The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hi All,

Just wanted to share with you some rustic baguettes au levain that I made this morning...  I'll work on posting the recipe a little later...  Enjoy!


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you a loaf that I made for my friend Frankie.  Hopefully he will send me some nice crumbshots next week that I can post...  Enjoy!


proth5's picture

Oh, not to TFL.

It was only a week ago that I bid farewell to Okinawa and "my" Marines.  Yes, I was working with the Marines - other details must remain fuzzy, but this one is pretty much out in the open now. It still cuts a little too close to the bone to think about those fine young men and women each one ready and willing to fight "in every clime and place where (they) can take a gun."  War is a terrible thing - but the dedication of these Marines is something for which all US citizens should be grateful.

And I will always "heart" Okinawa. My last big shopping trip into Naha was to the Ryubo to buy items that I can incorporate into my kitchen.  They are all teeny tiny (as is my kitchen - by US standards.)

So I was fortunate to have a week rusticating at my crumbled abode before returning to the demands of my so-called "normal" life.

Seemed liked to perfect time to buy a new range.  I've come to terms that in my current residence, the deck oven is just not realistic and so I settled on a simple KitchenAid convection gas range.  No, no steam assist.

So I am saying farewell to my favorite frenemy - my old range.  I'm getting a bit sentimental about that, too.  I stirred up one last batch of jam and thought of the countless batches of jams, jellies, pickles, caramels, and marshmallows (as well as meals) that were cooked on those burners.  The ones that I had to blow on just right to get to light.  Maybe.  Whose electronic ignition would mysteriously start clicking for no particular reason and stop clicking days or hours later for similarly mysterious reasons.  (The repairman finally told me "Lady, I'm not taking your money.  Get a new range."  It came with the house and was old when I moved in - over 20 years ago.)

Then there was the oven whose every hot spot I knew by heart, until recently when it decided to not bake anything towards the front.  True, it had also started to perform better as a space heater than an oven and the broiler had long since ceased to function.  However, it had been a good old pal and it seemed like I should give it a final bake. (Yes, I have seen the Ikea ad that tells me that I am crazy because things don't have feelings and the new one is better - but I'm in a delicate state of mind.)  So I decided to do a little test on this new "Pizza Crust" yeast.

Fleischmann's Yeast has been promoting this product as allowing one to bake a pizza in 30 minutes because of the conditioners in the packet.  Well, heating the old oven takes more time that that, but except for that, I could test the claim.

I also decided to do the test using the formula on the package because presumably Fleischmann's had spent some money developing the right formula for the application.  I won't reproduce it here as - well, you'll see.

I did note that the formula contained a lot of sugar (1.5 tsp for less than 2 cups of flour ) (and yes, we'll need to deal with volumes here) and a lot of fat (3 tbl of oil) The ingredients were mixed and kneaded for four minutes and then shaped immediately. 

I will have to say that the dough handled quite nicely.  The dough stretched out easily even though it had not rested at all and maintained itself well through a few tosses.  I'm thinking that these dough conditioners now sorely tempt me - especially if the dough was headed for decorative work where taste doesn't matter.

The pizza was shaped, topped and with the aid, of a piece of parchment paper (which I consider serious cheating) because the dough seemed a bit too flabby to be loaded straight from the peel,  loaded onto my baking stone, and baked.

The taste?

About like you'd expect.  The crust had an odd matte appearance and tasted mostly slightly sweet.  It had a fine crumb with none of those big bubbles I usually find in my pizza crust (both levain and commercial yeast varieties).  Really, though, how could it be otherwise?  We all know that it is the fermentation process that gives us the big holey crumb and this dough didn't ferment except for the time it took me to put the toppings on it.  It wasn't awful - it just wasn't good.  The texture was also somewhat lacking.  The crust was - solid, but not crisp.

The speed with which the whole thing came together also was incompatible with my mise en place.  I'm used to having that rest time between pre-shaping and shaping to get toppings together or make sure my work area has been cleaned.

I also find that I enjoy the whole rhythm of the "fold in the bowl" method of developing the dough to traditional kneading.  I've kneaded a lot of dough in my time and I'm still pretty good at it, but the fold in the bowl method is just so much less effort - less cleanup, too.

So, my opinion?  There's a place in this world for fast, from scratch pizza.  You've got hungry kids yelling for pizza?  This is a great product.  You have a pizza that is easily shaped and you have it in 30 minutes start to finish.  Most kids will love the sweetness in the crust and eat it down.  You want something that reminds you of that trip to Italy?  This is not it.

I am sure that the yeast could be used in different formulas to obtain better results (and there was a review on these pages that liked the yeast and the method very much), but the bottom line for me is that I missed the subtle qualities that good fermentation brings to the party.  I'd rather plan ahead and enjoy my usual crust - or go without.

As I write, my old range is headed out the door and a new one is headed in.  I'm looking at a picture of "my" Marines and frankly getting a bit misty.  But life goes on.  We grow or die.  How fortunate I am to have the memories that I do and a future full of memories to be made.

Happy Baking!

hansjoakim's picture

Hi all,

After a great laptop-and-internet-free vacation the last couple of weeks, I've now pulled my starter out of its refrigerator retirement and given it a couple of feedings to get it back to its former self. The first couple of loaves I've baked after coming back, have been some pain au levains with toasted seeds. This bread is based on my pain au levain formula with slightly increased whole-flour amount, and roughly 7.5% - 10% toasted seeds. You'll find a copy of the formula here (written for 7.5% toasted seeds).

For the loaf pictured below, I used 10% toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and applied some oat bran to the top of the batard after final shaping:

Seeded pain au levain

Here's the crumb:

Seeded pain au levain crumb

The loaf is similar to Hamelman's seeded levain in terms of flavour and crumb. After some bakes and trials, I've found that I prefer adding toasted seeds to the dough directly without soaking them first (for seeds where soaking is not necessary, of course). The flavour is stronger, more nutty, and the crumb turns out more open, at least for me. The crust stays fresh and crunchy for longer due to the lower hydration of these un-soaked seeded levains.

Vacation's been great - I've enjoyed hiking, fishing, cooking and reading at my parents' cabin, and the weather's been pretty decent as well. Some favourite books from this summer include Herta Müller's "Atemschaukel" (haunting), McCarthy's "Blood meridian" (how the west was won and where it got us...terrifying), "Sons and lovers" by D. H. Lawrence and some brilliant novels by Finnish writer Kjell Westö. I miss vacation already so I'll have to put some pastry-things together for my next blog post (comfort food). In the meantime I've got a lot of TFL reading to catch up on...

jonalisa's picture

Today's bread was Dutch Crunch. I had never heard of it before and although I've only been baking bread for about 2 to 3 months now, it was pretty simple. Unfortunately, with a late start, the bread came out of the oven after everyone was in bed. (They went to bed early - not that I bake at ungodly hours). It's such a bummer when you can't have *someone* enjoy your bread as soon as it's ready or at least the same day. Oh well, I enjoyed it immensely...crunchy and slightly sweet crust, soft and fluffy crumb. So good. I used the recipe here:

Dutch Crunch RollNote: Update: When I stored these overnight in plastic baggies, I found they had lost their crunch. I recommend baking and serving the same day. ~Joan

Kingudaroad's picture

I'm excited to have this book. I see so many on TFL using it. This seems to be a popular bread so I thought I would give it a go.

Used the book instructions to the letter except I mixed by hand, which I will say, was quite the task with this dough.

I'm happy with the bread out of the oven and it smells as good or better than any bread I have baked. Be back with a crumb and taste update after a bit.

Wow! this bread is amazing. So many subtle flavors all in one place. A very hearty bread but hard to stop eating.

Here's the crumb.

Kingudaroad's picture

I needed cracked rye berries to do my first bake from "Bread" by Jeffrey Hammelmann. All I could find were whole berries so here's what I did. First I froze the berries for about an hour, then a bit at a time, pulsed them in a coffee grinder, ran them through a strainer and kept saving the big pieces.

Made a big mess also. Got my version of cracked rye berry.


Happy Baking, Keith

ehanner's picture

A few Months ago, SteveB posted his work using Tahini in a bread to improve the flavor of sesame. His post on Breadcetra can be found here. As usual Steve does a great job detailing the procedure and makes a wonderful bread.

Steves formula calls for about 6% by bakers percent Tahini. My loaf was 400 grams of a combination of 5% WW and 10% Rye and 85% AP, to which I added 10% (40g) tahini paste. I used 2% milk for the liquid, warmed to arrive at a dough temperature of 76F. The IDY was added with the flours (1/2 tsp) and the 8 grams of sea salt was held until the dough had absorbed the liquid for 30 minutes. Mixing and folding was done by hand.

This dough was mixed to 70% hydration but with the whole grain flours it felt like a 65% mix. I was shooting for a soft crumb sandwich bread with a hint of sesame. I decided to leave the seeds off this first time so I could tell if the amount of tahini had any appreciable effect on its own. The oil in the tahini paste plus the use of milk made for a very nice soft crumb with just a hint of sesame aroma. Next time, I'll use seeds on the crust and get the full effect. I think I'll switch to using water instead of milk also as the crumb is softened by the oil in the paste.


evth's picture

A modified version of Cafe Azul's Pastry Dough makes a terrific pie crust. This recipe will yield enough dough for two 9-inch double crusts or four single crusts. Yes, it is a lot of dough so make a few pies or freeze the extra. Use four sticks of butter as the original recipe states for an insanely rich - think puff pastry - pie crust. Or knock the butter down like I did to two and half or three sticks (this is my only change to the crust recipe). Divide the dough into four mounds and wrap them individually before putting them into the refrigerator. Let it rest for at least 1+1/2 hours. Be prepared to be amazed with how easy it is to roll out beautiful pie crust that is flaky, tender and buttery. Click below for the dough recipe:

Now let's turn to the main part of the apple pie recipe (i.e. filling, baking times, etc.). I followed Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from the except that I substituted her pate brisee (short crust pastry) for a modified version of Cafe Azul's Pastry Dough. Click below for the apple pie recipe:

To briefly sum it up (click on above link for the entire recipe), Rose's way is to first, let the seasoned apple slices sit in their juices. Next, drain them and keep the juice, cooking it down with butter. Finally, mix it all in with the slices and pour the filling into the pie shell. After you top it with the other half of the crust, crimp the edges. *Here's a variation I made to the recipe: brush the top crust with a lightly beaten egg (egg wash) and give it a sprinkling of raw sugar (e.g. Washed Raw, Turbinado or Demerara). Place the pie in the refrigerator for about twenty minutes before baking it in the pre-heated oven (425°F) for 45-55 minutes - baking time will depend upon your oven's temperature and any hot spots. Good tip from Rose: bake the pie using a pizza or bread stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking pan/sheet between the pie and the stone to guard against filling overflow. The stone ensures that the bottom crust is baked through – crispy and golden! *If you are using a glass or ceramic pie pan, and you are worried about it cracking or breaking after placing it on the hot stone, make sure the baking pan/sheet is at room temperature before placing it underneath the pie pan, or you can just forego chilling the pie altogether. Keep a foil ring handy in case the pie edges brown too quickly. 

As for apple varieties, I used a mixture of Fuji and Granny Smith apples. The filling was a tad runnier than I cared for (even after the pie rested) but made up for it with lots of nice concentrated apple and caramel flavors. Next time around I will use a greater assortment of apples in the pie. I will try cooking the apple slices and then cooling the mixture before adding it to the pie shell. 

Here's to a bountiful autumn harvest and more apple pies on the table!

Next post: Pain de mie

chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

Hello dear friends....really i missed you all I am..sharing with you my latest bakes...Eid al fitr will be tomorrow..I was preparing for it one week ago may be more I had a lot of work...I baked 55 kilos of these goodies for some customers, for friends, and of course for us at home....It was too hard for me i am tired, ill, and need really a long vacation...but the most thing made me feel better that the people really loved it called me back to thank me and told me that they never tasted such great cookies before. Mmmmm but i think that i will not be able to continue , I am working in a my house in a very small kitchen. It was too hard really.

Here you are the pics...


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