The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


isand66's picture

I love cherries and I love vanilla, so what better flavor combination to try to work into a bread recipe?  I have never incorporated a liquor into a bread dough before, so I'm not sure what to expect, but I do have to say it smelled fantastic mixing it up.

I started by taking my 65% hydration AP flour starter and building enough starter for 15 ounces of levain for the finished dough.  I wanted to incorporate some white rye into the starter to give it a little rye flavor so I added 22% white rye flour to the levain build along with AP flour and some water to make a 67% hydration starter.

The final dough including the starter has a hydration level of 66%.  I wanted to try to make this a moist and delicate crumb so I incorporated a large percentage of French Style low protein flour from KAF, along with a small percentage of white rye and durum flour.  After finishing the loaf in the oven and tasting it, I have decided that I added a little too much of the Cherry Marnier and vanilla so I have adjusted the amount in the recipe below.  This is a perfect bread for french toast or bread pudding or just as toast with some butter or cheese.

Starter Ingredients

7 ounces All Purpose Flour (I use KAF)

2 ounces White Rye Flour

6 ounces Water (90 degrees)

.75 ounces Starter, 65% Hydration (you can adjust the water to suit your current hydration level)

Final Dough

15 ounces Levain from above (75% Bakers Percentage)

12.6 ounces French Style Flour (80% Bakers Percentage)

3.4 ounces White Rye Flour (10% Bakers Percentage)

4 ounces Durum Semolina Flour (10% Bakers Percentage)

9.5 oz. water (90 degrees F.) (47.5% Bakers Percentage)

.5 ounce Pure Vanilla Extract (.03% Bakers Percentage)

3 ounces Cherry Marnie (15%)

2 1/2 Teaspoons, .63 ounces Sea Salt (3.2% Bakers Percentage)

Bakers % Final Dough

White Rye Flour 4 ounces

AP Flour 7 ounces

French Style 16 ounces

Durum 2 ounces

Total Flour  29 ounces   100%

Salt .63 ounces                  2.1%

All Liquids 19 ounces     66%


Using your stand mixer or by hand, mix the water with the starter to break up the starter.

Add the flours and vanilla extract and Cherry Marnier and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes - 20  minutes to allow the gluten to develop.

Next, add the salt and mix for 4 minutes more on medium speed, adding more flour if necessary to produce a slightly sticky ball of dough.

Remove dough to your lightly floured work surface and need for 1 minute and form a ball.

Leave uncovered for 15 minutes.

Do a stretch and fold and form into a ball again and cover with a clean moist cloth or oiled plastic wrap.

Let the dough rest another 10-15 minutes and do a stretch and fold again.  Let it rest for an additional 15 minutes and do 1 more stretch and fold.   After this last stretch and fold cover the bowl again and let it rest at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours and then put it in your refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days.

When ready to bake the bread, take the bowl out of your refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.  After 2 hours shape the dough as desired being careful not to handle the dough too roughly so you don't de-gas it.   Place it in your bowl, banneton or shape into baguettes.

Let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours covered with oiled plastic wrap or a wet cloth.

Pre-heat oven with baking stone (I use one on bottom and one on top shelf of my oven), to 500 degrees F.

Slash loaves as desired and place empty pan in bottom shelf of oven.

Pour 1 cup of very hot water into pan and place loaves into oven.

Lower oven to 450 Degrees and bake for 25 - 35 minutes until bread is golden brown and internal temperature reaches 200 degrees.

Let cool on cooling rack and enjoy!

The final dough had a nice open crumb and crispy crust.  The overall dough did not rise as much as I would have liked, but the oven spring was excellent.  Next time I think I would add some dried cherries and maybe some walnuts to kick it up a bit.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture

My bread is bigger than me!

October 17, 2009 - 11:23pm -- Erzsebet Gilbert

O no!  Playing in the garden, I learned from the music across the courtyard it was my neighbor Istvan's birthday!  What to do to wish him the best...?  Bread, because I can't make much else!  But something special, so it wouldn't be just another loaf - a secret ingredient absolutely nobody could guess but everybody seemed to like...

Vanilla! Since I love the couronne shape and Istvan's got a lot of mouths to share with, I tried a big loaf and kneaded up this:

pmccool's picture

I wanted to make a bread for a recent gathering of friends.  My preference was for something sweet but not a sticky, gooey kind of sweet.  After paging through a number of books, I came across a recipe in Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible for a sweet vanilla challah that sounded like it would fit the bill.  The recipe called for just 1/2 cup of sugar in a two-loaf batch of bread, so it wasn't excessively sweet.  The flavor, though, was driven by 1-1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract in the dough and another teaspoon of vanilla extract in the glaze.  How could it be anything but good?

The dough ingredients include:

1 tablespoon yeast (instant or active dry)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

6-1/2 to 7 cups of flour

1-3/4 cups hot water (120 F)

4 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

The glaze ingredients include:

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sugar


Combine the yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour; mix by hand or by mixer.

Add the hot water, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Beat hard until smooth.  Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Continue beating until the dough is too stiff to stir.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and springy and a layer of blisters shows under the skin, about 4 minutes.  (Note: I did not see any blisters forming, but kneaded until the dough was smooth and elastic.)  The dough needs to be slightly firm for free-form loaves.

Place the dough in a greased deep container.  Turn the dough once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  (Even with room temperature at a relatively cool 65F in my kitchen, it did not need this much time to double.  I could see this doubling in less than an hour with warmer, summer-time temperatures.)

Grease or parchment-line 1 or 2 baking sheets.  (I went with 2 sheets, not wanting to risk the two loaves growing together while they baked.  It turned out to be a good choice.  Note that Ms. Hensperger also offers the option of using springform pans.)  Gently deflate the dough.  Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface.  Divide the dough in 2 equal portions.  Roll each portion out into a smooth, thick strip about 30 inches long, with one end 2-3 inches wider than the other.  (Picture a shorter, thicker billiard cue stick.)  Roll to to lengthen and taper the thinner end.  With the wide end on the work surface, lift the tapered end and wind the rest of the dough around the thick end 2 or 3 times, forming a compact coil.  Pinch the thin end to the body of the coil and tuck it under.  Place the coils, with the swirl pattern facing up, on the baking sheet(s).  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 30-40 minutes.  Because of the eggs, this loaf does not need to double completely; it will rise enough in the oven.  (And how!  It sprang up to double or treble its original height.)

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F.  To make the vanilla egg glaze, whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl.  Beat until well blended.  Gently brush the dough surfaces with a thick layer of the glaze.  Place the baking sheet(s) on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 40-45 minutes, or until a deep, golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger.  Carefully lift the turbans off the baking sheet(s) with a spatula and transfer to cooling racks.  Cool completely before slicing.

The finished bread looks like this:

Sweet vanilla challah

Sweet vanilla challah

Now, any bread smells good when it's baking.  This bread's fragrance while baking is over the top; our whole house was perfumed with vanilla. 

The flavor is also marvelous.  The crumb is fine-textured, smooth and moist.  It's good all by itself, with a dab of butter, with jam or marmalade, and toasted.  It will never last long enough to go stale, but it would make a wonderful base for either French toast or bread pudding.

The results were every bit as good as I had anticipated and a big hit with my friends.


Subscribe to RSS - vanilla