The Fresh Loaf

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GSnyde's picture

Flora, Fauna & Pane

A lovely weekend on the North Coast of California. 

First, the Fauna.  Our yard seems to be the pasture of choice for our neighborhood herd of Mule Deer.  And the herd has grown in the last few weeks.  We’ve seen at least three new babies (we refer to them, collectively, as “The Fonz”).  And the young buckeroos were particularly rowdy this weekend.  After the pictures below were taken, a large group assembled not 20 yards from our porch (perhaps drawn by the smell of Focaccia buns baking; more likely by the dandelions in bloom).

Next, the Flora.  Cat and I pretend that our courtyard garden is a big pain to keep up, but the truth is we love working on it.  It’s been a while since I looked at it without making a mental list of the chores that need to be done.  But today, I was looking it over from the upstairs deck, and realized that it looks pretty great.  So I snapped a few photos.

And finally the Pane.  I saw an article in the food section of the SF Chronicle a week or two ago about the wonderful hamburgers at Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa (  The story included their recipe for Focaccia Buns.  So, with lots of good stuff around for sandwiches (leftover Salmon and Tartar Sauce; leftover chicken and barbecue sauce), I tried it out.  This is about the quickest bread I’ve made (LOTS of yeast).  It takes about two hours from mis en place to baked.  The buns are good—they are tender and tasty and hold up to saucy fillings.  I’m sure they would be great grilled for burgers.

Here’s the recipe (with my added weight measurements):

Bistro Don Giovanni’s Focaccia Hamburger Buns

Makes 12

These buns are adapted from the ones made at Bistro Don Giovanni.  The buns can be made ahead, wrapped well and frozen for a couple of weeks.

         2 1/4 cups (540 g) whole milk

         1/2 ounce (14 g) instant dry yeast, about 1 1/2 tablespoons

         1/4 cup (55 g) olive oil + more as needed

         5 1/3 cups (730 g) all-purpose flour

         4 teaspoons (25 g) salt

Instructions: Line two rimmed baking pans with parchment; set aside.

Warm milk to about 100°-110° and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add the yeast and the 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk to dissolve the yeast, then add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, and continue to mix for about 2 more minutes.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl; turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until almost doubled, about 30-40 minutes. The dough should barely spring back pressed gently with your fingers.

Move oven racks to the middle and bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425° (400° if using a convection oven).

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 4 ounces each). Shape each portion into a ball. Arrange balls on the prepared baking sheets, spaced well apart (about 6 per sheet). Brush each ball generously with olive oil and let rest 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, oil the palm of your hand, then use your palm to gently flatten each ball until the top is somewhat flat and the balls are shaped like buns.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the buns are light golden brown. If needed, switch pans from top to bottom and back to front for during the last couple of minutes for more even browning.

Place the pans on a rack, brush each bun lightly with olive oil, and let cool completely before slicing. Wrap individually and freeze if not using the same day.


And may each of you have an enjoyable third fiscal quarter.

Glenn's picture

New(ish) steaming method

I offer the following hybrid of Sylvia's Magic Towels and David Snyder's contribution of the SFBI Perforated-Pie-Tin+Ice-Cubes methods.  This method has been working spectacularly well.  I bake in a small ('mini', so to speak :-) electric wall oven and have never been satisfied with steam.  Problem decisively solved.

MATERIALS: I assemble soaking-but-not-dripping wet terry towels on an oven rack, out on the counter, while the oven is heating up, as seen in the pic above.  Two small towels overlap each other on top and hang down the sides, between the outermost two rack rungs, right and left.  One larger towel (optional? haven't tested) rests folded up on top of the two smaller ones on the rack.  The smaller side towels extend down within an inch or 2 above the rack that holds the baking stone (a downsized Emil Henry), and do not hang above the stone, lest drips land on it causing loaf to become glued thereto.  Atop the rack and towels is a half-sheet dispo aluminum tray (12"x17" -- a full sheet is 17" x 24" -- but my oven is literally a 'half-oven'), into which six 1/4" holes have been drilled into the bottom at the right and left sides, about 1.5" apart, just above where the towels fold over the rungs and descend down toward the space between the edge of the stone and rack supports.  The tray is for ice cubes -- see method below.

METHOD: When the oven is fully heated, just before I transfer the dough from banneton to peel, I slide the toweled rack into the oven and close the door.  With the aluminum tray still on the counter, I place ~5 ice cubes along each side, above the drilled holes and leave it there while I de-banneton, slash and slide the loaf onto the stone.  Before closing the oven door, I set the ice-cube prepared tray on top of the towels on the top rack.  Five minutes later, I resupply the tray with 5 more cubes on each side.  Five minutes after that, I don my welder's gloves and remove the entire apparatus - rack, towels and tray - and set it in the sink.  Switch to convection bake.

RESULTS:  Until I adopted this method, I rarely, and then only spottily, achieved desired gelation of crusts.  But this method results in absolutely spectacular crusts and oven spring (above; NB: because it's a small oven, I bake a lot of miches - one big loaf to minimize oven 'on' time.  This is Hamelman's Vermont SD w/Increased Whole Grain, as a single big miche).  When I opened the door to resupply ice cubes @ 5 minutes the first time I tried this, I got minor steam burns on my hands, such was the steam still in the oven.  Indeed, it is possible that those extra cubes aren't needed for the sake of the loaf's crust, but I still add them to assure that the towels remain wet (fire hazard - see below).  This turns my oven into a 460˚F sauna.


  • WARNING:  As any that involves introducing cotton towels into a 500˚F oven, this method presents a significant fire hazard.  Make sure to keep the towels WET at all times and monitor such through oven door window.
  • I've tried hanging additional towels front and back as well, for "full enclosure", if you will.  C'est tres tres effective to be sure, but, (1) they dripped on the stone :-(, and (2) it's a bit messy to remove the apparatus and avoid sweeping the rear, wet towel over surface of the loaf.  Not worth it.  
  • Rather than fold or cut towels to allow them to fall between the rungs of the rack, I took the rack out to the shop and used a grinder to remove the right and left ends of cross-wise (underside) bars that are not needed to support the rack.  Blame my Y chromosome.  The rack is built like a Russian tank is not significantly weakened by such dismemberment.
  • Any number of variations are possible on this and I hope some TFLoafers might explore them.  For example, don't drill holes in tray but rest towels on top of it, with some boiling water poured into it?  Or no tray at all?  I had travertine tile scraps inserted between the rack supports and the right and left walls at one time, but removed them because I thought they were inhibiting oven spring by prematurely drying the crust (a small oven + big miche syndrome).  I may re-insert these now, as they'll add extra heat/thermal mass to evaporate water from towels hanging near them.

Respectfully submitted,


nadira2100's picture

Roasted Garlic Cheddar Loaf

After my sorry attempt at shaping my Pain de Campagne loaves I was itching to try again. After a suggestion from a fellow bread baker, I watched Jeffrey Hamelman and Ciril Hitz in video tutorials on how to make basic shapes. This helped more than looking at a series of pictures in a book! So this time, instead of tackling 3 different shapes, I just stuck to 1....the Batard. 

I also stuck with the same recipe for Pain de Campagne but I made my own version by adding some roasted garlic and cheddar to the dough....for something a bit different (and because I had these items in the house and wanted to use them up!). 

The day before baking, I made a preferment as follows: 



  • 5 oz AP flour
  • 5 oz unbleached bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c water


I mixed and kneaded for about 4 minutes and then let it rest on the counter for 1 hr. Before...


I then punched it down, gave it a quick knead and put it in the fridge overnight. 

The next day I took out the preferment 1 hr before mixing the final dough. 

During this time I roasted 2 small heads of garlic at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. 

I must say the aroma in my kitchen was phenomenal! Until recently I had never roasted garlic before, just sauteed it and I have to tell gives garlic a whole other dimension that is best described through the smell of it than words alone! So seriously...try it sometime...or maybe you have and I've just fallen way behind. 

Anyway....back to my lovely bread. I let the garlic cool on the counter, then mashed it up and set it aside.

I then put together the final dough as follows:

Final Dough


  • all of the preferment (about 16oz)
  • 8 oz unbleached bread flour
  • 1.5 oz rye flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 c water
  • all of the mashed garlic
  • about 1/3 to 1/2 c shredded cheddar (about a handful)
  1. Cut the preferment into 12 pieces.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flours, preferment, water, yeast, garlic and salt until a rough dough ball forms. Let rest for 15min.
  3. Knead or stretch and fold for about 10 minutes. Towards the end of kneading, add in the cheddar until it's all uniformly incorporated.Let rest in an oiled bowl for 30 minutes.
  4. Perform 2 stretch and folds and return it to the bowl and let it rise for about 30min to 1 hr or until it's doubled in size.
  5. Preshape the loaves by cutting in half and then forming these halves into 2 boules. Let rest for 20 minutes before the final shaping.
  6. Shape into batards and let proof seam side up for 1 hr.
  7. Flip onto a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal, score, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bake at 500 degrees for 2 min with a steam pan at the bottom of the oven.
  8. Reduce the temperature to 450 and continute baking for 10 minutes. Rotate the loaves and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool completely before devouring!


Truely, this is garlic bread at it's best without all the butter. The flavor also matures over time so it was heavenly the next day! I was pleased with both my shaping and flavor profile of the bread....the garlic was there but not overpowering and the cheddar paired beautifully with it....although it may have used a bit more for color throughout the loaves, but you could at least still taste it. And the crumb.....well, light and creamy and OH! so delicious! 

isand66's picture

Wild Yeast Water English Muffins Two Ways

I have been meaning to make some English Muffins for a while now and wanted to try to use my fairly new Wild Yeast Water Starter as the levain instead of yeast.  I tried a recipe I found on The Fresh Loaf last week and unfortunatley it resulted in hockey pucks.  I decided to try a sourdough English Muffin recipe I found on The Fresh Loaf and convert it to using WYW as the starter.  Since I decided to make some extra starter with the WYW I figured I might as well try changing it up a bit and used some Durum flour instead of AP flour and also use some greek yogurt instead of milk as well as some cheese.

I have to say the Durum version with the yogurt turned out much better than the plain milk version with AP flour.  It had a much better rise when baking and turned out more tender and flavorful than the AP version.

All in all, I was very happy with the final result and would definitely make these again, but would use yogurt instead of milk.

Wild Yeast Starter Build 1

75 grams European Style Flour from KAF or AP Flour

75 grams Wild Yeast Water

Mix the flour and starter and let sit covered on your counter for 4 hours and proceed to step 2 or put in the refrigerator until ready to proceed to Build 2.

Wild Yeast Starter Build 2

65 grams European Style Flour or AP Flour

65 grams Wild Yeast Water

Mix in above ingredients with Starter from Build 1 and let sit out at room temperature in covered bowl for 4 - 6 hours.  Either use immediately after 4-6 hours or put in refrigerator and use the next day.

Version 1 English Muffins Main Dough

111 grams Starter from above

240 grams Milk

342 grams European Style or AP Flour

13 grams Sugar

5 grams Salt

6 grams Baking Soda

Semolina or Cornmeal for Dusting


Mix flour, starter and milk in your mixing bowl and mix for 1-2 minutes to combine.

Cover the bowl and let it sit out at room temperature overnight.

The next morning add the rest of the ingredients and mix for a minute.  Knead the dough either with your mixer or by hand for around 4 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary.  Next roll out the dough to about 3/4" thickness on your work surface.  You will have to put some bench flour on the work surface to prevent the dough from sticking.  Using  4" biscuit cutter or can, cut the muffins out and place on a pan lined with parchment paper dusted with corn meal or semolina flour.  You should end up with 5-6 muffins.  If necessary you can combine the scraps and roll out again but you may need to let it rest before rolling.

Cover the muffins with a clean misted or floured towel and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Heat your griddle or heavy skillet to medium or around 350 degrees  and when ready to cook spray some cooking spray on the cooking surface before placing the English Muffins in the pan.

Cover the pan to create some steam and let cook for around 5 minutes or until the bottoms are nice and brown.  Flip and cook another 5 minutes and remove to a baking rack to cool.

Version 2 Semolina English Muffins Main Dough


97 grams Starter from above

310 grams Durum Flour

150 grams Greek Plain Yogurt

100 grams Water (85-90 degrees F.)

6 grams Baking Soda

13 grams Sugar

5 grams Salt

26 grams Cheese (I used a mix of Parmesan, Asiago and Fontina)

Follow same directions as in Version 1 but add the cheese on baking day.

Both versions taste great with some butter, jam or cheese.


This bread has been submitted to Yeast Spotting here at

Version 1 Crumb
Version 2 Durum Crumb
Oriental Lilies
Cone Flower
GSnyde's picture

Bear Claws and Berry Wheels and Snyders, Oh My!

Seventeen Snyders is quite a bunch if you’re not well prepared.  Our more-or-less annual family reunion was held on the North Coast this week.  All four of my siblings and many of their issue (including Brother David’s three charming grandchildren) came to visit.   While each of these Snyders is unique, we do have some things in common, one of which—surprise!—is a love of good food.  And we were prepared!

The meals included pan fried local Petrale sole with Panzanella; homemade pastrami (thanks again for the recipe, Eric) on excellent sour rye (thanks, David) with a variation on Momma Snyder’s potato salad; Momma Snyder’s braised lamb chops with Papa Snyder’s garlic roasted potatoes; excellent take-out barbecue from a new local joint.

We made bagels together (and David’s six-year-old granddaughter showed her potential as a baker, artfully shaping a Krakowski bagel).  And, of course, David and I each provided some other pretty good breads for the whole multi-day festival.

Don’t think that all we did was cook and eat.  We also drank.  And, with the weather unusually clear and warm, we spent many happy hours exploring the local beaches.

I didn’t get bread or bagel pictures (I think David got some), but I had my camera handy when the breakfast pastries came out Monday morning.  I made a double recipe of the cream cheese short dough from ITJB and used it for bear claws and berry wheels (with local Ollalieberry jam).

They were good!  Thanks Stan and Norm!

A very sweet time for the Snyder clan.


Mjjakub's picture

What is going on with my Zojirushi?

I have the supposedly highly rated Zojirushi BBCC-X20.  I used it for quite a while with ok success and then put it in storage for a few months.  Since then I have attempted to make 4 different breads, following the recipes in the manual exactly, and each time I have got the results seen below.  It looks like it is not mixing properly.  I don’t understand what is going on here.  I even used an instant read thermometer throughout the last cycle to see if it was getting too hot and killing the yeast.  I had someone else attmpt to make the third loaf following the recipe to remove user error.  I went and bought new yeast after the first failure.  Anyone have an idea? 


ldsheridan's picture

Playing with Semolina

Hello All!  After my disappointing encounter with pumpernickel and deli rye, I decided I needed to drown my troubles in Semolina.  Again from BBA (it is the only bread book I own, being a very new bread baker) I wanted to try the Pugliese and the Pane Siciliano.

I was having a difficult time finding fancy durum in SF so the first Pugliese I made was from 100% KA bread flour.  (I would have sworn I took pictures of those loaves but I can't find them) In any event I was able to discern a different flavor to this bread and I really enjoyed it.  Then I discovered that the store where I usually buy my bulk products had extra fancy durum all along. But instead of using the name on the bags (from Giusto), they label it as fine semolina on the bin label.  Me being a complete tyro had no clue..  So then I decided to make up the difference by making Pugliese with 100% Extra Fancy Durum:



This is the first bread I've made that had holes this size.  My understanding is that the French and Italian bread formulas from BBA should have large irregular holes but mine always has a tight crumb.  Anyway this had a nice tangy taste but I believe I'll use the 50 - 50 bread flour/durum that BBA recommends.

Oh, and if there is a contest here on who is the world's worst bread scorer I want to enter!  I'm absolutely certain of winning first place.

Embolden by the Pugliese, I decided to tackle the Pane Siciliano.


Even larger holes.. although I have no idea if that's the way this crumb should look.  Also the crust looks shiny in the BBA book but so far my crusts never have a shiny look unless I give them an egg wash.  But I'm reading the hundreds of thousands of pages here and elsewhere and hope to achieve better success..   I find this bread lovely and perhaps my favorite so far..


nicodvb's picture

My fluffy sourdough sandwich bread without fats

For a lot of time I've been trying to replicate industrial cottony and fluffy white bread. I wanted a supersoft crumb without the slightest hint of gumminess (however you call it -chewy, gummy, rubbery, springy- I hate it!!) and without adding fats, not for fear of fats (who knows my passions knows how much I'm heavy handed with butter) but because industrial breads of this kind don't contain fats, so ... out of pure whim!

I decided to try a method that always guarantees softness of the crumb, but taken to an extreme: a massive poolish. I used a flour with W 300 (something like a low-end bread flour for american standards).

Preferment with

-1 tablespoon of white wheat liquid starter

-250 gr water

-200 gr flour

-1 teaspoon of honey

-0.5 gr of sodium bicarbonate

all mixed together with an electric mixer to incorporate as much air as possible. The bicarbonate is there to limit the amount of protease activity; I could have added even 1 gr  because the dough was far too slack.

The poolish fermented for 12 hours; I used it when it got covered by a thick layer of foam made of tiny bubbles.

At the end of the fermentation I added

-150 gr of flour

-7 gr of salt

-4 gr of soy lecithin

and worked the dough at very high speed (4 out of 6 in my clatronic stand mixer) until it passed the windowpane test. The dough was extremely slack, but with some stretch and fold I could shape it into a rectangle. When in shape  in a 25cm pullman pan (1.5 liters of volume) the dough reached the border in 90 minutes.

I baked at 180° starting from cold oven.


The crumb finally has the fluffy and cottony consistence I've was aiming at!

Thanks especially to txfarmer that made me understand the importance of working the dough until it passes the windowpane test.

Paul Salazar's picture
Paul Salazar

Found Long lost recipe for simple Whole Wheat bread

About a month ago I posted a request for a recipe that came with the purchase of my Marathon Mini-mill and Blakeslee Mixer back in 1980.  I just received a response from Jesse who was kind enough to send me a copy of all the recipes that came with the combo.  I would be glad to share the Word Doc with anyone who wants it.  The bread is quick and easy to make and requires only one rise in the pan.




mwilson's picture

Bigfoot's Ciabatta

I made an enormous ciabatta weighing nearly 1 kilo. I used an 18hr-fermented biga starter and a combination of medium and weak flours. This thing was massive!

400g '00' flour from Shipton Mill
160g cold water
1.3g Instant yeast

Final dough:
Fermented biga
320g cold water
200g plain flour (9.4% protein)
24g Extra virgin olive oil
12g Non-diastatic malt powder
12g Salt
2g diastatic malt powder 

olive oil for S&f.

To make the biga, first weigh all the ingredients. Put flour and yeast in the mixing bowl and turn on the mixer adding water gradually to form breadcrumbs and let run until you get a dry dough. Roll out the dough and fold up. Cover and leave overnight at cool room temperature for 18hrs.

Next day weigh all ingredients and cut the biga into pieces. Mix biga and 150g of water until combined. Then add flour, malts, salt and mix adding the rest of the water in stages. Once the dough begins to clean the mixing bowl add the olive oil and finish the mix to achieve a satin-smooth, slightly sticky dough.

Place dough in a well oiled flat and wide container. Cover and rest. Stretch and fold the dough at 20 minute intervals until the dough almost doubles in size. Rest for 20 minutes before shaping business letter style. Roll shaped dough in flour, give it a final dust of flour and leave to proof until doubled in size. Stone-bake with steam.

I had to shape and proof the dough very carefully being so huge already and not having a very big oven, stone or proofing tray/peel.

Baked ciabatta dimensions: 15"x9"x4.5".

Crumb - open and very, very light.


Probably one of the best ciabatta's I ever made. Subtle and moreish in flavour. Perfectly chewy and shreadable in texture.