The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mwilson's picture

Colomba Pasquale by Achille Zoia

I know Easter has passed but I needed yet another challenge...

Here I have made the richest Colomba Pasquale of all. One which comes from Italian master baker and Cresci co-author Achille Zoia.

This was even more challenging than the Iginio Massari Panettone I made recently as this has more fat, more sugar and less water!

I only just managed to pull this off! I had some technical problems along the way but it worked out in the end...

Original recipe calls for a pinch of added yeast but I left this out because my sourdough is so very powerful! As a result, the first dough rose bang on schedule at 12hrs. I also felt there wasn't enough salt, so I doubled it to 4grams instead of the 2grams originally called for.

First dough tripled:

Mixing the second dough was problematic. I think I developed too much strength too early which made incorporating all the butter very tricky and I ended up with a slightly greasy dough that lacked extensibility which made shaping a night-mare as you can see...

Shoddy shaping!


Inverted overnight:

Finished and ready for wrapping. This will mature for a few days to develop its flavours.

Adapted recipe:

First dough:

  • 63g Lievito Naturale (Italian sourdough)
  • 200g '00' Flour
  • 80g Water
  • 75g Sugar
  • 50g Egg Yolks
  • 75g Butter

Second dough:

  • 50g '00' Flour
  • 50g Egg Yolks
  • 38g Sugar
  • 25g Honey
  • 75g Butter
  • 5g Cocoa Butter
  • 4g Salt
  • Aroma Veneziana
  • Seeds from half a Vanilla pod
  • 125g Candied Orange Peel

Total Ingredients:

Flour 100.0% 292
Water 34.6% 101
Sugar 38.7% 113
Honey 8.6% 25
Yolks 34.2% 100
Fats 53.1% 155
Fruit 42.8% 125
Salt 1.4% 4



BloomingNutria's picture

Looking for a Stretch and Fold Recipe for Basic White

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for a good stretch and fold recipe for a basic white bread, and I wondered if anyone had one they would like to share. I've never used the technique before, but after doing some research I am hoping it will be a way for me to get back to bread making during this extremely busy period of my life. I know the technique is often used for baguettes and french bread since they have such high hydration, but that is not what I want at all. I'm after more of a finer textured, slightly sweet (but not much) bread with a flaky and only semi-crispy crust. Nothing tough like a baguette.

Can stretch and fold produce a bread like this? Of course I'm willing to experiment, but being as it is my first time with the technique, does anyone have a recipe to get me started that is not a 95 % hydration baguette? (Exagerating, of course, but hopefully you know what I mean! :) )




hansjoakim's picture

Eastern travels

I've just returned home from a highly memorable and breathtaking three weeks in Ukraine. I love travelling, and whenever possible, I try to take my time and move along at a relatively slow pace. Instead of rushing through cities and catching the main tourist attractions, I find it frequently much more interesting and memorable to move slowly through a country, taking the time to see how they go about their daily lives, take the same buses and trains that they do, and get a grip of the atmosphere and the day to day life in the place I visit. I've long had a fascination with European history, culture and society, and particularly that of Eastern Europe and what was the East bloc. Inspired by previous journeys through Romania, Hungary, the Czech republic and Slovakia, I had mapped out a similar trek through Ukraine for 2012.

I spent three weeks travelling from Kiev to Lviv and on to Odessa, the Crimea and Kharkiv before returning to Kiev. I arrived in Kiev on Friday April 13, the start of the orthodox Easter weekend. This was a lovely time to spend in the city, and there were large crowds attending services and visiting the many cathedrals in the capitol. Particularly moving was seeing the large crowds of people - children, elderly, young couples, friends; people from all age groups and all layers of society - flocking to the cathedrals on the first day of Easter. All carrying their own basket with traditional bread and bottles of wine. Below is a photo from just outside the Church of the Assumption in the Kievo-Pecherska lavra complex of Kiev.

On my return to the city centre from the Lavra, I bought a paneton from a small bakery. The crumb was a lovely light golden yellow and feathery light. Some dried fruit and a sprinkling of crystal sugar on top made for a delicious afternoon snack.

Coming from a largely secular society where religion and the respect for religious celebrations is dwindling, I was fascinated by the spirituality and the fact that both young and old came together to mark the Easter celebration.

While staying in Kiev, I also participated in a day trip out the Chernobyl and the ghost town of Pripyat. Below is a photo of the ferris wheel in Pripyat.

Walking around in Pripyat, surrounded by apartment blocks, trees and rusted billboards and only hearing the sound of wind in the trees and the song of birds was haunting and unreal, and reminded me somewhat of the post-apocalyptic scenes told by Cormac McCarthy in "The Road". I understand that the Ukrainians themselves in general have mixed feelings about Chernobyl turning into a weird tourist attraction (something I perfectly understand), but I still found it enlightening to participate in the trip north to the scene of the accident and learning more about what happened during that decisive period back in 1986.

From Kiev, I caught a plane to Lviv - a wonderful and elegant city close to the Polish border.

A wonderful city full of art, grand architecture, open squares and cobblestone streets. Definitely a bit rough around the edges, but if anything, that simply added to a slightly romantic sense of decay and authenticity. A great city to walk around in, enjoy a central European cafe and pastry tradition (some of the cake slices to be had in this town rivals the best of Budapest IMO), and a wonderful countryside.

An overnight train ride brought me to sunny Odessa.

I spent three nights here, enjoying the beaches of the Black Sea, some great parks and a bustling and energetic city that never really sleeps or slows down.

Mark Twain said about Odessa that "there were no sights to see and that the best thing to do is idle about and enjoy oneself." I do think there are some lovely sights not to be missed, including the famous Potemkin stairs, the peaceful, well-kept Primorsky boulevard and the busy seaport itself, but the city is great for idling about and general enjoyment. Oh, and they sell terrific ice cream here, no doubt about that.

Another overnight train ride brought me to Crimea, where I spent four days based in Sevastopol under a scorching sun, close to eclectic Soviet beach resorts and fascinating landscapes that in places reminded me of the Calanques outside Marseille. Sevastopol made for a very convenient base from where I took old marshrutka buses to neighbouring areas, including Yalta

(above is the Livadia palace in the western suburbs of Yalta, the site of the famous 1945 Yalta conference, and the seaside Lenin statue in Yalta. Lenin is now facing a McDonald's; I wonder if he ever thought that McDonald's could be the ultimate consequence of the NEP...), the old Crimean Tatar capitol of Bakhchisarai (here a shot of some cliffs on the outskirts of the city):

and Balaclava.

An overnighter from Sevastopol brought me to the sprawling city of Kharkiv, in the north-east of the country. The city suffered particularly hard during the famine in 1932-1933 and again during WWII; Kharkiv was occupied twice by the Germans, and few original buildings remain. However, the city has managed to fuse the new with the old, and a sizeable student population means that there's always something interesting happening.

As in most Ukrainian markets, the Kharkiv central market had a glorious display of pork cuts to be had for a very reasonable price.

While there, I sampled some varieties of the (in)famous salo; pure pork fat cured with salt and spices, not unlike bacon, and sliced thinly, typically served with cloves of raw garlic, slices of toasted Borodinsky rye and a sprig of parsley. Absolutely delicious and a true celebration of everything great about pork.

From Kharkiv, I rumbled on back to Kiev - below a night time photo of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kiev.

The opera and ballet in Kiev is certainly world class; I was fortunate enough to catch performances of both Carmen and Swan Lake, and though I'm not that familiar with ballet, I was gripped and utterly fascinated by both performances. An Easter oratorium in the Kiev philarmonic was also stunning.

The memories and impressions from the trip are still very fresh, unsorted and raw, and I'll need some time to sort through my thoughts, feelings and photos. Old, vibrant cities, natural beauty, spirituality, breathtaking landscapes and a fantastic cultural tradition are some of the impressions I take home with me, but also disturbing pictures of poverty, injustice, social and economical differences and a people that has suffered hard for so long in modern times. Although the language barrier is not to be underestimated, I still felt a connection with the people while I was there; people that are deeply spiritual, emotional, humble and sincere. I hope to go back later this year, to explore some more inaccessible areas to also get a glimpse into what life is like in the rural heart of Ukraine and old-time Europe.

I brought some souvenirs back home to friends and family, and for myself I bought some bread pans from a seller on the central market in Kharkiv:

For ages, I've been looking for tall pans like these, so I was thrilled when I saw these as I was making my way out of the pork section of the market! When I got back home, first thing I did was to unload my backpack and then get my starter out of its three week hibernation so that it could make me some bread again:

The two loaves turned out very well I think (at least for an improvised dough), simply made with rye flour, toasted sunflower seeds, boiled whole rye berries and flaxseeds.

Perfect for the Ukrainian cheese and canned fish that found its way back to my place.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Onion Dill Bread with Saffron

Well I was goofing around in the kitchen again.  The above picture is the same bread just formed differently and the one on the right has been egg washed.  After the post a while back about how to slash a loaf to get a specific look I gave it a try on this loaf (on the left).  I altered the recipe and raised the hydration to about 67% so the loaf flattened out a bit,  then the long slash did not help the sprawling of the loaf.  None the less it is still such a tasty loaf.   With some tweaking I think it could become more visually appealing.

This is the original recipe (lazy way out of typing) it also has items of interpretation.  Large pinch of saffron?   One onion, how big how much?  I hope you can read this if you want some clarity let me know.

The dough is quite beautiful.

More pictures then words today.  This is such a tasty bread I thought I would share. It is something you can adjust to fit your preferences.  Enjoy

Mebake's picture

Miche point a callier

Last week, I have been milling my Turkish wheat berries (don’t quite know the type-probably ordinary winter wheat, but definitely not red) using my trusty Hawos easy mill, and noticed that during the first phase of my intermediary milling (coarse), I found tiny bran particles along with the middlings . I decided to try a labor intensive method of separating the bran from the other particles. Bran weighs less than the coarse endosperm particles, so I used a hair drier to blow air through the coarse mixture while stirring it. ½ hour later, this method left me with copious amounts of bran scattered on my laps and on the floor and the endosperm particles with some bran intact remained in the bowl. I know.. I must be crazy, but I was testing a reliable way to remove bran from equally sized endosperm particles, and that surely isn’t practical. I milled the remainder mixture into fine flour, sifted it with a fine mesh sieve, and obtained really fluffy yellowish flour, with tiny specs of powdered bran. I declared it: Mebake’s high extraction flour. It was very soft and fine textured, and had a beautiful wheaty aroma. I didn’t know the extraction %, but assumed that it belongs to the league of artisanal flours. My wife made some chocolate cookies with this flour and the result was the best cookies I’ve ever made at home: Crunchy, delicate, and full of flavor. I wish I had a 50 kg sack of this stuff. I decided to put the flour to test, and bake genuine artisanal bread with it: Miche a callier, from Hamelman’s BREAD. I stuck to the recipe and the procedures, although the stiff levain did ripe in less than 8 hours. The dough received 3 stretches and folds at 40 minute intervals. I noticed some tears during S&F, and I would attribute it to the flour being green (freshly milled), and the milling heat. Here it is:

The flavor at 12 hours is wheaty / nutty and very aromatic. The crust was crunchy / chewy, and the crumb soft and creamy, but not as moist as i guessed it would be. 

The flour

The flour, although difficult to obtain using my method, was worth it.

dabrownman's picture

Soft White Wheat Experience

I bought some soft white wheat berries but the lady said they would not be any good at making bread.  Does anyone have experience making bread with soft white wheat?  What kind of breads etc?

dmsnyder's picture

Baguettes made with straight dough

Exactly 3 years ago tomorrow, I blogged about a batch of straight dough baguettes I had made rather impulsively. (See: They were surprisingly good being yeasted, not sourdough, and having no pre-ferment. Several other TFL members tried my formula with pretty good success. I attributed these baguettes' very nice flavor to the flour mix I used – 90% AP and 10% white whole wheat.

Although I had intended to make these again, three years have gone by … somehow. Last week, TFL member adrade posted a reply to that 3 year old blog, having made these baguettes and finding them good enough (or maybe just fast enough) to make repeatedly. This has prompted me to make some straight dough baguettes again, this time with a somewhat different flour mix and different dough mixing method.



Wt (g)

Baker's %

KAF AP flour



Central Milling Organic T85 flour






Sea salt



Instant yeast








  1. Mix flours and water to a shaggy mass.

  2. Cover and let sit for 20-60 minutes.

  3. Add yeast and salt and mix at Speed 1 for 1-2 minutes then at Speed 2 for 7 minutes.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board. Form it into a ball, and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly.

  5. Ferment for 2 hours at 75º F with a stretch and fold on the board at 45 and 90 minutes.

  6. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Pre-shape as rounds or logs.

  7. Cover the pieces with a towel and let the gluten relax for 10-20 minutes.

  8. Shape into baguettes.

  9. Proof on a linen couche, smooth-side down, covered, for about 45 minutes.

  10. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500º F with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  11. Transfer the loaves to a peel, making sure the smooth side is now facing up, and score them.

  12. Turn the oven down to 480º F. Steam the oven and load the baguettes onto the baking stone.

  13. After 12 minutes, remove the steam source. Continue to bake for another 8-10 minutes.

  14. When the baguettes are fully baked, turn off the oven, and transfer the baguettes to a cooling rack.

  15. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.


These are not the most beautiful baguettes I've ever made. The two on the left were too close to each other on the stone and stuck together. I am not sure why the cuts didn't open better. The prime suspect is under-steaming. Yet the crust was thin and very crisp. The shininess suggests adequate steam, so I'm not sure what happened.

The crumb was rather dense, as it was when I made straight dough baguettes the last time. Maybe they needed a longer fermentation. Maybe I de-gassed the dough too much in shaping. The crumb was pretty chewy but not to excess.

On the other hand, the flavor of these baguettes was totally classic – very sweet and a bit nutty. I enjoyed some with my dinner omelet and more this morning with butter and a tart plum jam. Tonight, another baguette will serve for hamburger buns. French toast Sunday is possible, if I don't make sourdough pancakes.

I think baguettes made with a straight dough are worth tweaking. It's a good tasting and versatile bread that can be whipped out in 4-5 hours. Next time, I'll increase the whole grain flour content some and extend the bulk fermentation. And get a new velvet glove.


isand66's picture

Jewish Rye from Greenstein's "Secrets of a Jewish Baker"...David Snyder Adaptation

This recipe comes courtesy of David Snyder who posted his adaptation here.

I have posted about other rye breads I have tried making previously and I have to say all of them including this one have come out pretty good.  The big difference in this recipe is that all of the rye flour is added into the rye sour and the dough is fairly high hydration compared to the other ones I have made.

I ran out of First Clear Flour so I had to substitute 217 grams using KAF High Fiber Flour instead.  I think the bread would have turned out better if I had used 100% First Clear to be honest.  I also added some dried Toasted Onions which I reconstituted in the water used for the final dough which gave the rye a nice onion flavor which I love.

One other point is that I followed Davids instructions for making a 100% Rye starter using Pumpernickel flour and I only ended up with 708 grams instead of 750 grams called in the recipe.  I am not sure if this had that much of an effect on the final bake, but next time I will make a larger batch of starter since I would have liked to keep some for my next bake so now I have to start all over again :(.  I do have to say I have made Rye starters in the past and I really like the way this one came out.  You can follow Dave's excellent instructions here if you are interested in converting your starter to a Rye sour starter.

Also, I did not have any leftover rye bread so I didn't add the Altus to this bake, but next time I will add it to see the difference.  I have made rye breads with and without the Altus and have not made up my mind if it is necessary or not.

The end result of my bake was not as open of a crumb as David achieved, but throw some pastrami and Thousand Island Dressing or mustard for you traditionalists out there and deli nirvana is at your fingertips!

Also note that most Jewish Rye recipes call for the use of First Clear Flour which is taken from what remains after the millers sift the patent flour out of the straight flour.  Patent flour is the purest and highest quality flour available.  First clear flours come from hard wheat and has a protein content of 15.0 - 18.0% which is ideal to strengthen the lower protein content of rye flours which are normally around 6.5%.

High-gluten flour can be substituted for First Clear and has a protein content of 13.5- 14.5%.

White rye flour is very important in authentic Jewish style rye breads and comes from the heart of the endosperm.  It contains only 6.5% protein.  (I used Pumpernickel or Dark Rye in this bake)

Medium rye flour is milled from the whole grain after the bran has been stripped away and is used for high-percentage rye recipes (heavier breads for sure).

Dark rye flour, is what remains of the rye kernel after the white rye flour has been sifted out.  As you can imagine it is very dark and strong flavored flour.


isand66's picture

Coconut Pain Au Levain

It's great to be back home from my 11 day trip to China for business.  I couldn't wait to get home to my wife and my 5 kitty cats.  We recently adopted another furball named Cleopatra and she has lived up to her name taking over the household like she's been with us forever.

Anyway, I was chomping at the bit to bake some bread so after refreshing my starter I decided to make a simple sourdough Pain Au Levain, but of course I needed to add something different to the formula to make it a bit more interesting.

I had recently purchased some coconut flour from Whole Foods and decided to try adding some to this concoction and see what happens.  I also added some wheat germ, Durum flour and pumpernickel flour along with bread flour.   The levain starter was made with my standard 65% AP starter along with some whole wheat and bread flour.  I also added some dried toasted onions which I rehydrated in the water used for the dough.

The resulting dough turned out very interesting with a nice nutty flavor but a bit dense.  The coconut flour really soaks up the water and in hindsight I should have uppped the hydration level of this bread even though it is already 71%.

Starter (Levain)

71 Grams Seed Starter (65% AP Starter)

142 Grams Bread Flour

85 Grams Whole Wheat Flour

151 Grams Water (90 Degrees F.)

Final Dough

458 Grams Levain from Above

260 Grams Bread Flour

65 Grams Pumpernickel Flour

75 Grams Coconut Flour

25 Grams Durum Flour

35 Grams Toasted Wheat Germ

17 Grams Sea Salt

4 Grams Toasted Dried Onions

15 Grams Walnut Oil (You can substitute your oil of choice)

336 Grams Water, 90 degrees F.  (Note: If you want a more open crumb I would increase the water another 15 - 20 grams)



Combine the ingredients for the Levain and mix by hand or in your mixer for 1-2 minutes.  Place it in a covered glass or plastic bowl and let it sit for 9-10 hours at room temperature.  If you are ready to bake you can use it immediately, otherwise you can refrigerate it for at least 1-2 days.

Final Dough

For the final dough, using your stand mixer or by hand, mix the water with the Levain to break it up.

Add the toasted onions to re-hydrate them in the water and then add the flours and oil and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

Now add the salt and mix for 4 minutes more on medium speed, adding more flour if necessary to produce a slightly sticky ball of dough.

Remove dough to your lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 minute and form into a ball.

Leave uncovered for 15 minutes.

Do a stretch and fold and form into a ball again and cover with a clean moist cloth or oiled plastic wrap.

After another 15 minutes do another stretch and fold and let it rest again for another 10 - 15 minutes.  Do one last stretch and fold and then put it  into a lightly oiled bowl that has enough room so the dough can double overnight.

Let the dough sit in your bowl for 2 hours at room temperature.  It should only rise slightly at this point.  After the 2 hours are up put in your refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days.

When ready to bake the bread take your bowl out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for around 2 hours.  After 2 hours shape the dough as desired being careful not to handle the dough too roughly so you don't de-gas it.

Place it in your bowl, banneton or shape into baguettes.  I used my new banneton I found in a thrift store and made one large loaf.

Let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours covered with oiled plastic wrap or a moist cloth.

Pre-heat oven with baking stone (I use one on bottom and one on top shelf of my oven), to 500 degrees F.

Slash loaves as desired and place empty pan in bottom shelf of oven.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water into pan and place loaves into oven.

Lower oven to 450 Degrees and bake for 25 - 35 minutes until bread is golden brown and internal temperature reaches 200 degrees.

Shut the oven off and leave the bread inside with the door slightly open for 10 minutes.  This will help dry the loaves out and keep the crust crunchy.

Let cool on cooling rack and enjoy!

Feel free to see some of my older posts at my other blog:

codruta's picture

100% rye bread (third time is a charm)

hi everyone!

A few weeks ago I tried my first 100% rye bread. I wrote about it in a previous post (click here for link). In the meantime, I received a fantastic bread pan special for rye breads from a friend from Russia, Masha (mama lunetta) and I imediately used it. I was very happy and confident, but the bread was a semidisaster. Please check my post here to see what I mean (beware, not a pretty image, my bread). I wouldn't give up so I went to Mini Oven for help. How to season the pan, how much dough do I need for this new pan, how to set the oven, etc. A lot of new factors for me, but thanx to Mini, I'm happy and proud of my first successful 100% rye bread!

And the result... voila:

I began with Andy's formula, I used some altus I had from the previous bake, I put some rye flakes and I all the four I used was rye flour type 1150. Unfortunatelly I forgot to add the honey in the scald, and I thought I'll add it next day in the final paste, but I didn't write it down and I forgot completely :(.

Good news for me, I'll receive a jar of blackstrap molasses at the end of May! I can't wait to try the real thing!


The taste is delicious. The crust is chewy, the crumb is moist, but not sticky, the rolled rye give a nice texture and contrast, the coriander is there but not dominant (I put less than in Andy's recipe, maybe next time I'll add a bit more). I miss the sweetness of honey and I sense that I'm very close to a extraordinary bread but not quite there yet. After few days the taste was better, richer and the crumb colour was darker.

Another thing that bothers me... I remember Phil saying once (click for link) he could fold a slice in half without breaking. I can't do that :( I wonder why?


I wrote the modified formula on my romanian blog Apa.Faina.Sare. (translated: Water.Flour.Salt.) (link for post here), translation is automatic and pretty bad, but if anyone is interested in more details, please ask.


Thank you Mini Oven, thank you Masha, thank you Andy, Varda, and thank you all who helped me along the way and encouraged me in my previous attempts.



ps. please stay close, I'm dreaming, negociating and planning to open a bakery here in town and I'm scared and don't really know where to begin with. All I have are my hands and my passion... will it be enough?! ♥