The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Eli's picture

Babka, Bubka and the Holidays (edited)!

I started baking today and thought I would make a couple loaves of babka. Of course I started and didn't realize I did not have everything. I had no almond paste, no milk powder, or corn syrup. I ran to the store, actually 4 of them and not one had almond paste. Well, I decided (this recipe calls for almond paste, which I love!) I would substitue because I have a recipe that calls for pound cake crumbs. Made it home and then realized someone had eaten the rest of the poundcake. Anyway, I had no filling but my dough was rising. I made a filling out of Sugar Cookies crumbled, orange marmalade, oh yea, I was out of apricot preserves too, almonds, butter and cinnamon. It turned out pretty good as I don't like it too sweet anyway. I didn't put much in there to begin with. I made four but two are Orange marmalade and two are chocolate. I will freeze two and eat two.

I had some issues with rolling and even division of the dough so two are catywonkus in size and shape.


Babka Roll

Babka roll

Babka in Pan


Babka Orange Marmalade Filling

This recipe is based on Marcy Goldman's recipe. I made some changes and didn't use as much flour. I could have as this doug is tacky to sticky but once it bulk ferments it is workable. Great to refrigerate overnight.  This isn't a really sweet babka, I guess it could be depending on the filling.


Here is the Chocolate! It is one of my favorites too! This is the one that suffered from less dough.

Choco Babka

Chocolate Babka


Floydm's picture

An appeal for charity

As many folks here know, for the past two years I've had the honor of working for Mercy Corps, a humanitarian aid organization based in Portland, Oregon.  Even if you are just a casual visitor to The Fresh Loaf, you may have noticed the Mercy Corps banners and tiles that I run for free here from time-to-time.

Once a year or so I feel it is worth making a case for Mercy Corps and other charitable causes here, so let this be my annual appeal to The Fresh Loaf community. This is my own personal appeal, not anything written by, endorsed by, or paid for by Mercy Corps. And, yes, I'm abusing my administrator privileges by posting this here rather than in my blog or the "Off-Topic" forum.  Please indulge me this one time a year.

2008 has been a busy year at Mercy Corps. In the spring we responded to both the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in Southern China. Our programs in both place continue today with our teams helping locals replant rice fields, restore clean drinking water to their villages, and rebuild their local economies. Since then we have also responded to the terrible floods in Honduras and the growing cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe. We continue to work in more than thirty countries worldwide, helping those in the greatest need build secure, productive and just communities for themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, 2008 has been a very tough year for charities and non-profits. For the first eleven months of the year the US elections drew away people's attention from charitable activities. Rather than organize a local food drive or raise awareness of global crisis, many people worked and raised money for the candidates and party of their choice. That level of participation in and excitement about this election was wonderful but, as I said, it made it a very difficult fundraising environment for charities and non-political causes.

Now we all watch the economic crisis worsen. Many of us have watched the values of our houses or investments shrink; we feel less certain by the day that our jobs are secure. This time of year is typically the most active time of year at charitable organizations, but charities from the Salvation Army to The Red Cross are reporting that giving is off steeply this year.

Which is highly unfortunate, because this year the need is greater than ever. In most communities in America, food banks are serving record numbers of people. Around the globe, disasters, both natural and man-made, continue to make issues such as food scarcity and basic nutrition ongoing problems.

Any way you can help charities or community groups this year will be appreciated. If one of the things you want to give thanks for is The Fresh Loaf, please consider making a donation to Mercy Corps or a similar organization. Even a small donation, such as the purchase of an inexpensive Mercy Kit as an alternative to a traditional Christmas gift, helps fund programs for those who need them most.

Mercy Corps, obviously, isn't the only way to help, it is just the organization I know best and whose commitment to serve I can personally vouch for. Ringing bells for the Salvation Army, giving extra food to a local food bank, volunteering for Meal on Wheels, spending an afternoon at a local church or synagogue that feeds the homeless are all wonderful ways to help out. And while hunger is an ongoing problem that is of great concern to me, plenty of other institutions could use your support as well. The word on the street is that cultural institutions such as art museums, historical societies, and symphonies are seeing some of the worst drops in giving this year since they can't even make the case that supporting them helps ease the effects of the current economic downturn. But their closure would be a tragedy for the cities and communities we live in.

So please consider being as generous as you can afford to be this year. Take the time to think about ways your celebration of the holidays can make your community or the world a better place and don't forget to count your blessings.

For those folks who regularly support charities or volunteer their time, thank you so much for your support. Your gifts mean more than ever this year.

Marni's picture

Jelly and other Doughnuts

I'd like to try making Jelly and other doughnuts.  They are traditional at Hanukkah time.  I've never made any type of doughnut and don't fry foods ever, so any advice and ideas would be welcome.  I have a couple recipes, but thought some expert bakers here might have a tried and true recommendation.  Thanks!


loniluna's picture

Honey Wheat Braid - the one positive thing that's come from my unemployment.


Ah, the elusive honey wheat braid. Now that I'm 21, engaged, a college graduate with no hope of a job thanks to the financial crisis, I've finally had time to reach this sacred goal.

I freaked out when I first bit into it. I finally got the right amount of sweetness, the right amount of heartiness, the right amount of everything! Finally!

Though, honestly, it could have had more time to proof, but I grew impatient and wanted it done by the time my fiance, Britton, got home for dinner. Maybe I shouldn't have made asian cuisine to go with such a European country bread, but he didn't complain. Both agreed it's the best bread I've made in the past few months.

The recipe is from Taste of Home's The Complete Guide to Country Cooking, a gift from my mother. Totally never expected a winner like this to come out of it, but the bread section is really pretty impressive.

It makes two loaves, though I only make one at a time when I first try them. Britton and I can only eat so much bread in a day. Really wish I had gone with the two loaf recipe for this one!



Wheat Bread Braid

2 packages active dry yeast

2 1/4 c warm milk

3 tbs sugar

1/3 c butter

1/3 c honey

1 tbs salt

4 1/2 c whole wheat flour

2 3/4 - 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour


In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Add sugar, butter, honey, salt and whole wheat flour; beat until smooth. Add enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto floured surface; knead until elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise for 60 minutes.

Punch dough down. Divide in half and shape into traditional loaves, or divide in fourths and roll each portion into a 15-inch rope. Twist two ropes together, and pinch each end to seal.

Place in greased 9 in x 5 in loaf pans. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven during last 5 minutes of rising.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks.



It's easier to cut when cool, so try to hold off as long as you can before tearing into this mother of a loaf.

Expect many more posts from me in the future, as the job market grows smaller and smaller...

Anyone happen to be looking for a baking assistant in Milwaukee? :)


mcs's picture

plastic bannetons for sale

Hey you guys.  Anybody out there need some plastic bannetons / brotforms?  I'm doing all of my bread shaping 'freeform' and haven't used them for a few months so I figured I would clear some space and sell them off.  I'm asking $8 each, plus shipping on top of that.  The number I have of each is in (parenthesis) and I'm selling them first come, first served.  They are all German made, and the shiny green round ones are the vented kind.  They've all been used but are clean and dishwasher safe.  If you're interested, you can post here or email me at the bakery at  


Eli's picture

Yeast Rolls for the Holidays

I have been making these yeast rolls for some time now. Usually for the holidays. I thought I would share. They are very good and light.


 Yeast Rolls


494 Grams Flour (bread)

5     Grams yeast (IDY)

65   Grams Sugar

5     Grams Salt

50   Grams of Egg (beaten)

195 Grams Milk

49   Grams Shortening

49   Grams Water

* Optional - I add about 3 tablespoons of day old mashed potatoes.

   Sometimes I add Sesame seeds

Combine all dry ingredients except salt and add water. Mix and set aside 20 minutes. Beat together egg, shortening and salt adding milk and knead for 10 to 12 minutes. Dough will be tacky. Place in oiled bowl and set aside covered.

Allow bulk ferment till double.

 Remove and scale and shape into 1.75 to 2 ounce rolls. They will expand a great deal. Place on baking sheet and cover. (I do an overnight refrigeration) Then allow 1 to 2 hours for final proof. You may not get much rise but you will get it in the oven. Keep an eye on them and when you press one with your finger and it doesn't completely return they are ready.

Place in preheated oven 375 degrees and bake approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove and brush with butter.

Allow to cool. What is leftover can be frozen.

Yeast Rolls a1





nbicomputers's picture

More rolls

these are made from the onion roll formula but one whole large egg was used rather than the 3/4 oz in the regular formula and baked at 400 with no steamseeded horns

scottfsmith's picture

First try at Ficelles

The wonderful pictures in dmsnyders recent bog post -- -- inspired me to try it out.  I did a room-temperature ferment with less yeast (100 grains of active dry yeast) for 24 hrs but otherwise did pretty much the same.   I got everything to work except the scoring which I still can't figure out how to do on such wet dough.



SylviaH's picture

Photo Post: Norm's woodfired onion rolls

Today I made my first attempt at Norm's onion rolls and I also made P.R. Italian loaf.  I have only baked a couple of loaves of bread in my woodfired oven and Im really still learning to start a fire "lol"..getting pretty good now!  I don't smoke up the whole neighborhood anymore!  I needed to let my oven heat up a little hotter and longer...since I wasn't doing pizza I was going for a shorter time frame.  I still have a lot to learn about my oven's heating...I used my hand for a temperature gauge since mine is broke!  I did a lot of multitasking today.  Next time I will do only one bread recipe.  It makes things a lot simpler and more successful for me.

The beginning.  Next time I will make a larger onion mixture...recipe just covered these very large rolls.

Done...I sat the rolls on two pans...bottoms turned out browned just right.

Two batches done...I had no idea these rolls were so large!

P.R. Italian Bread...this bread didn't get the attention it needed...rushing around making was supposed to be a batard!  I want my oven to be hotter next time so it bakes a little faster.  It was very dark out and I was using a flashlight during my baking..these photos are done with a was pitch black inside the oven..and I was trying to hold my flashlight!

P.R. French bread was poked in the side moving it around in the oven....I wasn't happy with the way it turned time darker crust.

I woodfired a meatloaf with garlic roasted potatoes, peas for dinner...just before putting my bread in.   

mariajef's picture

doubling & tripling recipes - do you double & triple the instant yeast?


i'm tripling the recipe "whole wheat hearth bread" on p. 153 of reinhardt's "whole grain breads" book.

i feel somewhat leary of tripling the instant yeast called for.

any opinions?