The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink


I was looking through my old Betty Crocker's Cookbook a while back, and came across a couple of pudding cake recipes. Does anybody else remember pudding cakes? I'm probably dating myself here. My mom made a chocolate version when I was growing up, so this was like a blast from the past. All the ingredients are usually hanging out in my pantry, so I had to whip one up right away...

Well, either Betty's version is a dud, or my remembrance is a little distorted, because it was disappointingly bland, pale and lacking a good chocolate punch. The recipe called for shortening, very little salt, and no vanilla. No vanilla! Well I fixed that. I've omitted the one cup of finely chopped nuts from the cake layer, because I felt the texture didn't belong. And I switched from regular cocoa to Dutch processed for a deeper chocolate flavor. Now it's better than I remember.

The thing is so quick and easy to throw together, that it would be equally great as a week-night treat for the family, or an impromptu dessert that'll impress unexpected company. You don't have to get out a mixer, or even grease the pan. And you don't need to let it cool either, because it's best served warm... or hot with ice cream. Now that's immediate gratification!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Makes 9 servings 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably non-aluminum)

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1¾ cup hot water

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Measure flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, the baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and melted butter; blend in nuts if using. Spread batter in an ungreased 9-inch square pan.

Stir together brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Stir 2 teaspoons vanilla into hot water and pour gently over all.

Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.


AnnieT's picture

After a spell of no baking (tree pollen allergies) I needed a loaf for supper with the family. What else but Susan's Trusty Sourdough? This time I added 1/4 cup of steelcut oats and 1T of flaxseed meal and it made a beautiful loaf. Being a slow learner I was probably the only member of TFL who didn't know that 3 parallel slashes across a boule will transform it into a batard! It was so popular that the "gannets" took the rest of it home with them, along with the pasta! Thanks yet again, Susan, A

Marni's picture

I realized that I've been a member here for a year now, and can hardly believe it!  The old saying "time flies when you're having fun"  couldn't be truer.  I've learned so many helpful techniques here - and I'm so thrilled to have my healthy active starter.  (It's also about to have its first birthday! ) 

I decided that as I've reached this one year mark, it's a good time to start a blog and learn how to post pictures here. Wish me luck, I'm pretty hopeless with the computer.

Thank you to all who share their knowledge here and make this such a great place to learn.


ejm's picture

Rose Levy Beranbaum has put together a step-by-step guide to making bread, plus essential equipment and ingredients and 8 classic recipes for Epicurious. The primer looks good. Except for one part. I would revise the list of "essential equipment" for bread baking by including only the following:

Absolutely Essential:

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons

  • Large Wooden Spoon

  • Bench Scraper

  • Large Mixing Bowl with lid (doubles as a Dough-Rising Container)

  • Cooling Rack

  • Cookie Sheet

  • Parchment Paper

essential equipmentcooling racks

Optional but Nice:

  • Scales (Spring and/or Digital)

  • Proofing Boxes (oven with only the light turned on works well)

  • Banneton (any old basket or colander lined with a tea towel works)

  • Baking Stone

  • Loaf Pans (including a Cast-Iron Pan)

  • Long Bladed Serrated Knife

  • Baking Peel

  • Broiling Pan

  • Pump Spray Bottle (for water)

  • Thermometer

  • Timer

Completely Unnecessary:

  • Stand Mixer, Bread Machine, or Food Processor

Hand mixing is very easy to do, especially if you have a nice large wooden spoon or paddle. Hand kneading is equally easy, especially with the help of a bench scraper. And now, of course, there are many "no-knead" bread recipes that completely eliminate the need (no pun intended) for putting dough onto the board at all.

Other gadgets (scales, bread stones, thermometers, etc. etc.) are nice to have but are definitely not necessary. I gather that electric mixers are very nice as well. But I can't really say as I don't have one; nor do I have any desire for one. (No counter space.) All bread bakers, even novices, can produce wonderful bread in their kitchens with just these few items.

One More Absolutely Essential Item:
Oh yes, and one more thing that is absolutely required for baking bread:

  • a heat source....

An oven or barbecue will do the trick. :-)



This is a partial mirror of a post on my blog that covers all aspects of food. Read the full post here:

And here is the link to Beranbaum's Bread Primer:

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Adapted from the recipe in Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

I'm finding the sweet dough as he made it too sweet. 6.5 tablespoons of sugar is just too much to me. I reduced it a little in my final dough, but just by 1/2 a tablespoon. The next time I make this it will be with the amount I show here.

6 tablespoons butter, shortening, or margerine (I used butter, but that's a taste thing)
4.5 tablespoons sugar (evaporated cane juice here)
1.5 teaspoons salt (slightly course sea salt)
2 eggs
1 pound flour
2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup buttermilk

Cream first 3 ingredients. I proofed the yeast in about 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, lukewarm, then added that with the rest of the milk with the rest of the ingredients. I mixed for about 10-12 minutes by hand until the dough was starting to come together really well and the gluten had started forming, then did 2 stretch and folds at 40 minute intervals, letting the dough have an hour before shaping and proofing. I filled the rolls with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar and proofed them for about an hour before putting them in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

This produced the lightest, flakiest cinnamon rolls I've made to date. I really love them. I have a feeling that this may become my go-to sweet dough.

Sorry about the no picture thing. Maybe tomorrow if they're not all gone. :)

dmsnyder's picture

The Roasted Potato Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread" is another bread that has been on my "to bake list" for a long, long time. It is a yeasted, lean bread made with pâte fermentée. It uses a mix of bread and whole wheat flour, and, of course, roasted potatoes.

I made these in the recommended, traditional "pain fendu" (split bread) shape. It looked cool in the pictures and gave me an excuse to buy yet another wooden rolling pin, because my others are too thick, and the dowling I have is too thin. I'm sure you all understand.

This is a very good bread, considering it's not a sourdough. The crumb is cool and tender, yet a little chewy. It has a lovely, straight ahead wheaty flavor. There is no potato taste per se. It would make a wonderful sandwich bread or toast. Hmmm ... or bread to soak up sauce.


mountaindog's picture

I decided to revive my dormant Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail starter last week, so I had a lot of nice ripe starter by the end of the week on hand that I wanted to use up. I used an excel spreadsheet I made up for Flo's 1-2-3 sourdough to use up any amount of excess ripe sourdough starter, except in this case, I needed to increase the hydration since I was using all whole wheat flour in the final dough, so it became 1-2.25-3 bread (78% hydration final dough). The reason I made this as 90% whole wheat is simply because the excess starter I had was made up of about 25% whole wheat and 75% AP, so even though the final dough is all whole wheat, there is about 10% AP in the overall formula due to the large amount of starter.

One other thing that I got away with that I don't usually do is that all the starter used in this formula was actually ripe the day before I made the dough, but I got busy and just put it in the frig, so it was not as strong as it could have been since it was past peak, but the bread still came out with great flavor and a nice soft open crumb, chewy dark golden crust, not at all dense.

This is also the first bread I've made with my new big bag of organic Meunerie Milanaise flour from Quebec, and I notice a distinct difference in taste compared to either the King Arthur WW or Bob's Red Mill WW that I usually use (it handled very differently as well, very extenisble and silky dough). The Milanaise flour had absolutely no bitter whole wheat aftertaste, it was sweet, I imagine this must be what freshly-ground whole wheat flour tastes like, and this bag was milled on January 8 I think (thanks to Tete au Levain's tip on how to determine the milling date on the bag I had).

After mixing the final dough with my dough whisk just long enough to get everything incorporated, I let it rest 30 minutes, then did about 2-3 minutes of folding in the bowl with dough scraper, rest another 30 min., then 2 stretch & folds 30 min. apart, then just left it in it's bucket to bulk ferment overnight in my 62F basement Thursday night.  Friday morning before I left for work, I shaped the loaves and placed them in a couche in my 50F basement refrigerator until I got home from work, then baked them as soon as the oven was preheated. They came out flatter than I had hoped, but since it is a wet dough, and mostly whole wheat, that may be expecting too much. To me the most important thing was the open crumb and great taste these had, much better than the desem bread I attempted 2 years ago.

I am happy enough with this result and the taste that I plan to make this our weekly bread from now on, since I'd like to reduce the amount of white flour we are eating these days. The Oregon Trail starter is a very strong and fast riser, so I was hoping it would do well with whole grains, and I think it did. I will try this formula again with my home-made starter to see if it does as good a job rising this dough as "Carl" did. I also hope using a starter that is at peak (as opposed to older discarded starter past peak as used here) will improve the volume.

Susan's picture

Susan's "Faux Deli Rye"


75g firm starter

210g water

25g rye flour

275g high-gluten flour (if using bread flour or AP, adjust the water)

1 tsp caraway seed powder (optional, but good)

1 tbsp caraway seeds

6g salt

Mix starter and water, add the rest and mix, wait 20 minutes, *fold in the bowl, wait 10 minutes (3 or 4 times from *), cover and refrigerate overnight.  Remove from fridge, flatten on counter, *envelope fold, cover with bowl, wait until dough relaxes, maybe 15 minutes (3 or 4 times from *), let rise until when snipped with scissors you see a holey network (thanks, Dan Lepard, for that hint).  BTW, the last two times the dough is folded, round it up well.  Turn the dough ball to create surface tension, let rest for 5 minutes to seal the bottom, then overturn into a banneton.  Let rise for ~3 hours at room temp.  Triple Slash, spray with water, load into 500F oven, cover, bake for 20 minutes, remove cover, lower heat to 460F and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn off oven and leave for 5 minutes. Remove to a rack and rub butter over the loaf for a leathery crust rather than a crisp one. 

As everyone's dough is different, use your judgment concerning timing.  My room temperature is around 70F today.

Susan from San Diego

Jw's picture

it is funny how new recipes or experiments later on turn into 'production bread'. I have making rustic bread almost in production now, trying to become a week-baker instead of a weekend-only baker. That is one of the current challenges.

I have tried sourdough, but the result was a bit rustic too. The smell is ok, the looks are terrible. Hardly any ovenrise. Don't know what the problem is, maybe the master is not yet ready. I will keep trying. I am quite new to sourdough, so that is were the real fun is these days. I will keep trying, Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. Jw.

SylviaH's picture

I'll have to give this sourdough recipe another is very tasty!  I bulk fermented it overnite in my very cool bathroom!  Though I did not succeed in this loaf turning out the way I felt it should...I think it definately deserves a little more effort next time! 

I used a mixture of Dark and Golden Raisins.  With a light sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon!

Pan a little large!

Huh....not what I wanted!

Worth another try!!





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