The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


breadinquito's picture

Hi to everyone of the family TFL, anyone involved in bakery or kitchen should know about mise en place (even though is not french speaking) I found somewhere a translation I really liked: "get organized"...for the newbies is having everything measured, chopped, etc in order start a recipe.

Based on the experience of yesterday, I recommend everyone mise en place: I started the 3 days long recipe of the panettone (only sourdough) and already had the first dough

ready to be mixed with candied fruits, more water etc....I made was supposed to be adding 80 ml of water BUT no...I put 240 ml! hopefully none saw my face in the moment I realized the mistake!! anyway, no way to step back, so I decided to add 160 more gr of flour just to compensate, the result almost 6 pounds of dough that will enable me to make 4-5 panettoni (panettone singular, panettoni plural, according to italian grammar...)

And now ladies and gentlemen, the pics:

The first dough ready to be mixed with vanilla, candied fruits etc:

the dough mixed with fruits, nuts etc:

just before baking:

out of the oven:

 the crumb:


and finally, the most important: a genuine Marry Christmas and Happy New Year!!



PD: sorry if the quality of the pics is "so so", they were taken with a 2mp cell phone camera and the photographer (me) is better making breads....a pitty you can't smell and taste it!!!

dstroy's picture

We have added Irish Shortbread cookies to our collection of holiday treats, the other favorite around here being the Magic Squares - although this recipe we've also called "Zoo Cookies", because they used to have these amazing cookies at the zoo, always expertly decorated to look like various zoo animals, which I admit to having gone sometimes with the cookie being the prime attraction. Then they seem to have quit selling them there, so I had to find out what sort of cookies they were to satisfy the occasional craving. Having found out what they're made of, I now know why they tasted so good, so we have to limit how often they get made. ;) I realized we've been making these regularly now and I've never posted the recipe, so I'm correcting that now.

Irish Shortbread

2 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour.

Bring butter to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Cream the butter until it is the consistency of whipped cream.
Beat in the sugar. Add salt. Add flour in 4 portions (one cup at a time) mixing well after each addition.
Turn out onto a floured board and pat or roll to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. (Dough was crumbly so required squashing to make it feel clay-like)
Cut into shape desired with a cookie cutter.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Wait till cookies are mostly cooled to ice.

Royal Icing

3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder (I can't find this stuff anywhere so I use some creme of tartar powder instead)
4 cups confectioners' sugar (about 1lb.)
6 Tablespoons warm water*
Add flavoring such as vanilla, almond, lemon, or whatever you like (I use vanilla)
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
Recipe makes 3 cups.

NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

We like to put out small bowls of icing with some food gel coloring and some clean paint brushes and then the kids do our decorating for us.

chouette22's picture

These are the gifts we distributed yesterday and today.

The two gymnastics coaches of my daughter got these braided brioches (or Zopf):

And to our three neighbors we gave these:

The same braided stars I had first made for Thanksgiving (but without pumpkin this time). The good thing about making three of these (two yesterday and one today) was that by the third, I didn't need the shaping instructions anymore... :)

Along with the breads, I included some home-made honey-cinnamon-butter and meringues dipped in chocolate-and-toasted-hazelnuts.

This is Luna, our cat. She has abandoned all of her favorite spots in the house and is pretty much to be found under the Christmas tree all day long.

Happy Holidays to everyone on TFL!

CaptainBatard's picture

I never tasted a Stollen let alone thought I would make one! I first got the notion to bake one when I was reading a blog about French folds and hand mixing of breads. I followed the link which led me to a video by Richard Bertinet of sweet doughs (I highly recommend it for those of you that have not seen it yet) and a recipe for stollen.  I really liked the way the recipe and the finished product looked and I really was into the hand mixing technique. That would of been too easy....instead I made the mistake of Googeling Stollen. I had no idea how many different variations there are on a stollen....from Germany to Poland...they all have a little different take...the very traditional Dresdner Stollen.....another @Hefe und Mehr- german blog....and a mouth watering recipe at Bakers Süpke `s World......the one that got my attention was a chocolate stollen @Domestic Goddess in American version with a German influence @Joe Pastry and a Mohn Quark Stollen which is a poppy seed and fruit stollen which I am going to try next week....eventually I found my way back to Chef Bertinet recipe with a recipe from the United Kingdom by Chef Madalene Bonvine-Hamel @British Larde. I gathered all my material together for the Stollen and e-mailed Susan at Wild Yeast with a question about osmotolerant yeast.....She said "I made the SFBI stollen in class and it is a good one!" Ok ...that would make it easy which one to choose, it is a proven recipe and I just got the book.

I read the SFBI recipe and it said add all to bowl and mix…I thought I knew better…and in the back of my head from all the post I read I thought I had to  develop the gluten before adding the ton of butter....I threw in the sponge,eggs and started to mix...the flour barely formed a ball....panic set in...I added some water...I reread the formula to make sure I didn't leave out something...and realizes that Baby Jesus threw me a curve....I should of realized it at first... most of the moisture came butter. After a good while of mixing the dough came together with a good gluten structure. I was very relieved that is was able to save it...I divided the dough in six pieces and gently spread them into ovals....I applied the filling of Creme' d'almond that Chef Bertinet used along with the cut up pieces of marzipan to the bottom layer and also applied the filling under the top fold....the stollen was finished with a drunken butter wash and plenty of sugar topping.

This is being sent to MaMa Claus @ Yeastspotting  HoHoHo....


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

It just wouldn't be Christmas at my house, without Ribbon Cookies. I grew up with these, as did my mother and grandmother. When I asked my grandmother if she knew where the recipe originated, she didn't, but we know she is mainly of Dutch descent, and she remembered both her mother and grandmother making them before her. That makes five generations that we can account for, including my sisters and me---six, if my niece carries on the tradition. My grandmother had two sisters, and so my cousins all make them.... and friends and neighbors.... and now coworkers too. It isn't a closely guarded family secret, by any means; it has always been given freely. And it has always been much requested.

See how pretty they are on a Christmas cookie tray. And they taste both as good, and as unique as they look. It's fun to bring them to holiday get-togethers, because people are generally stumped by the stripes. They always want to know, how did I do that? But it's not a feat of magic. It's so easy, a child can do it. I know, because I did growing up.

My grandmother passed away a few years ago, at the ripe old age of 95. While cleaning out her apartment, I found her hand-written recipe card, yellowed by time, that had become one with the plastic sleave she put it in long ago for protection. That was just like her.

In case you can't read my grandmother's handwriting, here's my version:

Ribbon Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture.

Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Mix the chocolate and nuts into one part and press evenly into the bottom of a waxed paper lined 9x5" loaf pan. Set pan in freezer for a few minutes or until firm. Stir the cherries into the second dough portion and press evenly into pan over the chocolate layer. Put back in freezer until second layer is firm. Add poppy seeds to the remaining dough and press evenly over the cherry layer. Cover pan and chill in the refrigerator until firm.


Remove dough from loaf pan and cut into thin slices (about 1/8 inch). Bake on greased or parchment-lined baking sheets about 10 minutes at 375ºF. Watch closely because they can burn fast, but they should be starting to color a little around the edges.


These cookies should be crispy when completely cool. If they're not, they may be sliced too thick, not baked long enough or oven is too hot (or not hot enough). Leave some space between them on the cookie sheets, because they grow quite a bit. I make my slices across the short side of the loaf (side to side) and then cut that in half for two medium-size cookies. One year I used unbleached flour and the cookies were not as light or crispy, so it's bleached for my Christmas cookie baking. I add a drop or two of red food coloring to the cherry dough now, because candied cherries aren't as deeply colored as they used to be. They just don't impart as much color to the dough. If you use unsalted butter, you might want to double the salt.

AnnieT's picture

Here is my authentic Scottish Shortbread recipe which came from Margaret McLaren, a Scottish friend from when I lived near Atlanta back in 1967.

3 sticks butter (I use Challenge unsalted)room temp.

1 heaping cup powdered (icing) sugar

1 egg yolk

4 cups ap flour

Preheat oven to 300*, cut wax paper circles to fit 8"-9" cake pans. I wonder whether parchment would work?

Sift the sugar into a large bowl and knead in the butter. Add the egg yolk and mix in well. Add the flour one cup at a time. Roll into a lump the size of a jelly roll, cut into 3. Pat onto the wax paper to fit the pans. Prick all over with a fork and crimp the edges, and cut almost through in wedges. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour - mine didn't take that long. The shortbread should be pale in color. Cool on rack, careful, I managed to crack all of mine!

I also forgot that I wanted to add some rice flour because I had read that it gave a nice crunch. Oh well, next year. Merry Christmas from Whidbey Island, A.





occidental's picture

Over the past weekend I thought I'd get into one of my books that I haven't baked from yet, "Bread" by Jeffrey Hammelman.  Being a sourdough fanatic I decided to start with a sourdough and selected the Vermont sourdough, which appears to be one of Hammelman's standbys.  I had great results with the formula and this bread may become one of my favorites if I can repeat the results.  I followed the formula fairly close, however following the mix the dough felt a bit on the dry side and I added about a tablespoon of water.  Once the dough had a chance to autolyse and I did two folds I decided I probably didn't need to add the water as the dough was really on the sticky side.  I let the formed loaves rise in a cool place to try and develop the flavor a bit and baked until I had a pretty dark crust.  I scored the loaves but they were pretty wet so it was almost a rustic looking loaf.  The oven spring was impressive and the crumb is very open.  It tastes great too!  I'll be making ths loaf again soon!


From bread


From bread
occidental's picture

Prompted by ehanners post and great looking loafs I baked Shiao Ping's Chocolate Sourdough earlier this week.  I followed the formula pretty close and was pleased with the results.  I went with 2 small and one larger boule.  Shiao Ping advises to bake them right from the fridge.  I did get better oven spring with the boule that I let warm for about an hour so I wondered if I should have done this with the others, or if I just should have let them rise a bit longer before I put them in the fridge to retard.  Anyhow, if you are looking for a great sweet bread for a holiday breakfast or other celebration you may want to consider this as an option!  A couple pics of the oven spring from the loaf I let warm and the crumb follow:



From bread

From bread
liza2's picture

I remembered the salt this time!

The programme won't let me paste the link to the recipe, but search on "simple_sourdough_909"

I did everything the same as in my saltless version with two exceptions: I substituted 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 1 tbsp water and I steamed the oven instead of covering the loaf for the first 20 minutes of baking.

I also tried a different slashing design. I made a mess of the slashing - I used scissors and I think I got the angle wrong. As soon as I cut into it the dough deflated and spread outwards a bit. Or is that meant to happen?

I didn't get much oven spring and I wonder if that is due to the slashing or to having used Pam's flour, Pam's being a budget grocery products brand here in New Zealand. Or due to my oven only having a fan-bake function. Or not using a baking stone? Or over-proofing? (so many variables!) The recipe itself only calls for 300 g of flour, so would result in a small loaf, but I think there should have been more oven spring.

The flavour was excellent and I was pleased with the crumb. The texture was light, springy and spongy. The crust was just the right degree of crispness. The flavour was slightly tangy but not too sour. This is a delicious bread. Thank you, Susan.

If there are any other "lurkers" out there not too confident about contributing to this site I would say give this bread a go. This is a simple recipe which gives a delicious initial result and then makes a good basic starting point for making modifications to suit your own baking circumstances.

I would be grateful for any advice on how to get better oven spring. Thanks and season's greetings from Liz.


SylviaH's picture

This is my first time making and eating Panettone.  It was a lot of work but enjoyable.  This is my version of P.Reinhart's recipe in BBA.  While mixing this dough I couldn't help but to say to myself how it appeared like cake batter one minute and then dough the next!  I made adjustments in hydration and added some stretch and folds adding a longer time to the proofing.  I had ordered some paper bread molds two sizes.  I decided not to use the small ones.  They were so very small looking.  The large ones where a little to large so I didn't get the nice big ballooned top on my panettone and that was a bit of a disappointment, next time I'll know better.  I rigged up a cardboard box to hang my panettones..out of reach from my 3 always hungry dog's.  I used the lovely chocolate glaze from wild yeast's pannetone recipe and it is delicious.  It's basically just egg white, oil, coco powdered, corn flour, almond flour and sugar whipped.  My husband and I both loved the tender moist crumb and flavor and the crunchy coco topping sprinkled with swedish pearl sugar and almond slivers.  I will be making this bread again it is delicious and the aroma filled the house and my hands smelled lovely all day.

Happy Holiday!





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