The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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cdiggz's picture

Yield: 5 large pretzels

Preheat Oven: 450 degrees F.



3/4 cup warm water (approximately 105-110 degrees)

1/2 tablespoon yeast

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 cup occident flour (bread flour) (add more if needed)

1/4 cup unsalted melted butter for dipping pretzels in after baking



1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water


DIPPING SOLUTION (use large saucepan):

1/4 cup baking soda

2 1/2 cups hot water





Line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil.


1.      In a KitchenAid mixing bowl with dough hook attachment, mix warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let rest for 5 minutes.

2.      While yeast is growing, prepare egg wash and baking pan.  Set aside.

3.      Add flour and mix well until dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and it retains a ball shape.

4.      Let rise in warm place until doubled, at least 20-30 minutes.

5.      On slightly oiled, clean work surface, divide dough and shape into long 'ropes' and shape into pretzels or other "class appropriate" shape.

6.      Prepare dipping solution in large saucepan and turn stove to medium to keep solution hot.  Put shaped dough into prepared dipping solution for 20-30 seconds.

7.      Remove with a flat turner spatula and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Re-shape if necessary.

8.      Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with pretzel or sea salt (salt is optional).

9.      Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Meanwhile, over low heat, melt ¼ cup butter in small saucepan.  Do not allow to boil or brown.

10.  Dip face of pretzel into melted butter. Sprinkle with coarse salt or cinnamon sugar.

11.  ENJOY!

Marni's picture

So, I've tried Susan's newest sourdough - the challenge Eric presented.  I had one barely acceptable boule and one only a tad better.  But I'm having fun, and while the two boules did not get their pictures taken, their baby sibling did. 

I was refreshing the starter and thought, why not - I just added a bit more flour, a little salt and let it rise, shaped then baked it in my toaster oven.  I couldn't find anything to cover it, but I did try to steam it.  I was just being silly, but it rose nicely and tasted great, with a crisp crust and sweet/tangy flavor.  A perfect little roll for lunch.






Marni's picture

I usually make pumpkin challah at least once in the fall, and set out to do so this time.  I was thwarted by the lack of pumpkin in mt pantry.  ( I could have sworn I had at least one large can in there...) I decide that seet potato would substitute just fine, and it did!  I think I might even like this better.

I pretty much followed a new pumpkin challah recipe I found online, but I almost never follow them exactly, and I veered off from the start by using sweet potatoes.  Anyway, they came out nicely and taste great, I added just a tiny bit of cinnamon, and there were occasional specks of sweet potato.

pmccool's picture

The past couple of months have been something of a whirlwind.  Just before leaving for an internship at Mark Sinclair's The Back Home Bakery, my boss asked if I would accept a 2-year assignment on a project my employer is managing in South Africa.  Without subjecting you to the lengthy discussions between my wife and myself as we considered one factor after another, suffice it to say that we agreed to the assignment.  Since then, we've sold cars, furniture and household goods; located a tenant/housesitter; packed; made lists; checked off lists; etc., etc., etc.  And so, here I sit in the Delta Sky Lounge in the Atlanta airport, waiting to board the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg.

For being a new adventure, its beginning is remarkably mundane.  Sitting in an airport just isn't particularly, I don't know, romantic?  Exciting?  Heady?  Whatever, this isn't the stuff of high drama; although I will admit that the lounge is much better-appointed than the gate area.

With any luck, I'll locate a place to stay in the next few days and be moved in by the time my wife arrives in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I'll be checking in at TFL from time to time to share vicariously in your baking.  Once I'm settled, I'll get a new starter up and running (can't see the hotel staff playing along with an attempted head start) and start baking again; something that hasn't happened at all since leaving The Back Home Bakery.  The new assignment is going to chew up a lot of my time and energy, so baking opportunities may be limited and cherished.  We'll see how it plays out.

So, if I'm quieter than usual, you'll know why.  See you in Jo'burg.


gcook17's picture

About a year ago my wife, Carol, and I went to my favorite coffee store, Barefoot Coffee in Santa Clara (California). Carol doesn't like coffee so she picked out a pastry from the pastry display. It was something I'd never heard of before called a Kouign Aman. It was crispy, crunchy, sweet and buttery. It was so good that we started making trips to Barefoot just to get the pastry. We eventually found out they're made at Satura Cakes in Los Altos. Now, whenever we're in the mood for a really good pastry we go get a kouign aman.

It seemed like it was a mystery pastry because it was hard to find any information on them and what we could find often seemed contradictory. I don't know if it's true but someone told us the name means "butter cake" in the Breton language.

Today I tried making them for the first time. It is a laminated pastry, like croissants but with a couple of twists. I made a basic croissant dough and laminated it with butter as usual, except the roll-in butter was SALTED butter and weighed 50% of the detrempe weight rather than the usual 25%. The other unusual thing was that on the 2nd and 3rd turns I laminated caster sugar into it. The roll-in sugar weighed 40% of the detrempe (dough w/o roll-in butter & sugar) weight. There seem to be a lot of different, acceptable ways to shape them. I just cut the dough into 6 inch squares.  For each square I folded the 4 corners to the center forming a smaller square. Then I folded the 4 corners of the smaller square to the center. After placing them on parchment I brushed them with softened butter and sprinkled them with more sugar. The kouign aman that Satura Cakes makes look like they're rolled up like sticky buns and I think they are baked in a baking dish that has butter and sugar in the bottom.

It was kind of difficult to laminate the sugar. After spreading sugar on the dough it didn't roll out as easily as croissant dough does. The dough tended to bunch up as I rolled it, maybe because sugar is rough and doesn't spread out like butter does. The other weird thing was that a lot of the roll-in sugar liquified. I think this was due to the long resting time between turns that were needed because I was rolling by hand. With a dough sheeter you could have a much shorter rest between turns and the sugar probably wouldn't have enough time to absorb so much water from the dough. I found that when laminating dough by hand I need a 2 hour rest between the 1st and 2nd turns, a 4 hour rest between the 2nd and 3rd turns, and an overnight rest between the 3rd turn and final shaping. The first hour of each rest is in the freezer, then it gets moved to the coldest part of the fridge. The final 15-30 minutes (depending on the temperature in the room) of each resting period in on the kitchen counter. I adapted the advice I got from hansjoakim and DonD on this forum and from Mark Sinclair while working as an intern at the Back Home Bakery to come up with this resting schedule. Normally for croissants I bulk ferment 1 hour at room temp. and another hour in the fridge (35-40 F). For the kouign aman I bulk fermented 1 hour in the fridge.

They're kind of rustic looking and very, very tasty.  The crusty ledges around the edges are caramelized butter/sugar that leaked out, baked, and hardened.



fenchel2c's picture

Does anyone have a recipe for German brötchen?  These are breakfast rolls usually made in 3 to 3 1/2 inch ovals.  They have a hard crust and a soft chewy inside.  I prefer white over whole wheat for this roll.  I am especially interested in knowing which of the flours available in the USA come closest to the German flour used.

ehanner's picture

A recent discussion of Dan Lepard's Black Pepper Rye got me interested in this bread. There are enough interesting aspects of this mix and method I had to try it. I followed the steps outlined in Dan's blog and carefully examined the detailed photos he provided. The process calls for boiling coffee with half the rye, pepper and the seeds. I watched carefully as bubbles started to erupt off the bottom of the pan. I thought surely it isn't actually boiling, I'll let it go just a little longer. Be forewarned, when the bubbles start to surface, stop whisking and pour the rye mix into a waiting bowl for cooling. I waited and ended up having to add an additional 1/4 C of water. Next time I'll be quicker. If you click on the link below, it will take you to the recipe page and more important the method with images that will be all you need to make this terrific bread.

As you can see the crust is loaded with Poppy Seeds and it smells wonderful coming out of the oven.

The crumb is somewhat dense as expected with a 30% rye. It is moist and has a nice pepper and fennel flavor. It's a very full flavor, I would say exotic wholesome. My wife and teen daughter are ecstatic about the flavor. The after taste stays with you like nothing I have ever tasted. This is a keeper. There are lots of variations I can think of that might be fun exploring with the base concept. This is the first loaf I have made in a long while that makes you want to keep eating it. Really, what a flavor!

I don't own any of Dan Lepards books yet but, after baking this bread and seeing how hands on he is with his blog, helping his followers, I'm ordering a copy of "The Handmade Loaf"  today. Thanks Dan!


Jw's picture

For some reason my starter takes way too long for the second rise and I underestimate the time it takes to get a 'solid bread'. Solid I got this time.. brick (on the left). Don't know why I did not see that coming, didn't see the signs. I thought/hoped the oven would do wonders. From last time I learned to always make different kinds of bread, it increases my changes on a good result. See the improved starfish bread! (and the originator of the idea)

The rest of the breads are universal rustics, with walnuts. Only the starter stayed one night in fridge, then baked it at the end of the next day. In the first bread, I tried the get an A. The W is not just my name (Willem), I tried to get the Wordpress logo into a breadform (semi succesfull). Taste was great, six breads were gone in 2 hours after baking (party at our house..some 15 'kids'/young adults). For that I thought it wise not to experiment with new things.

Wish I had more time for baking and TFL...Happy baking!


turosdolci's picture

A traditional cake/bread made at Christmas time, panettone was created in the Lombardy region and it is the undisputable holiday favorite. Scholars have traced panettone back to the middle ages. The dome shaped sweet bread is traditionally made with candied fruits, raisins and flavored with liquors. Today you can find it with chocolate chips and other ingredients. It is less like a cake then light fluffy sweet bread. The use of natural yeast results in the dough that rises slowly. The rising time can be as long as 48 hours. The long leavening contributes to the long shelf life, which can be as long as 6 months. Italian bakers take pride in the age of their leavening and some are maintained over many years.


Floydm's picture

We started the day with Sourdough English Muffins.

After lunch I made my first batch of Anis Bouabsa's baguettes.

I hurried things a bit, only giving them about 16 hours in the fridge, probably not letting them rise quite enough before putting them in the oven, and slicing them while still hot.  Nevertheless, they were quite good.  I definitely want to try this again. 

Finally I made a sourdough miche using the technique crumb bum introduced a couple of years ago.

I've not cracked this one open yet.  I'm looking forward to it.

Actually this wasn't the end of the baking, because I also made corn bread muffins to go with the pot of green tomato chili I made, which was awesome.  Followed up by some of the remaining birthday cake Dorota made.  It is a pity that baking season comes at a different time than prime bicycling season here, because after a day like today I could certainly use the exercise!


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