The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

txfarmer's picture

Traditional Sourdough Pandoro - Merry X'mas!

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

I have made sourdough Pandoro before (here), the process was similiar to soudough panettone - sweet starter, long rises, and thorough kneading. Just when I thought that was labor intensive enough, I came across this post, nicodvb's answer really peaked my interest: lamination AND sweet starter? Wow, that's like combining two most difficult breads in one, how can I not try?!

I followed this recipe nocodvb linked to, essentially, the steps are: sweet starter->first dough mix and rise at 26C for 5-6 hours->2nd dough mix and rise at 28C for 5 hours->lamination, fold 3 times->shape and rise until ready ->bake. Looks clear enough and the original poster's picture tutorials were so helpful. But of course the reality was a tad different ...

I decided to push my first dough to rise for 8hours, the dough has expanded 4 times by then. I feel a fuller first rise will help the crumb and rising speed later (...maybe not so much actually). Since I mixed 2nd dough to full developement, a strong windown pan was achieved.

After 5 hours, 2nd dough has expended a bit, but not too much, I started lamination. OMG, the dough's much stronger than my usual croissant dough AND not that wet. The most difficult part is that the amound of fold-in butter to dough ratio is significantly lower than croissant or my laminated sandwich dough. All that means it's hella difficult to roll it out evently without smearing butter into dough. Given that butter ratio, I knew the crumb won't be honeycomb like, however I still tried my best to keep layers. It was an arm breaking 4 hours.

Now it comes to shaping. According to the recipe link, my larger pandoro mold should take in 750g of dough, and my smaller one should take 550g. However, my previous attempt showed that 550g was enough for the larger mold. I debated and put 650g into the larger mold, and the rest (500g) into the smaller one. Well, now I know it's too much for both. Then it comes to final rise, and it went on, and on, and on... Due to the laminated butter layers, I didn't want to have temperature higher than 26C in fear of buter melting, so it took fully 24 hours for the dough to reach the top!! I felt the dough, it's still strong and bouncy, it could've used more time to proof. However, 24 hours was my mental limit for proofing, I could take no more! Of course, the ovenspring was tremendous due to slight underproof. And, judging from the pic below, 550g (rather than 650) would've been enough for this larger mold. This huge dome was rather inconvenient when I had to flip it upside down.

And the smaller mold was even more overfilled. 400g would've been enough (there's 500g of dough in there).

The good news is that all that work and time was worthwhile. First noticable effect from lamination was the flaky croissant like crust.

Crumb was light as air, with some random pockets from laminated butter

Note some honeycomb like cells near the top, from lamination

It's very  "shreddable", I am guessing due to both intensive kneading and lamination.

Best eaten by "peeling off". Thank you nicodvb for directing me to this wonderful recipe, happy holidays everyone!


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Any Suggestions For a Poolish Baguette with Added Whole Grain?

Does anyone have a good poolish baguette recipe with added whole grain flours such as rye and whole wheat?

Something similar to JH Poolish Baguette recipe.



dabrownman's picture

Christmas Sourdough Chacon - Figs, Pistachios and Seeds

We were struggling with our normally robustmRye sour and Desem mixed SD starter.  It had been left for dead after its last feeding and storage about a month ago.  I had baked 4 loaves of bread from the 80 g stored and had 40 g left and it was looking the worse for wear.


We tried building a levain using 5 g and 1:10:10 but after 20 hours there was no visible change.  The kitchen temperature was 65 F and we though the low temperature might be the problem.  So, we added 5 more grams of starter, put it in a 78 F environment that the microwave provided with one of Sylvia's steaming cups.


Sure enough 6 hours later, the levain and finally nearly doubled.  You for get how nice the AZ summers are for over proofing just about anything and everything.  Now with winter temps of 65 F yeast just doesn’t like to be aroused and put to work.


We took the remaining 30 g of starter and fed it but kept it on the counter to double which it nearly did in 24 hours.  We decided it and feed it again to get it back up to speed and saved the other half for some panettone bake possibly for Christmas but more likely for New Years.


We decided to use our revived starter to make a variation of one of our favorite breads; fig, pistachio, sunflower and pumpkin seed bread.  But, we decided to try and bake it like you would pumpernickel - long, slow and low and see if the crust and crumb would turn a dark brown color like pumpernickel does baked this way.


The question was which way to do this; the Norm Berg way, the Andy way, the Mini Oven way or the Jeffrey Hamelman way - or some combination which could be a dangerous meeting of the ryes.  My apprentice wanted to use our Wagner Ware Magnalite Turkey roaster since nothing puts a dark brown crust on bread like it does – nothing even close.


The trivet on the bottom allows extra water to be placed in the roaster so that it doesn’t touch the bread itself.  We hoped that the steam in the roaster with an oval shaped chacon would substitute for the aluminum foil covered tins normally used for pumpernickel. 

It was worth a shot and, if it wasn’t turning out right, my apprentice could always save the day, as she has taught herself to do in out kitchen, by taking the lid off and bake the bread to 205 F on the inside at a higher temperature – none the worse for wear - if you are like my apprentice and will eat anything.

The levain was build with one build over and agonizing 26 hours.  Everything except the levain, barley malt syrup, figs, pistachios, seeds and salt were autolysed for 2 hours.  Once the levain, barley malt syrup and salt were added to the autolyse, we did 10 minutes of French slap and folds which were nice to do at 75% hydration.

The dough was rested 20 minutes in an oiled, plastic covered bowl when 3 sets of S& F’s were done on 20 minute intervals.  The figs, pistachios and seeds were added in during the 2nd set of S& F’s.  Half the seeds were held back for a ringed topping around the knotted roll.

Inside at the crack of dawn you can see the holes in the crumb better.  Haven't had lunch with it yet but the sunset was nice.

Once the S&F’s were complete, the dough was allowed to ferment and develop on the counter for 1 hour before being shaped into a single knot chacon and placed in a rice floured basket.  The basket was placed in a nearly new trash can liner and allowed to develop for another hour before being retarded in the fridge overnight for 8 hours.

The next morning the dough basket was retrieved from the fridge and allowed to come to room temperature and final proof for 4 hours when it had doubled.  Now came the time to decide which way to bake it – what turned out to be a difficult decision.

After much thought, careful deliberation with my apprentice and talking to rye experts worldwide we decided that Mini Oven’s way of baking it was the way to go.  Baking in the specialized turkey roaster at 320 F until it registered 205 F on the inside was the simplest most efficient way to go in order to have the oven empty by 2 PM when the girls needed it to bake Christmas cookies.

After a half and hour the bread has spread out rather than up probably due to the low temperature but it was a slightly darker color.  We put it back in the oven for another 50 minutes at 320 F.  When we checked the temp was at 203 F and the color was still pale.

So we cranked up the oven to 425 F, convection this time and took the bread out of the turkey roaster and baked it directly on the oven rack for 15 more minutes.  At that time it registered 205 F and it was a blistered weird brown color not usually associated with this kind of bread.  So off went the oven and we let the bread crisp on the oven rack with the door ajar for 10 minutes.

This has to be the strangest and longest way to make a Frisbee that my apprentice has ever managed.   Thank goodness she is a professional! Can’t wait to see what it looks like on the inside.  Hopefully it will be a darker brown color than it would otherwise be and taste way better too - or this bake will go down as total and complete apprentice failure, if well meaning.

The bread, while flat, had a nice open crumb for so much stuff in it.  The crumb was much darker than normal and it was moist and soft.  The taste was enhanced like a light caramelization on anything will do.  I was really shocked how deep the flavor was and how nice this bread tasted - toasted it was outstanding.  Can't wait to try some pate on it.   When we do this again, we will start the bread baking at 450 F for 20 minutes so it wouldn't spread out and spring instead.  Then turn the oven down to 230 F like Andy does for his pumpernickel and get in the low portion of the bake until 205 F registered on the inside. 

You learn from each bake, like we did this time, so this one was not a total loss - and the bread that came out of it was quite unlike any we managed to bake to date.


SD Levain

Build 1




Rye Sour and Desem Starter




















Dark Rye















Total Starter




















Levain % of Total










Dough Flour















Dark Rye





Toady Tom's Toasted   Tidbits





Red Malt





White Malt










Potaoto Flakes





Oat Flour










Dough Flour









Total   Flour






Dough Hydration










Total Flour










Total Dough Hydration










Hydration w/ Adds





Total Weight










Whole Grains















Add - Ins





Figs Adriatic and Mission





Pistachio, Sunflower   & Pumpkin











linder's picture

NY Deli Onion Sourdough Rye

Today, I baked 2 loaves of New York Deli Onion Sourdough Rye from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  They look ALOT better than the previous attempt.  It's amazing what can happen when you watch the bread and make sure it doesn't overproof.  I'm still getting used to my make-shift microwave proof box.  The temp in there is about 80F so proofing loaves goes really fast.  I also reduced the amount of yeast in the bread to 1 1/2 tsp. instead of 2 tsp. which had seemed pretty high considering there is also a good amount of rye sourdough starter in the bread as well.  Here are my pretties -

christine_s's picture

Liquid Bun Spice

Does anyone knows where in Canada I can purchase Liquid Bun Spice?

I've been searching and no one seems to know where I can get it.  Usually you'll find it in the caribbean stores such as Nicey's in Ontario, but no luck.

It's what gives hot cross buns that unique taste.




jimrich17's picture

BREAD Volume 4

I do not remember seeing any posts to the well-written and illustrated emagazine BREAD written by a Finnish enthusiast, Jarkko Laine. Volume 4 has just been issued and you can access it -as well as the three previous volumes at his website:



tropicalelder's picture

Questions from newbies

Hello All,

We're new bread makers and have realized some successes over the past couple of months in creating the perfect sourdoughs.

We have made some great French bread -- light sourdough flavor -- but only recently have been able to kick it up. Our solution was to go from 2 to 4 rises in cooler environments.  Actually, the first 2 rises were retarded by 6-8 hours in the fridge. Anyway, it worked incredible.  [I had intended to take some pictures, but "poof" that loaf was gone. We're still licking our fingers.]

My question concerns the exactness of the bread recipes.

1.  All of the recipes that we have read have very precise recipes. We've found that each loaf we make is indistinguishable from others except for notable changes. How precise should we hold to the recipes (as novices)?

2. Our original starter and processes are based on volumetric amounts (e.g. cups) and most of the recipes here are in weights (e.g. grams). What is/are the advantages?

We really want to master the art of sourdough bread making and appreciate any comments or assistance.

aka John

aster's picture

Getting a nice *airy* French bread loaf, plenty o' holes?

Hi all.

Novice bread baker here. Recently I've been trying to get a decent simple home-baked French bread loaf, and while my results have been "serviceable" I'd like to really kick it up a notch.

I've been going off the French breard recipe in Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" - pate fermentee left overnight and the loaf made by-the-book & shaped either into a batard or in a rectangular loaf pan. Everything generally looks good throughout the process (though I'm only now getting the hang of shaping/pinching the batard so it doesn't spread outward completely) and in the initial baking stages I get good oven spring, etc. But when sliced open the loaves tend to not have all the variable-sized holes that you find in bakery French bread. Mine are mostly small and uniform with occasionally a couple slightly bigger ones mixed in, but never the nice airy cavities that give it the rustic look & texture.

Here's an example of a recent pan loaf. This is my best result by far - most look a bit denser - but as you can see it doesn't have any nice big bubbles. Any tips would be much appreciated...

On another note, I've noticed my breads tend to have a yellowish tint when finished, much moreso than the French loaves I buy at the local bakery. I'm guessing this is due to the flour (I've used King Arthur and Bob's Red Mill)?

sam's picture

Onion rolls


I decided to try making onion rolls, and of course the first thing I usually do when trying something new, is search TFL.   This isn't an exact replica but there are several wonderful onion roll recipes and ideas here

All the flour I used was king arthur high gluten flour.  I did not have any malt syrup, I only had diatastic malt powder, so I used that instead.  I paid attention to the recommendation by others to re-use the infused onion water in the final dough.  I soaked the dried minced onions with an assortment of various types of seeds which I got from king arthur as well.  It has flax, toasted sesame, black caraway, midget sunflower, poppy, and anise.


Flour Weight: 177 grams
Water Weight: 177 grams
Yeast Weight: 0.35 grams

Final Dough:

All Poolish
Flour Weight: 529 grams
Water Weight: 273 grams (use the leftover onion-infused water)
Eggs Weight: 35 grams
Sugar Weight: 35 grams
Vegetable Oil Weight: 35 grams
Salt Weight: 14 grams
Malt Powder Weight: 7 grams (I only had diatastic malt on hand)
Yeast Weight: 14 grams


The night before the bake, mix poolish, and soak the dried minced onions + seed mixture.

Next morning, when the poolish is ripened,  drain the excess water from the onion-seed mixture but save the water and use it for the final dough.  

Bulk ferment 2 hrs, with stretch + fold half-way through.

Shape into little balls scaled to appx 100 grams. Let rest a few minutes to relax. To apply the onion-seed mixture, I used a flat clear pyrex plate, and smushed the balls flat into the mixture using the plate.  Using a hard surface to mush the balls into the onion mixture seemed to be effective because you can apply an even solid force.  You may need to grease the plate a bit.  Flip over the dough discs and place onto baking tray or bun-pan.

Bake with steam at 400F for 30 mins or until done.


First, the onion-seed mixture after being rehydrated.  Looks kinda like white rice.



Next, the flattened discs just at the beginning of the final ferment.  I decided to use my burger bun pans:


After a while of final fermenting, I had thought these were fully proved and ready to bake:


But I was wrong, as they did increase in size fairly well in the oven.  I guess I was too impatient.  No blowouts though.  



Happy baking!


HappyHighwayman's picture

Pumpernickel recipe

Anyone have a good pumpernickle recipe for me? Sourdough starter based or otherwise?