The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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steve baker's picture
steve baker

Fairy Godmother's Banana Bread

A few years ago I met my Fairy Godmother, and she offered to grant me three wishes.  She told me that the wishes had to be personal, that is, not things like feeding starving babies in Africa or the MN Vikings winning the Super Bowl.  Fairy Godmother explained that the babies and Vikings had their own fairy godmothers, (some obviously better than others), and they were careful not to step on each others toes, so to speak.  She also warned me that each wish would be granted with a provision.

My first wish was easy.  I asked for Good Health.  Nothing else matters much without good health.  

Fairy Godmother said that would be fine, conditional upon my not taking good health for granted, ie: not drinking, smoking, eating junk foods or abusing my body in any way.  Since I have always been pretty good about taking care of myself, (at least since I quit smoking), I figured that would be easy enough.

For my second wish, I asked for Good Friends.  Life has no meaning without good friends to share it with.

Fairy Godmother agreed, on condition that I also be a good friend myself.  This is also something I've generally tried practice anyway, so that was taken care of.

Then Fairy Godmother asked for my third wish.  I replied that with good health and good friends I didn't really need to wish for anything else.  Fairy Godmother informed me that rules were rules.  She could not grant just two wishes.  I needed a third wish.  That's the way it's always been.

I honestly couldn't think of anything.  I didn't want to get my fairy godmother in trouble though.  Finally I asked her if she had a good recipe for banana bread.

"Why, yes I do!" she exclaimed.  "I'll write it down for you."

As she wrote down her recipe, I asked her what condition would be attached to the third wish.

Fairy Godmother thought for a moment, then said, "That your friends and neighbors shall never want for banana bread."

So, every week when I bake banana bread using Fairy Godmother's recipe, I take some to my friends and neighbors.

For friends too far away for direct gifting here is her recipe:

Fairy Godmother's Universal Banana Bread

For one 9 x 5 inch loaf (double recipe to make three 4.5 x 8 loaves) (I usually make a double batch and bake one 9 x 5 and three 5 x 3 loaves because the smaller ones are nice for gifting)

All Ingredients  at Room Temperature

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degrees

2 Eggs

1 Cup (10 oz) VERY RIPE Bananas*

1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

1/4 Cup Milk

2 Cups Flour (AP/part Whole Wheat/KAF White Whole Wheat or, best of all Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)

1 Cup Sugar

2  teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

* VERY RIPE means as black as you can find.  If mottled yellow is the best you can do, lay them on a baking sheet, poke a few slits on the top side of the peel, and roast them at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until they're black and leathery.  Let them cool and squeeze from peel.  (I freeze these in 10 oz portions)

Additions: (see other suggested adds below) (the important thing is that the additions be about Chip size and their total weight be not much more than 6 oz/loaf)

4 oz Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup (@ 2 oz) Nuts


Mash together Eggs/Bananas/Oil and Milk (I use an old potato masher) Stir until well blended

Whisk together Dry Ingredients

Toss Additions lightly with a bit of Flour to coat them

Stir Dry Ingredients into Egg-Banana MIxture until just evenly moistened

Fold in Additions

Pour into well greased pan.  (If you use Chocolate Chips or Fruit it's a good idea to use Baking Parchment to line at least the bottom of your pan)

Bake about an hour, until center is dry to toothpick test, which will be 190 degrees  (about five-ten minutes less for 4.5 x 8 loaf, ten-twenty minutes less for 3 x 5's)

Cool in pan on rack for ten minutes.   Run a knife or spatula around the edges and remove loaf to rack to cool completely.

Here are some items I've used as Additions:

White Chocolate/Butterscotch/Cinnamon Chips/Toffee Chips

Raisins or Dried Fruit (Apricots/Dates/figs/Passion Fruit/Pineapple etc) in 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces

Coconut/Dry Breakfast Cereal (flakes or shapes)/commercial Granola/Trail Mix

Sunflower Seeds/Soy Nuts 

Suggested Combos:

Semi-Sweet Chocolate/Toffee Chips & Sunflower Seed

Butterscotch Chip & Date

Dried Cranberry or White Raisin & White Chocolate Chip

Mini Chocolate Chip & Banana Nut Crunch Cereal


Pomegranate Arils & White Chocolate Chip (very good)

Raisin & Fruity Peebles Cereal aka Josephs Banana Bread of Many Colors (fun for kids)

Prune and Licorice (very ... interesting?)


isand66's picture

Durum Potato Rolls

I have not made any rolls in a while and since my wife insisted on some "simple" rolls for our lunch sandwiches this weekend I decided to whip something up using instant yeast instead of my sourdough starter or yeast water starter.

I had some left over mashed potatoes so I wanted to use those in the recipe.  I love using Durum flour in my breads so I used an almost 50% mix of Durum with a high protein flour from KAF, called Sir Lancelot to offset for the lower protein content in the Durum flour.

I recently purchased some Avocado Oil so of course I needed to add some in this recipe along with some Agave Nectar for a little sweetness.

The dough was retarded overnight for added flavor and baked this morning.

I do have to say they came out as good as I could have expected.  They are nice and soft and tasty and are going to make a perfect sandwich roll for sure.


400 grams Sir Lancelot Flour (KAF, you can substitute Bread Flour)

374 grams Durum Flour (Do not use fancy Semolina as it is to gritty)

112 grams Mashed Potatoes with Skins

227 grams Water 85 - 90 degrees

255 grams Milk at room temperature

14 grams Instant Yeast

57  grams Avocado Oil

14 grams Seas Salt or Table Salt

60 grams Agave Nectar


Mix flours with yeast to combine.  Next add remainder of the ingredients .  Mix on low-speed or by hand for 1 minute and let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes to absorb the flour.

Next mix the dough for another 3 minutes on #2 (If you have a dough hook switch use for this step).  The dough should come together and be scraping the side of the mixing bowl and be nice and fairly smooth but still tacky.

Remove the dough to your work surface and knead by hand for 1 minute.  Do about 3-4 stretch and folds and put in a well oiled bowl or container with a cover.  Put it in your refrigerator immediately.

You can keep it in your refrigerator for about 24 to 36 hours.  I ended up baking it in the morning so it was only in my refrigerator for around 14 -15 hours.   The dough should double while in the refrigerator.

When ready to bake the rolls or bread, take it out of the refrigerator and immediately weigh out your pieces or loaves and shape as desired.  I made rolls and let them rise for 1 hour on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

After 45 minutes turn your oven up to 350 degrees F. and prepare your rolls as desired.  I beat 1 whole egg mixed with a little water and put an egg wash on each roll.  I also added some toasted onions to some and some dried cheese mix on some as well.  At the 1 hour or so mark pop them in the oven and turn once after about 15 minutes.  These should take about 25 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Let them cool on wire rack for at least half an hour before digging in if you can wait that long.

Floydm's picture

Recent baking

We've been having a lovely fall here in BC and I've been getting back into the baking routine.  These sourdough loaves were shared at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Then we had pizza night a couple of days later.

And last weekend I made a big honkin' miche with 5% rye flour, 10% whole wheat.  

I forgot to get a crumb shot, but it was pretty nice.

Of course, what would autumn be without apples and apple pie?  

Recently I learned a trick for making the crust: rather than trying to cube and cut the butter in with forks like the cookbooks always tell you to do, just toss the butter in the freezer for an hour or so before making the crust, then use a cheese grater to slice into little bitty bits.  It is so much easier and having the butter that cold to begin with makes the crust considerably flakier.

Happy baking!


dabrownman's picture

Pierre Nury's Rustic Light Rye with Whole Grain Multi-grain YW / SD Levains and Coffee

We wanted to take a new look at Pierre Nury’s Rustic light Rye from Daniel Leader’s book ‘Local Breads’ that ZolaBlue posted about here:

And my initial attempt here:


We went with our original plan to put some more rye and whole grains (spelt and WW) in this bread to enhance, broaden and deepen its flavor profile to make it something we would like better.


The whole grains ended up to be 20% of the total and it was all used in the levains as has been our choice lately.  We also wanted to use separate YW and SD slevains for this bread to see what difference it might make from the original.  We used coffee instead of water for this bake too. 


We changed some of the methods too.  Instead of the first S&F set, after the 12 minutes of kneading on KA 4, we did 4 minutes of French slap and folds because we like doing them and it seems to help gluten development of high hydration dough considerably.


Once the dough had doubled on the counter after a 2 hour ferment, we chucked it into the fridge where it supposedly wasn’t going to rise much during the 12 hour 37 F retard.


But it did – a lot.  In fact, it rose so much that it stuck tightly to the un-oiled top of the Tupperware tub and if I didn’t have the cheesecake sitting on top of it, would have exploded all over the fridge.  This is a very sticky dough due to the extra rye, spelt and WW and 80% hydration and these additions also contributed to its continued rising in the cold fridge.


So when we tore the dough from the lid after coming out of the fridge, it completely deflated from 5”high to 1”.  You are supposed to gently push the dough out to a 10”x10”square, cut it in half and then gently pick it up from the ends while stretching it out another 2” (making it 12”long) and then plop it on a parchment covered peel for a final rise of 1 hour or until it doubles.  Then it goes into the oven cold without slashing.

We should have shaped each half into ciabatta and let it rise one more time at room temp but we just chucked it in the 450 F steaming oven as a flat bread - 17 " long - without any further proofing toppings, oil or dimples to get a bread made for sandwiches – and it worked!

The bread did spring nicely in the oven increasing its height over 50% and ending up the right thickness to cut in half and be perfect for a lunch sandwich that we hardly ever get a chance to eat.

It baked 12 minutes with steam and then 10 more minutes at 425 F convection without steam rotating it every 5 minutes on the stone. So in 22 minutes it was done and tested 208 F on the inside.  We left it on the stone with the oven off and the door ajar to crisp the skin.

The crust didn’t brown as much as we wanted but it was done.  Since it wasn’t slashed it did crack where it wanted to and the crumb was open, soft, a little glossy and moist.  It was also as tasty as our previous attempt, maybe even more so and made for a fine sandwich at lunch.  Just delicious and would be terrific in a panini.


SD Starter

Build 1


SD Desem & Rye Sour



Dark Rye












Total Starter






YW Starter

Build 1


Yeast Water






Dark Rye












Combo Starter Totals






Levain % of Total






Dough Flour






Dough Flour












Dough Hydration






Total Flour






T. Dough Hydration



Whole Grain %






Hydration w/ Adds



Total Weight






Add - Ins



Red Rye Malt



White Rye Malt






ibor's picture

The Art of Braiding Bread

To those interested in bread braiding I wish to inform that I have published "The Art of Braiding Bread ", an e-book available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

breadsong's picture

World Bread Day, 10.16.12

Hello everyone, and Happy 'World Bread Day'!
Here are some breads baked over the last while, lovely flavors from different countries :^)



For Canada (Victoria BC and Manotic, Ontario),
Cliff Leir’s 50% Whole Wheat (with thanks to MC-Farine for her post), baked with Watson’s Mill Flour,
a lovely flour kindly sent to me by Franko (his post on Watson's Mill is here):


For the United States (San Francisco, CA), SFBI Miche, a formula posted by dmsnyder - thanks so much, David!:



For the United States and Sweden, two breads presented at WheatStalk 2012 (Chicago, IL):
Richard Miscovich's 100% Sprouted Whole Wheat       Solveig Tofte's Vort Limpa Rye (Orange, Anise, Fennel)



For France, Roasted Garlic Fougasse, from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book Bread, and MC-Farine’s Pain de l’Abbaye Saint-Wandrille:


For Germany, a variation of Jeffrey Hamelman’s 80% Rye with a Rye-Flour Soaker (honey, walnuts, spice):


For Russia, Andrew Whitley’s Borodinsky (from his book, Bread Matters), flavored with beautiful coriander:


There was a world of great flavor with these breads - very happy to remember how good these breads tasted,
for World Bread Day :^)

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong


Virtus's picture

'Home Baked' by Hanne Risgaard

I was wondering if anyone that has purchased Ms Risgaard's book has had a chance to check out her 'Real Rye Bread' recipe. I don't understand why she mixed all of the dough ingredients and then takes out 400 grams of the dough and saves it for the next bake. How long can this be kept? I presume you don't use sourdough then, just the dough amount, in your next bake. I just have never read about this technique except for a simpler formula using only flour, water, sourdough and salt.

Thanks, Esther.

PiPs's picture

Tartine’s sesame bread + tempered high extraction miche

Two years ago Nat purchased Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread for my birthday and wrote an inscription on the inside cover … ‘To inspire you’

When I want to shake things up in my kitchen and try something different this is the book I turn to. I love the restlessness and pursuit of perfection in the stories. For me, this is its inspiration. It is not a manual and it is not a handbook … it’s the story of a journey.

While I have baked many of the formulas in Tartine Bread over the years I have not experimented enough with Chad’s schedule for maintaining a leaven. This was to be part of my inspiration this week so I converted a portion of my firm levain into a 100% hydration starter fed with 50% freshly milled wheat and 50% plain flour.

The trick is, you see, to catch Chad's leaven at the perfect time. I find this is even more critical for me using fresh milled flour and I have on many occasions had to do an intermediate build to save an over-fermented leaven. And the best (and cheapest) tool I have found for judging leaven readiness? … my nose!

After fermenting in the cool night air the leaven passed both the float and sniff tests (sounds gross) and was then mixed into the dough. Tartine’s sesame loaf uses the basic country bread formula with a cup of toasted unhulled sesame seeds mixed through the dough in the early stages of bulk fermentation.

The slow gentle dough manipulation is relaxing, but I still find it a high maintenance bread to prepare. Keeping temperatures maintained with a small amount of dough over a four period can be tricky during the seasons and the constant attention required for turning the dough can be frustrating. In the end however I was rewarded with subtle dough that shaped easily and bloomed beautifully in a hot oven.

The sesame flavours are subtle. I think Nat was expecting stronger flavours from this bread and was surprised by its sleepy nature. A tablespoon of sesame oil in the dough could be a nice addition without overpowering any of the future flavours that would be stacked on a slice or two.


My miche adventures continue …

My experimentation with creating high extraction flour has moved on to the process of tempering. By slowly adding a controlled amount of moisture to grain over a period of time, the bran will toughen allowing easier (and larger) separation when milling. My process of tempering is high-touch. I don’t own a grain moisture meter so I was extremely careful that the grain was dry to touch before milling.

One percent of water a day was added to the grain over a four day period followed by a final 24 hours rest before milling. Normally I mill cold grains from the fridge but have heard that this can lead to the bran shattering into smaller pieces so I instead milled room temperature grains. I feel like I am a bit stuck with this. The small stones on my mill have a tendency to heat up the flour quite substantially but I do end up with larger pieces of bran and softer flour using this process. Hmmm …

The resulting flour was sifted to 80% extraction in one pass and was not re-milled or re-sifted. A more complicated miche was planned for this bake. I would use a rye starter in addition to my standard levain, plus include a small amount of barley malt extract for flavour and colouring only.


Tempered High Extraction Miche (2 x 2kg miche)





Total dough weight



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Pre-fermented flour






1. Rye sour – 12 hrs 25°C



Starter (Not used in final dough)



Freshly  milled coarse rye flour



T130 rye flour












2. Levain – 5-6hrs 25°C



Previous levain build



Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled sifted wheat, 9% fresh milled sifted spelt and 3% fresh milled sifted rye)












Final dough. DDT=25°C



Rye sour (1.)



Levain (2.)



Sifted fresh milled wheat (80% extraction)



Barley malt extract











  1. Mix rye sour and leave to ferment for 12 hours at 25°C
  2. Mix levain and leave to ferment for 5-6 hours at 25°C
  3. Combine flour and water then mix to shaggy consistency - hold back 100 grams of water.
  4. Autolyse for one hour.
  5. Add levain and rye sour to autolyse then knead (french fold) for five mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 100 grams of water. Squeeze the salt and water through the dough to incorporate (the dough will separate then come back together smoothly). Remove from the bowl and knead a further 10 mins.
  6. Bulk ferment for two hours with a stretch-and-fold half way through. Mine was ready after 1.5 hours … watch the dough!
  7. Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape into large boules and proof in floured baskets seam side up.
  8. Final proof was 1-1.5 hours at 25°C
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 40 mins. 

One and half hours into a planned bulk ferment of two hours I could tell the dough was ready for division and shaping. Perhaps it was the inclusion of the rye starter, perhaps the malt or perhaps both … either way, the dough was moving fast.

I am becoming braver with both my proofing and handling of these large breads but peeling one into my home oven is still a stressful moment. Our poor little oven does its best to punch it up while I sit and dream of a masonry oven or stone floor deck oven and the results I could achieve.

The sifting method, malt and rye starter created a darker crumb than previous miche but gave the bread a deep flavour that was nicely balanced. I had suspected the rye starter would have a large impact on the flavour but this was not the case at all.

So will I continue to temper grains before milling? I am really not sure. It creates more planning and logistics before a bake. I do end up with softer flour, but the heat generated by the mill really bothers me. I think some experimenting with tempering and using the fridge to cool the grains before milling may be in order.

p.s. Happy World Bread Day everyone!

Wade37's picture

Is it practical to maintain the Full Sour (of 3 Stage Detmolder Process) for future use ?

I use a 100% rye starter and produce tasty, but not notably sour, rye + wholemeal loaves and I am considering trying the Detmolder 3 Stage Process to increase my output sourness and flavour. The procedure is lengthy and necessitates critical temperature control.

My question is : Is development of Refreshment/ Basic Sour/ Full Sour stage mixes necessary for each bake or can a portion of Full Sour be maintained (e.g. refrigeration + feeding, as in the case of conventional starters) for future use ?

dabrownman's picture

Parade of Sandwiches Continues - Part 3