The Fresh Loaf

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Mission Fig Almond & Medjool Date Cashew Sourdough

Here are some sourdough loaves of Mission Fig Almond Anise & Medjool Date Cashew.

These are all rifts of Nancy Silverton's Fig Anise Bread from The Breads of the La Brea Bakery. In the fig bread, I add about 1.5x her quantity of figs and honey-roasted almonds. In the date bread, I add about 1.5x her quantity of medjool dates and roasted cashews. In both, I adjust the hydration as necessary.

1. Ingredients for Mission Fig Almond Anise


2.  Ingredients for Mission Fig Almond Anise


3.  Ingredients for Medjool Date Cashew


4. Shaping the loaves was quite the task. I didn't adjust the hydration well enough, so incorporating the nuts and dried fruit into the loaves by hand was quite the task.


5. A shaped Mission Fig Almond Loaf


6. About to shape a Medjool Date Cashew Loaf


7. All loaves in their brotforms. Giving them ~30 minutes to rise before putting them into the refrigerator for an long, overnight retardation.


8. One of the boules after retardation. These loaves don't rise much during bulk ferment, retardation, or proofing. The final loaves are dense and chewy (with crunchy nuts). No sherry vinegar was used in the making of these breads. ;)


9. These are the final Medjool Date Cashew Loaves. The fig are in the background.


10. A fig loaf with some surface detail. (I didn't mean for it to look like a Masonic symbol, but that's what a couple people told me it looks like.)


11. All the loaves together, ready for the their photoshoot (and surely dreading their future fate as hiking food–they keep forever, so I take loaves with me into the mountains when I go camping/hiking).

(Sorry, but I forgot to take shots of the crumb. I slice them very thinly, like biscotti. The crumb is dense and filled with nuts and dried fruit.)

rolls's picture

ensaimadas, so much easier than croissants!

finally made these today, and am so so pleased with myself, lol :D

hope you will try, its a gorgeous recipe, soft and flaky and there's so much you could do with it. i reckon some jam and cream would go nicely with it also.


dawkins's picture

My *attempt* at Levine's Divine Speculaas Rolls

After seeing these amazing looking rolls posted by Freerk ...

...I couldn't help but try making them. Unfortunately, I didn't do justice to the recipe - mine are more style than substance, thanks to some foolish tweaks.

First off, I love the shaping technique - absolutely beautiful. Mine are a bit more clover leaf/hearts looking, and irregular, but I still like it. Now - onto my less successful modifications! As I can't buy aniseed around here, I thought I'd swap the speculaas spices (which sound gorgeous) for some mixed spice, your traditional British Christmas spice mix. The spice taste was pretty mild in the finished rolls though, so I think for mixed spice you definitely need to add much more - Freerk did suggest upping the spice, but with a clove-phobe of a boyfriend, I was a bit wary (more fool me).

My next tweaks were solely based on using what I had/being too cold and lazy to go the shops. :o) I added a couple of drops of lemon oil instead of lemon zest, which came through nicely in the marzipan. Unfortunately, while the dough was rising I used up my last egg in some biscotti, so I only had about half a teaspoon left to mix in with the marzipan. I'm guessing this is why it sort of boiled out a bit rather than setting up more.

Finally, for some reason (probably my somewhat erratic oven) the rolls weren't browning after 15 minutes like the original ones in the photo, so I left them in for another 5-8 minutes. The result: nice and brown but sadly a little bit dry, of course - foolish me! I'm wondering if I can brush them with melted butter or something maybe to moisten them a little...

Anyhow, don't get me wrong: I'd say my efforts tasted about 6 or 7 out of 10, whereas those originals looked like a definite 10 out of 10 to me! What I'm loving about this site is all the inspiration and the chances to practice, experiment and learn from my mistakes, so set backs like this are just getting me thinking... I'm imagining a walnut and honey paste filling, or a pesto style filling, or some kind of hard cheese and spinach, or tapenade....

Dwayne's picture

Help - How did they do this?



Well it is the catalog season and our mail box is stuffed with them.  We got one from Norm Thompson and it had a "Slovenian Potica Coffee Cake" in it.  The picture of it looks terrific but I can not figure out how they did it.  Maybe one of you know the trick.  I could not grab the image and put it here so here is the link:


Thanks for any help.  I would like to alter my cinnamon rolls to look like these.


Thanks, Dwayne

Mike Como's picture
Mike Como

sourdough starter method

this is an excellent article using purple cabbage of all things to make a great sourdough starter.  I plan to try it next time I'm at the store looking at cabbage!  found on  .........................

varda's picture

Hamelman Mixed Sourdough Starters and Sourdough Pugliese


Several months ago there were a slew of great posts on breads with rye starters - Khalid, Arlo, Syd, Lumos and I've probably missed some.   I didn't have a rye sourdough starter, so I bookmarked a bunch of these posts and forgot about it.  Then I made a rye sourdough starter so I could make Whitley's Russian Rye, but it was only when Joyfulbaker posted on Hamelman's mixed starter formula (p. 162 of Bread) that I realized I could make it with my new rye starter.   In doing so, I found I had extra high hydration wheat starter, which looked so nice I didn't want to throw it out.   So I adapted the Pugliese recently posted by Sylvia to use starter instead of poolish.  

Although it changes the character of the bread, I think the adapted version works pretty well. 

The Hamelman is a delicious, balanced formula.   I tweaked it by swapping out a little of the bread flour for whole wheat.   Other than that I followed instructions.  

Formula for Sourdough Pugliese:
































Mix all but salt and autolyse for 40 minutes.   Add salt.   Mix for several minutes in the bowl by scooping dough from the edges to the middle.  Stretch and fold on counter 3 times in half hour intervals.   Continue bulk ferment for 1 hour after last stretch and fold.    Shape into boule and proof upside down in bowl.   Bake at 450 for 15 minutes with steam, 30 minutes without. 


breadsong's picture

Cranberry Ginger Bread - a work in progress

We stopped in at Mix The Bakery in Vancouver awhile back and picked up a loaf of their Cranberry Ginger bread.
This bread was delicious! (I wish I'd taken a picture of it).
Thinking about holiday 'gifts from the kitchen', I thought of this bakery's wonderful Cranberry Ginger bread.
This is a first try at making this bread, using some local, fresh cranberries and ground ginger (along with a bit of lemon zest) for flavor; if I can get this loaf to the point where it tastes like the bakery's, I'll be happy to give this bread to friends and family this holiday season!
The stenciling is for Susan at WildYeast and her upcoming Holiday Edition :^)

Cranberries were popping out all over the place, giving this loaf a bumpy appearance, and the cranberry is bright, bright red in the crumb:

                                                                                                         beautiful, local cranberries :^)

These cranberries were juicy, and the first slice didn't slice all that cleanly;
here's the next one, looks a little bit better than the first?                                                                  

I tossed the cranberries in sugar prior to mixing them into the dough, but even still, these berries are tart!
A little bit of honey on this bread brings the flavors into balance nicely; but the next time I make this, I will try dried, sweetened cranberries in place of fresh.
The ginger flavor is faintly there in the background, so next time I may add some finely chopped fresh, or candied ginger, in addition to the ground ginger. I remember distinctly tasting ginger in Mix The Bakery's loaf; it tasted really good but was not overpowering, so it will take a little bit of tweaking in the next attempt.

I used some locally-grown whole wheat flour in the poolish and levain, and was so happy with the flavor
this contributed to the loaf!

Happy baking, and wishing everyone the best this holiday season,
:^) from breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting for Susan's Holiday Edition :^)


Carb Junkie's picture
Carb Junkie

Running new bread machine empty before using to make bread?


I have just purchased a West Bend High-Rise Horizontal breadmaker through Amazon.  I bought it because of the many good reviews.  A few of the reviews said that one should run the breadmaker through a whole cycle while the pan is empty, prior to baking any bread!  Has anyone heard of this practice?  It is not mentioned in the manual.

Thank you!

varda's picture

Syd's White Sandwich Bread

White sandwich bread may not be as exciting as many but it sure is delicious.   Especially following Syd's poolish formula.    I have made this several times but never felt I had the proper pan for it.   Fortunately my  husband came through for my birthday.    I completely stopped buying bread and bagels from the supermarket after I started baking two years ago, with the exception of sandwich bread - industrial varieties of which can be quite good.    That may have to stop.   This bread is bursting with flavor unknown even to Pepperidge Farm.   Syd's instructions are clear and simple.   Thank you Syd (wherever you are.)  




leenaud's picture

Artisan or Rustic bread

What is a fool proof way to make a high % hydration loaf with large irregular holes. I've tried a lot of recipes, some of Peter Reinhart and also Jeffrey Hamelman, but so far no luck. Thanks in advance for any feedback