The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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breadsong's picture

Gingerbread sweet rolls, and cookies too


This "cake" was made for a surprise Bridal shower, for a dear young lady (and cinnamon-bun over) I know who is getting married this month.
Instead of a cake, I baked three large cinnamon-buns and stacked them up, frosted with white chocolate cream cheese buttercream, and decorated with gingerbread cookies (the cookies spell out 'Bri and Ben 2010').

I made two batches of Ciril Hitz's Basic Sweet Dough.  This equates to about 2500 grams of dough, or a little over 5 pounds. I used 3" deep pans. 
In keeping with the December wedding-gingerbread theme, instead of the traditional cinnamon filling, I made a gingerbread-flavored filling for the sweet buns. Here is the formula I came up with for the gingerbread-flavored filling (this was my second try at the filling; this version added a bit more spice and molasses).
Note: the amounts below are for one batch; I doubled the amounts below to make the amount I needed for this project:

115  grams  brown sugar
5.5  grams  ground cinnamon
5.5  grams  ground cloves
8.5  grams  ground ginger
86  grams  molasses
17.5  grams  flour
102  grams  margarine
grated nutmeg to taste


The filling is not overly sweet, once baked. But the frosting added a nice bit of sweetness; an icing-sugar-glaze for these buns would work well too.
The frosting is a ratio of:
1.5 parts white chocolate, melted & cooled to
2 parts softened cream cheese to
1 part softened unsalted butter
With a bit of lemon juice blended in (.125 parts).


The cookies were made using a recipe I found in an old Food & Wine magazine. These are seriously good cookies and I make them every Christmas. I have to share the recipe here, in case anyone is interested!:

Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups (500g) flour
Measure into a mixing bowl.

¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Sift together so there are no lumps and whisk into the flour.

1 cup (1/2 pound or 8 ounces by weight) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
In stand mixer, cream butter until the butter leaves little 'tails'.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Mix in sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time and cream mixture until it's light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

1 large egg, room temperature
Mix into butter mixture.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

½ cup unsulfured molasses
Mix into butter/egg mixture.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add dry ingredients on slow speed and mix until just combined.
Cut dough in 1/3's, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or preferably, overnight.

The next day:
Preheat oven to 350F or 335F convection.
Roll dough 3/16" thick and cut out cookies.
Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness.
Let cookies cool on the sheet until firm, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Decorate as desired...     :^)


Happy Christmas baking, everyone!  Regards, breadsong


breadsong's picture

Pugliese from Advanced Bread and Pastry

Hello, Recently, Floydm made a lovely potato bread, and SylviaH made Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pugliese - both really beautiful loaves!
Inspired by their efforts, I wanted to try making something similar. I saw this formula for Pugliese in Advanced Bread and Pastry, which included mashed potato in the formula. It's hard to say what the ultimate hydration is, as I'm not sure how much water the potato contributed. These loaves really crackled and sang when they came out of the oven; the bread has a wonderful aroma and the crumb was very moist.
I scored the boule but not the second loaf; it made no difference in the final height of the baked loaves.
Here are the results:


Here is the formula: From SUAS. Advanced Bread and Pastry, 1E. © 2009 Delmar Learning, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc. Reproduced by permission.

      Final Dough weight in grams      
  Baker's Percentages Weights Baker's
  Dough Sponge Dough Sponge Total %
Bread flour 0.93 0.8 230 198 428  
White whole wheat flour 0.07 0.2 17 50 67  
Water 0.6 0.55 149 137 286 57.8%
Yeast instant 0.0048 0.004 1.20 0.99 2.19 0.4%
Salt 0.05   12.40   12.4 2.5%
Sponge 1.5532   386      
Mashed potatoes 0.82   204   204 41.2%
 Totals 4.028 1.554 1000 386 1000  

Here is a link to the manufacturer of the square banneton I used for the unscored loaf, in case anyone is interested: (this page shows the engraved bannetons)

With thanks to Mr. Suas for this really, really good formula!  Regards, breadsong



SylviaH's picture

Braided Scali a favorite Boston Italian loaf

I've made this bread many times as seen on my blog, with a biga naturale, overnight fermentation, braided loaves, rolls, and just as the recipe comes from the bread site, listed in the recipes section.  Today I wanted to have a loaf ready for dinner and since I was making my usual sourdough loaves to try out in my iron combo cooker.  I prepared my biga and levains last night.  We love the nutty flavor of the Scali loaves with added sesame seeds.  I especially like making the Scali Hoagie rolls, they are just get for hot or cold sandwiches.  You can shape this bread just about any way you like, a member, weavershouse, does a beautifully perfect shaped batard scali.  The traditonal loaf is braided an very popular in the Italian Boston community of resturants and bakeries.

Just out of my oven and still to hot to slice, I made my usual plain sourdough @ 100% hydration that is one of Mike's favorites.  I tried it for the first time in my iron combo cooker.  The thing I notice most different for baking it in the combo cooker is the color of can become a very rich dark/black tinged crust with a lovely mahogany hue.  I have another 5 qt. DO. but find it awkward to do two loaves at once...especially since the pots are so very hot, a lot of caution needs to be used.  My second loaf is just about ready to come out of the oven...went right in after the first came out without any problems.


                         Scali baking in the oven on a cookie sheet




                                         Scali crumb was still slightly warm as we enjoyed the bread with dinner tonight.






                                                               2 Sourdough boules baked in my iron combo cooker.  The second one is still

                                                               baking and I will post it soon.


                                      Lovely deep mahogany color from using the combo cooker




                        Second loaf just came out of the oven, was baked even bolder.







saltandserenity's picture

Celebrate Chanukah with Doughnuts

Instead of the usual Chanukah latkes, this year I took the plunge and made my own Cinnamon-Sugar Buttermilk Doughnuts.  Aside from a deep fryer mishap, they were a success.  Recipe and story  are here:

doughnuts with milk

trailrunner's picture

Waste not/want to use that extra starter

Alto and sax , my white and rye starters, were outgrowing their containers since I have been feeding and not discarding . I did this on purpose as I need the discard for lots of other goodies. Here is the best yet. I have made this particular banana bread several times but this time I did a couple different things and it paid off.

First I fed both starters 2 x to get them really going...I store them in the fridge so they needed perking up. I also coated the 8" x 4" bread pans with PAM and then a heavy coating of raw sugar, also dusted the tops before baking. Wow...the loaves are so light and tasty and the coating just simply makes them melt in your mouth.  I also converted the recipe to grams so that consistency could be achieved for those of you that are not used to cup measures. I am recording the doubled amounts that I can halve it if you need to. This makes 3 loaves of 8x4 bread pans. 

2/3 c. butter softened ( 150 g)

2 c white sugar ( 400 g)

2 lrg eggs ( approx 100g)

4 c unsifted AP flour ( 500 g) 

2 tsp baking powder ( 10 g ) 

1 tsp baking soda ( 5 g)

2 tsp salt ( 10 g)

2 c mashed very ripe bananas ( 450 g) I keep them in the freezer till I have enough

2 c sourdough starter freshly fed ( 450 g) I have mine at 75%-100 % hydration and I used 1 cup each rye and white starters . 

1 1 /2  c chopped pecans or your favorite nut ( 200g) 

1 tsp vanilla ( 5 g)

finely zested peel from one orange 

Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy, I use my KA on 1 and then up to 3 to get it very light. Add eggs and cont. till well mixed and light. Add vanilla and orange zest and mix lightly. 

Combine the bananas and starter(s) and beat lightly. Add to above on "1" just till mixed. Combine all dry ingredients and fold into above batter by hand. Fold in chopped nuts. Have your oven set at 350. Coat pans as described above and divide batter in 3 pans. Press extra sugar on top of loaves. Place in center of oven and bake for 55 min. till knife comes clean when inserted in center of loaf. 

Let loaves cool in pans for 10 min and then finish cooling on racks...that is if you can wait...we couldn't ! The bread is so tender and light and flavorful. The riper the bananas are the better. Also store them in the freezer in their skins for full flavor and then thaw and squeeze them into the measuring cup. 

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

jameslee's picture

Sourdough & Poolish ferment together anybody ?

Has anyone out there ever tried using a part poolish and part sourdough ferment together to make white bread? I thought I'd like to give it a try.

I follow the Bouabsa recipe for baguettes, with dash of dark rye - and a little firm sourdough starter to it, approx' 300g for a kilo of dough, the results were even better. However now I'm thinking of usng some poolish (say 300g) alongside the 300g of sourdough ferment, just for a try. Bouabsa's recipe calls for bulk fermentation of 21hr's.  Is this heresy and / or insane? I'd greatly appreciate any advice.

Many thanks.. James




tananaBrian's picture

Grandma Prewitt's Overnight Buns

I thought I'd share an old family recipe with you folks, one that our family loves.  (Note that there is a similar recipe posted at, but with some important changes that make the buns worse in my opinion ...and I wonder where the lady that posted the recipe got the recipe from too?  I'm betting that somewhere along the line, someone got the recipe from the Prewitt family and it got 'adjusted' along the way ...the similarities are too close to ignore ...but THIS one is the original and dates back to the fifties):


Grandma Prewitt's Overnight Buns

Yield: 3 dozen 2-1/2" buns

Description: Slightly sweet, airy, 'touch of yeast' flavor, bun recipe for your favorite dinner or special occasion.  When rolled flat, also makes a fine base for cinnamon rolls.  These buns have a unique, thin, crust with tiny 'pinhead' blisters and a light airy crumb.  They keep well in the refrigerator or counter, and they freeze well too.  The recipe is generally started at around 4pm on the day before they are needed, then baked first thing in the morning (see schedule below).


Ingredients (sorry for the volume measurements ...I haven't converted it to weight measurements and baker's percentages yet):

2-1/4 cups Water

3/4 cups White Sugar

3 ounces Vegetable Oil or melted Shortening

2 Eggs (large, AA)

1-1/2 teaspoons Salt

1-1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast (original utilized Active Dry Yeast)

6 to 7 cups Unbleached All Purpose White Flour



4:00pm, Start:

Boil the 2-1/4 cups water and the 3/4 cups sugar for 5 full minutes.  At the end of the boil, immediately add the 3 ounces of oil to the sugar water mixture.  These two steps are important in order to achieve the light airy structure that these buns have.  Let stand, or set pot in a cool water bath, until luke warm.

In a separate bowl, whip the 2 eggs and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt until foamy.  Do not over-beat the eggs.

Mix the egg mixture into the sugar water mixture, then add the 1-1/4 teaspoons of instant yeast.

Using the flat blade on your mixer (or by hand), add flour until the dough is starting to get too thick for the flat blade (or too hard to stir by hand).  Add no more than 1/2 to 1 cup of flour at a time, and make sure each addition is mixed in well before adding more.  Switching to the dough hook (or bowl kneading with a spoon or bowl scraper), continue adding flour until you have formed a soft, still slightly sticky, dough.  Turn the dough out onto the counter to knead in the final amount of flour.  The dough should be soft, still slightly sticky but not too sticky, when complete.

Place the dough into a large greased bowl, turn over and let rise for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.  While the dough is rising, cover the bowl with a dampened warm towel plus plastic wrap to prevent drying.

8:30-9:00pm, Form Buns:

Punch the dough down, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.  Knead gently then roll or pat out to a thickness of 1 inch.  Cover with a slightly damp pastry cloth.

Using a dough blade, cut off a 2" wide strip of dough along one edge.  Form buns by cutting off 2" long, e.g. for a 2" square piece of dough, piece of dough, then turn the corners in and press into the back side of the piece of dough.  Continue turning in the edges of the bun into it's back side to form a smooth stretched surface on the top side.  With your finger tips, gather the edges to a single point on the back and pinch so they will stay there.  Turn the bun right side up, pinch edges into the back side as necessary to make sure the buns are round, then place pinched-side down on a greased pan.  Continue cutting off 2" square pieces of dough and forming buns until you've used up the 2" wide strip of dough.  Cut off a new 2" wide strip of dough and repeat.  Repeat the entire forming process until all of the dough has been formed into buns and have been placed on greased cookie sheets.  Note that the oven spring will be primarily vertical rather than sideways, so you should be able to place 12 to 15 buns on each cookie sheet without risking that they will rise and stick together in the oven.

Arrange all of the cookie sheets close together and cover with thin tea towels.  Do not spritz the buns with water, to prevent drying out for example, and make sure the tea towels are very dry.  Moisture will only cause the towels to stick to the buns by morning, thereby ruining your efforts and patience.  Allowing the buns to rise overnight dry is part of the process that helps form the unique, thin and delicate, crust that these buns have.

Next Day, 7:00-8:00am, Bake Buns:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (use a thermometer).  Bake buns 10 to 13 minutes or until done.  These buns will continue to cook a tad after being removed from the oven, so very much like baking cookies, you should be careful to not over bake them.  Remove them from the oven the moment the top 1/3rd of the bun has become lightly browned. Optionally brush with melted butter after removing from the oven.  Cool on bread racks.

NOTE: In the image above, the buns were not brushed with any butter.  We have never tried the optional butter, liking them very much as they are without it.




dmsnyder's picture

Thanksgiving 2010 baking

Thanksgiving day 2010

Rotisserie barbecued turkey (okay, so it's not bread)

Glenn (on the left) meets turkey (on the right). 

Day after Thanksgiving breakfast

San Joaquin Sourdough Baguette

Cinnamon rolls & Pecan rolls (made in muffin tins using NY Baker's Babka dough)

Cinnamon rolls, for kids who don't eat nuts

Pecan rolls, for the rest of us

Glenn makes challah

He's on a roll!

You should have seen the one that got away!

Here's the proof

Ready to bake


Challah c rumb

The challah made fantastic turkey sandwiches!

And, for dessert, the much anticipated Apple Crostada, inspired by trailrunner!

Apple Crostada!

Delicious! It had the flakiest, best tasting crust ever!

For better or worse, as I was enjoying a second slice while mentally reviewing the recipe, I realized a stick of butter actually is 8 tablespoons, not 4 tablespoons. That means I used 9 tablespoons of butter rather than the 5 T Caroline's recipe specified. No wonder the crust was so flakey!


MadAboutB8's picture

Jeffrey Hamelman's Pain au levain with whole wheat - a plain sourdough that not as plain as you think

Plain sourdough is not something I make often, though I intended to  but I seems to easily get distracted by multigrain and/or fruit breads. Somehow, I feel like one last weekend and I picked the Pain au Levain with whole wheat from jeffrey Hamelman's Bread cookbook.

The recipe uses stiff levain build which is also a good timing that I can convert my liquid starter (100% hydration) to stiff starter (60% hydration) before I am going away in the next two weeks for a month and won't have chances to feed my lovely pet starter, Jerry. I was afraid that he would be starving (for flour and water) and pass away while I'm away.

Thanks to a post on The Fresh Loaf about the sourdough starter feeding. Apparently, stiff starter is more resilient than liquid one. It is more likely that it will survive after not being fed for a while. I only need to feed Jerry a few times when I'm back from holiday to wake him up and come back to his cheerful and active self.

This bread has a pronounced sour flavour, which I believe is the result of stiff levain build with mixed flour in it (mixed of rye and bread flour). The crumb is soft, open and chewy. It's a good complement to olive oil with a bit of dukkah.  

For more details, you can visit ;


happylina's picture

Hello and thanks from North of China

Hello The Fresh Loafer(#^.^#)

I have a small oven and I baking local loaf about 10 years. I start to like the "world" bread from last year my  trip. It's difficult to get really good bread in my stay place. So I start to try baking bread from 1 month ago. My oven small and not enough hot and I have no stone board. It's difficult to a new baker to making  big hole and good looking bread.

I find no kneed bread with pot receipe. So I try to making  Tartine bow bread. It's better than before. But still not very good.  I search "bow bread" in internet and find this blog 2 weeks ago. Here many bakers make same bread with me. So I get many information about this.  I got a big hole and half brown colour bread in last weekend. It's not good bread for TFL. But It's already good for a new baker. I hope I can making very nice bread like TFL friends. oF couse in someday.

Thanks TFL friends

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy bread 

Best Regards

Happylina in Beijing