The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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HokeyPokey's picture

WholeWheat and Chocolate Cherry

Posted a little bit later than intended, but its out there now, my mid-week bake, another attempt at a Honey WholeWheat and a Chocolate Sour Cherry loaves.

I am trying to achieve that lovely soft wholewheat texture you find in American breads – think gourmet WholeFoods and delis type, not the horrible Subway kind that squashes in your hand.


I am quite please with that I got at the end, probably a bit more room to play with the recipe – it didn’t spring in the oven as much as I hoped, but the flavour is very close to what I have in mind.


The other one, Chocolate Sour one was a spur of the moment thing, really. I am not really into chocolate breads, especially not the ones that use cocoa powder, I find them too sweet and not chocolaty enough. I found some lovely Valrhona chocolate in my sweets box and some dried sour cherries in the pantry – why not? Sounds like they go together, lets give it a go.


I do like the chocolate in it, especially after you’ve toasted it and the chocolate goes all soft and melty. Could do with more sour cherries, as the cherry flavour isn’t particularly strong, I just didn’t have any more at hand.


I will be trying both of these recipes again, that’s for sure


Full recipes and more photos on my blog

ananda's picture

Tumminia and Pane Nero di Castelvetrano

Tumminia and Pane Nero di Castelvetrano

Back at the beginning of June, one of my Bakery students, Giuseppe, took a two month period of work experience in a Patisserie in his native town, Catania, in Sicily.

A couple of months earlier, Alison and I had, regrettably, decided not to make our annual summer trip to Crete, this year.   As an alternative, we decided to take a week’s holiday in NW Scotland at Easter, and embark on a week’s adventure in Sicily during the October half term.   We have booked a lovely top floor apartment in a town house overlooking the old harbour in Castellammare del Golfo in the North West corner of the island.

A few kilometres south west of here is the town of Castelvetrano.   Giuseppe had already wet my appetite for exploring the native bread scene, as you can imagine.   Not only that, but the BBC Radio Four Food Programme broadcast a 2 week special on the regional food of Sicily, around about this time.   I did some further searching to get more detail of regional bread specialities.

I came across Pane Nero di Castelvetrano, which is discussed in reasonable detail on the Slow Food website here:

I asked Giuseppe what he knew about this bread before he flew out to Sicily.   He knew a bit about it, mainly that the bread is made only with local flour which is famous, and, increasingly, rare.   It is from a variety of durum wheat grown only in this particular region of Sicily.   Given Catania is on the eastern coast of Sicily, it was not certain whether Giuseppe would be able to obtain any of this flour, however, he promised to have a go.

I then began a discussion with nicodvb to find out more about the Pane Nero di Castelvetrano, as well as taking a look at some YouTube videos, such as this one:    The bread is made using a leaven system.   The flour mix is 80% local and refined semolina durum, described as “blonde grain”.   I believe this will be the equivalent grind to “rimacinata”, if I’m not wrong.   The other 20% of the flour is from the tumminia durum wheat grain, which is milled quite coarsely, and is a wholegrain flour.   Nico explained that the tumminia flour is revered on account of the sweet aftertaste imparted in the finished bread.   Some pictures of the flour are shown below.   The character of a wholemeal semolina is quite evident:

The reference to the dark colour seems more to do with baking the bread hot in a wood-fired oven, rather than using a particularly wholesome grist.   So, the authentic version has a darkened crust rather than a brown crumb.   My version of the bread isn’t that well-fired, but more on the baking calamity later; I had a bit of a nightmare with my electric oven….yet again!

Mid way through Giuseppe’s work placement, I received an e-mail from his girlfriend.   It seemed that he was being worked so hard that he was unsure whether he could get out to find the tumminia flour.   However, there was quick re-assurance that he was really enjoying the work and learning a lot.   Later on I exchanged e-mails with Giuseppe, when he contacted me to say his boss had driven out specially to get hold of the flour for us.   A couple of weeks later and Giuseppe returned to the UK to discover I had left College.   We have been meeting regularly since then as he is now very focused on setting up his own bakery/patisserie in the region.   Watch this space, as I am happy to be playing an active role in this adventure.

Nico sent me a message recently asking me how the bread had turned out using the tumminia flour which Giuseppe had brought back.   I had been so busy with leaving College, and putting the Powburn Show bread together, [see:] so I had not had time to use the flour and bake a Pane Nero di Castelvetrano.

First task was to refresh my leavens.   In doing this I decided to alter the formula I had planned and agreed with Nico.   You will all know how much I love rye, and I suddenly hit on the idea of using a small amount of rye sour in this mix, in place of a portion of the wheat leaven.   I came up with 25% wheat and 6% dark rye to make up the portion of flour which has been pre-fermented.   I thought about how to mimic the “blonde” semolina grain [80% of the flour mix].   I came up with 54% Carrs Special CC strong bread flour and 20% Gilchesters Organic Ciabatta/Pizza flour which is grown locally, and therefore much lower gluten quality.   The tumminia flour was added as the remaining 20% of total flour as noted in the Slow Food instructions.   Hydration was set at 68%, and salt 1.8%.   The formula and recipe are laid out in table format below:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

Wheat Levain

25 flour; 15 water

250 flour; 150 water

Rye Sourdough

6 flour; 10 water

60 flour; 100 water

Carrs Special CC



Gilchesters Ciabatta/Pizza Flour



Tumminia Flour












% pre-fermented flour



% overall hydration








  • The Rye Sour had 2 refreshments and the Wheat Levain had 3.
  • I soaked  the Tumminia flour in all the final dough water for one hour.
  • Subsequently, I combined all the remaining ingredients with this soaker and the pre-ferments and mixed the dough for 10 minutes by hand.
  • Bulk fermentation was 3 hours, with S&F after 1 and 2 hours
  • I made one large loaf, so moulded the entire dough round, and placed upside down in prepared banneton.
  • Final Proof was also 3 hours.
  • Given that the oven decided to blow up 15 minutes into the baking, there is little point in describing a recommended bake procedure.   I darted around the village and after another 10 minutes found a neighbour returning home.   She agreed to bake the loaf the remaining time in her oven.   It took another hour from cold, but the final result was quite acceptable.
  • I brought the loaf home and cooled it on a wire.


Some photographs of the finished loaf:


The final loaf is very bold; for a dough weight of very nearly 1.7kg, baked in the circumstances described, the end result is very pleasing.   The crumb is very even and moist to the point of sparkling.   The flavour is actually intense, but not at all sour.   A real eating pleasure!

To Nico and Giuseppe: many thanks to both of you for your support and encouragement in helping me to create this wonderful loaf of bread.

All good wishes


stephy711's picture

Russian Black Bread

Find more recipes on my blog Dessert Before Dinner


Everyone in the family loved this recipe. It was great with butter and trout roe when it was fresh out of the oven, and this morning it was perfect with cream cheese and smoked salmon. The crumb is tender and the crust was firm, creating a wonderful contrast. It's great right now, but this bread will be even better with soup or smoked fish in the winter. Like all brown breads, this is a hearty, winter weather bread. It has a very complex flavor and it is even better a day or two later.

Russian Black Bread 

  • 2 packs active yeast
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 2 ¼ oz (1 cup) wheat bran
  • 13 oz (3 cups) bread flour
  • 11.25 oz (3 cups) rye flour
  • 2 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp ground dark roast coffee
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds

    1. Heat 2 cups water, butter, chocolate, molasses, coffee grounds and vinegar on stove until butter and chocolate are melted. Set in refrigerator to cool. Too hot liquids will damage the yeast.Proof yeast with ½ cup water and pinch of sugar
    2. Sift together flours and bran.
    3. In separate bowl, add fennel, shallots, caraway and 2 cups of the mixed flours. Add chocolate mixture and yeast to the flour. Continue adding flour half a cup at a time until the mixture pulls away from the mixing bowl.
    4. Knead until mixture is springy yet dense. Place in oiled bowl and let proof until doubled in size (about a hour and a half).
    5. Remove dough from bowl and divide into two pieces. Shape pieces into boules and dust tops with cornmeal, flour and caraway mixture. Let rest for 45 minutes
    6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking, slash tops of loaves. Bake for 45 minutes or until dark.
grahamcraker's picture

Corn Fritters, Corn Cakes?

When I was small, my father had an older friend we would visit on the weekends. He would make these; what he called, "Corn Fritters" for me. I loved them! They were actually some kind of corn meal/flour, fresh corn pancake things. He made them like Griddle Cakes, and we poured Maple Syrup on them.

I have tried to replicate them, but am having issues. Anyone Have an Old Family recipe for something like this?


amateur's picture

Sourdough disappointment

I can see that sourdough requires a certain amount of chemistry, which may be why I'm not doing well at it (I've never studied chemistry).

I made another attempt at it. My starter is doing quite well. It's USING the starter that's a problem. I used someone's basic dough recipe off this site and let it rise overnight. When it had risen, it was almost liquid, so I added more flour to it and kneaded it vigorously. It turned into a pretty fair-looking round, which I then left to rise again.

It rose again. It wasn't liquid, but it was far too sticky, or so it seemed. It wasn't a round of dough anymore, but a bowl of rising substance. I added more flour, made a loaf, and baked it.

It barely rose at all. It seems to be done, as far as I can tell, but it's a real disappointment. Is there an idiot-proof recipe out there? I should add that I'm using ONLY wheat flour. I refuse to use rye; I hate the stuff, and I stay as far away from it as I can.


Cintounas's picture

How do I get a nice shine on a pumpernickel walnut raisin

I've been trying to mirror a pumpernickel walnut raisin from my favorite restaurant. The taste and texture is spot on but I cannot get a good shine. The bread at the restaurant has a nice gloss but mine has been a little dull. What can I use to get the best shine?

GSnyde's picture

Bread And Chocolate for Company


Cat and I don’t throw dinner parties very often, but when we do we are reminded that we are pretty dang good at it.  And now that I have become a semi-competent baker, the parties are even better.

There were several reasons for last night’s event: (1) a business associate (and friend) of Cat’s is visiting from New Zealand, (2) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s boss, whom we had never hosted in our home, (3) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s brother and brother-in-law, who are also friends of Cat’s boss and always entertaining, and (4) we had so much bread in the freezer that Cat and I would have been eating Panzanella for a month to whittle it down.  Oh, yeah, and (5) we like feeding and fermenting friends into a frenzy of frivolity.

I should mention that “having the boss and his wife over for dinner” may sound like a tense occasion (ala how many old movies).  But in Cat’s case, her boss recruited her years ago, already knowing her intelligence, skill and good nature, and his opinion of her has only grown higher over the years.  I suppose we could have messed up her work life by poisoning the boss, but I didn’t even think about that scary prospect until now.  I am conscious of the reversal of classic roles here: the wife, a manager in a big corporation, invites the boss and his wife over for a dinner prepared by the husband (whom she likes to keep in the kitchen). 

The menu included baguettes and cheeses and toasted Curry-Onion-Bacon-Cheese Bread (–-one-sweet-and-one-savory) to start, with a main course of charcoal-grilled butterflied leg of lamb (Julia Child marinade), bulgur pilaf, and Panzanella with heirloom tomatoes and herb fried Tartine BCB (  Dessert was vanilla ice cream, awesome strawberries and Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies. 

Cat’s boss is a widely recognized gourmand and his wife was (before kids) a talented professional chef.   So I chose to prepare proven recipes (except the cookies, of which more below).  Having a Kiwi visitor was an opportunity to prove the superiority of California Lamb over the New Zealish variety (I don’t really mean that—the lamb in New Zealand is spectacular, much better than what they export to the U.S.).

Anyway, enough background.  I should say something about baking since this is still, to a large degree, a bread-oriented web site, pastrami and pickles to the contrary notwithstanding.

I have been experimenting with different baguette formulas lately, but the most reliable for me, and the one I like best, is proth5’s formula now known as “bear-guettes” (recipe below).   The dough is a dream to work with, and the result is crispy-crackly crust and tender creamy crumb…perfect as a cheese conveyance.  The formula makes 6 mini-baguettes.  I divided the dough after an hour of bulk fermentation and put half in the refrigerator for 90 minutes, so I could bake in two batches, the second after leaving enough time for the steaming skillet to get back up to temperature.  The results were quite satisfactory, with many oohs and ahs (attributable in part, I’m sure, to the creamy goat cheese the baguettes conveyed).

The main course was also very good.  Grilled lamb and bulgur pilaf are nicely enhanced by a puddle of tart vinaigrette from the salad.  Cat’s boss’s wife—the chef—commented appreciatively on how perfect the bread in the Panzanella was; she thought I’d gotten the bread from Tartine Bakery, and seemed impressed when she learned I’d baked it myself from the Tartine recipe.  As much as I treasure my wife’s favorable reaction to my bread, there’s nothing like unbiased third-party expert validation.  The feast was washed down with a pretty fair duo of 2001 pinot noirs, one from the Russian River Valley (Dehlinger) and one from Burgandy (a Gevrey-Chambertin).  

Then, the dessert.  I’ve toyed with chewy chocolate cookie recipes for years, my favorite being a Mocha cookie with bitter-sweet chocolate, fresh ground dark roast coffee and (I hate to admit) instant coffee crystals.  Somewhere recently I saw a formula for a chocolate bread with sour cherries and nuts, and thought that chocolate-cherry cookies would be pretty good.  So I modified my Mocha cookie recipe to replace the coffee with more chocolate and added dried tart cherries.  Awesome!  Very soft and chocolaty, with the extra chew and tartness of dried fruit. 

After some coffee and music, our guests waddled off into the late night and I’m confident Cat’s job is safe.

Here’re the recipes:

Proth5’s Bear-guettes

(adapted from dmsnyder’s report on proth5’s formula. See further notes at






Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast

“generous pinch”





Wt (oz)

AP flour




Ripe sourdough



Final dough



Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast









Total dough




Wt (oz)

Baker's %

AP flour






Instant yeast













                  Mix the poolish and the levain and let them ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

                  Mix all the ingredients except the salt to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

                  Add the salt and hand mix in a large bowl.

                  Bulk ferment for 4 hours with a stretch and fold at 2 hours. (I cold retarded half after the S&F for 90 minutes).

                  Divide into 10.5 oz pieces and pre-shape as logs. Rest the pieces, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

                  Shape as baguettes.

                  Proof en couche for 1.5 hours.

                  Pre-heat oven to 500ºF with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

                  Transfer loaves to peel. Score them and transfer them to the oven.

                  Reduce oven temperature top 460 F and bake with steam for 10 minutes, and bake dry for another 9-11 minutes.

                  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before eating.


                                    CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHERRY COOKIES





2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder    (Scharffenberger)

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

4 oz. Scharffenberger bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped or shaved

2 cups dried cherries





Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.



Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside.


In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chopped baking chocolate and cherries by hand using a wooden spoon.


Refrigerate dough at least one hour.


Drop cookie dough (about ¾ of a 1/4 cup measure per piece) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be at least 1 ½  inches apart.  Flatten each cookie a bit.



Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


ladonohue's picture

whole wheat recipes

I am looking for a whole wheat bread recipe that yields a light soft loaf for sandwich bread. 

Also any advice on which wheat flour to use?  I am looking to buy in bulk online and the amount of options is daunting...


ctsabai's picture

Beginner's question: How sticky is too sticky?

Hello all, I'm new both to this site and to baking bread. I have so far made several attempts at a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf, and yesterday I made 2/3 WW and 1/3 AP pitas using the recipe on this site. Every time I've made bread so far, the dough has been so sticky I can hardly handle it. When I try to knead it, it sticks to everything - the board, my hands, the rubber spatula I use to try to scrape it off. Whether I flour, oil, or wet my hands and work surface, the dough sticks - I have to re-apply the flour or whatever every second or third time I touch the dough. When I made my first loaf, I just kept dumping more flour on to try to reduce the stickiness, and I added so much that the resulting loaf was very dense and crumbly (although it tasted pretty good!). My dough seems more like a soft, gluey mass than the firm, elastic, cohesive stuff I see people working with in the YouTube kneading how-to's I've watched. So my question is, am I doing something wrong with kneading, proportions of ingredients, etc. or is this stickiness normal? If so, how the heck do you knead stuff like this?

breadsong's picture

Schiacciata Bursting with Grapes (and Cherries)

I was captivated by Sylvia’s Sourdough Fig Focaccia, and grateful to her for her recommendation of Carol Field’s book Focaccia. I have it on loan from the library, and I’m certain after the book goes back to the library I’ll be shopping on Amazon :^)

Wanting to make something similar to Sylvia's lovely bread, I tried making Ms. Field’s Schiacciata Bursting with Grapes (Schiacciata All’Uva), as fresh figs aren't ripe here yet.
Ms. Field's recipe makes two Schiacciata, so I made one with red seedless grapes, and one with fresh sour cherries:
 ...bursting with juicy goodness!

I pre-ordered some fresh sour cherries from a local grower (rare! and a luxury where I live) and was able to go pick them up yesterday. Some are now in the Schiacciata, some have been frozen for future pies, and some are marinating in the fridge for homemade eau-de-vie :^)

                                            ...the sour cherries!

Ms. Field’s dough recipe looked awfully attractive, as it has anise seed and Sambuca as flavorings for the dough.
The photo in her book of the grape-studded Schacciata is gorgeous, and the bread's flavor lives up to the photo -
it is incredibly delicious!
The grapes and the Sambuca are a fantastic flavor combination imho. We like the sour cherry version too.
Ms. Field notes another filling/topping option…raisins soaked in Vin Santo. Wow!

I found a similar recipe for this bread on the King Arthur Flour site. Compared to the King Arthur Flour recipe, this dough is based on a 150g sponge, 350g flour in final dough, uses butter instead of olive oil, and has 3 Tablespoons of Sambuca liqueur and 2 teaspoons lightly crushed anise seed added to the dough. Each Schiacciata used 1.5 pounds of fruit.

I took a quick look here on TFL and saw these beautiful breads, also:

Here are some pictures of the layering for these filled Schiacciata:

The dough (one of four doughballs):

Filling (the fruit was sprinkled with Turbinado sugar):

Layering (pressing the dough to seal):

Topping (sprinked again with Turbinado sugar):

After 15 minutes of baking, the breads were brushed with more Sambuca!

Some crumb shots:

....and Sour Cherry      

Thanks so much, Sylvia, for reference to Ms. Field's wonderful book!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) from breadsong