The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
belle's picture

Help...I am new to this wonderful community and hope you can help...I am in need of a great recipe for raisin walnut sourdough bread.  I have purchased a wonderful loaf from The Kneaded Bread bakery in Port Chester, NY and have made numerous attempts to make it on my own but nothing compares. 

thanks very much...


dmsnyder's picture

Above are pictured three loaves of San Francisco Sourdough made from the recipe in Peter Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb." They each turned out with subtle differences that are instructive regarding the variables that affect the appearance of our loaves. I thought it might be useful to describe these differences and what produced them.

I'm not going to describe the formula or method, because these were according to the recipe and were identical for all 3 boules. They were proofed in identical coiled reed brotformen. The two loaves on the right were baked together. The one on the left was baked 45 minutes later, and was left in the refrigerator, where all had been cold retarded overnight, 45 minutes longer than the other two. As you can see, they were scored with the same checkerboard pattern. Both bakes started in a 500F oven. The temperature was lowered to 450F when the loaves had been loaded. They baked for 30 minutes then were left in the oven for another 10 minutes with the oven turned off and the door ajar.

What were the differences in my procedures, then?

For the first bake (the two loaves on the right): 5 minutes before loading the first loaf (the one in the middle). a handful of ice cubes were put in a pre-heated metal loaf pan on the lowest shelf. Then, I dumped the boule on a peel, scored it and loaded it. The oven door was closed. I scored the second loaf (the one on the far right) and loaded it. I then poured a cup of boiling water into a pre-heated cast iron skillet on the bottom shelf and closed the door. The loaf pan and the skillet were removed after 10 minutes.

For the second bake, the loaf on the far left was scored and spritzed with water, loaded and then covered with a stainless steel bowl. The bowl was removed after 10 minutes.

What were the differences in outcome?

Comparing the two loaves baked together, the first one loaded had better oven spring and better bloom. I think it got the benefit of a slightly higher initial oven temperature. The second loaf was loaded within 2-3 minutes of the first. I have seen this difference between 2 loaves loaded sequentially in this manner repeatedly. I think the differences are "real."

The third loaf and the first (the one on the far left and the middle one) had about the same oven spring and bloom. If anything, the loaf in the middle had more. They were both, of course, the "first" loaf loaded. However, the one baked under a bowl for 10 minutes had a much shinier crust due, I think, to dissolved and gelatinized starch on the surface.  The difference "in person" was more dramatic than what I see in the photo. This shininess is an effect I've seen only with breads baked covered. The longer the loaf is covered, the stronger the effect.

These differences may be of little significance. All three boules are quite satisfactory. But the differences do elucidate the effects of minor changes in temperature and humidification and might answer questions other have about how to achieve desired improvements in their breads.

FYI, we had part of the loaf on the left with dinner (Onion soup and Dungeness crab cakes with an Anderson Valley Sauvignon Blanc). The bread had a crunchy crust, typical chewy crumb and lovely complex soudough flavor. This is still a fabulous version of SF Sourdough.

Any comments about the observed differences would be welcome.


dmsnyder's picture

Norm's onion rolls and kaiser rolls

Norm's Onion Rolls and Kaiser Rolls

March 3 should be a TFL holiday. That's the day in 2008 that Stan (elagins) asked Norm (nbicomputers) if he had a recipe for New York style onion rolls.  Norm did, and he posted the recipe the same day

I just know there are some here who have yet to bake these. No one's perfect. It's not the end of the world. On the other hand, it would be a terrible thing for the end of the world to happen, and you haven't gotten around to baking these rolls. You shouldn't be depriving yourself. You never know ...

It should be noted that the same dough that is used for onion rolls is also used for kaiser rolls (aka "hard rolls," "Vienna rolls," "bulkies"). The only differences are in the make up (how the rolls are formed), the proofing and the topping. Well, there is also a slight difference in the recommendation for steaming the oven.

I am posting Norm's recipe together with tips he contributed in response to various questions and problems others posted.

So, without further ado ...

 The Dough

(Makes nine 3-oz rolls)

  • High Gluten Flour 16 oz

  • Water                  8 oz

  • Yeast                  0.3 oz Fresh or 0.1 oz Instant

  • Salt                     0.25 oz

  • Sugar                  0.75 oz

  • Malt                    0.25 oz (diastatic malt powder or malt syrup. If you don't have either, just add an additional 0.25 oz of sugar.)

  • Eggs                   0.75 oz (a little less than 2 Tablespoons)

  • Oil                      0.75 oz (a little less than 2 Tablespoons 

  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar (And malt, if using malt powder. And crumbled fresh yeast, if using fresh yeast.)

  2. Pour water in a bowl. (Add instant yeast, if using it, and mix. Add malt syrup, if using, and mix it.)

  3. Mix egg and oil together.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, preferably the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the flour mixture. Add the egg and oil mixture and combine. Last, add the water mixture and combine.

  5. Using the dough hook, knead on Speed 2 (for a KitchenAid mixer) or equivalent for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is very smooth and silky. (This is a very stiff dough, so your mixer may "walk." Keep an eye on it!) Depending on your flour, you may have to add a bit more water, but the dough should be rather dry. Not sticky or even tacky. It should clean the bowl sides and not adhere to the bowl bottom.

  6. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover tightly. Let it ferment until doubled in volume. (About 90 minutes, depending on the room temperature.)

  7. Turn the dough onto a dry, un-floured work surface. Divide it into 2 to 4 oz pieces, depending on the size rolls you want to end up with. (For reference, a 3 oz piece will result in a 4 inch onion roll or a 3 inch kaiser roll.)

  8. Pre-shape each piece into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and/or a towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. (This is to relax the gluten, not to rise.)

  9. If making onion rolls, spread the topping on your work surface, a cookie sheet, a pie tin or whatever.

  10. Flatten each piece using a rolling pin and/or the palm of you hand. They should be 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

  11. Press each flattened piece firmly into the topping mixture, then place it topping side up on a baking pan lined with parchment paper which has been sprinkled with coarse cornmeal (polenta).

  12. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to fully proof. This may take 60-90 minutes. (Failure to allow the rolls to fully proof will result in more oven spring than is desirable. These rolls should not end up spherical, but rather flat, like a discus.)

  13. Pre-heat your oven to 450F and prepare to steam it using your method of choice.

  14. When the rolls are fully proofed, press a finger deeply into the center of each roll.

  15. Bake them for 5 minutes with steam. Then remove the steam source and continue baking until the rolls are well-browned - 10 to 15 minutes longer. (The tops may remain white if the onions were too wet or you had too much steam in your oven.) If desired, you can bake a bit longer to crisp up the tops.

  16. Remove the rolls from the oven and cool on a rack.

The Topping for Onion Rolls

(Makes enough for a double recipe)

  • Dehydrated onion flakes ¼ cup

  • Poppy seeds                  1 T

  • Salt                              ¼ tsp

  • Oil                                1 T

  1. Put the onion flakes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.

  2. When the onion flakes are fully re-hydrated, pour off the excess water but save it for use in the dough or in your rye sour or other good use.

  3. Mix in the other ingredients and put aside.

If anyone has additional tips, please submit them. Collectively, we have quite a bit of experience with this recipe. I'm hoping to collect it all in one place.




proth5's picture

Been falling behind on my posting.  During this long run to the solstice, even typing "Nice bread" is too much (and to so many, I say "Nice Bread!")

Here's where my energy has gone:

What I've been doing

The sparkly boxes without ribbons are caramels - over 2000 pieces hand cut and wrapped, the bags are home-made marshmallows, the boxes with ribbons are home grown and house made jams, jellies, pickles, and mustards, the tall shapes are herbed vinegars, and the stack of containers to the rear are full of a special family recipe cookie.  Of course there is the remains of last week's milling and baking.

The special cookies are known in our family only as "Grandma's Brown Cookies" and are one of those things that exist within a family context.  They are a strongly spiced molassas cookie and not to evryone's taste (you need to have been raised on them) they also require special small cookie cutters (passed down in the family) and have some measurements that require knowing which glass to use.  I like to think about that kind of thing in terms of our baking and cooking traditions.

So once I get this all shipped to the proper receipients, I can take a deep breath an lose myself in ABand P.....

Happy Baking!

SylviaH's picture

The bread has cooled enough to cut and Norm's Onion Rolls are everything everyone said they P.R.Italian really tastes very good to...I will be making them both again and again!

dstroy's picture

Our littlest one had a birthday party today - she's turning 4 on Tuesday.

She's had something of an obsession with Chinese Lion Dances ever since seeing celebrations at a Lunar New Year festivities at the dowtown gardens a couple of years ago, and this year, she requested that her cake be done in this theme.

Here is what I came up with:


His tail and ears were made of cookies. His horn was an ice cream cone cut in half.

There were candies at Winco called "Burnt Peanuts that were red and prickly and served quite well as pom poms!

This served as inspiration for the cake:

I started with a rather blocky stack of Funfetti bricks.


curly candles completed the festive disposition!

SylviaH's picture

Today I made my first attempt at Norm's onion rolls and I also made P.R. Italian loaf.  I have only baked a couple of loaves of bread in my woodfired oven and Im really still learning to start a fire "lol"..getting pretty good now!  I don't smoke up the whole neighborhood anymore!  I needed to let my oven heat up a little hotter and longer...since I wasn't doing pizza I was going for a shorter time frame.  I still have a lot to learn about my oven's heating...I used my hand for a temperature gauge since mine is broke!  I did a lot of multitasking today.  Next time I will do only one bread recipe.  It makes things a lot simpler and more successful for me.

The beginning.  Next time I will make a larger onion mixture...recipe just covered these very large rolls.

Done...I sat the rolls on two pans...bottoms turned out browned just right.

Two batches done...I had no idea these rolls were so large!

P.R. Italian Bread...this bread didn't get the attention it needed...rushing around making was supposed to be a batard!  I want my oven to be hotter next time so it bakes a little faster.  It was very dark out and I was using a flashlight during my baking..these photos are done with a was pitch black inside the oven..and I was trying to hold my flashlight!

P.R. French bread was poked in the side moving it around in the oven....I wasn't happy with the way it turned time darker crust.

I woodfired a meatloaf with garlic roasted potatoes, peas for dinner...just before putting my bread in.   

proth5's picture

After many, many weeks of waiting it hit my doorstep yesterday.

I am engaged in other baking projects right now, but I had to take a look.

What already excites me: The vienoisserie section, that all recipes are in baker's percents, the sugar work, and the section on how to analyse a complex formula.

OK, there may be mistakes or things that are not to everyone's liking, but I am so anxious to get my other baking done and sit with this book that I can hardly stand it.

Woo Hoo!

Happy Baking

Floydm's picture

Anybody in Australia catch A Matter of Loaf and Death last night?  How was it?  

My kids and I are big Wallace & Grommit fans.  That the new one is set in a bakery makes it irresistable.


leucadian's picture

I am attempting to read Janedo's baking blog 'Au Levain', having gotten hooked on the automatic translation that kept translating 'baguette' into 'stick' or 'wand'. I always wanted to learn French, and this seemed like a good motivation. What a treat to visit Anis Bouabsa and Patisserie Poilane. Very cool. As part of the exercise, I made a list of some baking terms. I thought I'd share them here, with the hope of getting some free proofreading and editorial comments.

Stewart  (edited with new words and pronunciation hints 9 Dec 08)

  Vocabulaire du boulanger A baker's vocabulary
  Stewart Walton   9 décembre 2008
  ajouter to add ah joo TAY
  alveolée with lots of holes ahl vee oh LAY
le apprêt second fermentation ah PREH
la autolyse autolyse, enzymatic rest auto LEES
la baguette long thin loaf, 'stick'  bah GET
le banneton basket for proofing ban net TAWN
le bâtard thicker loaf, 'bastard' bah TARD
le blé wheat blay
le bol bowl ball
la boule round loaf bool
la bouillie boiled mush boo YEE
la buée steam in the oven biew WAY (first part like view)
  chauffer to heat show FAY
le chef starter, 'chief' shef
la clé seam on shaped dough, 'key' clay
la couche dusted towel for proofing coosh
la coupe cut,score coop
  croquant crisp crow CON
  croustillant crisp crew steel YAHN
la croûte crust crewt
la cuiller spoon (not a common spelling) coo YAY
la cuillère spoon coo YAY
  cuire to cook queer
la détente rest before shaping day TAHN
  diviser to divide, cut to loaf size dee vee SAY
l' eau water oh
l' épeautre spelt ('grand épeautre) eh PAW truh
l' épi 'head' of wheat eh PEE
le façonnage shaping fa sown AHJ
la farine flour fah REEN
la fermentation fermentation  fir mahn tah SEE OWN
la ficelle very thin loaf, 'string' fee SELL
le four oven foor
le frasage simple mixing of ingredients  frah SAHJ
le frigo refrigerator free GO
le gluten gluten gloo TAN
  gonfler to rise, inflate, oven spring gone FLAY
le grigne expanded slashes on loaf green
le grignon most well baked part of loaf green YON
la huile oil we
la  humidification humidity oo mee dee FEE cah SEE OWN
la hydratation hydration heed rah tah SEE OWN
le lait milk lay
la lame blade lahm
le levain sourdough luh VAN
la levée rising, proofing luh VAY
la levure commercial yeast luh VIEW(e)R
  mélanger to mix meh lahn JAY
  mettre to put, to place met ruh
la miche large round loaf meesh
la mie crumb mee
le miel honey mee ELL
  mise en forme shaping  mees on form
le pain bread pan
la pâte dough pot
le pâton shaped dough pot OWN
le petit pain roll ptee pan
le pétrin bread trough or kneading machine pet TRAN
  pétrir to knead pet TREAR
le pétrissage process of kneading  pet tree SAHJ
la pierre stone pee YAYR
le pliage degas (stretch,  fold, or punch), 'pleat' plea AHJ
le pointage  first fermentation pwahn TAHJ
la poolish high hydration yeast starter POH lish
le rabat degas (see pliage), a hunting term  'beat the bushes' rob BAH
le seigle rye SEE gluh
le sel salt sell
le sucre sugar SUE cruh
le taux ratio, percentage tow
le torchon towel tore SHAWN
le trou hole TRUE
la vapeur steam vah PURE
  Note on my attempt at phonetic pronunciation for English speakers:
  Pronouncing these words as I have indicated will bring peals of laughter from anyone who speaks French, but they should be able to understand what you are saying. The French 'r' is hard for most Americans, so don't worry about it. Try running all the syllables together, and say the word fast. The words will sound better that way. Most of the syllables have been rendered as English words or at least something that could be pronounced with English pronunciation conventions (as if there were any). If there was no close equivalent, I resorted to the following conventions:
  ah combination is always pronounced  as in 'lah dee dah'.
  oo combination is always pronounced  as in 'boot, root, scoop'.
  uh combination is always pronounced as in 'uh, I dunno', and can be dropped at the end of a word..
  ahj combination is always pronounced as in 'fusilage garage'.
  Most 'n's in French are nasal: it's the n sound in 'long' before you say the g.
  The baking process mostly from Joe Ortiz 'The Village Baker'  
le pétrissage mixing and kneading  
la repos rest to hydrate during mixing  
le pointage first rising, also called 'première fermentation'
  Donner un tour degassing, 'give a turn', same as pliage or rabat
le pésage scaling, also 'diviser' dividing  
le détente intermediate rising, 'relaxing'  
le façonnage shaping  
le apprêt final proofing, 'preparation', also called 'deuxième fermentation'
le coup de lame slashing, 'cut with blade'  
la cuisson baking  
  I started this list in order to read Janedo's blogs on and  I have gotten lots of help from friends on the Fresh Loaf.  I used Langensheidt's French Pocket Dictionary for most of the ordinary words.
  A final disclaimer: I'm learning French. I don't speak it very well. Comments and corrections are always welcome.


Subscribe to RSS - blogs