The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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txfarmer's picture

Sourdough Panettone - sleep? who needs sleep?

Last year I spent nearly 90 hours to make sourdough pandoro. Twice (one failed attempt, one delicious success). And thought it was worthwhile. I must be crazy.

This year, I spent 90 hours to make sourdough panettone. Twice (one test run, one massive batch for gifts). Still think it's fun. They are coming to take me away anytime now.


Recipe is based on foolishpoolish's wonderful creation (here), with techniques from "AB&P", Wild Yeast, etc. Two days to re-activate my starter, one more day to convert to "Italian sweet starter", 12 hours for rising first dough, 19 hours for rising final dough. Up at midnight, then 2am, to check on the dough, finally at 3:30 to start baking. Like I said, who needs sleep when it's holiday season?!

Some notes:

- For some reason, no one, not even one source on this whole wide web, can tell me how much dough I should put in my paper mold. Most recipes would tell me how much dough to use, but not the mold size. Some tell me the diameter of the mold, but not the height. My molds are from here,  6.75inch in diameter, 4.25inch in height, and is supposed to be for "standard size, 2lb loaf". I know 2lb is 900g roughly, but that's after baking, how much dough would that be? Finally I found answer in "AB&P", for their 5.25X3.25inch mold, they use 500g of dough, which means I need 1080g for mine. Too bad I found that AFTER my first batch, so my test loaf (950g of dough) came out a bit short, but for my real batch, I used 1050g of dough and they came out perfect (as shown in the pictures above).

- Since my husband really loved the sourdough pandoro last year, he made me a "proofing box" using insulated foam boards, a pet temperature regulator, and a light bulb. Really helpful for keeping Italian starter and proofing the loaves! EXCEPT, when the regulateor's setting was messed up and it stayed at 70F , rather than the 85F I set. Ugh, messed up my whole timing.

- All sources say to simply mix the first dough until even - no mention of developing any dough strength. However, I do find if I mix first dough with KA mixer, paddle attachement, until it clears the bowl, the final dough would be MUCH easier to mix. However since the first dough is very wet, the kneading took a while

- The mixing of the final dough was easier than last year's pandoro, could be that I have more experience this time. It was lilke liquid silk by the end, VERY STRONG liquid silk glove.

- I used glaze for the gift loaves, and the "tuck in a pat of butter" method for the test loaf, both works great.

- I had 800g of extra dough left after making the gift loaves. Don't want to use another paper mold, I dumped it in my new kugelhopf pan, it was only 1/4 full, but the amazing power of italian sourdough starter raised it just fine.

- However, I couldn't hang the Kugelhopf loaf upside down, so I just cooled it upside down on the rack, judging from the crumb, the bottom layer got compressed/squished a bit.

While the crumb of the test loaf was even and fluffy, and I expect the gift loaves to have the same crumb. Lesson: don't skip the step of hanging upside down to cool!

- It took my dough 19 hours at 85F to reach the rim of the mold (as supposed to  12hrs in the recipe), and I got awesome ovenspring, so they weren't over-proofed. I guess my starter likes to take its sweet time. And doesn't care about my sleep time.

- I have made BBA panettone before, no comparison, the flavor and velvety texture of this sourdough version is a whole new level.

- The gifts are all packed up and mailed out, the leftover loaves have been mostly devoured, now I just need to catch up on some sleep. Happy Holidays! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Submitting to Yeastspotting.

gary.turner's picture

Pumpernickel -- when is it done?

This may seem a silly time to ask, my loaf's in the oven as I  type, but how do you know when pumpernickel is done?

I'm baking a traditional Westphalian version, 100% rye (45% light, 45% medium, and 10% flakes) at approx 70% hydration. Temperature started at 350F and is being lowered 25F every two hours 'til it's at 225F.

Everything I've found for all rye pumpernickels only gives ranges somewhere in a 16 to 24 hour window.

I have a roaster pan with water on the bottom rack, and another roaster inverted over the Pullman pan to trap the moisture (not any sort of seal).

The aroma test seems a bit vague, as the kitchen end of the house has had an aroma of chocolate cake baking since about two hours into the bake; and no, there's nothing but rye, salt, water and yeast in the dough.

Any suggestions?



SylviaH's picture

Peter Reinhart's - Pizza Quest-Recipe, Country Pizza Dough & plenty more news

For those of you who have not seen P.R. Pizza Quest.  This came in my newsletter today from and has been in the making for some time.


joyfulbaker's picture

DIY: Those Raincoast Crisps

Awhile back, I tried making a DIY version of Lesley Stowe's Raincoast Crisps.  While they tasted delicious, the texture was somewhat chewy and even a bit gummy, and the raisins all sank to the bottom.  Not a very successful outcome, but they were pretty good, especially with Trader Joe's honey goat cheese spread on top.  I am about to make them again, only this time I'll plump the raisins (or maybe dried cranberries this time) and toss them with a bit of flour, and I'll reduce the brown sugar and honey  just a bit (can also use molasses for all or part of that, as well as maple syrup, according to some recipes).  I got the original recipe online from Julie Van Rosendaal (her cookbook is called Grazing: A Healthier Approach to Snacks and Frozen Food).  Of course there are variations, but here is the original recipe as I got it online:

2 cups flour (I'll mix A/P with W/W pastry flour)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 C buttermilk (or milk soured with vinegar)

1/4 C brown sugar*

1/4 C honey* 

1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries or dried cherries, halved if large)**

1/2 C chopped pecans

1/2 C pumpkin seeds, roasted (I used roasted sunflower seeds)

1/4 C flax seeds (or flax seed meal or a mixture of the two)

1/4 C sesame seeds

1 TBSP chopped rosemary

* I'll reduce to a scant quarter cup or 4 TBSP of each.

** I will plump the raisins w/ hot liquid (orange juice or sherry) for about 15 minutes, drain and mix with sprinkling of flour.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  Spray two loaf pans (or four mini loaf pans) with nonstick cooking spray (can also line w/ parchment after spraying pan)

2.  Put flour, baking soda and salt in mixing bowl and whisk to combine.  Stir in honey, brown sugar and buttermilk until combined.  Do not overmix.  Add the raisins, pecans, all the seeds and rosemary until combined and well distributed.  Pour batter into prepared pans.  Size of crackers will depend on size of loaf pans.  

3.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, until well browned but not overbaked.  Cool completely or freeze.  (You can retain half in freezer for another time, since this produces about 5 to 6 dozen crackers.)  Slice loaves as thinly as possible.  Places slices on parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 deg. F. for 15 minutes on first side, then turn and bake for 10 minutes on second side.  Cool and store in air-tight container.

Let me know if you make these and if indeed they come out as "crisps."



Jaydot's picture

Huge amount of seeds and sugar...

My sister in law brought back a recipe from her travels (to South Africa) for a "best ever" bread, but I'm uncertain about even trying it. My experience in bread baking so far is limited to lean sourdoughs, so this recipe seems extraordinary. 

It's a recipe for a yeasted bread (20 gr fresh yeast), and it calls for 500 gr flour, 1 cup of castor sugar (that would be about 200 gr, right?), 300 gr water and then 350 gr of mixed seeds (seven kinds). It also uses 5 teaspoons of malt extract and 60 ml syrup (unspecified). And some salt.
The recipe basically says mix, knead, proof, knead again briefly, rise "to top of tin" and bake at 200 C.

In spite of all the sugars, my sister in law says it didn't taste sweet at all. That hardly seems possible to me...

Have any of you ever baked something with so much sugar en seeds? Will it work?

dmsnyder's picture

SFBI Artisan II Workshop - Day 5


Today, we baked the three breads that we had shaped yesterday and retarded overnight – olive bread, raisin-walnut bread and miche. We also mixed and baked francese, French “country shapes” and baguette made with both pâte fermentée and liquid levain.

Olive breads loaded and scored

Raisin-Walnut breads, scored on loader

Miche, scored on loader

Miche, baking in the deck oven

Miche crumb

Some of the breads I baked today

Miches, Olive breads, Raisin-Walnut breads

Frank provided detailed instruction and demonstrations of shaping all the breads, but spend most time on the French Country Shapes, which are seldom baked commercially. They are intentionally innovative and decorative.

Frank demonstrating French Country Shapes

Dough pre-shaped for various French Country Shapes

Couronne Bordelais

Fleur. I have also seen this shape called "Marguerite" (Daisy)

Pain d'Aix


French Country Shapes on the loader.

I have not posted photos of all the individual shapes Frank demonstrated, for example the Tordu, the Fendu, the Viverais, the Tabatier, and the Avergnat.

Some of the French Country Shapes I made


As I'm sure you all appreciate, there is no way to share everything I've learned. I have selected a few bits of information each day that either provided me with new insights or suggestions for techniques that violate conventional wisdom.

Today's tidbits

We spent some time this afternoon reviewing all the formulas, methods and theory we had covered during the entire week. In discussing autolyse, Frank recommended holding back the levain from the autolyse, even when using a liquid levain, except when the hydration in the final dough is extremely low – say, less than 60% - when the levain really would have a very large percentage of the total water in the dough. His reason is that one chief purpose of autolyse is to develop gluten with less mixing. The acid in the liquid levain inhibits gluten formation, thus defeating the purpose of the autolyse.

Michel Suas re-joined our class for the “graduation ceremony.” He made a plea for us to do “artisan baking” and, as much as possible, avoid mechanization and the use of artificial ingredients. He also shared a “hot tip” that the coming fashion in artisan baking is the use of “ancient grains” such as kamut, teff, etc. He told us that the SFBI staff have been actively experimenting with these grains to develop formulas that use them to produce great breads. I certainly had noticed the immense quantity of flour made with ancient grains on racks and palettes in the bakery, although we did not use them in Artisan II.

This week just flew by for me. The quality of Frank Sally's instruction was just outstanding, as was his skill demonstrations. The opportunity to try new breads and learn new techniques is wonderful, as is gaining a better understanding of the baking process, especially fermentation itself.

Especially for the home baker, the chance to spend so much time with other serious bakers, whether they be other home bakers, serious professionals in training or seasoned professionals, is a rare and wonderful experience.  



AndyPieper's picture

Homemade Baguette Pans

Let me begin by saying this is my first post, and I have learned a tremendous amount from so many of you.  I am an amatuer baker...serious, but time constrained.  One of my major curiousities has been how people get bakery quality breads with home equipment.  I have learned many great tricks from you all.  I hope I can share one with you.

One particular interest of many on this website is baguettes.  Many of us spend alot of time perfecting the formulas and shaping of baguettes.  But given the length of most people's stones (usually 15") and standard baking pans (around 18") I see that many of us end up with only about 15-17" baguettes.  Most of the retail baguette pans are 16-18".  These tools often create very nice looking (and nice tasting) loaves, but given that the standard home oven is nearly 24" wide, I was frustrated with my inability to make better use of that space, and the potentially more dramatic loaves that space could provide.

So I set about finding a fairly easy, and even more importantly, cheap, solution. 

I began with three cheap aluminum stove pipe pieces purchased from Lowe's.  I was not able to find them at Home Depot.

Pan Barcode




As you can see, these cost a whopping $3.34.  I bought three for $10, and used the first one for "practice." 

Make sure the pipes are not galvanized, as these are problematic.  You want plain aluminum.

These pans are about 24" long, and after you use a hacksaw to cut off the ribbed ends, will be 22-23".

The diameter of the pipe is about 4", which means the width, if stretched, would be a little over 12".  If you can find a flat 12x24 sheet, that would work.  But I wanted the "curve" to be partially formed already, and this pipe piece fit the bill.

The next part is a little difficult, but "about right" is as okay as perfect.  You want to divide the pan into three sections lengthwise.  I used a flexible fabric tape measure, and tapped indentations into the metal with a hammer and nail punch.  If you tap three indentations, each the same distance from the edge, then you will have a sort of "line of dots" the length of the pan.  Measure first from one edge, and then from the other.  This will give you two "lines" of three indentations each, which essentially creates three lengthwise sections to the pan.  Note that I used about 4 1/4" as my distance.  This means the baguettes are a little thicker that those bought from a bakery, but thinner than most of us create free form.  You could potentially try to create four-loaf pans, which would require approximately 3" measures.



The next step is the initial bending of the pan seams.  The indentations create a "line" on the outer part of the pan.  Using the edge of some sharp piece of wood, position the pipe along the indentations.  Using your fingers, press near the indentations and bend the pipe sort of "around" the corner of the wood.

Bending Pipe



Continue this bending along both lines.  From here, you simply do your best to create semi-circle rounds that will hold the baguettes.  I used two strategies to continue forming the pans.

The first was to use a long thin tool for spreading wallpaper or edging paint.  You could use a variety of things, such as a thin board, or even a stiff piece of cardboard (those of you who have a baguette flipping is another use).  Simply place it underneath the partially bent pipe joint, and bend as far as you can, pinching the bend with your fingers.

Bending Pipe 2



My next strategy was to use a rolling pin to continue the bending process.  The goal is to make the groove as near a semi-circle as possible. 

Rolling pin



This did not work that well, and I ended up just using my fingers to bend the aluminum as best that I could.  The final results can be seen below.

Final Product 1



Final Product 2



Does this work?  Well, my results are below.  I just put parchment paper lengthwise on top, and made some sourdough baguettes.  For these approximately 22" baguettes, each baguette's dough was about 15 oz.  The recipe is based on the Proth5 65% hydration dough.  As I mentioned earlier, these baguettes are a little wider than I prefer.  They are about 3" in diameter.  But they are still nice.

Finished loaves



The reason I like these pans is that 1) they are cheap; 2) they allow one to bake multiple long large loaves; and 3) they are easy to make and maintain. 

Many of the retail pans out there are expensive, and waste some of our oven width.  You could make three of these for $10, and if you mess up the first few, then no problem...spend $10 more and make them better.  Making these two pans (plus one practice pan) took about 45 minutes.

Many of us are looking for longer, grander, easier to handle baguettes.  I know that many of the posts I've seen discuss the difficulty of shaping and transferring baguettes.  I hope these pans fill a void that many of us have surrounding baguettes.  They take full advantage of all of our oven space, allowing me to cook six 22" baguettes in one baking cycle.  They avoid the problem of poor surface tension on free form baking pans or collapsed loaves after transferring from couche to stone.  In addition, they allow for the use of higher hydration doughs that don't hold their form as well.

Some notes/ideas/caution:

The bottom of baguettes baked in these pans are quite soft.  I have adjusted for this inevitability by removing the loaves from the pans and baking directly on the rack the last 3-4 minutes of baking. 

These pans are weak and flimsy.  I place them on upside-down baking sheets when using.

Also, the edges can be slightly sharp, so be careful. 

Finally, the loaves are rounded on the bottom.  I think it is possible to bend or form the bottom of the pans more squarely, I just haven't done so. 

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Italian Lard Bread, v2.0

My advisers pronounced these perfect, at least in terms of duplicating their memory. Twice as much lard and twice as many cracklings (also of a larger size.) A much coarser crack to the pepper. Just for the fun of it, I mixed this dough considerably wetter than the last. I believe I overproofed it some. Both baked covered in cast iron. One twisted, one scored. I don't think it is necessary to score this loaf, although it is attractive.

For people who love bread and love pork, this bread is a touchstone. Make extra; it disappears very fast.

dmsnyder's picture

SFBI Artisan II Workshop - Day 4

Today, we mixed and baked ciabattas and challah, neither of them sourdough. We mixed and shaped olive bread, walnut raisin bread and miche to be retarded tonight and baked tomorrow. We also scaled ingredients and mixed pre-ferments for baguettes to make tomorrow. The baguettes will be made with two pre-ferments – a pâte fermentée and a liquid levain. The doughs for the ciabatta and for the miche were hand mixes, and all the levains were mixed by hand.

Scaling water for the miche mix

Hand mixing dough for the miches

Frank had us make 6-strand challah but he also demonstrated a variety of other braids. His challot are pictures of perfection. (Mine are pictures of squid who ate some special mushrooms.)

Challah pieces ready to be rolled into strands fro braiding

Frank's challot, ready to be egg washed prior to proofing

Frank's challot, baked

Challah crumb

My Ciabattas and Challot 

Stretch and fold

Dividing ciabatta dough

Placing ciabatta on the proofing board

Ciabatta baking in the deck oven

Ciabatta crumb

Both the ciabatta and the challah are delicious. I'm looking forward to the breads we are baking tomorrow.

We spent all day in the bakery and only were in the classroom to list our tasks for the day, first thing in the morning. Most of Frank's teaching dealt with dough handling issues, but I picked up a couple pearls worth sharing.

I asked him about how levain is calculated differently from other pre-ferments. (See my blog entry for Artisan II-Day 3.) Here's the answer: It's a matter of convention. Levain and other pre-ferments can be calculated either as a percent of dry flour weight in the final dough or in terms of the percent of pre-fermented flour in the total dough. No big deal. Your choice.

Frank also made two interesting comments as we were scaling and shaping the miches. The first was that long loaves like bâtards have a more open crumb structure than boules made with the same dough. I have found that to be true but attributed it to my shaping skills. The second was that the size of the loaf has a significant impact on flavor. I had also observed this with the miche from BBA which I made once as two 1.5 lb boules, which had a different flavor from the 3 lb miches I usually make. Again, I didn't generalize from that one experience at the time. Interesting, eh?

I am anxious to get home and practice some of the skills I've acquired before I lose them.


LeadDog's picture

Persimmon Bread

We have a persimmon tree and this year I thought I would make Persimmon bread from the fruit.  First I had to find a recipe that I liked and do a trial run to see how the bread tastes.  I found a recipe at this website that I used to make my bread. The first one turned out very tasty but I thought that I should double the recipe and bake the bread in my panettone mold.

Persimmon Bread



2 1/2 cups persimmon, mashed pulp.  I put mine in a blender and made a smoothie out of them.  There was a little extra that went into the bread also.

2 tablespoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup plus 4 tbsp. sugar and 4 tbsp. water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups bread wheat flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon nutmeg 

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup roasted almond pieces


Mix the persimmon lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, water, and vanilla extract together.  Then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Then mix until all the flour is moistened.  Add the almonds and raisins and mix them in.


Pour into what ever baking pan you are going to use and smooth the top out so it looks nice.


Preheat oven to 325°F then cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Let the bread cool completely before cutting.  The glaze was made by melting a thick slice of butter.  Then added a half tablespoon of fruit flavored brandy, an eighth of a teaspoon of Vanilla and Almond extract each.  The glaze is then thickened up by adding powdered sugar until I got the thickness that I wanted.  This glaze is just very wonderful all on its own.  I then placed some sliced Almonds on top of the glaze.  I love the wonderful flavor that the persimmons give to this bread.