The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


linder's picture

Time for Anicini (Anise Biscotti)

December 2, 2012 - 4:46pm -- linder

Christmas time is coming, time for cookie baking galore.  Anise biscotti are one of my favorites - if you want to gild the lily, dip them in melted dark chocolate after they've been completely baked (twice) and cool them on parchment paper -heavenly.  I use a recipe form Franco Galli's The Il Fornaio Baking Book - they are tasty with lots of almonds and anise.  Remind me so much of my Grandma and a glass of anisette.


2 1/3 cups AP flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 TBSP. anise seeds

1 1/2 c. sliced raw almonds

dabrownman's picture

Yesterday when I woke up and saw Phil’s post on Word Bread Day I knew we had to get cracking in order to get some kind of bread at least started on this world wide day devoted to bread.  Phil’s and Ying’s fantastic posts this week using figs seemed like a good place to start - not that my attempt would add up to half of their masterpieces.


Phil’s had anise and Ying’s had hazelnuts top go with the figs.  We can’t find hazelnuts for sale locally but we did have pistachios - one of the most overlooked nuts to include in breads.



We also like sprouts and got some rye, WW and spelt berries soaking for 3 hours first thing even before we got the SD levain started and then got them sprouting between paper towels covered in plastic wrap.


This levain was a Desem and Rye sour SD combo since we combined our seed for both into one 4 days ago.  The levain totaled 220 g and used whole rye, WW and whole spelt for the flours.   The levain was a single stage build of 4 hours when it doubled.  The levain was 18% of the total weight and 40% of the total flour weight – pretty much our recent standard.


While the levain was building we also did a 4 hour autolyse of the flours (whole rye, spelt, wheat and some AP), salt and the 2 malts with the liquids, in this case water and a little coffee.  The 35 g of coffee was left over from breakfast and we hate throwing anything away food or drink wise.  We can’t find any difference in the bread of when the salt goes in the autolyse - before or after - so we have been putting it in at the beginning or at the end if we forget to put it in the beginning.


Once the autolyse and the levian came together we did French slap and folds for 10 minutes before resting it for 30 minutes in an oiled Tupperware tub.  We then did (3) S&Fs on 30 minute intervals and incorporated the add ins during the last S&F.  We like combining the two gluten development methods when there is a higher percentage of whole grains, over 42% in this case and higher hydrations 83% here.


Once the 2 hour fermentation with S&F’s was complete we put in the fridge for a nice cool 37 F retard of 14 hours. In the morning we warmed it up for an hour before pre-shaping and final shaping it into a boule and placing it seam side up in a well floured basket.  This is a sticky dough so some flour on the hands really helps in this regard.


Once shaped and in a basket we bagged it in a trash can liner and let it final proof on the counter for 2 hours before firing up Old Betsy to 500 F for a 45 minute pre-heat with 2 of Sylvia’s steaming Pyrex loaf pans with water and towels in place.   Total final proof was 2 and ¾ hours and it had risen above the basket.  


When we went to un-mold the dough on a parchment covered peel the basket slipped and half the dough never made it to the peel.  We tried to lift the part that didn’t make the move with a scraper and slide it further on the peel while sliding another piece of parchment under it but the middle stuck to the peel.


The middle of the loaf deflated and we should have immediately turned it into a Fendu since the middle was the most severely disfigured.  We slashed it instead and tried our best to get it off the peel without doing further damage.  But alas, 2/3rds the height in the basket disappeared as it was pulled apart to spread faster than oil in a hot iron skillet.


Still, the bread managed to recover to half its basket height in spring while under steam for 15 minutes after turning the oven down to 450 F when the bread went in.  At the 15 minute mark the steam was removed and the oven turned down to 425 F - convection this time.


Every 5 minutes the mishap prone boule was turned 120 degrees every 5 minutes there after over the next 15 minutes until it read 208 F in the center when tested.  The boule was allowed to rest on the stone in the now off oven and the door ajar for 10 minutes to crisp the skin.  It was then removed an allowed to cool before being used a Frisbee by my apprentice and her buddies in the back yard, well she wanted to play with it .... 


This bread smells great, looks unusual and the crust is unique as a result of the harsh un-molding technique that we will definitely use more often to coax some individuality and character in out breads.  Plus we are already tired of having stuff turn out perfect every time now that peace and perfection have broken out in the world after Bread Day!  This bread plain tastes amazing.  The anise is subtle but comes through.   The sweet figs go so well with pistachios.   The crumb, even though the holes were 1/3rd what they should have been still is light and airyand it  just looks stunning with the contrast between the 2 kinds of figs and the green pistachios.  This is one of those breads we make over and over again.  Thanks to Phil and Empress Ying!  Well done you two!

We originally made this bread for the dentist but am now unsure how much more pain I sould suffer over this bread.   If it cuts well and has at least one hole bigger than a pea, then we will cut off the best part for the Pain Miester and take our chances.  So this bread is called Pain Maître douleur - Pain Master Bread.


World Bread Day - SD   Multigrain Bread



with Figs, Anise,   Pistachios and Sprouts




Desem  & Rye Starter

Build 1


SD Desem / Rye Sour















Total Starter












Levain % of Total






Dough Flour



Whole Rye



Whole Wheat



Potato Flakes






Whole Spelt






Dough Flour









Water - 300, Coffee -   35



Dough Hydration






Total Flour



Total Water &   Coffee



T. Dough Hydration



Whole Grain %






Hydration w/ Adds



Total Weight






Add - Ins



White Rye Malt



Pistachio Nuts



Figs - Brown and Black



Anise Seeds



Barley Malt









Multigrain Sprouts












Total Sprouts






27 g of water was soaked up by the sprouts

and included it total   weight only.





Note - 50 g each of    Black Mission and Adriadic figs


dabrownman's picture

After having such good luck with Phil's no stress recipe for 40% Rye and Caraway, I was additionally inspired by hanseata's seeded loaf's.  So, I thought I would try to marry up the two and take on my requirement for more whole grain and less white flour.  I was hoping that by adding some spelt and farro home ground berries to the rye replacing some of the white and adding some anise and fennel to the caraway, this new concoction would be a decent bread.  Plus, another important test, I could try out for the first time my new 'double Y chicken foot' slash!!!!

I also got a new way to final prove these ill shaped breads with a new bamboo containment thing-a-majig that has some doohickey handles for the containment challenged like myself.  Don't laugh.  This thing, what ever it is,  cost a buck.  We can't sleep at night worrying about these contraptions and they are real issues for us !!!  The used, so much better than new,  parchment paper is the crowning achievement of getting the loaves out of the trash bag and into the oven without disfiguring oneself unnecessarily - by hot oven.

The loaves sprang nicely.  The crust was crisp, crunchy yet chewy.  The taste of the bread was more earthy and more to my liking as expected.  The crumb wasn't quite as open as before probably due to the extra 20% whole grains in place of the white - but still OK.  The slash produced a wide flatish gash where the loaf pooled through lazily.  No ears - so fancy pants still needs some work before the double chicken foot slash is a keeper.

The disappointment was that I replaced some of the caraway seeds with the anise and fennel and the resulting seed taste was too slight and muddied.  I was too chicken to go for a bold taste with these seeds.  Don't you be !!! It would be much better just adding the same grams of anise and fennel as the caraway.  I think it would be perfect that way - if it didn't kill you of course ;-) 

Here are some more pics...

I really like it that you can make these breads in half a day if you have some decent rye sour built all the time.  Next time, and there will be one if only the for the double Y chicken foot slashs' sake, More seeds will be boldly incorporated.  I think I am still making progress.

Thanks again Phil and hanseata.



PiPs's picture

Richard Sennet describes the essence of proper craftsmanship as: the fluid process of deliberately setting up questions and challenges in order to solve them and increase ones skills.

This quote reminded me of so many of the wonderful TLF bakers....

The busy weeks continue in our tiny household. My partner and I both had our children staying this week with school holidays as well as her parents for a few days which allowed us to celebrate her fathers retirement.  Amongst all the chaos we prepared a roast dinner and a rhubarb and strawberry tart.

This also meant fresh bread for dinner and parting gifts...

For this weeks bake I prepared two wholewheat boules and two fig and anise batards, all with freshly milled wheat.

Refreshing desem starter

As we had so many bodies sleeping in our house I changed my usual method of milling right before mixing to allow them a more dignified morning wake up. Instead I milled the night before and added all the water and salt and soaked the fresh flour until the morning where I added the ripe starter. The same dough formula was used for both batches with the batards having extra mix-in ingrediants added during folding.

Wholewheat sourdough (with optional fig 'n' anise)
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 85%
Prefermented Flour: 10%
DDT: 23°C

Whole wheat starter @ 60% Hydration: 175g
Wheat Flour Freshly milled: 973g
Water: 855g
Salt: 21g

Optional Mix-ins
Figs sliced: 375g
Anise seeds: 15g

Night before
Cool grains from fridge milled before being mixed with all water and salt.

Next morning
With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starter into overnight soak until smooth and feel no lumps then place in oiled see-through container (for checking dough development).

Bulk ferment roughly 4hrs with four stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 2hrs and another gentle stretch and fold at 3hr mark.

For the stretch and folds I tip the dough onto a bench which has been lightly sprayed with a water spray bottle/mister. The water stops dough sticking and I can give it a really good letterfold before placing back in container.

Optional: Figs and anise are squeezed through dough after 2nd stretch and fold.

Watch temperatures and dough like a hawk nearing the end of bulk ferment...I sometimes cut it short by half an hour if he dough is starting to move to quickly.

Preshape and bench rest 20 min before gentle shaping. Shaped dough placed into bannetons with floured cloths.

Adding mix-ins and bench resting wholewheat

Final proof for wholewheat boule was roughly 1.5hrs at room temperature (23°)

Fig and anise proofed in fridge for 3hrs and was baked directly from fridge.

Bake boules in dutch oven at 250°C for 20mins then dough removed from dutch oven and baked at 20mins at 200°C directly on stone for thoroughly browning.

Batards were baked on stone with steam for first 10mins at 250°C then 200°C for 30mins.

Wholewheat boules

Wholewheat crumb

Fig and anise batard

Fig and anise crumb

Breads were very well received and performed admirably at soaking up roast was swimming in it :) The dutch oven really does give theses wholewheat breads the perfect crust....

The overnight soak is something I may use more often with my only issue being that it could be a little difficult to control dough temperatures. I can't say I have noticed any real difference with the bread itself using this method....just another handy option to have.

All the best


sortachef's picture

Sortachef's Greek Easter Bread

 Greek Easter Bread


Makes one 2 ½ pound loaf


4 Tablespoons butter

2 heaping dessertspoons of honey

2 eggs

2 teaspoons dry yeast

1½ teaspoons salt (2 if using unsalted butter)

1 teaspoon anise extract

20 ounces (about 4 cups) unbleached white flour

1 1/3 cup water at room temperature

¾ cup additional flour for bench work

A 14" pizza pan fitted with parchment paper


4 red hardboiled eggs (see Dyeing Red Eggs @ )

1 eggyolk+1 teaspoon water for wash

4 teaspoons of raw hulled sesame seeds


Note: A flexible bowl scraper (or a Tupperware lid cut in half) comes in handy for working this dough.


Make the dough: In a mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream together the butter, honey, eggs, yeast, salt, anise extract and 1 cup of the flour. Beat well for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water and ½ cup flour, beat for a minute; another 1/3 cup water and ½ cup and beat, etc., until you have used up all the water and all but a cup of the 20 ounces of flour. Beat for a further 2 minutes.

Scrape off the flat beater, scrape down the bowl, and put in the other cup of flour. Switch to the dough hook; run mixer 10 minutes on low (mark 2 for Kitchenaid). Scrape down bowl if necessary. The dough is not stiff enough for the hook to pick it up, but this mixing will improve its structure.

Knead the dough: Sprinkle half of the benchwork flour onto a counter or board, scrape the dough onto it and, using the scraper, quickly fold the edges in to the middle. Put a bit of flour onto the dough and let it rest for a few minutes while you clean out the bowl.

Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour as necessary until you have used up the ¾ cup of extra flour.

First rise: Put the dough into the bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for 3½ hours.

Second rise: Use the bowl scraper to pull the dough in from the edges, releasing the air, and then let rise 1½ hours at room temperature.

Make the braid: Turn the dough out onto a barely floured counter. Cut a 5-ounce piece of dough off and put it to one side, covered. Now, make bulk of the dough into a snake about 2 feet long, rolling it on the counter under your hands to stretch it out. Let it rest for a few minutes. For the next step you will want a clean section of counter 3' wide, with no flour on it or the dough will slip instead of roll.

Roll the dough snake out to 3' long, and cut into three equal pieces of about 12 ounces by weight. Roll each of the three pieces out to nearly 3' long. Your dough ropes should be 5/8" in diameter and roughly uniform.

Put 3 ends together, cross two ropes and throw the third across the Y. Braid until the ropes are used up, keeping the dough slack to keep the braids loose and thick.

Make the loaf: Lift one end of the braid off the counter and slip the parchment lined pan under it, and then lift the other end around to form a circle. Overlap the two ends of the braid by an inch, and push your thumb down in at that point. The first egg will go into that depression.

Adjust the braided ring on the parchment to make it as round as you can, and push your thumb down to make depressions at the other 3 quadrants. Carefully put in the eggs.

Roll the leftover piece of dough into a snake the thickness of a pencil. Around the eggs, snip 4 places with scissors to receive the ends of the dough that crosses over them. Cut pieces of dough to make the crosses.

Final rise: Cover lightly with a cloth and let rise for 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º. If you're using a pizza stone or quarry tiles (recommended), let them heat up for at least 30 minutes.

Glaze and bake: Mix the egg yolk and the water in a ramekin, and brush the egg wash over the dough, being careful not to cover the eggs. For best coverage, brush a second time. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400º. Turn oven down to 350º and bake for another 25 minutes, turning the bread around at halfway.

Let cool for at least an hour before sharing with your Greek friends.

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Jamila's picture

This is one of my kids favorite breakfast breads. I enjoy it as well, with hot cup of coffe!


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