The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


dabrownman's picture

Our take on Breadsong’s fabulous Christmas Rose was to make it Green with basil pesto and Red with home made sun dried tomatoes.  We used our combo yeast water, rye sour and Desem sourdough starters with our 30% whole gain multi-grain mix of Kamut, dark rye, spelt and whole wheat.


As has been the norm lately, we added some red and white malt, Toady Tom’s Toasted Tidbits (wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ and other middlings from various sifted flours), oats, potato flakes and flax seeds all ground up together as a fancy and festive bread enhancement all purpose mix.


We had a little less than 900 g of dough compared to Breadsongs’s 1,200 g that she split in half and she only used half.  We split this in half too,  to make 2 ropes – one basil, almond, walnut, Parmesan and olive oil and the other sun dried tomato, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil.  We decided not to use any garlic and hoped we wouldn't miss it with all the other stuff in this bread’s fillings.


Each rope was split in half and combined with the other colored half and then braided to make (2) each red and green braids that were wrapped around each other to make a rose.  The ropes were smaller so we ended up with a more shallow Frisbee like, Italian Flat Bread Rose, but it was still very fancy do and Christmas festive looking.


The SD and YW levains were built separately over 8 hours now that it is winter time and refrigerated overnight.  The flours and all the other ingredients were mixed with the water and allowed to autolyse for 3 hours as the levains warmed up to room temperature the next day.


We made a little proofing pad with a heating pad on low covered with kitchen towels to get the temperature to hover right at 82 degrees.  The levains were not built on it but they were warmed up on it and the dough was fermented, developed and proofed on it too.  What a handy little contraption it turned out to be.


Once the levains hit the autolyse it was 12 minutes of French (2) slaps per fold in order to get this dough stretched, silky and smooth with a high degree of gluten development.  Normally we would have easily been over 75% hydration for a dough like this but, with the olive oil coming in later for both fillings, we decided to hold the water at 73.5%.  


After the French slap and folds were complete, we let the dough rest for 30 minutes and then 2 sets of S&F’s were done 30 minutes apart.  The dough was rested for 20 minutes, divided in half, rolled out with a pin and the filling spread on before rolling up into a log.


Each log was split in half and then braided with the opposite colored half and then the two green and red braids were coiled up on parchment to make the rose. 

The rose was allowed to ferment and develop on the proofing pad in a plastic bag for 1 ½ hours before being retarded overnight for 8 hours.  After removal from the fridge in the morning it was allowed to final proof on the proofing pad for 4 hours where it doubled in volume.

We had some lemon infused olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cracked black pepper and Parmesan cheese to dip the bread into for lunch.

The mini oven was fired up to 425 F with steam in the bottom of the broiler pan.  The bread was loaded and allowed to steam for 10 minutes before the steam was removed.   The bread baked at 350 F, convection this time, until it hit 200 F in the middle.  It was rotated 90 degrees every 5 minutes until it was done and removed to a cooling rack - about 30 minutes total baking time.

My daughter said this was the best tasting bread I have ever made but she, being away for college, only gets to sample about 10% of the bread baked around here.  My wife wants to have it dipped in olive oil, with grated Parmesan, rosemary and black pepper for a Christmas dinner appetizer.

My apprentice just wants to eat all right now with butter and not have to share it with anyone including her master!  I think that this is one of the best higher whole grain focaccias I have ever tasted.  Just delicious.  The mini oven put mini blisters on the crispy brown crust and the YW made the crumb moist and tender with that hint of SD that lingers with the herbs and tomato.

Christmas Rose - 30% Whole Grain, Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato








Mixed Starter

Build 1



SD Starter




















Yeast Water




Dark Rye








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Levain % of Total








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Dark Rye




Toady Tom's Toasted Tidbits




Red Malt




White Malt








Potato Flakes




Oat Flour








Dough Flour












Dough Hydration








Total Flour








Total Dough Hydration








Hydration w/ Adds




Total Weight








Whole Grains








Add - Ins




Ground Flax Seeds












3 T each Basil Pesto & Sun Dried Tomatoes








ilan's picture

It’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t post anything because I was lazy… I did bake, a lot. From bread, flat bread, pizza and more (next blog entry will be on one of them).

Today, I will continue with my sandwich bread. The recipe is not so different from the previous one, but this time I reduced the amount of yeast by half, added more sugar, and changed the ratio of water & milk. Nothing fancy here, but it taste good.

I love sweet basil, and a pesto made out of it is an excellent addition to a lot of dishes.

So bread filled with it, will be fantastic to eat with a tomato salad with some mozzarella cheese.

In the past, I did add pesto to my dough during kneading, but the bread was not as good as I expected.

This time I decided the filling will go into pocket in the dough. 

What I did is basically braided bread and each of the braids is filled with my pesto. This time, to fulfill my curiosity, I went for 2 halves, each is braided out of two strands and then shaped into a circle. Both halves were placed together to create one bread.


The Recipe:

The filling:

A bunch of fresh sweet basil leaves

1 claw of Garlic

Few pine nuts

A walnut or two

A pecan nut or two

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup of Olive oil

Salt and paper (prefer the coarse salt – will help grinding the other ingredients)

Crush all ingredients in a food processor (or pestle and mortar) until you have a smooth mixture.

The bread:

-      3 1/4 cups flour

-      1 ½ teaspoons of yeast

-      1 tablespoon sugar

-      ½ cup of milk

-      ¾ cup of water

-       1 egg

-       3 tablespoons of olive oil


Mix the yeast, milk and sugar, wait 5-10 minutes

Add the flour and water and kneed for 5 minutes, add salt, egg and olive oil, kneed for another 5 minutes.

Let rise for 60 minutes

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, form a long strand from each.

Use a rolling pin to spread each strand (make some room for the filling), fill each with the pesto and roll (see pictures below).

From each pair of rolled strands, form a braid, and then roll it like a snail.

Put both parts in the form, let them touch, we want them to become a single bread.

Let rise for 40-60 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Bake in high temperature with steam for 15 minutes (240c)

Reduce the heat (180-170c) and remove the steam, bake for another 40 minutes.

The process:



The outcome:

Until the next post



MadAboutB8's picture

I can't recall I ever had whole-wheat pizza.  It sounds rather un-Italian but I want to experiment a little and see how the whole-wheat pizza would turn out. It would be great if it works so that we can, at least, claim that it's wholegrain pizza and somewhat a healthy choice, even though it is fully loaded with cheeses, chorizo, and etc, lol.

I used pizza base recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker Apprentice and replaced 70% of bread flour with whole wheat flour. 

Instead of tomato sauce, I spread the pizza base with basil pesto (I got three big jars from CostCo that will last for so many pizzas and pastas) and topped it with mozzarella cheese, onion and chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage). The cooked pizza then topped with baby rocket leaves (arugula). Chorizo is something I love to cook with. It has such an intense well-rounded flavour that complements any dishes really well.

The whole wheat pizza crust works quite well. It is not as moist and soft as the one made with white flour. The crumb is also not as open but it is tasty nonetheless. I also feel that the whole-wheat base is crispier than the white flour base.  

For more details and recipes, you can visit the blog =>


marlnock's picture

Bruschettary goodness

October 5, 2010 - 7:13pm -- marlnock

This morning, i had the pleasure of getting out my fresh loaf of sourdough, picking some beautiful portobello mushrooms from my mushroom kit and making lovely bruschetta. 

I fried up the mushrooms in some olive oil with thyme and toasted slices of the bread under the grill with basil pesto and olive oil spread on them.  Topped with the fryed mushrooms it made a delicious and easy breakfast all homemade or grown.

I'd love to hear of anyone elses topping ideas that they enjoy with their fresh bread

guro's picture

Love this blog and just wanted to share one of my latest creations.

This beautiful braided bread is made with a rich straight dough, layers of pesto and a generous sprinkle of Sumac. 

I made this bread a couple of months ago.  This bread is tender, rich, nutty, salty (evoo, toasted pine nuts and parmesan) and a little sour (Sumac).  This bread requires moderate braiding skills, time and attention.

I have been baking for quite some time now.  I love bread making.  I will gladly post the recipe if someone will show any interest.  I need to translate the recipe into English.


I hope I did a good job translating.  I will be making this bread again in about two weeks.  I will take notes and improve on my writing if needed.

1 loaf

Set oven to 210c (410F)


Baking Pan - 26cm (10") springform (no bottom), take a piece of parchment paper and crimp tightly around the bottom of the springform, oil the sides.  Place on top of a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Pesto - I use evoo, basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan (consistency should be not too thin and not too thick). Keep refrigerated until needed.

Sumac - for sprinkling


Dough ingredients:

AP Flour 600g (21oz)

Fresh Yeast 28g (1oz)

Sugar 10g (0.35oz)

Salt 10g (0.35oz)

Canola Oil 50cc (1.7 fl oz)

White Vinegar 1 tbls

Water 300cc (10 fl oz) this is approximate


Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, add the water carefully as you start mixing.  Use the

dough hook 2-3 mins. on low speed and 2-3 mins. on medium speed.  Dough should be

supple and not sticky to the touch.  Add water or flour if dough is too stiff or too loose


When dough is ready, spray a bowl with oil and gently put the dough in the bowl.  Spray a

little more oil on top and cover.  Let rise (80%).  My kitchen was at about 22c (72F), 35-45%

humidity and proofing was about 40 minutes.

Lightly flour a work bench or a large table.  Put the dough on top and flatten gently with

your hands.  Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to a very thin circle, as thin as you

can.  When rolling out the dough, try not to lift and move it too much.  You can try and

gently pull the dough to stretch it thin (like bakers do with Strudel dough), this requires some skill.

Apply a thin layer of pesto on top of the dough (leave the edge clear 1/4").  Sprinkle Sumac

generously on top of the layer of pesto.

Slowly, tightly and very gently roll the dough into a roulade (pinwheel ).  You will now have a

very long roulade .  Take a sharp chef's knife (not a serrated knife) and cut (not saw) the

roulade lengthwise trying to keep the knife in the middle so you end up with two equal parts

(you can cut down from the seam but it is not make or break).

Place the two halves crossing each other (open roulade layers facing up) to create and X

shape.  Gently pick up the two ends of the bottom half, cross them over the top half, and

place them back down.  Continue this process, taking the two bottom ends and crossing

them over the top until all the roulade has been used.  You now have a two strand rope

shape.  If for some reason some of the open roulade layers are pointing down or sideways,

carefully turn them so they are facing up.  Gently pinch the ends to seal.

Look at the braid.  If one end looks a little thinner make that your starting point.  If not, just

start from either end.  Slowly and very gently, roll the braid sideways (horizontally) without

lifting your hands from the table.  You should keep those open roulade layers facing up.

Pinch the end delicately.  The end result should look like a giant snail shell or a very large

cinnamon bun.

Lightly sprinkle Sumac on top of the braided loaf.

Carefully pick up the braid and place in the prepared springform.  Keep it flat on the parchment.  The

 bottom of the braid should set nicely.  Cover.

Let rise until the braid hits three quarters the way up the springform.  In my kitchen conditions it

proofed for a little over 30 mins.


Bake at 210c (410F) for 5-10 mins., lower oven to 180c (355F) and bake for another 20-30 mins.

Their should be a decent amount of oven spring.  The bread should rise above the springform edge.

When the bread is out of the oven lightly brush evoo on top and sides.  Let cool on a rack.

md_massimino's picture

Three-Tiered Braided Christmas Bread

December 30, 2008 - 10:42am -- md_massimino

I'm a newbie breadophile and I've been baking nonstop for about three months.  Most stuff I make is good, with the occasional clunked.  This came out so good I wanted to share.  We had a large family gathering on Christmas Eve so I wanted to make a special bread.  I found this recipe on Food Network's site...

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