The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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joyfulbaker's picture

Levain with 2 starters redux

Just baked my "regular" sourdough yesterday and decided it truly is the best bread ever.  It's Hamelman's 'Levain with 2 starters,"on pp. 162, 163 of Bread.  It makes keeping that second, rye starter worth every minute it takes (not very many at that).  We just cut into it last night after it had cooled about 3 hours, and hubby and I (just two bread-loving retired folks) went through at least a third of a loaf that weighed 2 pounds!  I shaped it as a chubby batard.  I didn't photograph the second loaf (which was a little under 1 1/2 lbs., more of a baguette-like shape but a little chunkier) because it went into the freezer right after it cooled.  I slashed both loaves with a single center cut.


I hesitate to reproduce the recipe because of copyright restrictions.  (If anyone has knowledge of getting around that, let me know and I'll see if I can comply.)  I pretty much bake it as Hamelman directs (there are no errata listed for this recipe).  My only tweak is the sprinkling of seeds on top, which I often do.  I combine sunflower, sesame (black and white), fennel, flax and poppy, along with freshly ground sea salt (not too much), which I keep in a small plastic container in the fridge.  I use that as a bagel topping as well. 

This is our regular table bread, and I often retard it overnight (up to 18 hours at 42 deg. F., Hamelman advises), which makes it a 3-day affair, with the starters being mixed the night before mixing the dough.  We had visiting relatives from Israel in October who said this is the best bread they ever ate (my sentiments exactly)!  This time I felt like baking it the same day as mixing, and it was at its best!  So delicious!  I think it may be because the flour was very fresh (K.A. bread flour and B.R.M. whole rye, both just opened yesterday).  My autolyse time was short (15 minute), as I had a dr. appt.  in the middle of it all.  I did two S & F's (somewhat sticky dough, manageable with wet dough scraper and wet hands), and I baked it on a stone (preheated in 500 deg. oven 45 minutes before loading) with the usual steam (pan of steaming hot water beneath and spritzing 4 or 5 times the first 10 minutes).  After 15 minutes, I turned the oven to convection (my K/A electric oven automatically converts Hamelman's 460 F. to 435 F.) after removing the steaming pan--carefully.  I actually lowered the oven 10 degrees for the final 10 minutes, as it sometimes gets a little too dark.  Total baking time is 40-45 minutes.  So, if you have Hamelman's book (or a copy from the library) and if you're willing to whip up two starters (he has directions in the book for both white and rye starters), it's worth it!  The flavor is unbelievably delicious, and it keeps in a paper bread bag for the better part of a week (I bought 500 of them from a local supplier recommended by a local bakery) and then makes great croutons.  I'm saving the second loaf for a dinner party hosted by a member of my book group (an amazing cook and former caterer).



alabubba's picture

Structural Gingerbread for Gingerbread House

I am looking for a structual gingerbread recipe that tastes good. It will only set for a day or too. Plan on having the grandbabies decorate it on christmas eve, then eat it on christmas day. I have a good recipe for structual gingerbread but its not anything you would want to eat. 

Anyone have a delicouse and sturdy gingerbread recipe they would like to share.



Szanter5339's picture

Cottage cakes.


foodslut's picture

Beer instead of water for poolish?

Here's my formula for a beer bread I make from time to time:

Question:  I typically use the beer to make the poolish instead of the water to jack up the flavour of the pre-ferment.  The results have always been good (which I guess is the ultimate guide), but could it be better if I used the water instead?


hanseata's picture

Geoffrey Chaucer's Onion Tart

Before I grab my cooke's knyfe I just have to share this. Enjoy!

Onion Tart

à la Geoffrey Chaucer

225g plain shortcrust pastry

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

25g butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 onions, finely sliced

Salt and black pepper

2 teaspoons caster sugar

A quarter teaspoon each of grated nutmeg and ground ginger

2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

425ml double cream

Large pinch of saffron strands


On a floured board roll pastry that it be thinne,

Caste thereto with thyme and line a deep tinne.

Trimme the edges neat with a cooke's knyfe,

Then bake it blinde at gasse mark fyve.

Melt the butter and oyle in an heavie panne,

Covered wiv a lidde, as knoweth every man.

Then adde onyons in slices fine ywrought,

And caste thereto sugar and salte.

Cover the panne and turn the heat down low,

Stirre every while, else the onyons stick to.

Remove the lidde and seethe for ten minutes mo,

That the sauce reducteth and darke growe.

Strewe thereto nutmeg grated, tho keep some by,

And grounde gyngere, and return to the fyre.

Lightly beat the eggs and zolkes together,

And season wiv both salt and black pepper.

Heat the crème till just warme with saffron rich,

Then adde the eggs for to mix.

Spoon the onyon sauce into the pastry case,

Then pour egg and crème custard into the base.

Bake in the oven for minutes xxv,

Til golden brown our tarte be.


You can find this and, also Virginia Woolfs "Clafoutis Grandmere" and Raymond Chandler's "Lamb with Dill Sauce" here:

HokeyPokey's picture

Orange WholeMeal

Just a quick post - a basic wholemeal bread, lovely texture and mild sourdough flavour - that one is a keeper


As always, more photos and recipe on my blog here

freerk's picture

Rudolph's antlers: Pepernoten versus Kruidnoten

Rudolph's antlers; Pepernoten versus kruidnoten

Each year, here up North,
a man comes forth from Spain.
Train nor plane he uses;
a boat is what he chooses,
as well as a white horse,
and (to make matters worse)
travels together with guys
(I tell you no lies)
who paint their faces…

The Dutch embrace it all
and make their way to the mall
to shop till they drop
and return home with many a gift,
that plenty a spirit will lift.

Does this tradition ring a bell?
Well, maybe if you hear his name
your X-masses will never be the same;

Sinterklaas is what he's called...

Please don't be too appalled
Dear Santa and elves
When you see yourselves
reflected in this feast
that is politically incorrect to say the least.

For Sinterklaas - indeed- is the reason why
A guy who goes "ho ho" stops by
on your shores; his boat is now a sled,
the horse became reindeer with noses red.
All devoid of that annoyed
"black Pete", made obsolete by elves
who can show themselves
without any accidental tourist dropping jaws
'cause they see their Santa Claus
fretting in such an anachronistic setting.

Here in the old world, tradition reigns
and black Pete, alas, remains...
However racist it may seem;
rest assured the theme
at the root of all of this, is equal
and Santa is just a better sequel
to a storm of giving and sharing,
so let that be your bearing!
Give and share, share and give,
and live a full life void of strife!

Rudolph's antlers

There are many traditional baking goods associated with Sinterklaas. Butter fondant, chocolate letters, chocolate fondant frogs and mice (nobody seems to know where they came from) and pepernoten. There are three varieties of them floating around, going from rather chewy and lebkuchen-like, to crunchy and easy to eat. The traditional pepernoot is right in the middle and made with harshorn salt (yes, we use Rudolf's antlers to make cookies). This is the king of all rising agents when it comes to strength.

Since baking with hartshorn salt involves a chemical reaction to cause your kitchen to smell like ammonia for about a minute during the bake, many people are a bit wary to use it. Rest assured that there is no harm done; open your kitchen window to get rid of this volatile gas even faster. No traces of it will be left in the pepernoten. For those interested in trying it; King Arthur sells Hartshorn salt as "baker's ammonia" on their site.

Here's the video recipe.

Traditional Pepernoten (big batch)

1 kg. all purpose flour
500 gr. honey
300 gr. sugar
3 eggs
15 gr. hartshorn salt
1½ ts cinnamon
¾ ts cloves
1 ts white pepper
pinch of:
all spice
100 gr. confectioners sugar
a little water.


Warm the honey on a low heat together with the sugar, the eggs, hartshorn salt and all the spices, untill the sugar has melted. Mix well. Sift through the flour in parts and mix well until the stiff dough comes together (be careful not to wreck your KitchenAid on this dough!).

Preheat the oven to 190° C and grease two sheet pans. Form 2 cm balls out of the dough, place them on the sheet pan, keeping enough space between them (at least 1 cm). Bake the pepernoten for about 15- 20 minutes in the middle rack of your oven until golden brown.

Right after baking let them cool on a rack. Bring some confectioners sugar diluted in a little water to the boil, mix until smooth and brush the pepernoten with it to give them a nice finish.

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booch221's picture

I stopped using a poolish and still get great flavor

I've always used a poolish for my no knead bread recipe. It called for one cup of APF and 6 oz of water and 1/8 teaspoon of  instant yeast. I would let it ferment over night and then mix it with 7 oz of bread flour, 2 oz semolina flour, 1-1/4 teaspoons of salt, 4 oz water, and another 1/8 teaspoon of yeast. I would let this triple in size (5-6 hours) and then refrigerate it overnight before baking. 

This takes a long time but makes a great smelling and tasty loaf of bread.

One day I decided to just mix all the dry ingredients and add 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast and 10 oz of water. It takes about eight hours to rise, and still benefited from a night in the fridge, but it came out tasting the same as the bread made with the poolish. In a blind taste test, I don't think I could tell which was which. Others felt the same way.

This new method saves time and labor.

I suppose you could say, I was still making a poolish,  except I was using all the ingredients in the recipe, instead of just a portion.

Any thoughts on this? 

I've modified my no knead bread recipe on The Fresh Loaf.

More pictures of the entire process are here.


beetsuits's picture

Sourdough starter age


Does the age of a sourdough starter really matter, after it is fully developed?

Boudin claims to use a mother dough that dates back to 1849. How long will the starter continue to improve? Will Boudin's starter make a bread that is sixteen times as delicious as another bakery's ten-year old starter?

A baker in my shop complained when his experimental whole wheat starter was discarded (accidentally) after a couple of months. If he restarts it, will it not be back up to speed after a week or so?

On another, sort-of-related topic, if I bring my San Francisco area starter to say, St Louis, won't it eventually become St Louis area starter unless kept under fairly strict quarantine conditions?

I have searched around for a while on this forum but cannot find an answer to this specific question.




Szanter5339's picture

The best bread!

The best bread!
My favorite white bread, 24-hour leaven.
Beautiful foreign and domestic, and very tasty too!