The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Marni's picture

I'm documenting the results of the help my wonderful family gave me this past month while I recovered from a bicycle accident in which I broke my left wrist.  Fortunately, I'm right handed, but the cast/brace severely limited my baking.  I'm not the only one who suffers if I can't bake - my family wants their bread, cookies and cake - and I now know without question that I am a baker for the love of it.  I missed baking!

Anyway, there was no kneading or shaping for me, (typing with one hand too!) so my family stepped in and did pretty well:

   He did the shaping above and we finished them together.

   Here he is rolling challah into ropes; we all had fun braiding.

The challahs below were shaped by my daughters who are    seven. One was a first braid accomplished alone and the other is an interpretaion of a rose.

My husband and I made the braid from a video we watched of Ciril Hitz.






The finished products:


He also helped form a couple sandwich loaves ( very sticky - very funny and sweet) and the girls helped with pizza one night too.

As one of my friends said, the kids gained some good life skills during these weeks.


Now, my wrist is healed and I have two sourdough rosemary boules coming out of the oven!



turosdolci's picture

Zuccotto is light Italian cake full with pastry cream, fruit and soaked with rum. Fill it with fresh fruit such as, strawberries, raspberries or peaches.



jennyloh's picture

I think I'm being ambitious here.  Building starters, and started with 3.  Actually no,  I didn't start with 3.  I started with 1 full rye.  50g/50g,  following by a 1:1 ratio and then 1:1:1 ratio by the 3rd day.  I realised too late that I was going to build a giant and alot of wastage. I decided to split them into 3.  

I wonder if they are ready or I should just go on feeding them? Looking for advice.


Rye Starter - Day 5 without refreshment yet.

I took out about 160g from this rye starter and then added 50g/50g.  I think I should have thrown out more.  It's not as bubbly as the one that I added whole wheat.


Starter 2:  Added White flour - Day 5 without refreshment (using Dan Lepard's % of white leaven formula)

80g of initial rye starter/100g white/80g water

It's more bubbly and seems to have tripled.  Is this ready?


Mother Starter (Peter Reinhart)

I actually read wrongly and used Reinhart's formula on the 4th day.  But it's also very bubbly.  Should I continue with this formula to create the mother starter as per Reinhart's formula?

80g rye starter/60g whole wheat/20g water


Looking for suggestions and advices.

DonD's picture


For the past 15 years, my wife Barbara and I and our best friends Jeff and Barbara have marked our annual rite of Spring with a visit to Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia as guests of Luca Paschina, the General Manager and Winemaker of the Estate which is owned by a consortium of Italian wineries based in Tuscany and headed by Gianni Zonin, the patriarch of the Zonin Family. The vineyards and winery are situated on the grounds surrounding the old estate of Governor Barbour where winemaking was first introduced by Thomas Jefferson. This Celebration of Spring is marked by an annual Morel Dinner that the Winery and its Restaurant 'Palladio' organizes usually the first Saturday in May. As longtime wild mushroom foragers, we are responsible for a morel talk and slide show as an introduction to the all morel dinner paired with various wines from Barboursville Vineyards. But the highlight of the weekend has always been the informal Friday evening before the main event get-together with Luca, his wife Patty and children and assorted friends from near and far.

 Entrance to Barboursville Vineyards

 Barboursville Vineyards

Al Fresco Dinner:

This past Friday, we took off from work early and drove down to Luca's house just in time for an Al Fresco dinner in his backyard with his family, his assistant winemaker Daniele, Domenico Zonin (eldest son of Gianni) and Christophe, a visiting French Wine Consultant. In anticipation of this get-together, the day before, I had baked a Pane Casareccio di Renzano loaf from Daniel Leader's 'Local Bread' to go with a whole Prociutto ham made from the leg of a pig named 'Spike' that was raised for a caterer friend and that I had cured for almost two years. The weather was gorgeous, the fellowship was excellent, the morels were plentiful, the wines were flowing and the prociutto and bread were not bad either.

 Pane di Genzano w/ Prociutto and Tomato

 Fresh Pasta w/ Sauteed Morels 

Pane di Genzano:

I followed Leader's list of ingredients and proportions exactly but downsized the loaf to a manageable 500 gms total of KA Bread Flour. I modified the procedure to include a 30 minute autolyse and a light 4 minute kneading with a dough hook on low speed followed by a 2 1/2 hour fermentation with stretch and fold in the bowl every 30 mins. I shaped the dough into a boule and proofed it in a banneton for 1 hour before scoring and baking. I baked it at 450 degrees F with steam for 1 hour and at 400 degrees on convection without steam for 25 mins. The loaf snapped, crackled and popped when removed from the oven and the crust developed nice cracks and remained crunchy until the next day. The oven spring was tremendous and the crumb was tender and open. The dark crust was nutty and the crumb flavor was sweet and complex with no trace of sourness. I read that this bread would last for several day without staling but I would never find out because the loaf was gone in no time thanks in no small measure to Luca's kids.

 Crackly Crust

 Tender Crumb

The Main Event:

We capped the weekend festivities with the Saturday evening Dinner in the Banquet Room of the Winery. The dinner which is always sold-out was a 5 course dinner featuring Yellow Morels from Michigan and Black Morels from Oregon paired with a selection of wines from Barboursville.

 Frisee and Grilled Asparagus Salad w/ Pancetta and Roasted Morels

 Braised Pork Belly w/ Cauliflower Gratin and Glazed Morels

I cannot wait until next year...

Happy Baking (and Eating)!


rossnroller's picture

Last Thursday evening I met up with Yozza, another resident of the eternally-just-unwrapped city of Perth, Western Australia, who has a wood-fired oven at his workplace. After some PM exchanges during which I expressed in pining tones that I would love to try baking my sourdough pizzas in a WFO, Yozza suggested a bake-off: he would bake some of his dark ale wholemeal/white bread with molasses and sprouted wheat, and I would bring along some SD pizza dough and toppings.

I’d learned through our PM correspondence that Yozza is a pro baker who has sensibly elected to extricate himself from the long hours and pressures of baking for a living, and who now has things very well worked out – he works on campus at a technical college in a non-baking capacity, but spends whatever time he has spare haunting the Hospitality and Commercial Cooking section, where he is able to keep in contact with baking in a commercial context, while contributing his knowledge and experience to the staff and students…not to mention his bread, which he hides in secret spots on site, lest it disappear before he can make good his promises of a loaf or three to multiple grateful staff members, with a couple in reserve to take home!

I’d never met Yozza in person until last Thursday, but I would have had no trouble picking him out of a line-up – he looks exactly as I imagine a baker should look! I’m not going to elaborate unless specifically pushed…but if your image of The Baker archetype equates with mine, there is really no need!

Yozza led me through a warren of rooms and corridors to a courtyard outside the Hospitality student restaurant, where a handsome wood fired oven takes pride of place. Yozza is justly proud of the oven; it was his brainchild, built by the college’s engineering students. He had fired it up earlier in the day, ready for our bake-off. It glowed beautifully from within, radiating the ancient heat of the baking ages and the promise of the pizzas and bread to come.

Back in the kitchen section, Yozza mixed his bread dough in a commercial mixer – enough for 28 loaves of 500gm each (pre-baked). This was my first glimpse of commercial baking. It struck me that the worlds of the professional and amateur baker are far apart – further than I had imagined. That gulf widened for me as the evening progressed.

The obvious difference, of course, is one of scale. I keep my starter in the bottom of a small glass peanut butter jar in the fridge, and do a build for a single loaf of sourdough bread from a couple of teaspoonfuls, culminating in 2-300gm or so of active starter in a small glass mixing bowl. Yozza’s starter, by contrast, sits in a container about the size of a large can of paint!

Mixing my bread dough, I add water out of a Brita filter jug, using a little plastic medicine-measuring cup to finish off to the nearest gram – Yozza pours in water by the bucket!

When the proofing of the dough was complete, Yozza divided it into 500gm balls, which he pre-shaped with a deft motion I couldn’t easily replicate. That was nothing - his final shaping was so fast and tricky-looking, it seemed like sleight-of-hand! I tried to do a few loaves under his patient tutelage, but my efforts were clumsy and slow by comparison, and the results were as amateur as I felt! I was a bit taken aback, to be honest. Having carefully followed along with Hamelman’s directions when shaping my loaves at home, I thought I was on top of the shaping game. Uh uh. No time for my careful folds and finicky dough-nudging final shaping rituals when you’ve got 28 loaves to bake!

And the pizzas? Well, I have to admit to a little disappointment. Perhaps unrealistically, I had expected the WFO to take my pizzas to dizzy new heights. I have arrived at my pizza dough over many months of tweaking and experimenting (see this post), and the pizzas I turn out of my domestic oven at home take some beating. The WFO did give a light airiness to the rim that can only be achieved with a fast rise driven by high heat, and added a nice char to the edge, but for some reason the overall flavour was not as good as that I achieve at home. Not by my reckoning, anyway.

We shared the pizzas out among the staff, and I was surprised to learn from Yozza later that the feedback was very good. One staff member apparently declared her sample the best pizza she had tasted! Maybe I am my own harshest critic, but I am sure I can do a lot better. As with anything new, no doubt there are aspects to WFO baking that take some getting used to. All part of the mysterious, wonderful wide world of baking…

And Yozza’s bread? In a word, delicious! Soft elastic even crumb, thin but tasty crust, and lovely as open sandwiches for my lunch next day. Great spread with butter and honey, too – as you’d expect, the molasses and honey spoke eloquently to each other.

All in all, a terrific insight into the commercial world of baking for me, and a rare chance to get up close and personal with a WFO. Many thanks to Yozza for making it all accessible to me.

Following are a few pics taken during our bake-off. Not the best of quality – digital photography is not a strong point of mine – but it’s nice to have some visual record of the night, and to be able to share it here.

Cheers all!


Q: What beats a stoked-up wood fired oven ready to rock?


A: A stoked-up WFO with pizza bakin' inside!


My first wood-fired sourdough pizza margarita!


Do I need to tell ya who's who?


Derek's malted, sprouted wheat yeasted/SD bread


And yes, it IS as good as it looks!



Doughtagnan's picture

After watching the UK TV programme In Search of the Perfect Loaf, following the progress of baker Tom Herbert who goes on an epic quest for the perfect loaf, and so the Shepherds Loaf was born. Tom’s journey helps him to come up with an enormous, two kilo, white, spelt, sourdough loaf made using his family’s 55 year old sourdough, organic spelt flour from Somerset, Cornish sea salt and Cotswold water from a local spring.

Well, I thought it would be fun (as you do) to create a smaller offering at home with my 18 month old rye starter, filtered tap water and hardly any salt. I did source the same reassuringly expensive white spelt, Sharpham Park (£3.50 a kilo!) so my 1st attempt is a 4-500 gram boule just to see if it works okay as I am not in the habit of using such expensive flour! test bake will be later today and I will post a pic of the crumb etc tomorrow and the basic recipe........ see also the links to Tom's bakery and the Sharpham Park websites.

Well..... the loaf turned out fine, 




As this was a test bake I only used 275grams of the Refined Sharpham Park White Spelt,  about 52% water to flour weight and a couple of tablespoons of rye starter. I mixed 125 grams of the flour with all the water and starter, left overnight and added the rest plus a little salt the next day, I did not leave to mature in the fridge overnight as I have been doing lately but it still came out fine and i'm tempted to try mixing the refined flour with some wholegrain spelt next time. 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

OK, I'm going in. I've got the Glock, the BAD (Bad Ass Doberman) AKA Princess Lucy, and Chalupa the Chihuahua as reinforcement. Also in hand are sharp scissors and a 10" bread knife. Entering the house, I use all my senses trying to detect the CROB. I'm concerned that the soupy, pancake like batter of the sourdough converted cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread (CROB) has escaped it's container in the fridge and is hiding somewhere in the empty house.

I enter the house without a sound. The dogs seem calm. So far so good. I pull open the fridge and see The CROB- Oh, my!! It's eaten the aluminum foil off it's bowl. I didn't know it could do that. In the 36 hours or so since I locked it up in the empty fridge it's risen over my giant, commercial sized stainless steel bowl and has eaten holes in the aluminum. It doubled, it tripled!! And it ate metal!!!! I knew I should have used plasticrap!

I wrestle the beast out of it's cold, dark cave and drag it into the heat of the Arizona springtime. It's not going to like this I think. Hmmm, smells really nice. I carry the hefty monster back to the RV and take a peek. Despite the grayish looking spots all over the top from dissolved aluminum foil, it looks much more bread dough-like than it did 2 days ago. I may be able to train this dragon yet.

But what to do with all those aluminum foil spots? Well, thank goodness I came armed for battle! I go at it with the bread knife and scissors and show no mercy. I hack and cut and hack and cut. Throw that dough in the compost bin where it belongs. Nasty bugger, metal eating monster! Now it looks better and I bet I have a more manageable amount of dough to work with too.

Get out those scales! Yes, the one that screwed up this dough in the first place. I weigh the dough and find that I have enough for 3 large loaves, just what I started with. Hmm, what a strange coincidence. Shaped the loaves, jelly rolled with brown sugar, cinnamon and honey. Put them in the pans. The beast has been tamed!

All that is left are 3 yummy CROB loaves cooling on the stovetop (which pretends to be a countertop in my cramped RV). Sourdough starter makes wonderful CROB.

Moral of the story- Make no more than 2 loaves of bread when playing around with a formula. CROB Blob attacks are far more lethal within the confines of the RV. Woe to the person who gets this rental RV next. There is a baby CROB culture growing in the plumbing.

Sedlmaierin's picture

Let's see...this bake went pretty much according to recipe and it ended up having a seriously low profile(3.75"thickest- 1.5" at it's thinnest). I don't know if the lowness of my bread's profile is acceptable! I wish I had written down more detailed notes on my previous Miche bakes(even though neither one of them had as high of a rye flour percentage as this one), in order for me to see how to augment my bake so that the loaf has just a tad bit more height.

Anyways, as I have said before...I am developing into an absolute Miche LOVER! This bread is amazing! The crust is so yummy and dark and caramelized tasting-grrrrrrr-it makes me crazy! The crumb is nicely sour, substantial, but light and so healthy tasting with all the whole grain goodness.I swear I have already eaten a quarter of this bread all by myself today-I don't even know why I bother freezing half a loaf.....really silly and not necessary!

So, I......

-used 50% hard red wheat and 50% hard white wheat flour and sifted out the biggest bran particles myself

-also used arrowheadmills organic white flour

-the proofing times were pretty much as printed( I did three folds), but I felt for the final proof things were progressing so fast that it ended up going in the oven after about 1 hour and 45 minutes.....I feared overproofing

-final proof was in a pastry cloth lined bowl, seams up., time I will try seams down,this bread definitely did not need any extra encouragement to flatten possibly an extra s&f

- baked as recommended in book plus a 12 hour rest

pictures here....and please, if you have any advice as to how to get it to have a slightly higher profile, let me know.oh, and i tired to do another stencil, but I was in such a hurry to get the bread in the oven that I pretty much had no time to make sure the stencling went is supposed to read "Ceci n'est pas une Miche"..which I think is befitting since you fellow bakers only get to see pictures ;p

jennyloh's picture


I'd say this looks more like bagels.  The previous ones were a little too small.  4 oz are the right size.  I also used a homemade malt powder,  tried to sprout my own with wheat berries.  Soaked for 3-4 days.  There was a little white sprout, but somehow didn't like the ones in Dan Lepard's book on The Homemade Loaf.  But I went ahead to dry and grind it then.  I added in this ingredient, but still without malt syrup,  I substituted with brown sugar.  The colouring looks fine I guess.

The puff was much better, the taste was chewy and there's a tinge of sweetness - could it be the malt powder?  I wonder. Perhaps.  

But my 2nd batch that went in didn't puff as much,  see bottom left picture,  the comparison,  the one on the right is the 2nd batch,  I suspect its the ice cold water,  most melted after the 1st batch.

More details here: click here.  

SydneyGirl's picture

Last night I made Reinhart's whole grain multi-grain struan, with home milled wheat flour and a mix of uncooked seeds.

It went OK, but I'm wondering whether the texture is right or whether it was affected by the fact that I replaced about 75-100g of the wheat flour with rye but added a bit of vital wheat gluten. The bread is lovely and soft, but just a little on the cakey side.  Probably not enough kneading - also I should have kneaded by hand rather than machine, given all the gluten-cutting seeds. While I let it rise for a little bit after kneading, i then left it in the fridge for another day, because it was too late to bake. 

As I was making the final dough, I was a bit alarmed at the amount of sweetener, in my case honey, which the recipe requires. I reduced it a little (to about 40g from 56 g) but, for my taste, the bread is still too sweet. Also, I do miss the sourdough taste in this bread. 

I baked it in an oven with a pan just on top, as the oven gets very very hot on top, which left it rather pale on top. So removed the pan for last 10 minutes and unfortunately left the kitchen during that time, so burned the top. Now it looks burnt, but the taste is actually fine: nice and crisp crust, very soft inside. I think it might just convince a non-wholemeal eater. 

Multi-grain struan


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