The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Franko's picture

A Spicy and Savoury Semolina Levain for Bruschetta

Semolina Levain with Roasted Garlic, Black pepper and Provolone

Incorporating black pepper into a bread is something I've wanted to try for a while now, finally deciding last week to have a go at it. What I wanted was a bread for grilling to use for bruschetta, with black pepper, roasted garlic and cheese meant to provide a bit more zing than your standard white Italian of French loaf offers. Using Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe for Semolina Levain from "Bread" as my starting point I took my best guess as to what percentages of pepper, garlic and cheese to add to his formula to achieve the flavour I was looking for. In the end I think I came pretty close, although next time I'll cut back on the black pepper just a touch and use either a sharp, dry aged Provolone or Pecorino Romano for a more assertive cheese flavour.

NOTE: Formula below and in the link have been adjusted accordingly.

After the loaf had cooled down and the first slice tasted, I was slightly disappointed with the flavour since neither the cheese or roasted garlic came through as much as I'd hoped for, although there was no mistaking the presence of the black pepper, every so often hitting a pocket of it that definitely got my taste buds attention. Fortunately my disappointment didn't last long once I'd fired up the BBQ and grilled a few slices (brushed with olive oil) over a bed of hot coals.

The subdued garlic and cheese flavour from my previous cold tasting were now right up there with the black pepper, creating a very good balance of flavour with the durum and wheat flours of Hamelman's base formula. Without the high ratio of durum flour used in the mix I think the flavour and crumb texture would not have been as good as one made with standard wheat flour. Durum flour has such a unique and subtle flavour to it and the crumb seems to retain moisture better than standard wheat flour, possibly why the flavours released as well as they did once the bread had been heated. Just a theory, but something I've noticed with high ratio durum doughs I've made in the past. At any rate, the grilled slices were perfectly suited to pairing with the fresh taste of chopped tomatoes and basil from our garden that I made for the bruschetta topping. My best recommendation for using this bread is to either toast, grill, or fry it in some fashion to really let the flavours come to their best. Served warm to dip in EVOO, mixed with egg and cheese for a savoury [Strata] or simply to make croûtons with, just a few of the possibilities that come to mind for enjoying this bread at it's best.


Extra fancy durum flour can sometimes be difficult to find and costly, depending upon where you live. Durum Atta Flour could be substituted for X Fancy Durum, or even a 100% hydration, coarse semolina soaker used at a 20-40% ratio would likely make a good substitute to use in this formula.


The very best of the Summer to all,


 Link to working spreadsheet [here]

Procedure for Semolina Levain with Roasted Garlic, Black Pepper and Provolone


Roasted Garlic Paste:

Make the roasted garlic paste the day before the final mix and keep covered in the refrigerator. Two heads of garlic should be adequate for a single loaf of 1.150K. Roast the garlic at 325F in an oven proof dish with a 1/4 C of water, covered in foil for 30-45 minutes or until the garlic is very soft. Cut in half and squeeze the paste through a strainer or run through a food mill to ensure that the paste is smooth.

NOTE: This a method for garlic paste that I've been using since first reading of it in Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's book "Charcuterie" [ ] The addition of water produces a braised paste that has fewer of the bitter flavours encountered in a typical roasted garlic preperation. 


Mix all the ingredients for the levain to a temperature of 70-71F/21C and let sit for 12-15 hours. 

Final Dough:

Scale out the black peppercorns and roast at 350F/176C for 15-20 minutes. The peppercorns should have mild to medium aroma to them. Allow to cool, then crush with a mortar and pestle or a heavy pan. Cut half the cheese into 1/4" dice, shred the remaining cheese and toss all of it with the crushed black pepper. 

Add the water to the Semolina flour and All purpose and autolyse for 40 minutes.

Add the levain and combine with the flours thoroughly, then add the salt and garlic paste and knead to a medium development. 

Allow the dough to relax for 5 minutes then gently stretch it out to a disk. 

Spread the cheese and pepper mix evenly over the dough. Fold the sides of the dough disk to the center then fold the dough in half and slowly knead the cheese/ peppercorn mix into to the dough using wet hands, until thoroughly combined. DDT of 76-78F/24-25C 

Bulk ferment at 76-78F/24-25C for 90-120 minutes, giving the dough 2 stretch and folds at 45 and 90 minutes. 

When bulk fermentation is complete round the dough lightly, dust with flour and cover with a cloth or plastic, resting for 15 minutes before shaping. 

Shape as desired and begin the final proof at 76-78F/24-25C for 75-90 minutes. The dough should spring back slowly when pressed with a finger.


Bake with steam in a 475F/246C oven with the vents blocked for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes vent the oven and remove the steaming apparatus. After 20 minutes rotate the loaf for even colouring and continue baking for a further 15-25 minutes. Check the colouring during this time and if necessary adjust the oven temperature to prevent the loaf from over browning. Baking times will vary depending on the weight of the loaf but a 1 to 1.5K should take between 35-45 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 210F/98.8C. At this point remove the loaf from the oven, wrap in cloth and cool on a rack for 8-10 hours before slicing.


NOTE: Use the bread toasted, grilled, or fried for best flavour.


baybakin's picture


For part II of my panaderia series, I bring the recipe for just about the most prevelant of pan dulces (sweet breads) in my old neighborhood; Conchas.  I've been looking for a good conchas recipe for ages, ever since I could no longer walk down the street to get a batch for 30 cents apiece.

This recipe is adapted from a great book (possibly the best one I've found in english) by Diana Kennedy, Regional Cuisines of Mexico.

114g Flour
22g Water
50g (1) egg
1/8 tsp yeast

Final Dough:
453g Flour
150g Sugar (I use "evaporated cane juice" or "Azucar Morena")
28g Unsalted Butter
250g (5) eggs
58g water
8g Salt
2g yeast

114g Flour
56g Superfine Sugar
56g Powdered Sugar
56g Unsalted Butter
56g Shortening
(Optional Flavorings: Cocoa powder/Vanilla extract/Cinnamon)

Mix starter, let rest overnight or until doubled.
Tear starter into pieces, mix with liquids and sugar until incorporated
Mix flour, butter and yeast into liquids and let autolysis for 20 mins.
Fold in salt and kneed until dough is satiny.
Let dough double in a warm area, folding at least twice during fermentation.

Mix topping, incorporate until a dough using the back of a wooden spoon.
Add flavoring to taste.
Divide dough into 16 pieces (about 60g apiece), shape into rounds and place on a silpat or parchment paper.
Pull off 1" balls from topping mix, flatten into discs between your palms.
Press flattened discs into dough balls, flattening them a bit.
Score tops in a shell or grid pattern, cutting half way into the topping, and let double in size.

Bake at 350 for 15-17 mins, until conchas turn golden and sound hollow when bottom is tapped.

Enjoy with a glass of milk or a nice cup of hot cafe con leche.  The shaping takes some practice, but there's a few videos on youtube that can help out.  These simple eggy breads are favorites of mine, and I hope they will be of yours too.

Foamheart's picture

Retired US Navy Bakers? Hamburger Buns

I didn't know where really to put this. I see there are some hamburger buns listed but I was hoping to get lucky.

Retired Navy Bakers?

I was on Submarines while in the service, although not a cook. The senior cook was always the baker, ours was exceptional. The baker’s watch was the mid-watch doing mid-rats then free till breakfast to bake the coming day’s needs. Did I mention our Chief cook was the best in the Navy? No matter what he wanted, he got. He was never harassed, and no one would ever refuse to spend some time helping. But I digress.

All Navy recipes are standard and dispensed with great care through completion of advanced schools. Sure each cook adds his secrets which he carries to the grave with him, but for the most part all standardized or so I have been told.

The humble hamburger bun was an unbelievable achievement. It’s like no other bread; it’s almost a dry, sweet, flour taste. It’s totally awesome. It was like a hamburger bun English muffin with a pinch of sugar. But the dough was that of light bread, not an English muffin consistency.

I was hoping that someone might be an ex-Navy baker or know how to come by those recipes. I am too old now to go back in the service so that is not an option. Besides it would seem maybe a bit extreme, but…… they were awesome buns.

If anyone can help I would appreciate it. Who would've of thought, the humble hamburger bun.

wouldbeamateurchef's picture

Hi introducing myself I am wouldbeamateurchef from the UK

Hi everyone,

 This is the first time I have signed up for a Artisan Bread Forum and from the looks of things I aint seen nuthin' yet.

 I am an unemployed disabled woman from the UK residing in Colchester, Essex and love cooking.

Breadmaking wise I am a proud owner of an Breville Breadmachine which I use for making doughs-with my help! My most successful loaf has been a 4 cup ( The US Cup System is so clever!) Bread with instant yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, water that I let prove for24 hours First rise then second and final rise in tin +2.

 The results of which converted me to long risings which I understand are not advisable in some recipes ie Felicity Cloakes Wholemeal Bread recipe featured in the Guardian. The bread was springy, it bounced back! the dough was silky smooth, and it had a nice sourdough? taste? 

 Whatever it tasted richer for having proved it for so long.

 I look forward to learning more from this international forum of Artisan [home and Professional] Breadmakers.

mark d's picture
mark d

Kitchen Aid mixer

I am wanting to buy a Kitchen Aid Mixer for making bread (home use). Witch one should i buy?  and what about C hook v Spiral hooks?

Please help!

PMcCool's picture

A surprising find

In the process of doing some searches relating to bread this past week, I encountered several recipes from a site named  In refining my search somewhat, I learned that the site would not display any information if I tried to visit the site by directly entering the address (or subaddresses).  However, if I used the search term "bread" and told Google to limit the search to the domain, it would return a number of pdf links.  Each pdf is a separate recipe, presumably for use by IGA member stores.  None of the documents I viewed had any statements about copyright or proprietary information.

Whether there are recipes for things other than breads, I don't know.  I haven't looked into that.


Felila's picture

What to do with ww sourdough bread with burnt crust

My last batch of wholewheat sourdough was a disaster from start to finish. I was distracted and didn't mix the starter thoroughly enough. Nonetheless, I mixed up the dough and waited for it to rise in the refrigerator. Rise was slow and I was worried that it would be dry and hard, so I mixed up the dough with some extra white bread flour, commercial yeast, water, and honey.  I retarded it for a day and baked it this morning. I was online and not paying attention ... the bread got too brown. Not quite burnt, but the crust is unpleasantly hard and strong-tasting. Inside is fine, but very sour. 

Ordinarily I would just cut up the bread and use it in bread pudding. There's a plastic tub in the freezer where I store the bread bits until I have enough for a batch of pudding. However, this bread is so intense that I think it wouldn't work well in bread pudding. 

I'm thinking that I could slice it thin, cut off the crusts, and make garlic bread. Once baked, I could freeze it. Or perhaps some sort of onion soup with bread? Any other suggestions?

BTW, the sourdough made with white bread flour turned out superb, so the day wasn't a total waste :)

isand66's picture

Holy Guacamole Sourddough

I had a new brand of store bought guacamole in the refrigerator just calling for me to use it in a bread.  I made bread before with fresh avocados and I've been meaning to try it again with a higher percentage of avocados this time.

The pre-made guacamole had some tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and onions which ended up adding a nice kick to this bread.

I also added some left over mashed potatoes as well as greek yogurt and I used Durum flour as well.  The idea was to create a moist, soft bread with a sour undertone and I think I achieved this.

The crumb was nice and moist and open with a buttery yellow/green texture.  The addition of the guacamole and yogurt made this a very wet dough even though by the strict definition of hydration it really wasn't it.  This would have made great Ciabbata bread but I decided to stick with traditional Boules.  The second one I made stuck to the cloth liner since I guess I didn't add enough rice flour so it ended up a little flatter than the first loaf.

If you decide to make this and are intimidated by wet dough feel free to increase the flour percentage or cut back on the water.


71 grams Seed (Mine is 65% AP Flour Starter)

227 grams AP Flour

151 grams Water (85 - 90 degrees F.)

Mix seed with water to break up for a few seconds and then mix in flour until the starter form a smooth dough consistency.  Put it in a lightly oiled bowl and loosely cover and leave at room temperature for at least 10 hours.  The starter should double in volume.  Put the starter in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days or use it immediately.

Main Dough


385 grams Starter from above (you may have a little left over from above)

315 grams European Style Flour ( can substitute bread or AP flour or a combination of the two)

251 grams Durum Flour (make sure not to use Fancy Semolina as it is too gritty)

122 grams Mashed Potatoes

308 grams Guacamole

73 grams Greek Style Plain Yogurt

335 grams Water (85 - 90 degrees F.)

16 grams Sea Salt (or table salt)


Mix the starter with all the water except for 50 grams just to break it up.  Next mix in the flours for 1 minute on low in your mixer or by hand and let them autolyes for 15 minutes up to an hour.    Next add the salt, guacamole and yogurt.  Mix on low for 1 minute and then add the remainder of your water unless you feel the dough is already too hydrated.  Mix on low-speed or by hand for 4 minutes.  Remove the dough from your mixing bowl to your work surface.  The dough will be very sticky so you may want to use a bench scraper to help you do 4-5 stretch and folds.  Leave the dough uncovered for 10 minutes on your work surface or put it in a slightly oiled bows.  After 10 minutes either on your work surface or in your bowl do another stretch and fold, cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Repeat this S & F procedure one more time and let it rest another 10 minutes.  Do one last S & F  and put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl for 2 hours.  If you don't feel the dough has developed enough feel free to do some additional stretch and folds while the dough is in the bowl and then put it in the fridge overnight.

The next day when I returned from work I removed the dough from the refrigerator and  I let the dough sit out at room temperature for 1.5 hours.  I then formed it into loaves and put them in floured bannetons and let them rise covered for 2 hours.

Score the loaves as desired and prepare your oven for baking with steam.

I then baked on my oven stone with steam at 450 degrees until both loaves were golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 205 - 210 degrees F.  I left them in the oven for 15 minutes with the heat turned off and the door open a crack to get the crust a little harder.

The end result was a nice golden-yellow crumb with a hint of green.  The crust was nice and crispy and the bread was moist and flavorful.

This bread has been submitted to Yeast Spotting here at

Cosmo Waiting for the Bread to Bake
May_be's picture

Going on vacation: How to keep starter alive?

To those of you who've successfully been maintaining starters for years now:

I'm a newbie bread baker. I've grown two starters from scratch, both using Reinhart's methods. The first one is a white starter made using the pineapple juice method. The second one is a wholewheat starter made using the mash method. I've been keeping them both in the basement at about 70-72F. The first one I'm feeding daily, at 80% hydration. The second one is very new, I'm just on day 7 and have mixed it into the mother starter at 75% hydration. So far they both seem to be behaving well, the first one is rising after each feed and winding down by the next one, and the second one seems to be working just as Reinhart describes in his method. The starters are pretty new, and I've only baked a couple of loaves with th first one which were clearly not perfect - somewhat dense crumb and over-sour flavor - but that may be for a host of other reasons as I discovered while browsing this forum. 

Which brings me to my question, which is, what is the best way to keep them alive when I'm on vacation? I will be going away soon for 18 days. Do I stick them in the fridge and just feed them when I come back, or should I get my neighbor to come in to feed them from time to time when I'm gone? If the answer is the latter, how often should I request the feedings?

Thanks in advance.


breaducation's picture

Sprouted Wheat Country Bread

I have been on a bit of a country bread kick lately but I’m always trying to mix it up. For my latest variation I’ve replaced the typical 10% whole wheat flour in a country bread with 15% sprouted wheat.

Although I don’t have that much experience using sprouted grains it’s something that has always intrigued me. Mainly because of the purported health benefits but also because of the delicious flavor.

For one thing, when you use a sprouted grain like wheat you are using the entire grain. At this point it’s already much more nutritious than white flour but not any better than your average whole wheat flour. What causes sprouted grains to excel so greatly in nutrition is the activation of enzymes in the sprouting process. These enzymes breakdown some starches before they get to your body making bread made from these grains easier to digest. The sprouting also increases levels of some vitamins and protein.

On top of all these nutritional advantages sprouted wheat also tastes great! It is much more sweet tasting than whole wheat flour and doesn’t have any of the bitterness. It’s these flavors that led me to the idea of trying sprouted wheat in a country bread.

The finished loaf had outstanding flavor! It was quite sweet from the sprouted wheat and very mildly sour probably from making it as a straight dough instead of retarding. I feel like I could increase the sprouted wheat to 25-35% of dough weight and still get a great mild sprouted wheat flavor. If I went that high with normal whole wheat it would dominate the flavor and have that bitter whole wheat taste. I think I’m going to be using sprouted wheat a lot more often in my breads.

For the formula, process and more photos visit aBreaducation.