The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kozulich's picture

Anyone here baking Easter Paska or Babka?

I'm elbow deep in my annual Paska baking.  What is Paska?  Its the traditional Ukrainian Easter bread.  Its very highly decorated.  The dough is most similar to Challah - an eggy, buttery, enriched bread.  Traditionally it is baked the day before Easter, and taken in the Easter basket to church, where it is blessed by the priest, then it is eaten to break the strict Easter fast after mass on Easter morning.  Just wondering whether anybody else does this or has tried it?  These pictures are not mine, by the way, since I can't seem to find photos from previous years' efforts.

breadforfun's picture

Sourdough Semolina Filone

A few months ago I made Tom Cat's Semolina Filone from Glezer's "Artisan Baking."  It was a really tasty bread, but I wanted to try something different.  This week, I made it again, but substituted sourdough starter for the poolish to get another dimension to the flavors.  The results were pretty good.  After cooling, the crumb had a smooth mouth-feel, while there was some chewiness to the crust.  I probably could have baked the loaves a few minutes longer to get a crispier crust.  The next morning, the sour had increased as expected, but it was not overwhelming by any means.  It toasted up great.

I used two different types of Durum flour.  Extra fancy is what is normally called for in the recipe.  Since I had it, I also used whole wheat durum.  The total of the durum flours was about half of the total flours with AP flour the balance.  2/3 of the AP was from the large amount of sourdough starter that I used (about the same amount of starter as there was poolish in the original recipe).  The mixing technique was a little different.  Last time I found an error in the book that increased the total hydration.  Even after correcting for this, the recipe produces a very wet and hard to work with dough at 81% hydration, so I cut it back to 75%.  I added the last 50 grams of flour along with the salt, about halfway through the mixing.  The gluten developed by the third stretch & fold, but it was still a very slack dough.  I think they may be a bit overproofed as the oven spring was less than last time.  I also clearly shaped one loaf with a tighter surface and it shows in the scoring.  Overall, though, I am quite happy with the loaves.

Here is the formula and technique:


hanseata's picture

Some Baking Impressions from Germany - SIGH!

Visiting my family and friends in Germany I took some photos I want to share.

My friend Michaela likes shopping at an organic farm store at Gut Wulfsdorf. I never sah Laugenbaguettes (pretzel baguettes) or Laugencroissants (pretzel croissants) before. The baguettes tasted quite nice, the crumb was airy but a bit chewier than regular one.

The breads are baked in a wood fired oven at the farm bakery. (This is a batch of Easter Bunny Cookies.)

All breads are baked at the same time, for one hour, but in different places in the oven, where temperatures are higher, or lower.


They use only beech wood, or beech wood shavings, from a local forest, to achieve an even temperature (they tried it once with mixed wood, and that didn't work).


Their whole grain flours are milled on the premises.

The vegetable section in the store: six different kinds of heirloom carrots, in red, yellow, white and black.

My cousin Uta has an incredible bakery around the corner. This is a Sunday breakfast basket - every one of these rolls tasted great.


And she baked us a wonderful Chocolate Apple Torte (I never heard of this flavor combination before - the apples went well with the rich chocolate frosting).

And when I visited the Hansetown Wismar, an UNECO world heritage monument - here the "Alter Schwede" (Old Swede) restaurant

we had in a nearby cafe this Marzipan Torte. It was really difficult to choose from Cafe Hegede's selection of mothwatering cakes.




badmajon's picture

Why are my rye bread doughs turning into soup!?

I've had a bad baking day today. A day which ended with my flinging my dough into the trash can.

I just don't get why whenever I try to add rye, this problem keeps coming up. I'm trying to achieve a 75% hydration dough, which when using wheat flour, gives you something that is on the sticky side but still workable.

I added:

125g of 100% hydration sourdough starter (62.5g flour, 62.5g water)
100g rye flour
230g white bread flour

Total, about 400g flour

225 g water (about 280g total water if you count the starter)

This SHOULD give me a dough that is about 70% hydration.... RIGHT?

I let it rise once, it seemed kinda sticky when I first kneaded it, more like something in the high 70s if it were all wheat flour. I put it in the fridge overnight to retard for more flavor. It was cold when I pulled it out of the fridge and folded/degassed it. I then put it on my counter and let it return to room temperature and rise.

It ended up turning into an unworkable, soupy, nasty mess. It got WETTER, I swear it did, from the time I first kneaded it. This was horrible.

I guess the reason why I'm so frusturated is because I have no idea what keeps causing this so every time I make sourdough rye bread, I get this problem. It's almost like the sourdough starter is doing something funny to the rye, because I do know how to make decent sourdough white bread, and I know how to make (somewhat mediocre) rye bread from instant yeast. Someone please help me out here.

Now I have to walk to the store to buy a carb. *sigh*

mcs's picture

The Big Adventure

So we just got back from our two-week vacation in Europe-   Spain, France and Holland to be precise.

I'm going to roll through some of the highlights, but if you'd like to see a lot more pictures of the Big Adventure, you can check them out on my Facebook page here.

We landed in Madrid about mid-day, found our hotel, washed up a bit and headed out into town.  If you ever happen to make your way there, you should put this place at the top of your places to visit.  The Mercado de San Miguel is an indoor market with lots of booths filled with food and wine.  Yes, and because it's in Spain this means that you're free to eat, drink, and be merry while you walk and sample everything from fresh mozzarella with blueberries on a sliced baguette to a glass of wine from La Rioja.


Next we move onto the island of Ibiza where we visited my friend Helena.  Although its recent reputation is as the party capital of Europe, Ibiza has a rich history with relics dating back to Carthaginian times.  Helna hosted us at her home and gave us a super tour of the beaches, the local foods, and fantastic churches and museums. 


Our next stop was further north in the land of Spanish Wine known as La Rioja.  Two of our friends were generous enough to give us the local tour complete with visits to Logroño, Santa Lucia, and Laguardia.  In the first picture, accomplished sculptor Félix Reyes poses with some of his work and my friend Javier.  Below, there's nothing like a night on the town in Logroño with good friends, food, and wine.


Next, we took the train up to France and managed to spend a night in the picturesque village of Saint Emilion.  Since we were a bit early for tourist season, we had the streets to ourselves as we walked through the town at night after an outside dinner in the evening.


After spending a night in the very scenic town of Tours, we began our three day visit to Paris.  Of course we had the obligitory visits to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  Breakfast and/or lunch was spent touring the various boulangeries- pictured here are Michel Deschamps' and Eric Kayser's.  Baguettes were coming out of the oven at Deschamps, but we opted for a couple of delicious quiches instead.

I know it may be heresy to say on a bread baking forum, but by far the highlight of the Paris portion of the trip was not the baked goods, but our first-time visit to the Palais Garnier.  Back on January 9, I spent between the hours of 12:45AM and 2:15AM 'standing in line' online waiting for tickets as they went on sale for the first time for the Robbins/Ek show titled 'Dances at a Gathering' and 'Appartement'.  It was well worth it as we got front row seats in the center of the second mezzanine. 

If you only have one night to spend in Paris, this is what I would recommend.  I particularly enjoyed the second half of the show which featured the Swedish band Fleshquartet playing live as a modern ballet was performed in front of them. Here's a link to a video of a portion of the show from a few years ago.  It was as good as it gets.

Finally our Big Adventure was capped off with a high-speed train ride to Amsterdam, a visit to the Van Gogh museum, and a personalized tour of the Keukenhof tulip gardens by fellow Fresh Loafian and BreadLab meister,  Freerk.  It was the perfect finale as we saw more colors and varieties than one could possibly imagine and thanks to Freerk, we actually got to and from the gardens without ending up in Belgium, Germany, or just in the water somewhere. 


And thus ends Sharon and Mark's Big Adventure of 2012.  Thanks to everyone who helped us feel the local flavor of their wonderful lands! 



Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Reinhart's Pane Siciliano

Peter Reinhart's Pane Siciliano–or, as a friend calls it, Pan Sissy.

Here's the formula in BBGA format using Reinhart's original quantities as listed in the Bread Baker's Apprentice

(I'm still learning the BBGA format, so please let me know if you spot any errors.)



jamesjr54's picture

Seeded Loaf

Top: The boule

Bottom: A sloppy turkey and jack w/mayo and dijon on seeded sourdough

Made a modified sourdough (with 1/8 tsp active dry yeast for timing) with toasted sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds. Came out great. Thanks to TFL'er Jay and the "The Basic Problem with my sourdough" thread contributors for guidance on my starter.



102 g KAF AP

108 G water

43 g 100% hydration starter

5 g Rye

Fermented overnight (12 hrs minimum) at room temp.

Final dough:

417 g KAP AP

100 g Whole Wheat flour

310 g water

All of the levain (258 g)

1/8 tsp active dry yeast

13 g salt

20 g each sunflower, poppy and sesame seeds, toasted and cooled

Comes out to ~70% hydration, but feels wetter to me.

Mix all but salt, seeds and yeast. Autolyses 1 hr. Add salt, seeds (cooled) and yeast. Knead 10-12 minutes until moderately developed. Ferment 2-3 hours w/2 S&Fs.

Divide and preshape for 2 boules. Rest 20-25 minutes. Shape as boules. Proof for 90-120 minutes (watch the dough, not the clock ;-)).

Preheat oven 500F for 30 last 30 minutes of proof. 

Bake in cast iron covered dutch oven 20 mins covered; 20 minutes uncovered until 190F internal. (I use a parchment paper "sling" to load the dough, which I remove for the last 10 minutes.)



Keith Farwell's picture
Keith Farwell

Focaccia Crust Bubbling

I recently started making focaccia bread in our little shop, we make sandwich roll sized focaccia rolls fresh for the day and freeze the rest for the next day.


The thing is when the bread comes out the oven and cooling, you can see what i can only describe as veins along the top of bubble lines.  Fresh rolls dont suffer too badly as once they cool, soften up and are filled/sold on its not really noticeable however when we freeze these the veiny bubbles become brittle and fall off making the rolls look old and stale.


I am not sure if there is a common cause to this I would love to find out as we are starting to get some good responses about the rolls in general just some come out this way, this dosnt happen ALL the time so obviously it must be human error at play here in mixing or something.


Anyways if I can help with anymore information to solve this please ask




Seb43's picture

Role of soaker and pre-ferment

After experimenting with a few recipes from the BBA, I'm wondering what is the role of preferments (such as the poolish i mostly use) and soaker.  The author frequently mention that they are meant to extract more flavor from the grains, but this seems a bit vague.  Here are some questions I've been asking myself lately and I would love to hear the opinions of more experienced (better educated!) bakers:

1) what type of flavor is extracted by a pre-ferment?  Are the natural microorganisms of the flour contributing to this flavor (thus explaining the use of very small amount of yeast)?

2) Is the goal of a soaker mostly to soften the bran and other "hard" part of grains?  Is it to give more time for the enzyme to produce some simple sugar from starch?  In some way, isn't any pre-ferment also a soaker?  Would it contribute any flavor if used on AP or bread flour?

3) What is the role of the flour that is added directly to the dough?  Wouldn't it make sense to use all the flour either as a soaker or preferment if this is positively contributing to flavor?  Would it be "too much"?

If some recipes call for both (sometime on the same type of flour, such as in the 100% whole wheat bread from BBA), then it suggests that they contribute different flavor profile.

varda's picture

High Hydration Miche with Sifted Whole Wheat Flour

The other day I posted on preliminary miche attempts.   Due to problems with handling high hydration dough, the results were fairly disreputable.   The nice crumb did give me hope that I was on the right track.   Today I tried again, taking extra care not to fumble the dough.   While the dough throughout had the consistency of a water balloon I handled with care and got a better result.  This has a crispy crust and complex flavor which I don't really know how to describe, but it is definitely memorable.    It is made with 40% hand-sifted whole wheat flour, which I think I'm safe in describing as 90% extraction and the rest AP and Bread Flour.    For a simple formula - predominantly wheat - this bread achieves flavor that I usually can only coax out of multigrains and/or added ingredients.    I think it's all about the fermentation which is aided by the high hydration.  

I picked a difficult bread to try out a crescent moon score, but here it is:

Formula and method:



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Leave starter overnight after second feed for 10 hours 45 minutes before using

Sift Whole Foods Whole Wheat flour to around 90% extraction

Autolyse flour and water for 45 minutes

Mix in salt and starter for 20 minutes at KA Speed 1, 20 minutes KA Speed 2

Dough should cohere into a loose ball by end of mix

Do a quick stretch and fold in bowl right after

BF for 3 hours

Stretch and fold in bowl

BF for 30 minutes

Stretch and fold on counter by pulling out in all directions flat (around 2.5 ft diameter)

and then folding into center

BF for 30 minutes

Remove from bowl and preshape into a loose ball

Rest 15 minutes

Shape into a ball by loosely turning corners into the center

Dough is very squashy like a water balloon

Place seam side up into a basket covered with tightly woven well-floured cotton cloth

Proof for 1 hour 40 minutes until dough starts to lose spring

Very gently turn dough onto peel with wheat bran under parchment paper

Slide onto stone

Bake with steam at 450F for 20 minutes, without steam for 35 minutes

Leave in oven for 5 minutes with door closed and heat off to finish