The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
louie brown's picture
louie brown

Silverton's Olive Bread

I've been making this bread since the book was published. It's a straight sourdough, made with a 100% starter at about 65% hydration, with a pretty thorough mechanical mix, a four hour bulk fermentation at about 78 degrees, and proofed overnight in the fridge. This results in a loaf with a fairly even, but discernible, crumb, which I like because it holds the olives in place. I use twice as many olives as called for, and I still don't think that's enough. I use Kalamata, oil cured and large Sicilian green olives. The oil cured olives stain the crumb around themselves purple. There is also some wheat germ. 

These were combo cooked (550 degrees for 15 minutes, then about 25 minutes uncovered at 460 convection) with some interesting results. First, I seem to get most of my spring after uncovering, unlike, for example, baking under a stainless bowl, or baking with the towel setup. Still, the spring was considerable. Second, the crust is quite thin and crispy, which is not a bad thing, but it is worth knowing to expect this result. 

The scoring, my own contribution, is meant to evoke olive leaves.

This bread has a moist crumb because of the olives. I was in a rush to see the interior and taste it, so the crumb is a little raggy on the first slices. The 2 pound loaves are almost exactly 4 inches high.

fminparis's picture

Why no-knead bread?

I really don't understand the tremendous interest in no-knead bread, as if kneading was such a terrible process to go through.  Using a food processor or stand mixer, total kneading time is from 1-5 minutes with the machine doing the work (food processor - 1 minute, mixer - 5 minutes).  With no-knead you have to decide the night before whether you'll want bread for dinner the next day.  I use my Cuisinart and can walk into the kitchen at 2:00 PM and take the bread out of the oven at 6:00 PM. Of that time there are two windows, 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours when I can do other things while the bread rises.

I find the results identical, use the same hydration. I do use more yeast, about 2 tsp.

K.C.'s picture

Whole Spelt for cold weather starter - works every time

It's been raining for days in Southern California and that means my place is cold and damp. The kitchen cools to 58F at night and hits 65F during the day. The best solution is to bake every day. The gas oven is cheap to run and doubly efficient when it's taking the chill off and baking.

After a few chocolate cakes and several loaves of banana bread I decided it was time for a new starter and sourdough. I hadn't kept a starter for a couple of months but that's because I know I can get one up to speed in a week. In my 25+ years of baking I've never found a better cold weather starter flour than whole grain spelt.

I used orange juice, squeezed right from the orange, for the first 4 days and then switched to water. 1 tablespoon of whole grain spelt flour at 100% hydration on day 1, adding the same for each of the next 3 days. I had a viable starter in 7 days. I then split it out to 4 containers and added whole wheat to one, whole white wheat to one, all purpose to one and fed momma spelt before putting her in the fridge.

Here are my new friends. Momma spelt at the top, now 10 days old, about an hour after doubling and peaking, and her siblings below.

hortstu's picture

Why do we discard part of the starter?

Is it just to make room in the container?  Is it so we don't need to add back as much flour?  If I wanted to share my starter with others could I just divide it in two add back to each and then have 2 starters?

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?

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.