The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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SourdoLady's picture

Sprouting Barley

Can hulled barley be sprouted, or does it have to have the hull intact? I tried to sprout some hulled barley last year and was unsuccessful. I want to try this again because I would like to make some diastatic malt. Can anybody give me some pointers? I followed instructions that I found on TFL and as far as I know I did everything right.

dmsnyder's picture

Artos - Greek Saints' Day Bread from Kassos


Artos - Greek Saints' Day Bread from Kassos

Artos - Greek Saints' Day Bread from Kassos crumb

“Artos” is the ancient Greek word for leavened bread. (“Psomi” is the modern Greek word.) However, “Artos” has come to refer more specifically to various enriched celebration breads, particularly those baked for Easter.

I found the recipe for this version of “Artos – Greek Saints' Day Bread” in Savory Baking from the Mediterranean, by Anissa Helou (Harper-Collins, NY, 2007). This is a lovely and quite comprehensive book. Unlike many cookbooks covering ethnic cuisines, it does not seem to be “dumbed down.” There are no ingredient substitutions, and the original techniques for mixing, fermentation, shaping and baking are given. Well, the author does give instructions for American/European home ovens, whereas many of the items in the book are authentically baked in wood-fired ovens or tandoors or the like.

Helou tells us that she found this bread while visiting the island of Kassos which is a small island at the southern end of the dodekanese chain. There, it is baked for many saints' days. It is baked at home, then taken to the church to be blessed by the priest before being cut and shared with the congregation at the end of mass.

Helou recommends this version of Artos for breakfast or tea with Greek-style yogurt and honey or with “very good butter.” She also says this bread makes delicious toast.

The recipe is similar to others I've seen for Artos in that it is spiced, but it is less enriched than most and is very simply shaped. The technique of baking in a 9 inch pan is one I've seen for other Greek breads but never tried before. Helou provides all her measurements in volume, and that's how I made the recipe.

Artos: Greek Saints' Day Bread


4 ½ tsp (2 packages) active dry yeast. (I used 2 tsp instant yeast.)

3 1/3 cups AP flour, plus extra for kneading and shaping.

1 ½ tsp kosher salt or sea salt.

2/3 cup sugar. (I wonder why not honey?)

1 T ground cinnamon.

1 tsp ground cloves.

2 T anise seeds (I substituted fennel seeds, not having anise seeds on hand.)

2 T EVOO, plus extra for greasing the baking dish.

1 ¼ cup of warm water.

2 T red wine.

1 ½ T white sesame seeds

1 ½ T nigella sees (optional)



  1. If using ADY, dissolve it in ½ cup warm water and stir. (I just mixed the instant yeast with the dry ingredients.)

  2. Combine the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and anise seed (and instant yeast, if used) in a large bowl and make a well in the center.

  3. Add the olive oil and, with fingertips, rub the oil into the flour until well incorporated.

  4. Add the wine and water (the yeast water plus ¾ cup or, if instant yeast was used, all the 1 ¼ cups). Mix to make a sticky dough.

  5. Spread 2 T water over the surface of the dough. (I did this, but think 1 T would have been plenty.) Cover the bowl and allow to ferment for 1 hour.

  6. Grease a 9-inch round deep baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle half the seeds over the bottom of the dish.

  7. Transfer the dough to a well-floured board. With wet hands, fold the edges of the dough to the center to make a round loaf. Wash and dry your hands, then transfer the loaf to the baking dish, seam side down. (I used one hand and a bench knife for the transfer.)

  8. Gently pat the loaf to spread it evenly in the dish. Wet your hands and spread more water over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the rest of the seeds all over the top.

  9. Cover with plasti-crap and proof until doubled in volume. (I proofed in a warmed microwave oven for 75 minutes.

  10. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.

  11. Uncover the bread and place in the oven (in the baking dish). Bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350ºF and bake for another 30 minutes, or until golden brown all over.

  12. Turn the loaf onto a cooling rack and cool thoroughly.

  13. Serve when cooled or wrap in a kitchen town. It will keep up to two days.

Dough, mixed

Proofing in Pyrex baking dish

Artos, proofed and ready to bake

The bread gave off a most powerful, exotic aroma while baking and cooling. The cloves and nigella aromas were most potent, to my nose. When sliced, the crust was crisp. The crumb was soft and tender. The flavor was very spicy and very exotic. In my limited experience of spiced breads, it was closest to a French pain d'epice, but different because of the fennel and nigella flavors. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I could eat a lot of it at a time. I'm looking forward to trying it toasted and with some Greek yogurt, as recommended.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

cobourger's picture

Kinds of flour to use

Has anyone baked bread using red fyfe?  Also if you have, did you use all red fyfe or did you do half fyfe and half all purpose or even whole wheat?

dmsnyder's picture

Rye bread tips and tricks applied



This is the “80 Percent Rye with Rye Flour Soaker” from Jeffrey Hamelman's “Bread.” It's a wonderful bread about which I've blogged before. (Sweet, Sour and Earthy: My new favorite rye bread) These loaves were made applying a number of tips and tricks contributed by a number of TFL members, and I have to say, I was pleased with the results of every tip I used. So, a big “Thank you!” to MiniO, hansjoakim, nicodvb and the other rye mavens who contributed them.

I followed the formula and methods according to Hamelman, with the following techniques added:

  1. Rather than dividing and shaping on a floured board with floured hands, I wet the board, my hands and my bench knife. I kept all of these wet, and experienced much less sticking of this very sticky dough to the everything it touched.

  2. I shaped the boules “in the air,” rather than on the board. Again, less dough sticking to the board, and I think I got a smoother loaf top without tears.

  3. I proofed the loaves in brotformen, floured as usual with a rice flour/AP mix, with the seams down. This results in the loaves opening at the seams, yielding a lovely chaotic top to the loaves and no bursting of the sides.

I am very happy with these loaves. I'll continue to use these techniques and recommend them to others struggling with high-hydration, high-percentage rye breads.





proth5's picture

Cleaning it up

Remember when I said "linen is the exact right fabric for a couche"?  Yep - you all laughed.  Until you bought a linen couche and found that bread wouldn't stick.

Remember when I said "save yourself the pain and blow just a couple bucks on the blade holder from TMB" - I know - you just thought I was a shill - until you bought one.

So - here we go, again.

I hate the feeling of dough on my hands (after I am done working with it, of course) and there's always something to clean up in a bowl (or the bowl of My Precioussss)

Scrubber sponges just get gummed up.  Apparently in my region of the country the net onion bags have become obsolete - and the few times I have tried they get gummed up with dough.

So I was once again thinking about the whole issue when I spotted the nail brush that hangs about my kichen.

Cleans dough right off my hands.  Came clean itself pretty easily.  Great as a nail brush, but also as a vegetable or mushroom brush.  Cheap.

I have a demanding personal schedule and I take great joy in tools that work well.  And when one is not only a great multitasker, but inexpensive - well - where's the downside?

The folks from whom I buy these claim they are used for surgery prep...  I actually buy them by the dozen because I garden, clean ponds, and then take those same little hands and bake bread.  I like to scrub up pretty well.  Just never occurred to me that they would be superior dough scub off tools (never said I wasn't a bit slow on the uptake.)

So here is the link (or put Lee Valley Tools into your favorite search engine and then search for nail brush.)  Made in the USA.  Money back guarantee.  Just try them.,42551,10259

Happy Cleaning!


dahoops's picture

Hard Rolls

Today's experiment.  I got tired of chasing hard rolls for my husband's lunches and these worked out well.  I rolled 4 oz of dough and put three in each oval brotform to rise.  Then baked them in oval clay bakers for 30 mins and an additional 5 mins uncovered to darken.  Egg white/water wash with sesame.   Here's the recipe:

15 oz KA bread flour

1 Tbsp dried buttermilk

1.5 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp diastatic malt powder (optional)

11 oz liquid (I use 50 / 50 water and ale)

Mix all together and let ferment overnight or 10 - 12 hours.  Stretch and fold dough; let rest 10 - 20 mins.  Divide dough into 6 equal parts (4 oz).  Bake @ 450- 460 degrees for 30 mins; remove covers and bake an additional 5 mins to darken or until 200 - 205 on thermometer.


varda's picture

Can time between Bulk Fermentation and Proofing be exchanged

I frequently get into situations where I have dough on the counter and I will be out of the house at the time to do a step, and this makes me wonder if you can substitute time for final proofing with time for bulk fermentation and vice versa.   For instance, if I will be gone when it is time to end bulk ferment and shape into loaves, and so leave the bulk ferment to go long, can I make up for this by cutting short the proofing.   In practice I have done this several times, and sometimes my bread comes out badly but many variables other than this in particular may account for that.   I am talking about naturally leavened bread that might have a combined bulk ferment, rest, proof period of say six hours.   I know this must be wrong, wrong, wrong (if sometimes unavoidable) but I would like to understand the theory.  Thanks.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture

Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day!

Today I made Irish Soda Bread to enjoy with our St. Patrick's Day dinner!  I've listed the ingredients and if you would like to see photos of step by step instructions they are on my blog Here.  Making soda bread, takes a little practice.  The list of ingredients are what i used today, I added a little extra flour, while gently mixing the dough and used a heavily floured board to shape the dough.

1. 280 gms All Purpose Flour - low protein         

2. 8 gms baking soda - Always Fresh - I throw out anything over 6 mos. old

3. 4 gms salt

4. 4 gms Cream of Tartar - "      "

5  300 gms Buttermilk








                         Soda Farls     from the same recipe       Med Low Temperature bake apx. 10 minutes on each side in a well seasoned iron pan.  I also make

                         these on my electric griddle.



           Slice warm or cooled and eat with butter and jam or they make a wonderful bacon or corned beef sandwich.






              I also made one replacing 1/4 cup of AP flour with 1/4 cup organic white whole wheat and 1 TBsp. caraway seed....not your traditional soda bread, but delicious with the corned beef.








Elagins's picture

More Recent Baking & Latest Book Update

So the book is moving along the publishing process.  Editing is finished, the MS has gone to the page designer and we're now working on finishing up the photos and the cover.

Amazing how much work goes into making a book, beyond the writing.  Brad, our editor, told me that we needed more bread photos, since the illustrations at this point are heavily weighted towards cakes, cookies and pastries, so over the weekend I made some onion pockets and Kaiser rolls (see below for results).  In the next couple of weeks, there will be lots of rye breads, from black pumpernickels to marble ryes, corn ryes and traditional NY Jewish ryes, along with lots and lots of challahs showing different braids ... so it's gonna be a busy time.

We're still looking at summer, 2011 publication, with most of the publicity (that's another story -- press releases, book fairs, signings, etc) to come in the fall, although our publisher, Camino Books is going to be promoting the book in May at BookExpo America in New York City.

So it's all drawing closer, and we're starting to get excited about it.

So in the meantime, here are some samples of things to come. Interesting thing is that both of these rolls use the same Medium Vienna dough formula, with the difference being that the onion pockets only ferment for 45 minutes and proof for 1 hour, while the Kaisers ferment for 2 hours and proof for 1 1/2-2 hours, so they're nearly at full proof.  As a result, the Kaisers are much leaner and crustier than the onion pockets.

Stan Ginsberg



Mason's picture

Berlin Bakeries, breads, ingredients?

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be in Berlin for a week (East near Alexanderplatz for a few days tourism, then in the South West near Dahelm for a few days at a conference) starting this weekend (March 19).  

I know that if I was going to Paris I'd have a longish list of bakeries to which I'd need to make pilgrimages.

Do any of you TFLers know of bakeries in Berlin that one really should visit?  If I'm seeking out a Werzelbrot (related to Pain a l'Ancienne, I'm told), are there sources?  

Or are there breads that are available in Berlin that might be impossible to get elsewhere?  What characteristics (of bread or establishment) should one look for, when seeking out a Volkornbrot or a Werzelbrot, for instance, to distinguish an excellent one from a mediocre one?

I also like to look for unusual and interesting local cheeses and other bread accompaniments or ingredients when I'm in a new place.  Recommendations on this are welcome too.

Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.

Thanks in advance!