The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hanseata's picture

Hearty Rye and Tricky Recipe

A while ago I bought a new baking book full with mouth watering photos of gorgeous looking loaves: "Brot", an introduction to Germany's best bakers and their signature breads. Luxurious as this book is, its principal purpose seems to be promoting culinary travels to the featured bakeries, not giving readers understandable instructions on how to make those lovely loaves at home.

The sourdough starter you simply "buy from a bakery" - no mention of hydration levels - and breads are baked "at falling temperatures". And if you obediently follow the recipes' baking temperatures and times you will end up with howling smoke alarms, crazed pets, and charred bread corpses - the instructions are probably meant for wood fired ovens. The publishers obviously printed the recipes in as they came from the bakers, never bothering with having them edited.

So I was up for a great challenge - would I be able to overcome these handicaps?

The first bread I tackled was one from my hometown Hamburg, "Hamburger Kräftiges", a hearty rye sourdough. In the book it looks like this:

"Hamburger Kräftiges" from "Brot - Deutschlands beste Bäcker"

This is the original recipe (2 breads)

520 g rye sourdough (from a bakery)

500 g rye flour type 1150

350 wheat flour type 550

540 g water (25 - 28 C)

 25 g sea salt

 16 g Bioreal-yeast


Knead all ingredients for 8 minutes at low speed, adding the yeast after 2 minutes. Cover and let rest for 1 hour. Shape into a round loaf, place on a baking sheet and proof for 1 - 2 hours, in a draft free location.

When surface shows distinct tears, place in 260 C/500 F preheated oven (no slashing). Pour 50 - 60 ml water on another hot baking sheet or oven floor. After 20 minutes, drop temperature to 220 C/425 F. Overall baking time: 60 - 70 minutes.


Wanting to start with one bread only, I took half of the recipe. To make the rye starter, I used the 3-step build from Martin Pöt Stoldt ("Der Sauerteig - das unbekannte Wesen) with 60 g ripe rye starter, 100 g rye flour and 100 g water and had a pleasantly sweet smelling active rye sour (100%).

A cold retardation seemed a good idea, and working with P.R.s stretch and fold technique, also. All went well, but when I took the dough out of the refrigerator I wasn't quite sure whether it had overproofed, it seemed to have grown more than I expected.

I shaped a boule and proofed it on a parchment lined baking sheet, waiting for the "distinct tears" to appear. The loaf grew, showing a little cracking, but not anything dramatic. I didn't want to wait until it overproofed, and put it in the oven. I knew that the baking temperatures and times had to be off, so I reduced the heat after 10 minutes, and checked the bread after a total baking time of 40 minutes, the internal temperatures registered already 210 F.

The bread didn't look bad, but not at all like the one in the book:

Was the photo in the book photoshopped? It looked much lighter than my loaf. And why didn't I get those pretty tears in the crust?

The bread tasted pretty good, too, but I wasn't satisfied - I wanted the one from the stupid book!

I posted those pictures, and friendly TFLers made some helpful comments, but nobody could figure out why my bread looked like a disadvantaged sibling.

Revengefully I didn't touch the book for a while and worked on other projects. But since I usually don't give up easily, and so far had managed to adapt many German bread recipes to American ingredients (and better techniques), I started pondering over the recipe again.

What made my bread look so different? Why had it almost overproofed in the fridge? And then, belatedly, I did some research in the "internets". I started with the mysterious "Bioreal" yeast. No wonder it had risen so much - this organic instant yeast contains less yeast cells than regular one, therefore 8 g was too much. For the amount of flour 6 g should be enough.

For the wheat in the recipe i had used bread flour - I know it's approximately the equivalent to German type 550. But what about the rye? Without thinking I had taken what I had: whole rye flour. And there it was! With help from Wikipedia I found out that German rye type 1150 was an "in between" white and whole rye. After some calculations I believed I could substitute type 1150 with a mix of 52% whole rye + 48% white rye. (I had some white rye from testing NYBakers recipes, but didn't use it).

Finally, why had the bread on the photo such dramatic cracks, and mine only puny little tears? I found the answer to this question in a TFL post, about proofing a boule on a baking sheet seamside up, not down - to achieve just such a distinct pattern!

So I tried the "Hearty Rye from Hamburg" again, with these modifications. I also changed the temperatures and baking times to the ones I use for "Feinbrot" and many other lean German mixed rye wheat breads.

I liked this result much better:

It also tasted better - according to my husband this was: "the best bread you ever made"! (He is the best of all husbands - he says that every time, when he likes a new bread).

Hearty Rye from Hamburg - crumb

This is my recipe adaptation:


60 g rye sourdough starter (100%)
100 g water, lukewarm
100 g whole rye flour
270 g water (95 F)
6 g instant yeast
all starter
110 g whole rye flour
140 g white rye flour
175 g bread flour
13 g salt


Prepare starter.

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add to all other ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix at low speed for 1 - 2 min. until all comes together. Let rest for 5 min.

Knead at medium-low speed for 2 min., adjusting with water, if necessary. Dough should still be sticky. Resume kneading for another 4 min., the last 20 sec. at medium-high speed.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Stretch and fold 4 times, with 10 min. intervals (total time 40 min.) After last S & F, refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

Preheat oven to 500 F/260 C, including steam pan.

Shape dough into boule, place seam side UP on parchment lined sheet pan. Proof at room temperature for 45 - 60 min., or until dough has grown 1 1/2 times, and surface shows distinct cracks.

Bake 10 min. at 475 F/250 C, steaming with 1 cup boiling water, then reduce heat to 425 F/220 C and bake for another 10 min. Rotate bread and remove steam pan. Continue baking for 20 - 30 min (internal temperature 200 F/93 C).

Let cool on wire rack.

UPDATE 10/15/11: in the meantime I made a side by side comparison with American medium rye (a lighter variety, not a medium grind!) and imported (so to speak) German Typ 1150. American medium rye is a perfect substitute for German medium rye types 1150 or 1370, and my sample tasted even better:

Dwayne's picture

Star Bagels

I've had a hard time with bagels.  I have asked a few questions here about my wrinkled bagels that I've made (thanks Mark Witt).  I made Bagels while being a recipe tester for Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day".  I also have made them from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" but they were always wrinkled.  While testing recipes for Norm & Stan I had some success with their Montreal Bagels.  I did not do anything very different, these just turned out.  So I have been frustrated with bagels.


Completely unrelated, I had borrowed "Dough" by Richard Bertinet from our library and in there saw how he shapes rolls and in one chapter he cuts rolls into stars.  The star rolls looked great and I tried out this technique on some Buttermilk Clusters (recipe found on this site).


It occurred to me to try this cut on bagels and so here are my results.  I used the recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart.  I did not retard the dough over night.


After mixing and kneading, I let the dough rise while I did some outdoor chores.  I then scaled them into 130 gram portions and shaped them into tight balls using Richard's method.  Question: Why do we do this for Boules but not bagels or did I miss this?  I then let them rest for about 20 minutes.


I got out a Starbucks gift card that was all used up (it is also doubling as a dough scraper until I find a real one).  I then put a little oil on the edge that will do the cutting and made my first cut.


I then made 2 more cuts.


Once the three cuts have been made you turn the dough inside out so that the points of the star are on the outside.  Put the best side up on the oiled parchment paper.


Here is one batch of bagels proofing for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes I boiled them (actually the water was not quite boiling) for 20 seconds a side, put topping on and baked on a hot stone.


I made two batches of bagels and it used up all but about a cup of flour from a 5 lb. bag.


I tried Onion for the first time.  I took some dehydrated onions and let them steep in hot water and then drained them.  I sprinkled some of the onions on the top of the boiled bagels just before putting them in the oven.  I also used Poppy seeds and Black Sesame Seeds.


Here are a few more pictures.


So, many thanks to Peter, Richard, Mark, Norm and Stan.  I am pleased the way these turned out.

Happy Baking,


Floydm's picture

Potato loaf and fresh butter

I made a potato bread today, using Dan Lepard's recipe from The Art of Handmade Bread (AKA The Handmade Loaf) as the basis and tweaking it a bit.  If memory serves me right, I used:

300 grams water

200 grams mashed potatoes

500 grams bread flour

1 tablespoon sourdough starter (cold from the fridge)

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

I gave it quite a while, 10 minutes or so, in the mixer, then let it rise slowly most of the day, folding it a couple of times when I noticed it cresting over the edge of the bowl..  I shaped it an hour or so before I wanted to bake it, then baked it with steam at 465 for 15 minutes then 400 or so for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Potato Bread

Potato Bread

It has a relatively tight crumb but is really nice and soft.  I'm thinking I may make this as rolls for my Thanksgiving day feast this year.

My kids and I also made fresh butter in Mason jars as discussed here

Bread and butter

The kids had a blast dancing around the living room shaking the jars (we put some music on) and the butter was truly delicious.  It is well worth the effort!

manicbovine's picture

Sunflower Seed Spelt

This bread is a variation of a recipe for Dinkelvollkornbrot by Nils' from Ye Olde Bread Blogge. The original recipe, found in his excellent book, calls entirely for spelt. I've made quite a few recipes from this book and each has been extraordinary. Nils' formula produces a moist bread with mildly sour undertones. I enjoyed it with cucumber sandwiches and also with a thin smear of plum butter. The formula needs no modification, and I wouldn't have bothered if I hadn't run out of spelt meal.

My goal was to make a more assertive bread without compromising all of the original's pleasant qualities. My variation is to omit yeast, use blackstrap molasses, use extra water, and use rye meal. I actually made this bread twice. The extra water necessitated a longer baking time, but I underestimated the first time and ended up with a rather gummy center. In addition to giving it a longer bake at a lower temperature, I let it rest for an additional 12 hours before slicing. These simple steps cured the gummy center.

Formula - Sunflower Seed Spelt 


Spelt Sour

  • 75g whole-spelt flour

  • 45g water

  • 1 tsp mature 100% rye sourdough


  • 75g sunflower seeds

  • 25g flaxseeds

  • 150g rye meal

  • 340g water


Final Dough

  • 170g whole-spelt flour

  • 130g water

  • 15g Blackstrap molasses

  • 10g salt



  • Prepare the soaker and spelt sour, let sit for 15-20 hours. 

  • Mix all ingredients until smooth and knead lightly in bowl for around 5 minutes, or until gluten from spelt develops.

  • Bulk rise for around 2 hours, pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment, and proof for an addition 1-2 hours.

  • Bake under normal steam at 450F for 5 minutes, reduce to 400F for 20 minutes, and finish off at 375F for 55 minutes. Wrap tightly in cloth towels and let cool for 36 hours before slicing.

Nils' recipe calls for yeast, which I omitted. My rye starter is not as happy to feed on spelt, so my rising times were probably a little longer than what I've indicated above.

This bread was excellent with Turkey, cream cheese, sprouts, and cranberry sauce. (Vegan versions for me, but I'm sure it's just as good with the regular stuff).


This is a poor picture due to sloppy slicing and a bum exposure. The crumb is actually denser than the photo would indicate.

Sunflower Spelt


MIchael_O's picture

Pre-screening and Analyzing Recipes for Baked Goods

Hello bakers,

     For some while it has been a quest to decipher baking recipes (e.g. Michael Ruhlman "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", Shirley Corriher, etc.).  But noone has attempted to prove their method is correct for all recipes or that their method defines what and what doesn't make a baked good.

     In short, I have a way to numerically describe recipes, A calculator to automate the calculation process, and an excel spreadsheet with example calculations (over 300). And this method does define what and what isn't a particular baked good.

    What I did is to graph the hundreds of recipes from the excel spreadsheet. The graph has a defined patterns, with defined groupings for baked goods (e.g. between 0.30-0.50 is a bread, and outside this region, bread can not exist using standard preparation techniques). It is essentially an elaborate calculation of the ratio of wet to dry ingredients.

The Purpose of all this is to:

Allow for more complex substitutions (e.g. local ingredients), Diagnosis of recipe problems, Allow for the quick pre-screening of recipes posted on the web, Aid in rapid design of recipes, etc.

For example, in addition to posting pictures of a baked good, posting the three chararcteristic numbers (thickness of batter, butter(oil), and egg content) of this method may allow you to determine the outcome of the baked good recipe (i.e. will the cookie be too cakey, will the pound cake/muffin be dry, etc)

First, please take a look at the chart and everything will make sense or at least it will give you the motivation to learn about what I have done:

Listed in order of importance

1. Chart: Chart

2. Explanation: Article

3. Calculator: Baking Calculator

4. Spreadsheet: Spreadsheet


Bakers percentages are only partially supported. The calculations can also be done manually.


As always , constructive - with constructive being emphasized - criticism is much welcomed.

Good night and great loaves,

Michael O.

trailrunner's picture

Apple Crostada

I have never made this before. I looked up a number of different recipes and then made up my own. I used my old standby of a buttermilk crust. I doubled the crust recipe .  I sauteed 7 sliced Gala apples till tender and added cinnamon and sugar and flour and a pinch of salt. I rolled out the crust and piled on the apples and baked till golden and juicy. I was wonderful with vanilla Blue Bell ice cream. We have it here in the South I don't think everyone can get it is still sold in real half gallons. 


 Single Crust recipe:

1 c AP flour and cut in 5 TB chilled unsalted butter and 1/4 tsp kosher salt till large crumbs. I use my Cusinart.  Place in freezer till ready to use. Remove from freezer and toss with chilled buttermilk till holds together. Roll out on floured counter w/ floured pin. Brush crust with beaten egg white and pile on apples leaving a 2 inch border. Turn up and pleat edges of crust. Brush w/ remaining egg white and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake at 375 till brown and juicy...about 40 minutes. I used a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and it worked great . 


wally's picture

Baking on a Fall Sunday

One downside to working as a baker is that it doesn't allow me time to bake during the week.  So now everything gets crammed into weekends.  And frankly, sometimes after a week at the bakery, I really don't feel like spending a day off baking more.  And yet, inevitably I find my two starters staring at me ruefully, and so on a beautiful Fall day when the temperatures felt more like September than mid-November, I decided to do a series of bakes.

Below, from the upper left moving clockwise: a 72% rye with soaker, Vermont Sourdough, a batard and a boule of Polish Country Rye.

On Saturday I got started by mixing and then retarding overnight Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough.  I've discovered that even with giving the bread an hour and a half proof before final retarding, it still needs an additional three hours the next day at room temperature to finish proofing.  But, the finished loaf rose nicely in the oven.


Here's a couple crumb shots of the Vermont sourdough:


Saturday evening I prepared the rye levains and soakers for the 72% rye and the Polish Country Rye.  I've become so fond of the added sweetness imparted by soakers, that they are now a routine part of my rye preparation.  However, a couple weeks back I had my first experience with the dreaded 'starch attack' and this has led me to now add either part of all of the salt in my rye formulas to the soakers as a preventative measure.

This morning while the Vermont sourdough finished its final proofing, I began with the 72% rye because I knew it would have the shortest floor time before final shaping and baking.  In using a high proportion of the water for the recipe in the levain and soaker I unintentionally created a problem I had not foreseen: my kitchen was cold this morning, and I found that the flour temperature and those of the levain and soaker were only about 68° F.  But there was so little water to be added to the final mix, that it was not possible to arrive at a DDT of around 80°.  This necessitated both extending the bulk fermentation from 30 minutes to 50 minutes, and setting the dough container on top of my then-warming oven to increase its internal temperature.  Note to self: it's important to retain a sufficient amount of water for the final mix to adequately adjust DDT!

In any event, the jury-rigged proofing worked, and once the loaf was air-shaped (the hydration was at 80%) and placed in a pyrex baking dish, it required a little under 50 minutes before it was ready for baking.  I baked if for 60 minutes, starting out at 450° and dropping the temperature by 25 degrees every 15 minutes, so that the oven temp at bakes end was 375°.

Here's the final result: it will sit for 24 hours to completely set and then I'll add some crumb shots.  But it's already got a pleasant sweetness about it.

The Polish Country rye I altered slightly by upping the percentage of rye from its usual 15% to 30%.  Even with that, this is a most agreeable dough to work with - it has the gluten development and consistency of wheat-based doughs, so there is very little of the stickiness associated with high percentage ryes.  Final proofing after shaping one into a boule and the other a bâtard was about two and a half hours and it baked at 440° for 45 minutes.  Here's some more shots of the final result - crumb shots to follow.

        All three breads were baked using a combination of SylviaH's wet-towel-in-a-dish method and my lava rocks in a cast iron frying pan to generate steam.  As the loaves and cuts indicate, I cannot say enough good things about Sylvia's simple yet effective work around for those who, like me, struggle to maintain steam in our steam-venting gas ovens.

So, at the end of a beautiful Fall day I sit at my kitchen table surrounded by a week's worth of wonderful and varied sandwich breads, along with a rich rye loaf that will accompany some good cheeses and spreads.

Not a bad way to unwind after all.


EDIT: crumb shots of 72% rye and Polish Country rye below.


breadsong's picture

Caramelized Hazelnut Squares from ABAP

Hello, I have a group of people at work I wanted to bake bread for. I wanted to make them something special - this bread seemed to fit the bill!
It was such a pretty bread, as pictured in Advanced Bread and Pastry. With thanks to Mr. Michel Suas for a wonderful, if involved, formula - there are four separate preferments and I had to create a spreadsheet in order to figure out how to scale enough ingredients for 2000g of dough.
I divided into roughly 250g pieces to create as many loaves as I wanted to give (with one extra to keep, for tasting!). 
I sliced the one that achieved the least height & was surprised but happy to find an open crumb, so I hold out hope for the others. 
The caramelized hazelnuts are fantastically, wonderfully delicious in this bread!!!
Regards, breadsong

JoeVa's picture

Working for Favaglie Bread Baking

Tre mesi dal mio ultimo post, ma continuo a panificare. Oggi scrivo per aggiornarvi sull'andamento dei lavori per il nuovo forno a legna di Cascina Favaglie. Il forno è a buon punto, resta da terminare la canna fumaria, il tetto e la struttura frontale.

Three months since my last post, but I'm still baking bread. Today I write to update you about the construction of the new wood fire oven at Cascina Favaglie. The oven it's almost ok, we need to finish the flue, the roof and front structure.


Nel frattempo faccio qualche prova di panificazione e continuo a lavorare sui prodotti che prepareremo nei corsi di panificazione di maggio 2011. Al momento ho previsto tre corsi differenti, ognuno orientato ad uno specifico tema. I corsi si svolgeranno sabato e domenica a tempo pieno. Massimo 6-8 partecipanti. Fai una cosa, falla con calma e falla bene, questo è la mia filosofia.

Meanwhile I do some baking test and I continue to work on the products we will prepare at the bread baking courses in May '11. Currently I've planned three distinct courses, each one oriented to a specific topic. The courses will be held Saturday and Sunday, full-time. Maximum of 6 to 8 partecipants. Do one thing, take your time an do it well, this is my philosophy.

Il Punto Parco Cascina Favaglie, nonché sede di ItaliaNostra Milano Nord-Ovest è un'ottima collocazione. Le nuove strutture e la natura che le circonda creano l'ambiente ideale per questo tipo di attività. Questa mattina, dopo aver finito di cuocere il pane sono andato a fare un sopraluogo sotto un'abbondante pioggia. Queste sono alcune foto che ho fatto.

Punto Parco Cascina Favaglie, also ItaliaNostra Milano North-West section is a great location. The new accomodations and facilities, the surrounding nature create the ideal environment for this kind of activities. This morning, after my baking I went to do an inspection under a heavy rain. These are some shots I took there.



I tre corsi sono:

  • Chef: Pane Francese a Lievitazione Naturale.

  • Grani dei Paesi Freddi: Pane di Segale

  • Fuoco e Fiamme: la Pizza

The three courses are:
  • Chef: Naturally Leavened French Bread
  • Cold Grains: Sourdough Rye
  • Fire and Flames: Pizza

I primi due corsi sono basati sul mio "Pane Paesano" (un pane a lievitazione naturale di grande pezzatura con impasto morbido e mix di lieviti naturali di segale e frumento) e "Pane di Segale" (pane 100% segale integrale in cassetta). Poi c'è la pizza ... ci sto lavorando, ma non avendo un forno a legna alcune cose sono impossibili da provare, la mia massima aspirazione è la "verace napoletana" (in foto quella del bravissimo Adriano, maestro e fonte di ispirazione - foto di Paoletta), riuscirò mai a farne una così? Apparentemente sono tutti impasti relativamente semplici ma l'esperienza, i piccoli gesti fanno la differenza. Alcune foto:

The first two courses will be based on my "Pane Paesano" (naturally leavened large miche with a soft dough and wheat/rye wild yeast cultures mix) and "Pane di Segale" (sourdough rye 100% pan baked). Then we have pizza ... still working on, but since I do not have a wood fired oven a lot of things are impossible to test, my dream is the "verace napoletana" (in the shot the wonderful Adriano pizza, master baker and font of inspiration - taken by Paoletta), will I be able to bake something like that? Apparently they are all simple recipes but the experience and what looks like a small gesture will make the difference. Here some photos:




E dopo aver atteso un giorno ecco la mollica del pane di segale.

And after one day rest, here the rye crumb.



The miche saranno impastate sabato e, dopo un lenta lievitazione fredda, saranno cotte l'indomani, domenica mattina. La segale sarà preparata impastata e cotta in giornata: con la segale si fa presto ... se qualcuno ti prepara la madre di segale! Entrambi saranno cotti in forno elettrico casalingo. Per la pizza si userà anche il forno a legna. In ogni corso ci sarà tempo per discutere aspetti teorici e far pratica su impasti di supporto all'apprendimento (tipicamente impasti diretti / indiretti).

The miches will be mixed on Saturday and, after a slow cold proof, they will be baked the next day, Sunday morning. The rye will be prepared, mixed and baked on one day: rye is fast .. if someone build for you the rye mother dough! Both will be baked in a domestic electric oven. For the pizza we will use also the wood fired oven. In every course there will be enough time for theory and for working on sample didactic doughs (some direct / indirect dough).

Per ultimo, ma non meno importante, va dato merito al grande lavoro di Giuseppe, Arturo (i nostri progettisti), Giancarlo (il presidente) e tutti i soci anziani di ItaliaNostra per la progettazione e supervisione dei lavori di tutto ciò che avete visto.

And least but not last, I have to thank Giuseppe, Arturo (our engineers and architects), Giancarlo (the president) and all senior members of ItaliaNostra for the great work, projects and works supervision of all you've seen.

Date uno sguardo dentro al forno!

Take a look into the oven!


Questo il nostro contatto.

This is our contact.

jim baugh's picture
jim baugh

Jim's Neo-NY Pie Recipe \ updated

Jim's Neo-NY Grilled Pizza


Without question, if you try this recipe, do not take any shortcuts, this will be one of the best pies you will ever have and is similar to a Neapolitan Pizza. Really about the only thing besides not using Italian flour that is different, is that we are not cooking in a 900-degree oven, rather a 700+ degree grill (735). The reason for our choice of flour is: 

1)      The King Arthur Sir Lancelot Flour we use has a high Protein content, higher than that of Caputo 00. More protein, less carbs, helps to make for a light airy, chewy crust. Keep in mind that even with the best flour, improper kneading technique will still yield poor results. 

2)      The flavor of the Sir Lancelot is my favorite. You will know what I mean when you first just open the bag and sniff.  Because we are using American flour and a grill, this means ours can't be called a "True" Neapolitan Pie. So that is why we call this recipe, Neo-New York. This will keep the folks with 1000-degree brick ovens and Italian flour from sending me nasty e-mails. 

The following is a list of things you will need in order to prepare this pie. For one, and you better get used to this, you are going to have to purchase some things on the internet because they are not really available on the retail market. Here is the list and where you can get the items. Some of these things you will probably already have. 

Things you will need

* Eight bricks (ones with holes called "frogs") \ Lowes, Home Depot, or maybe your basement or back yard

* A good pizza stone that is as thick as you can buy \ Internet or Bed Bath and Beyond

* Smoker box \ Lowes

* Gas Grill, four burner \ Lowes, Home Depot, Etc

* Cherry and apple wood chips \ Bass Pro, Internet, ACE Hardware, or maybe your   back yard

* GOOD Pizza Peel \ Internet or Bed Bath and Beyond

* Stand Mixer like a KitchenAid or DLX \ Internet & department stores

* Pizza trays \ Wall Mart- Cheap!! (like $3)

* Sir Lancelot High Gluten Flour \ Internet, King Arthur web site

* San Marzano Certified Tomatoes \ Internet. May be able to buy locally, however to expensive.

* Two 1\2 gallon Ball jars

* Pizza Peel \ On line, or Bed Bath & Beyond


Ingredients you will need for Dough

* Two cups sourdough starter

* One pack of instant yeast (optional-I use the instant yeast for an extra kick, just a pinch but not always)

* 3 cups Sir Lancelot High Gluten Flour

* 1 cup King Arthur Bread Flour

* 1 1/2 cups warm, filtered spring water

* 1 teaspoon sea salt (add last)


NOTE: For a healthier crust, substitute King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour for the bread flour. Makes an excellent crust! Also if you like a little bit more of a New York style crust, work in about 1\4 cup olive oil and 1\2 cup of corn meal into your dough, and use 1\2 cup bread flour. I make it both ways, both awesome!


Ingredients you will need for sauce (do not cook the sauce)

* Two cans San Marzano tomatoes

* 1\4 cup of red wine vinegar

* teaspoon crushed red pepper

* Fresh oregano to taste

* 1\2 cup fresh basil, chopped

* 1 teaspoon of sea salt

* Fresh cracked pepper to taste

* 1 teaspoon of sugar

* 4 cloves of crushed fresh garlic

* 1\4 cup fresh Ramono Cheese


(Note: Purists will only use San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, with a little sea salt and pepper with some fresh basil. This IS a good way to go; however, I like to kick it up a little, with the recipe included here)


Cheese Topping 

Use only fresh Mozzarella cheese, NOT the pre-shredded type. Shred your own fresh Motz or better yet, slice it, and put "Chunks" on your pie. Try not to use a watery fresh Mozzarella - the more solid the better!

Fresh grated Romano and Parmesan cheese, on top of the Mozzarella. 


TIP: For a twist on the New York Style, try fresh smoked provolone cheese, then the Motz, then a few splashes of fresh grated extra sharp Cheddar Cheese.  The purists would consider it quite unconventional, but I LOVE IT!!!   

Sauce "101" 

Mix the ingredients and put in a covered 1\2 gallon ball jar and place in the fridge the day before you bake. Don't store your sauce in a plastic container; a glass jar is best. On pizza day, take it out and bring it to room temperature. 

Be sure NOT to cook this sauce. The tomatoes have already been cooked in the can, they do not need to be cooked three times. I have taken San Marzano tomatoes right out of the can, crushed them by hand, and it was a GREAT pizza sauce, without adding any other ingredients. It is a matter of preference, try both and see what you like. You can also use a hand mixer with the tomatoes, just do not over blend. If your sauce gets too watery, you can strain it, but usually this has not been a problem for us. My preference is to hand crush the tomatoes, add all ingredients and then chill in the fridge. After a few hours I will hit it with the hand mixer to smooth out the sauce a little bit, then taste to see if it needs anything. Ends up with a great sauce!! 

Lets Get "Started" 

Probably the two best-kept secrets in the pie world are these: 

 1    Yeast culture starter. "Wild" or other.

2        High-Gluten Protein Flour. 

You can purchase a sourdough starter, like the King Arthur brand, that comes from a 250-year-old strain. There are cultures out there that are even many centuries older!

For the purpose of the "Do it Yourself, Perfect Pie"- make your own wild sourdough starter, which is what I do. It may sound hard and a bit crazy to some, but it is so simple!

Time to catch some fresh, wild yeast to get your own culture started!

 In a Ball jar, combine 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of bottled spring/filtered water. I set mine outside in mild weather, with the lid loose for several hours to catch the tastiest of wild yeast! Yes, I set my starter out on the deck to catch the salty Chesapeake Bay breezes, all to help enhance what we affectionately call "Jim's Starter by the Sea". 

 After several hours, I set the jar in the oven with the interior light on, and the oven OFF, overnight. In the morning, I found a nice grayish fluid, which is alcohol, sitting on top of the flour.  I stirred the liquid back in and removed ½ cup, before "re-feeding" the starter with 1cup flour, and ¾ cup water. By bedtime, I stirred the starter again, and on the third day, I stirred in the accumulated alcohol, removed ½" of discard, and fed again. Then let sit. Do this everyday for 3-6 days. My starter was ready to roll in three days, although it usually will take longer.  Depending on the amount of yeast, and the temperature of the environment, it will take 3 days to a month for the starter to be ready to use. 

Store your starter in the fridge and feed it once a week by taking some out, using it, or give some to a friend. Re-feed the "Mother Jar" of starter with flour and water and let sit for a few hours, then put back in the fridge. (At this point, use equal parts flour and water to feed.) 

You ALWAYS when using your starter want it to be at room temp and be at its peak of activity. Do this by taking out what you need in the morning (or night before) and re-feed it with some flour and water and let it sit out all day, then use it in the afternoon \ evening and it will work great. 

When you store your starter in a fridge, the best thing to do is not use the top of the ball jar, use cellophane wrap and a rubber band around the top of the jar. Punch a very small hole in the cellophane to let the gas escape. I also have drilled some holes in the top of my starter jars and that works as well. Another tip is that once your starter is where you like it's flavor and aroma, you don't have to keep stirring in all the alcohol, you can pour some of it off, but I would not take 100% of it out. Leave a little to stir back in.

 One other thing about your starter, never, never, never add anything to it except flour and water. No packet yeast, sugar, nothing. I mean NOTHING!!!! Keep your culture as pure as you can. When not in use, feed it once a week and back in the fridge ya go!


Break out the Dough 

About Flour.


True, you can make a great pie with AP and bread flour. However, using the high gluten flour does make a difference in the dough. When you go out for a pie at your local NY style family Pizzeria, they most likely are using a high gluten flour product. Great pizza is a combination of many, many, many little things, that will make a HUGE difference in your final product. The right high gluten flour is just one of those many things. 

Don't waste your time looking for high gluten flour at your local grocery store, you won't find it. Order it on line and be done with it. King Arthur has probably the best flour you can get for making pies, "Sir Lancelot High Gluten Flour". This product can be ordered on line from their web site, no prob. Just order a case of it and don't worry about it. Once you use this flour, you probably will use nothing else for pizza dough. It is that good! The high gluten flour won't burn, even at the high temps we are cooking our pies!

 First, take your starter out of the fridge Wed morning and re feed it (the discard that you will bake with) as well as your "Mother Jar". Once your starter (discard) is ready later that day,(make your poolish) then start to prepare by adding in your mixer bowl the poolish and two cups of high gluten flour into your mixer along with one cup warm spring water. (I use Dasani). And one cup of bread flour. Save the last cup of flour to add slowly during the end of kneading.

  I like to kick up my dough a bit so I will hit it with some instant yeast, this goes right into the mix with everything else above. Do not put salt in yet. The reason why I use one cup of bread flour instead of all high gluten is because the bread flour will give the dough some extra strength. When you are ready to pat out your pie, you won't get any holes in your dough. Bread flour also is a high gluten product as well. 


If you have got the time, Autolyse your dough. DO this by mixing your poolish with the flour to be used for the dough, and add one cup of warm spring water. Let sit in warm place for 30 minutes to up to four-five hours. Then continue with recipe.


Making the Dough- A wet mix 


Add your poolish \ and four if did not Autolyse- to the mixer. Add one half cup warm water. This will be a very wet batter, will look almost like a pancake batter at this point, and that is what you want for now. 

Should look like a batter during most of the kneading

Continue to mix for 13 minutes on low, then start adding in the remaining flour-SLOWLY (bout a cup) over the next seven minutes. The dough should now start to form a soft ball. Increase the mixer speed during this last few minutes of kneading. Last-add your salt and a little olive oil if you like. Total kneading time in the mixer can be 18 to 25 minutes.

If the dough is too wet at the end, just add some more flour, but don't overdo. You still want a fairly wet \ soft batter. You do NOT want, at the end of your knead, a somewhat thick hard ball of dough, you want it soft, high moisture content. It will be a little sticky on your fingers once you put it on the granite. Once you hit it with a little bench flour and hand knead it will not stick at all. It will be a VERY soft moist ball of dough.

 Then, pour dough ball on to a cool granite surface dusted with light flour. Try to use as little bench flour as possible. Hand knead lightly only for a couple of minutes. Form into a ball and place in a big bowl coated lightly with a little olive oil. 

Let stand in covered bowl at room temp 1-2 hours or until it has increased by over a third in size, then cover with cellophane and place in fridge until Saturday morning. Day of pizza day, Saturday, take the dough out maybe two or three hours before your ready to make pizza. This last couple hours will bring the dough to room temp and rise a bit more. Don't look for double bulk, that sort of thing. This dough recipe is about six to seven cups of flour, of which can make several pies easily.

 Prep the grill 

Place six bricks (the ones with holes in them called Frogs) in the center of your grill and place the pizza stone on top of the bricks. Take your soaked Cherry and Apple wood chips and place them in your smoker box.

 This is a BIG factor in flavor and what separates this pie from most. The fruitwoods that are smoke on the grill while the pie is cooking. You will not believe how good this is, and it is what they do in Naples. The difference is I like the flavors of apple and cherry smoke as opposed to oak, and, I am cooking at 700+ degrees, not 900+ degrees.


The pie is only on the grill for 7-9 minutes, and it is a good idea to rotate the pie just once half way through the cooking time. Not as important here as it is in a brick oven. The gas grill has the benefit of even heat distribution. Moisture is not really a problem inside the grill. In a 100% enclosed brick oven, I can see where gas fed fire could have possibly a moisture issue. Don't think for a minute the pie will taste like smoke either, it does not. The pie is not on the grill long enough. But it is just long enough to have just a hint of the flavor.

 Turn on your grill, all four burners, and set to "high". It is important that the bottom of your grill is clean and free of a lot of grease build up. If you have been smoking pork buts the previous weekend, you will need to clean your grill prior to pizza day. You will be cooking at high temps, and you don't want any flame-ups from old grease and food trash that is in your grill. CLEAN YOU GRILL!

 The reason for the Frog bricks is two-fold. 

1)      To elevate the pizza stone higher in the grill to take advantage of the higher temps.

2)      The bricks hold a TON of heat and will help your pizza stone get even hotter, and maintain the same heat level while you open and close the grill. 

It is important to let your grill come up to temp, prob. around 45 minutes before putting your pie on the stone. 

The grill is now reaching the 700+ degree mark, the wood chunks have a nice smoke going and soon you are about to have one of the best pizzas you can have in the world, and it only takes about 7+ minutes on the grill. Remember that at the time of assembly, you want everything at room temp. The dough, ingredients, sauce, pretty much everything except the cheese, which should be kept cool right up until the time of prep.

 Lets go for a stretch 

To prepare your pie, put your dough on your  floured granite surface and pat out to the size you want. STRETCH the dough by hand. Go for a thin layer, but don't overwork it. It does not really 'Knead" that.  Use as little bench flour as you can get away with. Do not use a rolling pin.

Put corn meal on your pizza Peel and transfer your dough onto your peel.  ALWAYS test your dough on the peel to make sure it does not stick. Work very fast once you put the dough on the peel. Add sauce to your dough, then the motz cheese and toppings. Don't overdo with the toppings, go light. Add fresh herbs, I like basil and some chives from your herb garden-very good!  Also, top off the pie with a light once-over of olive oil. 


If you are going to be using veggie toppings, sausage, etc, PRECOOK them before it hits the grill. Try your first pie with just the Motz and one other item at first. You will find that the dough and sauce is so good, you don't really need a lot of other stuff on the pie. I am a pepperoni freak, so yeah, I cut my own fresh and it makes a great pie. The pre-sliced pepperoni can't compare.

 Transfer your pizza from the peel to the grill; cook for only 7-9 minutes.

After the pie is done, transfer it to a pizza tray and serve. That is about it.

 I leave freshly shaved cheese on the table in case folks want to add more.


It's Ready!! You will find that it is much harder to go out for pizza when you  know that you can easily, and very much afford to cook some of the best pies in the world at home. That is what is so amazing; the cost of cooking these pies is very, very little. Do make the investment in the Sir Lancelot Flour, that is worth it for sure, as well are the San Marzano tomatoes. However the fact is, you can splurge on a couple of ingredients and have the best pizza in the world, at a third the cost of a mediocre, local conveyer belt-cooked pie, with ketchup for sauce!

 Lastly I would like to thank King Arthur Flour for making such a fantastic flour product. I have been using their bread flour for a long time, and the Sir Lancelot for Pizza Dough is just a dream come true. Thank you folks!!



"May your future be filled with gourmet pizza for years to come!!!!" 



Since we published this recipe, we have moved on to a new grill that is better suited for grilling pies. It is a Infrared gas grill. This is a great grill for pies because the heat is more evenly distrubited across the grill and the heat stays hotter at the grill level because of the grates and plates above the burners. It also has a temp gauge right at grate level so you know exactly what your cooking temp is even at the crust level. This grill is getting 700+ degrees very quickly!

I also bought a seperate smoker \ electric for doing our butts, ribs and chicken. Works great. The reason I went to a smoker is because I wanted to keep this new infrared grill ALWAYS extremely clean. At temps of 600+, flair ups happen EASY!!! You dont want any pork fat in your grill at all.

So for the most part, I only use the new Infrared for pies, steaks, grilling veggies, that sort of thing. And keep it clean and always coat the interior with a cooking spray. If your going to be grilling a lot of pies,

keep your buts on a smoker!!


Jim Baugh

Jim Baugh Outdoors TV


King Arthur Flour, Norwich Vermont.

Suzanne Cote

Ruth Gurganus, Editor.

Sourdough Baking, John Ross


Captain Bill Parkenson

And "Mimi" 

Ruth suprised little Marina with a present for the Pizza Party,

A new Doll!!! She loved it. Thanks Ruthie!!!! Very Sweet.