The Fresh Loaf

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GSnyde's picture

Rainy Day, Bake Away

[Note: after the very detailed bread-making posts of recent weeks, I think it's time for something a bit more....ummm lesser].

It was a dark and stormy morning.  I woke alone.  I looked around.  Someone had set the clock back an hour.  Strange.  If today is an hour longer than yesterday, and no one else around, I should probably bake something.

Then I remembered!  There's really great fresh sourdough downstairs!  I walked downstairs.  I made coffee.  I fed the cat. I ate some sourdough toast.  I drank some coffee.  I watched the rain fall.  I read the paper.  I drank some more coffee.

Later, I made a cappuccino and ate some sourdough toast. It was good.


I listened to the rain pounding on the window.  I flipped through my one and only bread book (I gotta go to the bookstore).

And then....AHA!!!


I hatched a plan involving the Beloved's returning from her business trip to find her favorite bread (along with her favorite spouse and favorite pet).

I mised everything en place.  I mixed dough.  I kneaded nuts and fruits in.  It rose.


I flattened it, and poured on the cinnamon sugar (adding a proven aphrosdisiac, grated bakers chocolate).


I rolled it and panned it.  It rose.


I baked it.  I cooled it.  I cut it.


It was good.  

I had lunch of sliced chicken on San Francisco Country Sourdough Baguette.  It was good.

It stopped raining.

I went to the bookstore.  I found used copies of Bread Alone (Leader and Blahnik), Artisan Baking Across America (Glezer), and The King Arthur Flour Cookbook.  That was good too.

I returned home.  The Beloved returned home.  She smelled cinnamon.  She was happy.  She tried the bread.  She was very happy.

We dined on yesterday's soup and the SFCSD boule with butter.  It was good, even better today.  

The kitty again has the requisite two laps.  She is happy, too.


And when Kitty's happy, everybody's happy.


CoveredInFlour's picture

Bernard Clayton's Feather Bread


I made these this afternoon using the autolyse techinique for the first time, and it made a huge difference!

My shaping may need some work, but they taste and smell wonderful!!

breadsong's picture

A try at baguettes, a la Bouabsa and SteveB


SteveB ( has made some beautiful baguettes, which I saw recently on his post:

His baguettes are gorgeous...I wanted to see if I could replicate his result using the same flour he was using,
La Milanaise Organic Unbleached AP.

This was my schedule:

Room Flour Water   Time
Temp Temp Temp   Complete
70F 70F 85F Hand mix dough 10:30 AM
      Dough temperature 77.2
      Autolyse 10:50 AM
      Hand work dough 11:00 AM
      Hand mix +50g water 11:15 AM
70F     Bulk ferment 6-8 S&F's 11:35 AM
70F     Bulk ferment 6-8 S&F's 11:55 AM
70F     Bulk ferment 6-8 S&F's 12:15 PM
      Retard in fridge 21hrs 9:15 AM
      Back up 1hr for Daylight Svgs Time 8:15 AM
76F     Warm at room temp 1hr 9:15 AM
      Divide & preshape 9:30 AM
      Rest 10:00 AM
      Shape 10:15 AM
76F     Proof 11:00 AM

Here are some pics:
A stretchy dough, after hand working (R. Bertinet's method), then after remaining 50g water mixed in (ultimately a 75% hydration dough)

After shaping, proofing, scoring  (I did what I thought was a tighter pre-shape, and tried an extra roll when shaping, as the dough was soft.
I don't think I got the surface tension I needed and I had a hard time scoring the baguettes):

The bake (I messed up when loading the oven & the baguette at left only made it halfway onto the stone!
It slid off the stone down onto the steam pan below, so I left it there; there are some score marks evident on top...I guess it did a complete 360, then was a little hard on the landing!:    :^)

Just tasting the baguette now...I'm enjoying it and am happy with the crumb.
Regards, breadsong

coffeetester's picture

Bread knife

My generic bread knife is either not long enough or sharp enough for my Norwich sourdough. I seem to be crushing the loaf. The other issue is I can't slice straight. Do the ones with guides work well at all.

davidg618's picture

Day (or two) old Challah

We love fresh Challah, by itself, buttered, even jammed; but, within twenty-four hours, it's just another bread...Except, when it's used for French toast! Recently, a good neighbor and friend gave me a recipe for baked French toast, that exceeds anything I've done with eggs and Challah on a griddle.

The original recipe calls for "French bread". I've substituted day-old Challah. In my humble opinion, it's much better with the Challah substitution.

Here's the recipe.

Baked French Toast


1 and 1/2 lb loaf of day-old Challah (or French bread) cut into 1 inch cubes

8 large eggs

2 cups milk

1 and 1/2 cups half-and-half

2 tsp vianilla

dash nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup butter

1/4 tsp salt if the butter is unsalted.

1 and 1/3 cup brown sugar

3 Tblsp light corn syrup

Butter a 9x13 baking dish; put bread cubes in pan. Beat together eggs, milk, half-and-haf, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over the bread, and refrigerate for 2 hour, or overnight. (I've done it for less than two hour, just make sure all the bread cubes are moistened.)

Pre-heat to 350°F.

In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup (add salt if necessary) heat until bubbly. Pour over bread/egg mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes.

My wife eats it with added maple syrup. I like it as is.

Here's a shot of a 1/2 recipe (4 or 5 servings)

David G

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

WFO On Hold and Baking in the Kitchen

The wood-fired oven project must go on hold till Spring comes.  It is located in a very wet area of the back yard and I don't have enough dry days left free to do anything about it, or to protect it if I press on.  So, it is under cover for the winter, and I'll pick up with building of the new dome once the rains have passed.  That could be January, or it could be May.  I'll just have to wait and see.


Here is the WFO then, bedded down for the wet.


It is not all a bad thing though.  We heat with wood in the house, and the kitchen heat from baking always helps keep it toasty, so I don't mind that much baking in the kitchen all winter.  It is the 100F and hotter summer days with 75F and warmer nights when baking indoors is a lot less acceptable.

So, I've been baking in the kitchen...  I have been intrigued by the work of Gerard Rubaud as beautifully rendered on Farine, MC's bountiful blog.  I only learned of him through the tributes to him here on The Fresh Loaf by respected bakers such as Shiao-Ping, David Snyder and others.  I have baked some real bricks in attempting to emulate their success, and finally decided to back off a bit, and take it a bit more slowly.  That's more my speed anyway.

Two weeks ago I backed way off, and completed a single instant-yeast, straight dough boule using only "the Rubaud flour mix".  Instead of re-describing it myself I gratefully stand on the shoulders of my predecessors here and direct you to the excellent work of David Snyder again, in the form of his tables for the blend of flours for this bread.  You can find them here:  Gérard Rubaud formula in a single table, FYI

The straight dough effort was a success, and thus I gained enough confidence to revisit it in sourdough.  I'm still holding back though, because at this point I am using my own "standard procedure" to prepare the dough at 72% hydration using the Rubaud flour blend instead of my usual, more mundane concoction.  Inspired, I made two boules this time, although only one survived intact for the camera.  The other will be acceptable only for crumb shots since we were eating it by the time I remembered pictures.  So, first, the pictures...

The one remaining intact boule


A shot of boule and crumb together...


And finally, a closeup of the crumb.


I mixed this dough as I do my usual sourdough, with an initial autolyse period of 30 minutes followed by 2 x 40 stretch-and-folds in the bowl at 45 minutes intervals.  I then did one tri-fold on a lightly floured board and was able to pull a very nice window pane so I put the dough into a bucket and into the refrigerator to bulk ferment.  I did not want it to go very sour because I wanted to be able to taste the flour blend, so after 6 hours I pulled it out to rest on the bench for about an hour before pre-shaping.  It had more than doubled after the six hours in the fridge.

I pre-shaped the loaves into two round boules of about 800 grams each.  In shaping I learned that this flour mix produces an amazing, pillow-soft, supple dough that is such a great pleasure to handle.  After 10 minutes of bench rest I pulled them tight and put them in floured linen lined round collanders to proof.  Because I planned to bake both loaves in my La Cloche clay baker I needed to serialize their proofing, so I moved one loaf back to the refrigerator for an hour to slow it down while the other proofed normally on the counter in my 68F kitchen.  This delaying tactic of cooling one loaf immediately worked perfectly this time.  It has not always been so successful, but this time it was.

After scoring, I misted each loaf while on the peel before slipping it into the La Cloche, baked at 525F for 10 minutes, then turned the oven down to 475F.  After 5 more minutes I quickly removed the cover on the La Cloche baker and continued to bake at 475F till done (internal loaf temperature of about 205F).  The overall baking time was approximately 35 minutes, with the first 15 minutes under cover, ie: with steam.

These loaves smelled wonderful when done!  None of my other bread baking has produced such a pleasing aroma in the kitchen.  I read in the noted sources that Msr Rubaud's bread is known for it's pleasing aroma and if my own experience is of any relevance it must be so.  It has to be something special in the combination and proportion of grains in the flour blend that makes it so.  The flavor was pleasing as well, but I was less struck by the flavor than I was the aroma.  My wife disagreed with me and thought the flavor was superb.  The crust came out thin and crisp, and crackled all over the counter when I cut into the first loaf, showering crust flakes everywhere.  The crumb is soft and tender, and almost has an "enriched bread" consistency to it, although there was nothing but flour, salt, wild yeast and water in the dough.  That the crumb is not more open is owing to my still clumsy handling, but I am getting better with lots of practice. I do wish I had let the dough spend the night in the cooler though.  I'm certain the not-quite-stupendous flavor is the result of insufficient development of the acidity.  It needs to be sour more, and then it will be better yet.  Make no mistake though:  it tastes great!

Next time I revisit this I shall try the multi-stage build again as Msr Rubaud himself makes it, but probably not yet going all the way to the firm starter he uses.  I still feel the need to sneak up on that more slowly for a while, and in a much smaller batch of course.  That way I get to bake more often.

Thanks for stopping by.

trailrunner's picture

David's Vermont SD w/ increased rye ---response to cast iron bake

I have posted my cast iron bakes quite a few times over the past years . Seeing the new-found interest in Tartine and the cast iron bake I thought I would post my bake today to illustrate how well the "usual" sourdough responds.


This formula yields a very full flavored bread with a finish aroma that is rich and full of grain. The crumb is very tender and the crust is quite crisp. I love the caramel taste that a bold bake yields and this formula gives it back 100 fold. The bread has great keeping qualities...that is if no one is home  ! It goes very well with an aged cheese and a ripe pear, I just tried that combo a minute ago. It also makes wonderful toast. It has become my every week bake for a month or so. This particular batch retarded for 2 days , due to life intervening. It didn't make a huge difference in the sour but did increase the fullness of the flavor I think . Don't hesitate to retard an extra day or so. 

I use the word usual but David's breads are anything but as you know if you have tried his formulas. I have a very old cast iron covered pot that was my mother-in-law's and I have a Le Creuset . The pots are different sizes but the dough doesn't mind at all. The pots are preheated at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. They are sitting on my stone as they preheat. I remove them from the oven and uncover them, lower the risen loaves into the pots using parchment paper . I mist lightly with water and then place the lids back on the pots. I  place both pots back into the oven and lower the temp to 460. I bake for 20 min. covered and then remove the lids and bake 15 more minutes. I like a bold bake , you will note the caramelization. I have never had the bread burn or had any variation in the finish temp. I bake to 213 degrees or so and both pots give me identical loaves as far as shape/color/flavor/finish temp. etc. Here are some pics to illustrate. 

rising: Photobucket slashed: Photobucket in the cast iron pot: Photobucket Le Creuset pot: Photobucket finished product: Photobucket crumb: Photobucket

amolitor's picture

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

This basically Joe Ortiz' idea. The underlying loaf is a challah (a not terribly sweet, not terribly rich challah, just a nice one). I made up his recipe last night, which produces 2.5 pounds of dough (6 cups of flour, to give you an idea of how much dough). I think you could use any challah or brioche, but I do like the 'not too sweet, not too rich' part. If you go too sweet or too rich, I think you just get a giant cinnamon roll (not that this is a bad thing..)

Anyways. This makes two loaves, and into each loaf knead (at the very end of kneading) 4-6 ounches of raisins (amount to taste -- these have about 4 ounces of raisins per loaf). Rise and so on per instructions for your challah recipe.

Make up a glaze: a whole egg (or about half an egg is enough, really, for two loaves) beaten with a little milk.

Make up some cinnamon sugar: 2-3 Tablespoons sugar and 1-2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon (vary amounts according to taste), per loaf. The loaves below are right around the middle -- about 2.5 T sugar, 1.5 tsp cinnamon each.

When it's time to form up loaves:

  1. Make up each loaf as a loose round and let rest 10 minutes.
  2. Flatten each round out to an oblong 12-18 inches or more long, and roughly as wide as your loaf pans are long. As long as possible, really.
  3. Place the oblong with one end toward you.
  4. Paint the surface of the flattened oblong with the egg glaze, except at the far end leaving and 1 to 1.5 inches un-painted.
  5. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the painted part. You should get a nice layer, covering the dough completely with a moderately thick layer (1/8" maybe? A little less?)
  6. Roll up starting at the end near you, and stretching as you go: roll a little, then kind of tug the rolled-up part gently toward your belly as you roll more. You're trying to maximize the number of turns you can get out of the oblong before it's all rolled up.
  7. Seal using the unpainted far end.
  8. Flip the roll over, seam side down, tuck and fuss with the ends a bit to try to seal them a bit.
  9. Place in GREASED AND FLOURED loaf pan! Greasing AND flouring might be a bit much, but these loaves can get mighty sticky what with the egg in the dough, and the sugar, and everything.

Bake per instructions, but a bit longer. Say another 5 to 8 minutes. I glazed the top of each loaf with the egg/milk glaze just before loading into the oven, and again after 15 minutes.


Bake Skywalker's picture
Bake Skywalker

The Journey Begins

I have officially deemed this week the start of my Bread Season.  As the weather gets increasingly colder, I can't think of a better way to warm up the house.

Not long ago, early this year (2010) I became obsessed with teaching myself to be an Artisan Bread maker. Throughout my life I have done this frequently. I'll find something interesting and obsess over it endlessly...well endlessly may be an overstatement. It's more until I find something else to obsess about. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Right away I hit the pavement; I went up to my locale library (which is an amazing facility) and checked out several bread making books. The first two that I picked up read like most other cookbook I had ever used, listing the ingredients and then step by step directions that usually lack the critical details to make any dish truly exceptional - enter my culinary education. Low and behold the book I left for last in the group would turn out to be my holy grail of bread making. I had stumbled upon "The Bread Makers Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart, and so my journey began.

I can truly say that while most hobbies that I embark upon fall to the wayside sooner or later this adventure has transcended to something that's more a part of who I am as opposed to what I do. The lessons and fundamentals that I have learned to date have produced some rather exceptional results, in my personal opinion and I can't wait to share these experience with The Fresh Loaf.

amolitor's picture

Walnut Levain

This is a new bake of the recipe I discussed in this post.

Minor chages:

  • sour sponge was 1/2 cup white, 1/2 cup rye, 1 cup water
  • "old dough" starters were each somewhat bigger, using 1/3 cup water each and "enough" flour.

The main difference is that I accidently added about 1 cup too much water, so:

  • the loaf was bigger (about 3 pounds)
  • there was less sour flavor (since I used the same 1 cup water/1 cup flour sour sponge, for more bread)
  • I worked at higher hydration, somewhere between 65 and 70 percent (it started wet, but I worked more flour late in kneading, and some more during stretch and fold)

Then I baked it for a full hour, hence the dark crust.

Also, I chopped some of the nuts fairly fine to get more nut distribution throughout the bread. The purple coloration of the crumb is more thorough and even, but not up to Acme Bakery standard yet! This loaf is outstanding with jam, especially toasted.