment from New Zealand. If there are any New Zealanders reading this and can tell me about any NZ firms selling breadmaking equipment to home bakers I'd be grateful. Also any NZ suppliers of good quality bread flours as my local store only sells "Pam's" flour.

I mostly followed Susan's recipe apart from the following variations:  I wasn't sure how to turn my 100% hydration starter into a firm starter, so I left it at 100%, the same consistency as pancake batter. The dough ended up a nice soft consistency but not wet. I used 275 g of Pam's high-grade flour plus 25 g of Healtheries high-gluten flour. I then followed Susan's instructions exactly. I was surprised how smooth and silky the dough was after minimally mixing it and then stretching and folding it only 3 times. I couldn't find my colander so used a sieve.

One question - the instructions said to pre-shape, then rest it for 15 mins, then shape it.  What's the difference between pre-shaping and shaping?

Here's the dough just before scoring. I placed the egg next to it to show size :

I used scissors for scoring and decided on the square shape. I think I need to practise scoring as i wasn't totally happy with the final result. But all will become clear. This photo was taken a few minutes after scoring:

I used "baking paper" instead of parchment. The instructions said to cover the loaf for the first 20 mins of baking, so I used my crockpot for that:

I have an old very average electric stove/oven in my kitchen. I would convert 450F to 210C, but since my oven only has a fan-bake function I set it at 190C. This is how the loaf appeared when it came out of the oven. I still have the egg in the photo to compare size, as the loaf seems quite small. But then it only used 300g of flour.

I was so anxious to cut it to see how the crumb would be. In the end i forced myself to go outside to do 90 minutes of gardening so I wouldn't be tempted to cut it before it had cooled down sufficiently.

Finally it was time. I was pleasedwith the holes and the look of the crumb:

By now it was lunchtime and I was hungry from all that gardening. I couldn't wait to taste it. Well, the crust was just right, the texture was light, spongy and creamy, there was a slight tang to the taste.  BUT.....  as I chewed it I realised that right at the start of the process I had forgotten to add the salt to the mixture!!

I still had it for lunch - with salted butter and salty cheese. Although the taste wasn't quite right I really liked the texture and lightness of this bread.

I'm going to prepare another batch this afternoon - with salt this time-  to bake tomorrow morning and will report how it turns out.


LeadDog's picture

It is Christmas time and it seems lots of people are making Stollen so here is my addition to the mix. 

I heard about Stollen recently and how good it is so I decided that I wanted to make some.  The only problem is I have never eaten or seen Stollen.  I looked in my books and on the internet for recipes for sourdough Stollen and decided to improvise and make my own.  The paragraph from Peter Reinharts's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" is very nice and I think worthy of quoting here.

Dresden is considered the spiritual home of this traditional Christmas bread.  The bread symbolizes the blanket of the baby Jesus, and the colored fruits represent the gifts of the Magi.  As in nearly every festival bread, the story aspect of this loaf is culturally important, for it is a way parents teach their children about their heritage.

This is a bread that is soft with lots of different flavors bursting onto your taste buds with every bite.  There are exotic spices, dried fruit, nuts, and a little bit of Brandy in the bread.  The outside of the bread is painted with melted butter then covered with powdered sugar.  This really is a special bread for a festival.



Stollen crumb

The way I made it here on my website.  


bakerking's picture

I wasn't going to bake this weekend because I made some 'San Jooaquin Sourdough' with flax and sunflower seeds during the week. Last night my wife mentioned seeing a recipe for Stollen in the latest Martha Stewart magazine and I have noticed a number of TFL posts on Stollen lately . I recalled seeing  recipes in BBA and also Crust so I drug them out and compared ingredients and decided to go with Reinhart. I have made his cinammon raisin bread twice before, it was a big hit, so I decided as long as I'm going to spend the day I might as well do it in a big way. I've never made Stollen before but I decided to triple the batch and make some Raisin bread. My wife said she had some little containers that would work for the Stollen for smaller gifts, so I divided 4- 5oz. pieces out. One of the other recent posts mentioned not being able to understand Peter's directions for folding the dough before baking, I agree, I was clueless. Yesterday there was a link to a grandmother making Stollen on a video and she just folded it over, it is supposed to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths. Good enough for me. I iced the Stollen I put in the small loaf pans and powdered sugared the big ones. Instead of candied fruit I used Sunmaid's raisin/cranberry/golden rasins, dried apricots and dried cherries. Reinhart also gives lemon and orange zest as an option. I used Penzeys Spices' California Minced Lemon and Orange Peel. All I can say is 'WOW', what a burst of flavor when you bite into a piece, couldn't quit 'till I had four.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Baking,


Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I have a problem. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

So here I am, 7 weeks after giving birth to a wonderful baby boy...and I have 12 loaves of bread in various stages of becoming tasty, crusty goodness.

I am not a professional. I do not have one of those nice ovens that will fit all this bread. I have no couche for the insanely wet rosemary potato bread other than the piece of thin natural linen that I picked up at the fabric store for half off. I have to bake loaves 3 at a time, part of the time on a half sheet pan, so that they all get done at the right times.

The smell wafting through my house, though...heaven. Really. The smell of bread baking makes up for the hours of hard work I've put in over the last 24 hours.

Really, the hardest part was making the dough last night. My husband works second shift, meaning he's gone from about 2:30 until about midnight, so during the time I was mixing up doughs I had both kids to take care of, some laundry to do, dishes to keep up with, and dinner to make for Rinoa and I. Not only did I get everything done, but I figured I'd have time to do not only the baked potato and rosemary potato breads that I planned to take to Christmas as gifts, but also a loaf or two of real gingerbread to have with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

I think I've renewed my confidence in my ability to successfully multitask. I quit baking while I was pregnant because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to spend enough time with my daughter after having the new baby and that she'd be forever scarred by my inability to play with her constantly. I can't believe I thought that now, but pregnancy does strange things to you. I now know that I can do my baking, which is something I do for myself as much as to provide my family with the best food possible, and still not neglect my family.

I have to admit that this crazy baking spree was most likely not the best way to reacquiant myself with my rational mind.

I'll share pictures when I'm done. Just thought I'd share my brain today. :)

ejm's picture


I'm really excited about this crusty loaf that I had formed into a ring. The bread turned out fabulously. I used a relatively new way of shaping that I learned from watching this YouTube video and then left the shaped bread in the fridge overnight and baked it the next morning. The crust is even more caramelized and crispy and the crumb has a wonderful nutty flavour.

We served this bread for a recent festive dinner with an appetizer of Moules Marinière (mussels poached in white wine, butter, onions, garlic and parsley)

We loved the Mussels so much that we think we'll serve them (with more of this bread) for Christmas Eve dinner. And maybe again on New Year's Even dinner too....



Please take a look at my annual Advent calendar (but don’t even THINK about peeking ahead).


(edit: ooops, I forgot to sign my name)



Subscribe to RSS - blogs