The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mylissa20's picture

WW sweet rolls ideas?

I want to make some beautiful sweet rolls as neighbor gifts this christmas, but I am afraid that people won't like them because they're whole wheat.  I don't bake with white,  and I feel like you can't separate fluffy white bread from cinnamon rolls in most people's minds.  Is there a combination that you think would naturally compliment the flavor of whole wheat, like pear or orange rolls?  I'm just looking for some good ideas.

mamatojade's picture

Help - I dropped my dough on the floor... Need a QUICK recipe

I just pulled my PR Pain a L'Ancienne Focaccia out of the fridge to shape it and let it rest and dropped it on the floor and broke the bowl.


I need to bring bread to a party tonight - does anybody have a link to a quick bread dough that I can mix, rise and put in the oven in 5.5 hours?


dzolotas's picture

Hello, and a Excel that may help


My name is Zolotas Dimitris and I live in Greece. I'm baking bread for my family the last 5-6 years.

You have a great site and I've learned a lot from there. I have made for myself a Excel spreadsheet for helping me with the bread formulas, and i thing that it may be useful to someone here.

I can't find a way to post this file, is there any way to do this ?

(I have upload it to Rapidshare, for download anyway)

Thanks a lot !!!

Dimitris Zolotas


petercook's picture

Sponge confusion

I am a home baker and I have been cooking for the last 55 years. Now that I am a retiree I want to refine the art and make not just good bread but really great bread. Which leads me to my question concerning the preferment called a sponge. In my studies I have noticed a wide difference in the hydration rate for sponges. Example: Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her book "The Bread Bible" page #32 she says,"I usually make a sponge with equal VOLUMES of flour and water. This is about  one and a half times the weight of the flour in water ( 151% hrdration."  Ok, now listen to what Daniel T. DiMuzio says in his book "Bread Baking: An Artists Perspective" page #69, "Sponge is often the name applied to stiffer mixtures of flour, water and yeast that are fermented ahead of time. The hydration level of sponges made from North Americican flour is usually 60-63% and they can be fermented for 5-24 hours". And, James Peterson in his book "Baking" page 285 says, " A classic sponge is equal parts flour and water by VOLUME is typical." So, we can see that Beranbaum and Peterson are in agreement with a very liquid sponge, BUT DiMuzio's sponge is extremely stiff , at least as stiff "old dough"  Far be it from me to find fault with such professionals but it is confusing. When I make a more liquid sponges and put them in the fridg  the flour and water separates and the sponge just sits there and does nothing. When I make the stiffer sponge and put it in the fridg it puffs somewhat but not a lot. I am wondering how two very different preferments can both be called a sponge?  And also,I'd be interested to know how different bakers handle the sponge (at room temp or in the fridg).  Thanks for your in-put.

breadsong's picture

One more bake from the weekend - Almond, Cranberry & Orange Sourdough

Hello, These small loaves are based on Eric Kastel's Almond, Currant and Orange Sourdough from his book Artisan Breads at Home.
The scoring is an homage to EdTheEngineer's recent spiral-scored boule, that he pictured along with his other lovely breads.

I had some extra orange peel from making Christmas fruitcake, so into the bread it went. I used dried cranberries instead of currants, and reduced the amount of fruit and nuts to a little over 25% of the flour weight.

This bread uses a wheat sour; I just fed my regular starter with white and whole wheat flour and let it ferment for about 16 hours before mixing.
The dough was mixed with a combination of bread and white whole wheat flour.

The loaves were retarded in the fridge for 15 hours, and warmed up this morning for about 75 minutes before I baked them.
(I use an inverted clear plastic storage box as a cover for loaves when proofing - I can see a thermometer through it & can keep an eye on temperature. I've been filling my french coffee press with boiling water and placing it alongside the bread - it's been working out really well for getting and maintaining a humid, 78-80F proofing environment.)

Here are the pics. The four smaller loaves were divided at 230g each, and the bigger one I think was about 300g.
They sprung up in the oven!   Husband had some of the bread with lunch today and he really liked it. I'll try some tomorrow for breakfast.
This bread has a yummy aroma! I can't see any cranberry in this crumb shot but I hope it's in there somewhere!
Regards, breadsong

steelchef's picture

diastatic malt powder

After reviewing the now extinct discussion of this ingredient, I had a conversation with a commercial baker whom I have newly befriended. She informed me that malt, in various forms is used exclusively in commercial breads. Rarely are cane, beet or other sugars used. The DMP is used because it is much cheaper than refined sugar, in the final cost of production. Simply put, it converts starchs' in the flour, into sugar. It also adds to the familiar taste that homemade can never seem to achieve. (Not to say that we all want to benchmark that idea!) She advised me to increase the recommended amount by 2-4 times. My results have been spectacular. Try adding 3/4-1 tsp of DMP to each cup of flour. Leave out any sugar. That is 3-4 times the recommended amount. But consider who is recommending it and who stands the most to lose if you are successful in making your own loaves. The industrial bread manufacturers will influence even giants such as KAF, to direct you away from duplication of their (Bread & Butter.)

It is perfectly normal capitalist behavior. I'm not suggesting that KAF is an Ogre, to the contrary, they have big ones to even offer the product to the masses.  

Canadians know that DMP is not available in this country. I was curious enough to spend C$50 to get 5 pounds from The landed cost included an insane shipping charge. the product itself was only C2.20/lb and is listed under "Sweeteners." I placed my order through and will be happy to send a copy of the purchase receipt to anyone who doubts this.

Even at C$10.00 a lb, it is still a bargain and provides that familiar taste and sweetness that we all associate with "bought bread."

Another tip:

 This site tells you how to make your own.

hanseata's picture

Nougat Torte - chocolate lover's dream (and Lactaid saver)

Looking for a birthday cake for my smart and pretty, but lactose intolerant stepdaughter, I leafed through my German and Austrian pastry baking books. Nearly every one of those gorgeous torte recipes listed cream as main ingredient, especially the Austrian ones, requiring lots of "Obers" (= whipping cream). But I had promised Cat a German "Geburtstagstorte" with all pomp and circumstances - and finally I found one.

Here it comes: chocolate lover's dream and almost lactose free - Nougat Torte for a lactose challenged, chocolate loving, (no teetotaler) birthday girl!

Warning: This cake is highly addictive - consume at your own risk!!!

NOUGATTORTE   (12 - 16 servings)

60 g/2.1 oz all-purpose flour
60 g/2.1 oz hazelnuts, ground
50 g/1.8 oz bread crumbs
1 heaping tsp. cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
60 g/2.1 oz butter, softened
20 g/0.7 oz sugar
70 g/2.5 oz almond paste, chopped or coarsely grated
7 egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
7 egg whites
70 g/2.5 oz sugar

250 g/8.8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
130 g/4.6 oz whipping cream (whipping cream contains much less lactose than milk, but can be substituted with pureed silken tofu)
250 g/8.8 oz Nutella
200 g/7 oz butter

60 g/2.1 oz water (1/4 cup)
3/4 tsp. brown sugar
45 g/1.6 oz rum

1 nougat bar (or 1/2 bar semisweet chocolate) ca. 75 g
50 g/1.8 oz almond slices, toasted

To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Line bottom of 28 cm/11" springform pan with parchment paper, and grease.

Add flour, hazelnuts, bread crumbs, cocoa and cinnamon to bowl of food processor (or mini chopper), and pulse until nuts are sufficiently ground.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, 20 g sugar, almond paste, egg yolks and vanilla extract until creamy. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with 75 g sugar until stiff.

Fold first egg whites into butter mixture. Then fold in flour mixture. Transfer to prepared springform pan, smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Let completely cool on wire rack.

To make the nougat cream:
In a saucepan, cook cream until hot, remove from heat, and stir in chopped chocolate, until melted. Then stir in Nutella, until smooth (place back on switched-off, but still warm stove, if necessary). (If using silken tofu instead of cream, melt chocolate first, then mix with purreed tofu and Nutella).

Let mixture cool to room temperature, then transfer to mixer bowl, add butter, and beat until creamy.

To assemble:
Remove cooled cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Cut horizontally in three layers. In a small bowl, mix ingredients for rum mixture. With potato peeler, shave nougat or chocolate bar into thin stripes.

Place bottom layer of cake on platter, and brush with rum mixture. Generously spread nougat cream over cake bottom (the amount of nougat cream is enough for covering every cake layer generously. But don't forget to save some of it for the pastry bag!). Sprinkle with 2/3 of nougat or chocolate shavings.

Place second cake layer on top, brush with rum mixture, and cover with nougat cream. Place third layer on top. Brush with rum mixture, then spread nougat cream evenly over top and sides of cake. Fill rest of cream in pastry bag with large star tip, and garnish torte with nougat cream rosettes. Sprinkle top with rest of nougat or chocolate shavings. Then sprinkle toasted almond slices over top and sides.

Keep torte in a cool place. It keeps fresh at least for 3 days.


(Adapted from Karl Neef: "Sonntagskuchen & Festtagstorten")

ehanner's picture

Tartine Revisited

A few weeks ago I posted on Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread titled A Dissenting Viewpoint. Several other members have posted reviews about the book and their breads since then. One thing I didn't care for was Robertson's confusing and incorrect description of bakers math through out the book. It is true however that if you follow the directions, you will get a great bread, regardless of the math.

Aside from the above, there are a few interesting, and I would say ingenious details within the book that need to be discussed. First, I like the idea of with holding 50g of warm water in the final dough to be added with the salt, after the autolyse. I haven't seen this procedure suggested by any other authors and it works well. I have never been convinced that the salt is properly distributed and dissolved when added after the autolyse. The water helps dissolve the salt and get it incorporated into the dough. Robertson suggests using your wet fingers to cut the additional water into the dough. Again the use of fingers to cut the new water and salt in is a new procedure that is simple and works well. It feels a little funky at first but the dough comes back together in the bowl later just fine.

Another more subtle thing that the author suggests is using 80F water in the dough. It's a way to assure that the culture starts off in a temperature range that wakes the culture up and gets it started eating and multiplying and creating co2. The result will be a more airy loaf, earlier in the proof. Judging by the loaves other members have posted on, I'd say the warmer water is a good idea.

Then, the Lodge Combo Cooker. I resisted buying the suggested combo cooker and used instead a couple of my collection of DO's and a covered steamable pan that I use on the stone. That is until yesterday. I found the Lodge CC at my Ace Hardware on sale for $33. It isn't that I didn't get good results using my other covered baking solutions. But as they say here in Packer Football country, "Good is the enemy of Great". I see DMsnyder has posted about his first Combo Cooker bake also so I suggest you read his details about his use. After Sylvia and Franko showed us how beautiful their bread are using the CC, I started wondering if the proportions of the cooker were helping the spring. Also the idea of not heating the pan first is definitely worth checking out.

I was surprised at the size of the Combo Cooker. It is perfectly sized for a 2# loaf. If you cut the handles off it would fit inside most of my DO's.  At Sylvia's suggestion, I proofed the first loaf in the smaller component pan, covered with the deeper pan. I sprinkled some grits on the bottom before loading the dough from the banetton. No extra oil or parchment were used.

As for the actual baking. I thought the crust was to thin and after cooling, not crisp for my tastes. I followed Robertsons advice on this and left the cover on for 20 minutes followed by another 20 uncovered. I thought it was a little pale so I baked it another 5 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. The second loaf was placed in the still hot base with a small handful of additional grits under the dough first. The top was still slightly warm and I spritzed some water on the inside of the cover. At the end of the second bake, I shut the oven down and let the crust dry for an additional 5 minutes. I liked the second crust a little better.

The next time I use this method, I'll take the cover off after 12 minutes. This will make the crust a little thicker and crispier I believe. Here are my first 2 boules of Tartine Basic country Bread, using the Combo-Cooker.

Robertson has brought  several ingenious methods to light in his new book. I think it's worth taking a look at to learn and understand these unique hand methods.


breadsong's picture

Gingerbread sweet rolls, and cookies too


This "cake" was made for a surprise Bridal shower, for a dear young lady (and cinnamon-bun over) I know who is getting married this month.
Instead of a cake, I baked three large cinnamon-buns and stacked them up, frosted with white chocolate cream cheese buttercream, and decorated with gingerbread cookies (the cookies spell out 'Bri and Ben 2010').

I made two batches of Ciril Hitz's Basic Sweet Dough.  This equates to about 2500 grams of dough, or a little over 5 pounds. I used 3" deep pans. 
In keeping with the December wedding-gingerbread theme, instead of the traditional cinnamon filling, I made a gingerbread-flavored filling for the sweet buns. Here is the formula I came up with for the gingerbread-flavored filling (this was my second try at the filling; this version added a bit more spice and molasses).
Note: the amounts below are for one batch; I doubled the amounts below to make the amount I needed for this project:

115  grams  brown sugar
5.5  grams  ground cinnamon
5.5  grams  ground cloves
8.5  grams  ground ginger
86  grams  molasses
17.5  grams  flour
102  grams  margarine
grated nutmeg to taste


The filling is not overly sweet, once baked. But the frosting added a nice bit of sweetness; an icing-sugar-glaze for these buns would work well too.
The frosting is a ratio of:
1.5 parts white chocolate, melted & cooled to
2 parts softened cream cheese to
1 part softened unsalted butter
With a bit of lemon juice blended in (.125 parts).


The cookies were made using a recipe I found in an old Food & Wine magazine. These are seriously good cookies and I make them every Christmas. I have to share the recipe here, in case anyone is interested!:

Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups (500g) flour
Measure into a mixing bowl.

¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Sift together so there are no lumps and whisk into the flour.

1 cup (1/2 pound or 8 ounces by weight) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
In stand mixer, cream butter until the butter leaves little 'tails'.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Mix in sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time and cream mixture until it's light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

1 large egg, room temperature
Mix into butter mixture.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

½ cup unsulfured molasses
Mix into butter/egg mixture.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add dry ingredients on slow speed and mix until just combined.
Cut dough in 1/3's, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or preferably, overnight.

The next day:
Preheat oven to 350F or 335F convection.
Roll dough 3/16" thick and cut out cookies.
Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness.
Let cookies cool on the sheet until firm, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Decorate as desired...     :^)


Happy Christmas baking, everyone!  Regards, breadsong


breadsong's picture

Pugliese from Advanced Bread and Pastry

Hello, Recently, Floydm made a lovely potato bread, and SylviaH made Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pugliese - both really beautiful loaves!
Inspired by their efforts, I wanted to try making something similar. I saw this formula for Pugliese in Advanced Bread and Pastry, which included mashed potato in the formula. It's hard to say what the ultimate hydration is, as I'm not sure how much water the potato contributed. These loaves really crackled and sang when they came out of the oven; the bread has a wonderful aroma and the crumb was very moist.
I scored the boule but not the second loaf; it made no difference in the final height of the baked loaves.
Here are the results:


Here is the formula: From SUAS. Advanced Bread and Pastry, 1E. © 2009 Delmar Learning, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc. Reproduced by permission.

      Final Dough weight in grams      
  Baker's Percentages Weights Baker's
  Dough Sponge Dough Sponge Total %
Bread flour 0.93 0.8 230 198 428  
White whole wheat flour 0.07 0.2 17 50 67  
Water 0.6 0.55 149 137 286 57.8%
Yeast instant 0.0048 0.004 1.20 0.99 2.19 0.4%
Salt 0.05   12.40   12.4 2.5%
Sponge 1.5532   386      
Mashed potatoes 0.82   204   204 41.2%
 Totals 4.028 1.554 1000 386 1000  

Here is a link to the manufacturer of the square banneton I used for the unscored loaf, in case anyone is interested: (this page shows the engraved bannetons)

With thanks to Mr. Suas for this really, really good formula!  Regards, breadsong