The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


fenchel2c's picture

I made my first batches of Brötchen ever and used King Arthur's European-style bread flour.  Altho I need much more practice forming the rolls, they were crispy and had a nice color on the outside.  However, the crumb was dense and chewy not like the soft and airy texture I remember.  I used the white flour Master Recipe from 'Artisan bread in five minutes a day' with one variation; adding 3 egg whites.  How can I get a softer and airier crumb?

dmsnyder's picture


“The Cooking of Parma,” by Richard Camillo Sidoli is the kind of cookbook I most enjoy. It has many marvelous recipes from one of the greatest food regions of one of the greatest food countries in Europe. It also presents a culinary history of the region, integrating the history of local foods and their preparation into the broader history of Northern Italy.

Alas, I have hardly scratched the surface of the delightful repertoire of this Italian province's cucina, but I have repeatedly made one recipe: “Torta di Patate.” This open-faced, rustic savory tart was for me an instant comfort food – perhaps because it's what a potato knish really wants to be when it grows up.


Torta Dough




2 cups


½ tsp


½ cup plus 1 tablespoon

Olive oil

4 tablespoons plus ½ tsp


Basics of torta preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the water and 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

  3. Mix to form a dough, but do not over-mix. The goal is not to develop the gluten.

  4. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes. It can be left refrigerated overnight.

  5. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough thinly. (About the thickness of 2 sheets of paper)

  6. Spread the remaining ½ tsp of olive oil in a 15 x 11 inch baking pan, and put the dough in the pan, leaving a 3 inch overhand on all sides.

  7. Spread the filling over the dough, and fold the overhanging dough over the edges of the filling, leaving most of the center open.

  8. Brush the torta with a beaten egg.

  9. Bake until golden brown (about 25-35 minutes.)

Parma-style torta's can be filled with a variety of vegetable mixtures, and this cookbook gives recipes for several, including squash, rice and savoy cabbage. I've made them all, except for the torta di riso. We like the torta di patate best.

Filling for potato torta



Potatoes (russet or yukon gold)

2 ½ lbs


6 tablespoons

Onion, chopped

½ medium

Leek, chopped

2/3 cup

Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated

2/3 cup


¾ cup

Salt & pepper

To taste


2 large

Torta dough

1 recipe

Procedure for preparing potato filling

  1. Prepare torta dough, as above.

  2. Boil, bake or microwave the potatoes until just tender.

  3. Sauté the onions and leeks in the butter until soft but not browned.

  4. Peel the potatoes and put them through a ricer into a large bowl.

  5. Add the sautéed onions and leeks, the cheeses, milk and salt and pepper to the bowl and mix.

  6. Beat the eggs. Add ¾ of them to the potato mixture, reserving the remaining quarter to brush the torta.

  7. Assemble the torta as described above.

This mixture can be used immediately or kept , refrigerated, for use the next day.

Tortas are often eaten as antipasti, but we ate this as our main course for dinner, along with a green salad.

For dessert --- Well, what should follow a rustic savory tart? It has to be a rustic fruit tart!

Rustic sour cherry tart

Happy baking!


Submitted to YeastSpotting on SusanFNP's Wildyeastblog

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Flours that I have used:

Hecker's Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Hecker's Whole Wheat Flour

Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour

Arrowhead Mills Organic Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Arrowhead Mills Organic Rye Flour

Whole Foods Market 365 Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Whole Foods Market 365 Whole Wheat Flour

King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour

King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

King Arthur Organic Unbleached Bread Flour

Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached Bread Flour

Bob's Red Mill Semonlina Flour

Indian Head White Cornmeal

I use the following flours interchangably. 

Hecker's Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Arrowhead Mills Organic Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Whole Foods Market 365 Unbleached All Purpose Flour

It depends on where I am in the city, and what's on sale.  I've gotten good results with all three of them.  I prefer using mostly all-purpose flours because find breads made with 100% bread flour too chewy for my taste.  If I do use bread flour, I will only use between 10% to 50% for the total flour weight of the recipe.

I really like Arrowhead Mills Organic Rye Flour in small portions for most of my breads, and to make sourdough starters...

As for whole wheat, I prefer Hecker's Whole Wheat flour.  It's cheap and readily available in NYC...

I have been tempted to order special flours by internet/mail, but I can't seem to justify the extra expense...  It's just not worth it for me to spend the extra money on shipping, and besides isn't it more environmentally sound to go local?

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

25% Semolina Sourdough - 12/7/09


Starter Build 1

50g - stiff starter (active)

50g - semolina (Bob's Red Mill)

50g - bread flour (KA Organic)

100g - water


Starter Build 2

250g - all of starter build 1

100g - semolina

100g - AP flour (Whole Foods or Hecker's)

100g - water


Final Dough - 2296g total dough weight @ about 72% hydration

550g - all of starter build 2

500g - AP flour

250g - bread flour

250g - semolina

720g - water

26g  - Kosher salt



Starter Build 1

-Mix ingredients for Starter Build 1, cover and let ferment for 8-12 hours or until doubled, bubbly and sinking in slightly at center.


Starter Build 2

-Mix ingredients for Starter Build 2, cover and let ferment for 8-12 hours or until doubled, bubbly and sinking in slightly at center.


Final Dough

-Mix all ingredients in large metal mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, cover and let rest (autolyse) for 20-30 minutes.

-After rest, knead dough in bowl using wet hand using the French fold method for about 5 minutes working out any lumps.  Cover and let rest for 20-30  minutes.

-After rest, turn dough using stretch and fold method in bowl with wet hands.  Do not add any flour.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

-Repeat stretch and folds 4 times at 15 minute intervals.

-After last turn, place dough into lightly oiled container, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

-Turn dough one last time after 15 minutes, and return to refrigerator for 21 to 24 hours.


Bake Day

-Remove dough from refrigerator, divide into 4 pieces (574g), shape into boule and transfer to bowl lined with a lightly floured tea towel/linen, or floured bannetton.  Place proofing bowls in large plastic bag to prevent dough from drying out.  Proof for about 2 hours or until dough passes the poke test...

-45 minutes before loaves are finished proofing, place baking stone in oven on 2nd shelf up from bottom and preheat to 550F.

-When loaves are proofed and oven has reached 550F, place loaves on to peel, slash, and place directly onto stone, steam, turn oven temp down to 450F, and bake for 50 minutes, rotating loaves halfway through bake.  Loaves are done when internal temp is between 205F to 210F.

-Cool completely before cutting and eating.



-These turned out really good!!!  4 loaves are a very tight fit on a 14" x 16" baking stone, but it will work... 

SylviaH's picture

I love challah and have never tried Glezer's sourdough version.  I don't have her book.  I was so inspired by David's post I thought I would attempt it.  I added some golden raisins because I knew my husband would love them in the loaf so I added some to the 3 braided challah.  The round 4 strand loaf is plain but my favorite shape.  I only did a couple of things different.  I used the lesser amount of starter 200 gms.  I hand mixed everything and didn't use a rolling pin in the final shaping..I guess that comes from not ever wanting to use one on my pizza dough.  It took them nearly 6 hours to proof.  It's pouring cats and dogs here and pretty cool in my kitchen today.  I've been out most the day running some errands so the long proofing time worked out perfect.

Here's what I got and I will post a crumb shot a little later when they are cooled.

I also posted J. Hamelman's Country Bread..I think it has a wonderful flavor..maybe it's all that pre-ferment..but it's delicious! 

The Crumb and tasting!  This is a very, very delicious Challah.  The addition of the golden raisins complimented and added to the complex flavor of this bread that my husband and I both love..that little burst in your mouth really is great.

to add the raisins with my hands I shaped the dough into a round flat circle and laid them on top and then rolled the dough up firmly and then rolled and lengthened it into the rope.  When I do this it keeps my raisins from going on the outside of the loaf and burning. 


Jefferey Hamelman's Country Bread   I will definately make this bread again...and with a little more patience..the flavor is very nice!






ericb's picture


A few weeks ago, I posted a question about using soft winter wheat for baking artisan bread. Here's the brief story. My wife and I are somewhat passionate about local food. Since we can only grow soft wheat here in Kentucky, I always assumed that I would have to buy flour milled from wheat grown in Kansas or the Northern Plains.


Fast forward to Monday when I was at the market and saw this:

... a bag of All Purpose flour from Weisenberger Mills, Midway, KY. Now, I have used their flour in the past, specifically their bread flour milled from hard red spring wheat, and it has performed beautifully. Check out the sticker on this bag, though:



Yup. Kentucky Proud, made from wheat grown in Woodford County, KY (also home of a fantastic bourbon, Woodford Reserve). I decided to throw out everything I thought I knew about flour and try to bake artisan bread with it.


The end result?


Not bad, right? I chose Hamelman's Baguettes With Poolish. I think this recipe provides a decent baseline, and really lets the flour speak for itself.



I will be the first to admit that this is far from my best loaf. The crust is a too pale and the scoring is nothing to write home about (I may have gotten a bit anxious and threw it in the oven too soon, but 30 minutes into proofing, it started to feel a little dead to the touch). The crumb is perfect for dipping in olive oil or slathering with spread. The flavor is quite nice, with just a hint of tang from the poolish, an almost buttery finish, and the subtle taste of wheat typical in a simple white bread such as this.


I think I will try a more advanced recipe next time, and see just how far I can push this flour. 


DonD's picture


My fondness for Brioches dates back to my years growing up in Saigon where French Bakeries and Pasry Shops were quite common there. These shops were owned and operated by French people so their products were quite authentic and more importantly they were made with real butter. Fast forward to the late sixties when I went to college for a year in Switzerland where I was really spoiled with an abundance of excellent  breads and pastries. Afterwards, I came to the US and was hard pressed to find a true French Baguette let alone a Brioche. However, my yearly trips to Montreal to visit friends would alleviate my craving for Brioches. Gaston Lenotre had a Bakery and Pastry Shop there (since closed) and I would indulge in his wonderful Viennoiseries and Pastries. Several trips to France would further reinforce my love for Brioches. In the late seventies and early eighties, we started to find Brioches in the US but somehow they tasted bland and lean. Even now, I have not been to find a commercial Brioche that tastes like the real thing. About 15 years ago, we invited a French Chef to dinner at our home and the next day, as a thank you, he gave us a Brioche Nanterre (a Brioche Loaf) that he had baked. That was the best Brioche I have ever had, it was light and airy and the buttery richness was unreal. That prompted me to start baking my own Brioche. Over the years I have experimented with various recipes from Lenotre, Jacques Pepin and Michel Roux with relative success. Recently I tried the recipe from Nancy Silverton from the Baking with Julia book and TV series and was very happy with the results.

Last weekend in anticipation of the Holidays, I made a batch of various types of Brioches using NS's formulation with some minor tweakings. I used a total of 6 eggs instead of 5 and I increased the butter amount from 1 1/2 sticks to an 'artery clogging' 2 1/2 sticks. It's the Holidays and I only make them 3 or 4 times a year!


Shaped Brioches ready for proofing


Large Brioche a Tete (Brioche with Head)


Brioche Nanterre, Brioche Mousseline, Medium and Small Brioches a Tete


Brioche Crumb


Happy Holidays!


occidental's picture

Inspired by Txfarmer's post ( ) last week I baked Leaders Auvergne Rye with Bacon today.  I didn't have the really open crumb txfarmer had but I'm pleased with the results.  These loaves were proofed in the fridge overnight which, if anything else developed a good 'skin' that made scoring easy.  I expected more of a bacon flavor - I'd say there is a hint of flavor but not much more - which is disapointing after adding seven slices of bacon!  I can't say this is one of my favorites from Local Breads but I may try it again some time.  On to the pictures...


From bread

From bread
Paddyscake's picture

We spent yesterday taking our granddaughter Jewels to hear Mrs. Claus reading stories and her first visit with Santa. Being 17 months, she wasn't all that enthralled with the story time, but did enjoy marching around and having a great conversation with herself and whoever else wanted to listen. The babbling cracks me up, she is so expressive with her hands.

The holiday season brings those once a year baked goodies. I found a recipe for Guiness Stout Ginger Cake and wondered if it would be as wonderful as Qahtan's Guiness Stout Chocolate Cake. This bread is richly dark and the aroma is incredible. Tasting will have to wait until it has cooled. It has stout, molasses, fresh grated ginger, fresh grated nutmeg, cinnamon, cardomom, ground ginger, cloves.

Also baked off a couple loaves of sourdough English Muffin bread.

Would love to hear everyone's favorite once a year holiday bakes. I'll be baking off the requisite cranberry orange breads, our holiday fruitcake (this one is awesome, honest!) gingerbread popcorn and something new that you might suggest?

Thaichef's picture

Hello Everyone:

   I live in a small town in VA, and on a yearly basis new books are purchase for the library.  I requested the Bread Baker's Apprentice( because of the high recommendation from this site) for the library since we have nothing remotely close to what being recommended on this site. I copied Floyd's book review and  gave the list to the librarian who has to submit to the committee.  Well, the verdict came two days ago!

"No! the book is too old". They are going to buy " a quick bread book by Peter Reinhart since it is newer.  I believe that I read on this web site about the book that it is not very good.  The librarian asked "who are this people whom you said that you got the review from?" I gave her the Fresh Loaf web site but I don't know if she will ever look at it!!!! 

  I am very frustrated!  The bread book that they will buy for the library is recommended by the group thathave never bake! So this library has 50 books of quiltings and 3-4 "coffee table" bread books.  I know I searched and borrowed the bread books only to return quickly because it is "not" for people who are actualy bake (like me).  It dirves me crazy.

Any commments of how to make them see the light and perhaps buy the book?  I could buy the book myself eventually but it is still a lot of money for me!

  I will be teaching "bread baking" class at the same library on Dec.15.  Should I encourage the participants to help?





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