The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
dmsnyder's picture

Pain au Levain with Hazelnuts and Currants


I've been thinking about baking a sourdough nut bread for some weeks. They are so nice plain and with cheese. With lots of family expected for several days around Thanksgiving, I'll want a variety of breads I can take out of the freezer to serve with meals and for snacks. I like to serve sourdough nut breads with hors d'oeuvres.

I thought over the breads with nuts I've made before but decided to try something new: a French-style (not too sour) Pain au Levain with hazelnuts and currants.

I based the bread on Hamelman's Pain au Levain from “Bread.” I added about 25% nuts and currants to the dough at the end of mixing and followed Hamelman's procedure for bulk fermentation, proofing and baking.


Levain build


Baker's %

KAF AP flour

4.6 oz


Medium rye flour

0.3 oz



3 oz


Mature (stiff) starter

1 oz



8.9 oz



Final dough


KAF AP flour

1 lb, 9.8 oz

Medium rye flour

1.3 oz


1 lb, 1.8 oz


0.6 oz


7.9 oz

Roasted hazelnuts

4 oz

Zante currants

4 oz


3 lb, 13.4 oz


  1. Mix the final levain build 12 hours before the final mix. Cover the bowl and let it ferment at room temperature (about 70ºF).

  2. Mix all the ingredients except the salt and levain to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 20-60 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and distribute chunks of the levain over the dough. If using a stand mixer, mix with the paddle at Speed 1 for 1-2 minutes to incorporate the added ingredients and then with the dough hook for about 6 minutes at Speed 2. There should be moderate gluten development. Add the hazelnuts and currants and mix for another 2 minutes or so at low speed. Desired dough temperature is 76ºF.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and knead briefly to evenly distribute the nuts and currants. Then round it up and place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.

  5. Bulk ferment for 2 ½ hours with two folds at 50 minute intervals.

  6. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and preshape as rounds or logs. Let the pieces rest for 20 minutes.

  7. Shape each piece as a boule or bâtard and place en couche or in a banneton. Cover with plastic or a towel.

  8. Proof the loaves for 2 to 2 ½ hours.

  9. Preheat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place 45 to 60 minutes before baking.

  10. When proofed, transfer the loaves to a peel, score them and transfer them to the baking stone.

  11. Turn the oven down to 440ºF and bake with steam for 15 minutes, then in a dry oven for another 25-30 minutes.

  12. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack, and cool completely before slicing.


    Notes on my baking procedure

  • To steam the oven, I use a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks. This is pre-heated along with the baking stone. Right after the loaves are loaded on the stone, I place a perforated pie pan with 10-12 ice cubes on top of the lava rocks.

  • I start my bake with the oven at conventional setting. At the end of the steaming period, I switch the oven to convection bake and lower the temperature 25ºF.

  • For this bake, when the loaves were fully baked, I turned off the oven and left the loaves on the

    stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.

We tasted the bread when (almost completely) cooled. The crust is very crunchy. The crumb was denser than I had hoped, although this is a rather low-hydration bread. My experience with nutted breads has always been that the crumb tends to be less open than expected, so now I expect it.

The crumb was very chewy. The flavor of the bread was lovely, with no perceptible sourness, except for the sweet-sour flavor of the currents. At this point, the bread, nuts and currents each contributes its distinctive flavor. Quite nice.

I'm looking forward to having this bread toasted for breakfast. 


Submitted to YeastSpotting


joeleaux's picture

Recipe for bread machine similar to Nature's Own Wheat "Sandwich Rounds"

My wife buys the wheat "Sandwich Rounds" by Nature's Own. Is there a way to make something like them at home?

songwritergirl's picture

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

This was my first legit attempt at homemade bread, a whole wheat oatmeal bread. The recipe is from Kim Boyce's "Good To The Grain" cookbook, and is made in one day, using active dry yeast, regular whole wheat flour, oatmeal and unbleached bread flour, and a very short 30-minute autolyse before kneading and proofing. It's a great beginner's recipe.

A short list of ingredients I used:

King Arthur Flours

Red Star Active Dry Yeast

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

Doubling the starter

I keep my 100% hydration starter in the fridge.  I remove it and allow it to come to room temp.  I feed it 1:1:1 and use half in bread recipe.  Then put remaining half back in the fridge.  Is this okay to continue like this or is there something wrong with my method?

jtziolkowski's picture

Unpredictable Oven Spring Issues with Whole Grain Breads

I am a home baker regular baking approximately 6+ loaves of whole grain breads per week.  I use Peter Reinhart's delayed fermentation method  exclusively and I am having issues with my oven spring...or lack there of.  It's totally unpredictable...I baked three anadama loaves last night and each of the two rises went as planned, yet when I put them into the oven...nothing.  The night before, however, I baked two loaves, both of which sprung nicely in the oven. In short, my oven spring has been consistently inconsistent and I do not know why. 

Here is some general information about the process:

Room temp in my house is usually right around 76 degrees

Soaker is kept at room temp for 10 - 12 hours

Biga refrigerated for approx. 10 hrs (two additional hours at room temperature to take the chill off before final dough mixing_

Use King Arthur whole wheat flour exclusively

My yeast is kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator and is only a month of two old

I use 9"x5" loaf pans

First rise usually lasts approximately 45 - 50 mins to achieve recommended rise of 1.5x's original volume

Final rise in the pan usually takes no longer than 50 mins until i press the dough with my finger and it slowly springs back (sometimes a hint of the indentation remains)

I do not use vital wheat gluten

I have noticed that when I make breads such as challah or brioche which include eggs and milk that the oven spring is usually significant

I have been baking for more than three years now with no formal training whatsoever.  In the past, a loaf here or there that did not spring was not the end of the world, however, I now have a number or people for whom I bake a loaf of bread per week and I cannot be giving out whole grain bricks!! Please help!

SylviaH's picture

N.W. Basic Sourdough @100

Oh the freezer was empty of bread.. I baked up some good old basic sourdough @100.  The recipe from the  site.  Where Teresa now has her free download book available!

 They turned out nicely, though these loaves tended to get what I considered a little man-handled in the shaping, a dull razor slashing, and some sticking to my woven baskets, the linen ones work fine, no sticking.  I will just have to use more flour/whiterice in by baskets, until I get the midas touch, Txfarmer has it for dusting her baskets....maybe she'll loan me her magic dusting wand ;) Just having a little fun Txfarmer...thank you so much for your helpful advice!

I don't want to carry on about the steaming method I've been using with wet nuked towels in the 2 loaf pans...But Oh Man, I'm so very pleased/happy with the fantastic results and especially how all around much easier this is for me from previous methods I've tried.

Mike said, he loved the flavor and this was his favorite bread...I replied....your just a country sourdough man at heart, many lovely recipes on my to do list for country sourdoughs.






                             4 - 1 lb. Loaves - one holding up the Oval loaf - 




                                                            Crust and Crumb with a little bolder bake- IMHO a noticably thinner bold baked crust, crunchy, crispy and a cracks                                                                                                                                


AnnieT's picture

Sourdough dog biscuits

Ever since txfarmer posted her recipe these have been on my "to bake' list, and once my grandgirls saw the cute "bone" cutters there was no excuse. Lily and I mixed the dough on Saturday afternoon but for various reasons we wrapped it well and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. It sat on the counter while I made the requisite Sunday morning sourdough pancakes which were voted the best ever, maybe because I used my cookie scoop and the pancakes were smaller than usual. Then Lily and I started rolling and cutting, and yes, it makes a lot of biscuits! Margaret had a good book but did stop by now and again to admire our efforts. Glad to say they are dog approved by their two dogs who inhaled them and by my elderly mostly toothless Pug who takes more time to eat one. So thank you, txfarmer, and good wishes to Ruby from the Whidbey Island dogs, A.

Caramel's picture

Need suggestions on mixers


I'm trying to buy a new mixer for bread and laminated dough. I already have a kitchen aid for everyday use, and wanted to buy a good and strong spiral mixers with a reasonable price. I only bake for my family and friends, so looking into 8, 10 or 12 quarts size for 1-2 KG dough. Not sure what kind of brands is good out there, so I need everyone's help. I was looking to Eurodib, Anvil, Univex, globe or Centaur mixers. Does anyone familiar with those brands?

Thank you..

T_om's picture

Bosch Universal Plus or Compact?

Hello folks,


I hope you can help out a newbie here.

We have a bread machine, which we only use for making bread dough which we second-rise and bake outside the machine.  Lots of people do that I think.  Anyway, we are dumping the breadmaker as it is on its last legs.  We are going to get either the Bosch Universal Plus or the Compact Bosch.  (Glad to see Bosch brought back the Compact) :)

We are not concerned about cost so much as counter space and capacity.  Our "normal" rounds have about 700g of flour and a bit over 300 grams of water... so about 1kg of "stufff" per loaf.  We usually only make one at a time, but frequently (several times a month) need to make four at a time for the kids and grandkids.

It looks like the Compact MIGHT handle three of these.  Perhaps not?  May have to make two batches, eh?  The Universal Plus looks like it could handle MUCH more... but I have been reading that the Universal Plus doesn't like to make little batches.  Is my 1kg loaf a "little" dough batch that the Universal Plus would not like?

Can the Compact handle at least three of those loaves with no strain?  Can the Universal Plus be used by my wife as an all-round mixer (batter, whipping, merangue, etc.?)

Any Bosch owners that could help us out here?  As I said, it is not the cost so much as we want to avoid buying something that takes up more room than necessary.

Any advice would be appreciated.


putneyal's picture

Freezing sourdough starter and then bringing it back to life. Thnx to Dan Lepard

Don't know if this has been posted before, but there is a terrific little video on Dan Lepard's website demonstrating the method. A boon to those not able to bake on a daily basis