The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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blackoak2006's picture

Sticky Buns

I have been making bread for sometime now, and decided to branch out into making some sticky buns out of some of it.  Bread part works ok, but it is the (sticky) part that is not working so well.  I am using Pecans 1/2 cup,  brown sugar 1/2 to 1 cup, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup.  The result is a real nice coating, but it is so hard it about breaks your teeth when trying to bite through it.  I bake at 350 for about 40 min.  Any help?

GSnyde's picture

People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn't Stow Scones

My first try at scones (with thanks to Breadsong!)


Breadsong’s post last week about flaky scones ( got my sweet tooth going (and so soon after the holidays).  My wife and I love scones—if they’re flaky, tender and a bit moist inside--but had never made them.

The two variations--cheddar cheese and Irish Cream with chocolate-chip--breadsong baked looked scrumptious, but I decided to change them up a bit.  I made a small batch using her cheddar cheese scone formula, but added crispy bacon chopped into bits. 



And for the sweet scone, I used her second formula as the starting point, but instead of Irish Cream and chocolate, I mixed in dried pineapple soaked for three days in dark rum and Grand Marnier, and I added small quantities of rum, Grand Marnier and orange extract to the dough.  This was an attempt at a “mai-tai scone” but didn’t really taste like a mai-tai so much as a rum punch.


Breadsong’s formula and technique produce scones that are flaky, light and tender, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Both varieties came out wonderfully, but the rum-pineapple version is especially good.  I had intended to ice them with a rum-lime icing, but my Number One Taster said they didn’t need anything on top.   

Here’s the ingredients list for my adaptation of the sweet scone formula (for 18 small scones).

1 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp baking powder 

1/4 tsp kosher salt

scant 1/4 cup golden brown sugar

2 ½ Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple (soaked three days in dark rum and/or orange liqueur)

Just less than 1/2 cup heavy cream (100-105 grams)

½  Tbsp dark rum

1/4 Tbsp Grand Marnier or Curacao

1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Half-and-half (for brushing)

Having been warned about the importance of keeping the dough cold, and knowing my first try would not go fast enough, I took a couple precautions.  I dusted the silpat and dough lightly with flour before I rolled the dough out each time; I put the mixing bowl in the fridge for a while before using it to mix the dough; and—as breadsong recommended-- I did my best to keep my hot hands off the dough. 

It worked out well, and I will try some additional variations soon.  I think the bacon-cheddar scones would be even better with the addition of green onions. Or give it an Italian accent with pancetta and parmagiano.  And the rum-fruit scone could use any one of a number of kinds of liqueur and dried fruit.  Maybe use eggnog in place of the cream in a rum-raisin scone.

Breadsong, my wife wanted to make sure I passed along her gratitude for sharing your winning recipe.  Truly awesome outcome, and on my first try.

My thanks, too.



txfarmer's picture

Tartine Light Rye - baked in a covered cast iron dutch oven

There have been a lot of discussion here on TFL regarding covered baking, ranging from covering dough on stone with a roasting pan, to baking in a dutch oven like a no-knead dough, to baking in a "combo-baker" as Tartin Bread Book suggests. I recently got a 2.5 quart oval enamel cast iron pot at a very good price (William Sonoma winter sale is a gold mine!), so I finally can try my hand on covered baking.


This light rye recipe is from "Tartine Bread Book", with only 15% rye, and some ww, this is really just a country loaf. Hydration is nearly 83%, so the dough is very wet and sticky. This is actually my main motivation for using the pot, such wet dough tend to spread a bit on stone, before it gets a change to spring up. I have so far work around the problem by baking smaller loaves (500g to 600g rather than 1000g+), and manage proofing/dough strength very carefully, however the covered pot does seem to have an advantage over baking stone in that regard.

Moist and open crumb:


Here're my thoughts on baking in a cast iron pot so far:


- Better volume and shape due to a)more direct heat all around the dough rather than just from the bottom; b)limited spreading space, which means the dough size and the pot size need to be matched well. This is especially significant with high hydration doughs.

- No need to steam. This is less important to me since the "hot water in cast iron pan trick" has always worked great for me.


- it's dangerous (much more so than steaming the oven IMO) to handle a hot hot hot pot/lid, while trying to drop a "nearly same size" dough into it without losing too much heat. I have never used a cast iron pot before, so my head dosn't grasp the idea of "it's REALLY a bad idea to grab the lid with your bare hand after preheating it at 550F for over an hour"! Here's the damage, OUCH!

- The size and shape of the dough are very restricted. This 2.5quart one is a bit small, I have gotten a 5.5 quart one (also on sale, yipee!) online, with the bigger one I will be able to bake larger loaves with high hydration, which is the best reason to bake breads in a pot IMO.

- It's a bit tricky to play with time/temp to get a crackling crispy crust, especially with such wet dough. Here's my procedure that finally worked: preheat at 550F for over an hour, with lid on; drop in dough, cover (with a glove!), keep at 550F for 5min, drop to 450F for 15min, take out lid, bake for another 20min, turn off oven, crack the door open a little, and let the pot/dough sit in oven for another 10min. With that procedure I got a crust that cracked, singed, and remained crispy after cooling down. This is for a 600g bread, for larger loaves, I imagine more time would be needed.


- The instruction in the book says to drop the dough from proofing basket directly into pot, then score, this seems impossible to me. Maybe because my pot is quite deep, and the one in book is quite shallow, but there's no way I can flip the dough in there without sticking to something, or missing the pot, or most likely both. So I first flip the dough out of the brotform onto a parchment paper, cut the paper quite close to the dough size, score, THEN lift the corners of the parchment paper and drop the whole thing into the pot. It was scary, but worked, the parchment inside didn't seem to negatively affect the crust.

- The pot I used was Staub, the reason I like it better than other brands is that the metal handle on the lid (the one that burned off my 3 fingers) can take heat up to 500F accoding to the manual. I called their customer service, and was told it actually can take 550F. This is a lot higher than the plastic handle on some of other brands, including Le Creuset.

- I actually baked another loaf using baking stone and normal steaming method (side by side with the pot). Since the pot was covered when I steamed the oven, I don't think it affected the dough in the pot. The following is the result for baking stone, dough size is 500g, stone was preheated at 550F for over an hour along with the pot/lid, loaf was loaded 5min after the pot, so 15min with steam at 450F, then 20min without steam at 450, also stayed in the oven for 10min after it's turned off. Good volume and crust, but it did spread a bit on the stone. Since the shape and scoring are all different from the one in pot, I can't really draw too much conclusion from it, but I imagine a well fit cast iron pot would make it rounder and a little higher.

- The following is a side by side comparison of crumb, they are identical IMO


In summary, the "baking in a pot" experiment is a success. I would definitely use thise method for very high hydration doughs, IF their shape and size match the pots I have. For the other breads, I would stick to baking stone and steaming.


Sending this bread, along with 3 well cooked fingers, to Yeastspotting.

zandor's picture

Rye and cheating with Xanthan gum, Guar gum, Gelatin, etc.

I've been experimenting with whole rye flour a bit lately, and I'm wondering if some of the assorted thickening agents the gluten free crowd uses might help pure rye rise more.  I don't have any objection to using wheat (or additives that don't cause known problems -- I'm just in this for the flavor and texture), but making a fluffy 100% whole rye loaf would be a nice acheivement.  Actually, I'm really more interested in pulling off an open crumb pure rye than a light, fluffy one.  I'm quite a fan of dense, chewy bread.

Just in case you're interested in the back story, I was looking around for a way to make a cheese sauce that didn't have a floury taste a few months back and came across xanthan gum.  I bought some, and it worked great.  Nice thick cheese sauce with no flour.  The thing is, a small amount of xanthan gum goes a very long way and relative to the amount needed I have a huge bag of it.  I did a couple google searches on it, and came across a bunch of gluten-free bread recipes.  That got me thinking that this stuff might help my beloved rye rise more.

Anyone have any tips for using xanthan gum and other "chemicals" to help rye loaves rise more?


ilan's picture

Sandwich bread filled with sweet basil pesto

It’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t post anything because I was lazy… I did bake, a lot. From bread, flat bread, pizza and more (next blog entry will be on one of them).

Today, I will continue with my sandwich bread. The recipe is not so different from the previous one, but this time I reduced the amount of yeast by half, added more sugar, and changed the ratio of water & milk. Nothing fancy here, but it taste good.

I love sweet basil, and a pesto made out of it is an excellent addition to a lot of dishes.

So bread filled with it, will be fantastic to eat with a tomato salad with some mozzarella cheese.

In the past, I did add pesto to my dough during kneading, but the bread was not as good as I expected.

This time I decided the filling will go into pocket in the dough. 

What I did is basically braided bread and each of the braids is filled with my pesto. This time, to fulfill my curiosity, I went for 2 halves, each is braided out of two strands and then shaped into a circle. Both halves were placed together to create one bread.


The Recipe:

The filling:

A bunch of fresh sweet basil leaves

1 claw of Garlic

Few pine nuts

A walnut or two

A pecan nut or two

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup of Olive oil

Salt and paper (prefer the coarse salt – will help grinding the other ingredients)

Crush all ingredients in a food processor (or pestle and mortar) until you have a smooth mixture.

The bread:

-      3 1/4 cups flour

-      1 ½ teaspoons of yeast

-      1 tablespoon sugar

-      ½ cup of milk

-      ¾ cup of water

-       1 egg

-       3 tablespoons of olive oil


Mix the yeast, milk and sugar, wait 5-10 minutes

Add the flour and water and kneed for 5 minutes, add salt, egg and olive oil, kneed for another 5 minutes.

Let rise for 60 minutes

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, form a long strand from each.

Use a rolling pin to spread each strand (make some room for the filling), fill each with the pesto and roll (see pictures below).

From each pair of rolled strands, form a braid, and then roll it like a snail.

Put both parts in the form, let them touch, we want them to become a single bread.

Let rise for 40-60 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Bake in high temperature with steam for 15 minutes (240c)

Reduce the heat (180-170c) and remove the steam, bake for another 40 minutes.

The process:



The outcome:

Until the next post



trailrunner's picture

Baking/cooking supplier....fantastic quality/prices

I just received my first order from The Web Restaurant store. WOW.....they not only have amazing prices but  the order was placed on the 5th and I  got it this AM and the shipping charge was cheap. The quality of every item I ordered is perfect. Packaging perfect also. This is what I got and the prices so you will have a rough idea. 

3 pkgs of 100 sheets each...parchment paper. 4.39 ea

10" hi heat silicon scrapers 2.39 ea

6"x3" beautiful metal and wood cutter/dough scraper 1.49 ea ( these are gorgeous ) 

boar bristle pastry brushes 2"- 2.49 ea

6 qt heavy duty white dough buckets w/ measurements 2.99 ea !!!  ( again they are beautiful)

lids for buckets 1.19 ea


They have LOTS more and I am so pleased I am already getting another order together. Take a look at their website.



cranbo's picture

rye with soaker - ripping dough

I make a 60% rye bread, and I use a buttermilk & rye soaker. Hydration is around 65%; remainder of flour is generic bread flour. I knead in a Kitchenaid for about 7-10 minutes total. I also stretch and fold 2-4 times, depending on how lazy I am. 

The unbaked dough of the last 2 I've made starts to "rip" after I start to fold it. I doubt I could windowpane it. Is that typical? I know rye is low-gluten, but could I be overkneading it? Seems unlikely, but I'm looking forward to feedback.


dmsnyder's picture

What's your score?

I've always held the lame a certain way when scoring loaves. I hold it so I score using the end corner of the razor blade closest to me. (See method 1., below.) But, at the SFBI workshops, both of my instructors held their lames so they used the end corner of the blade furthest from them to score loaves. (See method 2., below.) Now, Miyuki said it made no difference. It was a matter of personal preference. But I've wondered. I've reviewed the drawings and photos in books as well as various videos (You Tube, CIA/Calvel videos). I find that, among "the masters," some score one way and some the other.

So, even though I think I've gotten fairly good results with "Method 1.," I thought I should give "Method 2." a try. Here are my observations, and I'd love to hear which method others prefer, especially if there is a reason other than habit:

I made a double batch of Pat's (proth5) baguettes.

They were very yummy, as usual.

Scoring Method 1.

Scoring Method 2. (the method actually used on this batch of baguettes)

What I found was that Method 2. felt more awkward to me. On the other hand, I also felt I was forced to score with the blade at a more shallow angle (the proper way to score baguettes), whereas, using Method 1., my hand kept pronating (rotating so the palm was facing down), resulting in a more vertical cut relative to the plane of the baguette surface.

I'm hesitant to generalize based on scoring 4 baguettes. So, I'm eager to hear from other bakers regarding their experience, especially (but by no means only) from those who score hundreds of baguettes each week in commercial settings.

Happy baking!


Sabinka's picture

Buttermilk Bread - my first attempt

This is my first attempt in making Buttermilk Bread.  The mixing and rising of the Bread dough was all done in the Bread Machine, then the dough was placed in a Bread tin and cooked in the oven.  Truly Delicious!!




Melleah's picture

Flaxseed Loaf

This is my first post on The Fresh Loaf, so here we go! This is the Flaxseed Loaf from The Bread Bible.

The only thing I wasn't completely satisfied with was the shape of the finished loaf. The error is all mine since I need to practice shaping bread (I'm getting a little better) and I think I let it rise too high. At the end of the day, it is a pretty sturdy bread that you can slice thin for sandwiches and toast. 

I used my kitchen scale to measure the ingredients rather than measuring them with cups.

Flaxseed Loaf from The Bread Bible
13 oz. all-purpose flour
5 oz. whole wheat flour
2.5 oz. pumpernickel flour
2 oz. flaxseed, coarsley ground
1 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
14.6 oz. warm water
2 tsp. salt

 In a bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, and yeast. Form a well and pour in the honey. Mix on low speed with a dough hook while gradually adding the water. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moist and have come together to form a rough dough (takes about 1 minute). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt on the dough and then knead it for 7 minutes on medium speed.

 Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for about one hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a loaf.

Place the loaf into a greased loaf pan and allow it to rise until it is 1 inch above the rim of the pan (about one hour).

I can't seem to get the dough to the edges of the pan, and its a lot higher in the center...

Perhaps I let it rise too high before putting it in the oven?

Bake the loaf until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Once baked, turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Here's a photo of the finished loaf (its a little out of focus). You can see that it flares out on the left side, and the end of the loaf is kind of indented as well.

P.S.-Any advice on shaping would be greatly appreciated :-)!

 Read about my adventures in baking (and cooking) at my blog.