The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dmsnyder's picture

Greenstein's Pumpernickel

Jewish pumpernickel is one of my favorite breads. I have made it only a couple times before, once from Greenstein's recipe in "Sectets of a Jewish Baker" and once from Reinhart's recipe in BBA. But I've never really followed Greenstein's recipe to the letter, because I've never had any stale rye bread with which to make altus.  Well, a few weeks ago, I put what was left of a loaf of Greenstein's Sour Rye bread in the freezer with which to make altus, and this weekend I made "real" Jewish Pumpernickel using altus, pumpernickel flour and first clear flour.

For those not in the know, altus is stale rye bread with the crust cut off, cut into cubes and soaked in water, then wrung out and incorporated into the dough of a new loaf of rye or pumpernickel. It is said to have a beneficial effect on the texture of the bread, and my experience certainly corroborates this.

 Greenstein uses cold water and lets the altus soak overnight. My schedule did not permit this so I used hot water, and it saturated the rye bread cubes in 10 minutes. Wringing it out only resulted in first degree burns.

 Greenstein's Pumpernickel

Greenstein's Pumpernickel

I'm not uploading a "crumb shot." The crumb was very handsome, but it was the texture that was remarkable. It was a bit chewy but with a "creamy" mouth feel. It was simply the best pumpernickel of this type I have every had the pleasure of eating.

My idea of a good time is a slice of this bread, smeared with cream cheese and eaten with eggs scrambled in slightly browned butter. It's pretty darn good with a slice of lox, too.

 Anyone into baking Jewish rye breads who hasn't made Greenstein's Pumpernickel using the ingredients he specifies is missing a real treat!


mcs's picture

a kneading and folding video

This is another video that my wife and I put together on kneading and folding. Just a little more detail than the PSB video with some commentary. Hope you guys like it.

KipperCat's picture

A Questionable 5 Minute Loaf

This isn't a question about the book, more about an experiment I conducted. The 2nd time I baked from the master formula, I disregarded the instructions. I didn't expect great bread, but was very surprised at the near total loss of flavor. I was doing this shape for fun, and simply used this dough because it was there. I'm not asking how to make this and have it turn out right, I'm just perplexed at why the flavor was so impacted.

I took an 18 oz chunk of dough cold from the fridge. I don't remember if I did any folding, but rolled it under my hands to make a very long piece, then shaped it as shown. I did let it rest a few times when rolling it longer. When it was fully risen (and jiggly) I slashed it deeply right down the center. I probably should have given it several diagonal slashes instead, more like a baguette.

The resulting crumb had mostly small, even holes, but the bread had no flavor. This is the same batch of dough that had produced wonderful rolls the day before. I'm very curious why the taste was destroyed. Is the rough handling enough to do that? Is the gas in the nice large dough bubbles necessary to flavor the bread while baking?


bwraith's picture

Accidental Sourdough Starter

As I conducted my home ash content tests during the latest home milling and sifting session, a sourdough starter was accidentally started. The home ash content test involves mixing 5 grams of flour with 100 grams of distilled water, stirring it periodically, and measuring the conductivity of the water until it stabilizes, about 24 hours later. All of that time was spent at about 69F, the temperature of my kitchen in the winter. I noticed a familiar smell, something like yogurt, that was reminiscent of the early stages of some of the starter staring experiments I have conducted in the past. The pH was measured and, sure enough it was around 3.4 for all the jars I was testing, even though the jars had various flours including Heartland Mill AP, Golden Buffalo, and whole wheat, as well as various flours from my milling and sifting experiment.

Since the jars appeared to have fermentation activity in them, I decided to give a try at starting one up. After stirring up the slurry in the Golden Buffalo jar, 20 grams of it was mixed with 30 grams of flour to form a fairly firm dough, which was then placed on a shelf above my coffee machine with a temperature of about 79F. It was left there for 24 hours at the end of which it had risen slightly in volume and still had a bit of a sour milk or yogurt smell.

The culture at the end of 24 hours (48 hours from when the first 5 grams was mixed with water) was fed again by taking 5 grams of the culture and mixing it with 22g or Poland Springs water and 28g of KA AP flour. It was placed at 79F above the coffee machine for another 24 hours, and the result was that it had doubled in volume and was beginning to smell more tangy and vinegary like a typical mature sourdough starter. The consistency was a little runny with small bubbles, but it clearly seemed a little closer to a ripe, healthy sourdough starter than it was the day before.

The culture was again fed the same way and returned for another 24 hours to the 79F shelf above the coffee machine. It had risen by about 4x, smelled like a normal sourdough starter, and had the usual consistency of a somewhat ripe firm sourdough starter.

I'm sure it is ready to be used to make some bread. After starting so many of these starters in the last few years in various experiments, I know what a healthy one is like. It went so smoothly, it seemed worth mentioning, as it is a little different from the usual recipes.

To summarize this accidental process:

Day 1:

Mix 5 grams of very fresh whole wheat flour (or maybe white flour, as the Heartland Mill AP smelled much the same, though less intense) with 100 grams of distilled water (saves any trouble with chlorine, alkalinity or other problems with water), stir, and let sit, covered, at room temperature (I imagine at 79F would work, too) for 24 hours, stirring or swirling periodically.

Day 2:

Stir up the water and flour mixture and take 20 grams of it and place in a clean jar. Add 30 grams of white flour, stir into a thick paste or a firm dough, and let sit at around 79F (probably room temperature would also work, though it might take several more days, depending on how cold it is) for 24 hours.

Day 3 and beyond:

Feed the culture by taking 5 grams of the culture, mix with 20 grams of water and 28 grams of white flour. Let sit for 24 hours at 79F.

Probably you don't need distilled water anymore, in fact it may not be needed at all at the beginning either. It may be good to avoid chlorinated water. I use bottled water without any problems, but my well water is surprisingly alkaline and it seems to have been the cause of some problems with starting starters I've experienced in the past.

The culture should be ready when it no longer turns runny after rising by more than about 3x and has large bubbles in it if you cut into it with a spoon. With the feeding above, it should rise by more than 2x in about 4.5 hours at 79F, about 5.5 hours at 74F, or about 7.5 hours at 69F.

It might take several days longer, but this worked for me faster than any method I've tried in the past.

I suppose it's just a lucky but rare event, but it seemed like every single jar in all these home ash content measurements I've been doing have a very similar smell after 24 hours. I wouldn't be surprised if any of them would have started up by just feeding them.

It's also possible that some sort of cross contamination with my active starter occured, except I did these by mixing distilled water poured from a container that I believe couldn't possibly have had any contamination from my active starters. Also, I only stirred by swirling the jars and didn't use any stirrer or whisk. I did use a fork on subsequent days, but that fork had been through the dishwasher and never used to stir my active sourdough starter. I suppose the jar I used may have somehow had some residue of an active starter in it, but I had recently thoroughly cleaned the jars used in these experiments with soap and hot water.

Anyway, I'd be curious if anyone else gives this a try and it works for them, if you're curious to try it. The things that's a little different about this method from what I've read about or tried in the past is the very high initial hydration (2000%) at room temperature followed by immediate conversion to a firm white starter at a fairly warm 79F. I wonder if there is some unexpected advantage to this method.


qahtan's picture

my "recipes

my way for variety breads

When I make bread I do not go rigidly by amounts in a recipe.
I use a DLX, and I use bottled water, some times I use 2 bottles
some times 1 and what ever is left in another one.
I add part of the flour enough to mix in a tablespoon of sugar
and about 1 inch cube of fresh yeast that I crumple into the
water /flour,
I then add almost enough more flour to give me a nice dough, adding
a good 1/4 cup soft butter, mix that in, then 1 1/2 teaspoons salt,
and enough flour to give me the right feel of dough.
I then remove from the bowl, hand knead on floured counter to a
nice smooth round ball, place in oiled bowl, spray with water, cover
and let rise.
Then I knock it back, and bake as however I want it, maybe loaf
pans with 20 ounces in, or Pullman with 30 ounces, or bread rolls or
maybe free form. sweet buns, hot cross buns etc
I have been making bread for many many years, also a wide variety
of it.
To me bread is not an exact science, I enjoy bread baking, well any
baking from scratch. Also I have shown many friends how to make
bread, oh and also pastry. ;-))
I believe that bread takes it own sweet time to rise.
As I said I use a DLX, before that I used a Cuisinart Pro 7 food
processor, before that a Kenwood mixer, I have a K A mixer but it
really is not for breads etc.
I do mill my whole wheat flour. I some times add grated cheese to my dough, swap flours IE whole wheat,

 multi grain, add raisins etc and more sugar, or walnuts and walnut oil, the list is endless

all kinds of ways to give me a difference in flavour, and ofcourse different shapes. ;-)))) qahtan


cookatheart's picture

Newbie here from Denver with a question

First of all I have to say I love this site! I could probably spend all week on here! Alas my family would miss me prolly! =) Anyways, I'm brand new to bread baking and have had a few okay attempts at making some loaves. My first two were okay as I think I had killed off much of my yeast with water that was too warm....ooops, but tasted good. My last loaf I made 100% Whole Wheat from P. Reinhart's Whole Grain book and the rise and crumb were way better than anything I have done so far. My question though is this: The taste is alright, it has a slight nutty flavor, but not as sweet as I would have liked. Is that something that is typical with this formula? And how much more sugar can I add without affecting the outcome of the loaf altogether, especially since I live a mile high? Any other advice would be great, especially related to high altitude baking.

ryan's picture

Shaping boules

Hi Everyone,

 I'm currently baking a country levain raised bread. Every time I shape it the seam always seems to come apart. Does anyone else have this problem, and potentially a solution?

During my bulk ferment I do lightly oil the dough (is this detremental to shaping). 

I shape it and bench it for 15 minutes before final shaping. I do let it rise in a banneton.

 Thanks for your help and happy baking,



syllymom's picture

Questions regarding Puff Pastry Dough

I tried my hand at puff pastry and had a not bad first attempt but have a couple of questions.

First, how cold should the butter be?  out of the refridge cold, or room temperature?

Second, I did have butter break through the dough when I was rolling it out.  I put flour down and kept rolling.  Is that the right thing to do?  Why did it break through?  Too warm, too cold the butter?

Third, I tried to make turnovers and when I wet and sealed the dough the filling still leaked out when baking.  What is the trick to prevent that?

Thanks in advance.  It still tasted good but I would like to make better.


manuela's picture

Italian quick bread: Brazadela

brazadela slicedsliced brazadela

This is a sort of quick bread that is traditionally made in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It is dense without being dry or crunchy, barely sweet and flavored with lemon zest. It is a rustic dessert that is part of the peasant cooking of the region and usually eaten at the end of festive meals, dunked in the local wine, Lambrusco. It is however very good dunked in milk or hot chocolate as well.

To celebrate special occasions such as weddings, there is still the custom in that region to bake several "brazadela" rings of decreasing sizes, packaging them together and giving them as presents to family and friends. It is shaped like a ring, and its name "brazadela" in the local dialect refers to its shape. The word brazadela in turn is the dialect correspondent of the Italian word "Ciambella" of the same meaning. Incidentally the word "ciambella" is the origin of the old English word "jumble" which used to indicate a ring-shaped cookie.

It should be made with Italian 00 flour, but I have made it successfully with American AP flour, unbleached, as well.

500 g Italian 00 flour

200 g granulated sugar + extra to decorate

100 g butter, unsalted, softened

3 eggs + 1 yolk

zest of 1 organic lemon

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup of milk, or as needed

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Sift the flour with baking soda and cream of tartar. Add the butter, sugar, salt, the beaten eggs and grated lemon zest. Knead, adding milk little by little (you might need a little more or less than indicated) until you have a smooth dough that is a little less stiff then pasta dough, supple and workable withut being sticky. An electric mixer works fine (with the dough hook) but is not indispensable.

Let the dough rest for 1 hour in a covered bowl, in a cool place. The rest period is important for the final texture of the bread and should not be skipped.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil (lighlty grease the foil). Shape the dough on the cookie sheet in a ring, about 2 inches wide and with a diameter of about 10 inches.

Mix the yolk with about 2 tsp milk and brush the ring surface. Sprinkle generously with coarse granulated sugar and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Tiny cracks will appear all over the surface. Let the baked ring cool on a rack.

It keeps for a long time in an airtight container or can also be frozen in freezer bags.


A note on the sugar: the sugar traditionally used in Italy to decorate this and other baked goods looks like small nuggets that are soft and melt in your mouth. I have never been able to find it in the US, if it is avalaible here I do not know. However, coarse granulated sugar works as well. Another possible substitute is made by crushing sugar cubes in a small plastic bag until they look like small nuggets and then sprinkling them on top of the ring before baking.

jonkertb's picture

lurker learning and looking for critique of new loaves

new loavesnew loaves

New guy here 

Finally got photos to load (enough to drive one to the yeasted beverage)

I've been away from bread making for several years but recently got back to it in an effort to clone the multi grain loaf at Panera Bread.  My wife says mine is better so thought I'd share a photo here and ask for some feedback from the more able ones on here. 

It is started the day before with 3 cups water, 1/2 cup each of spelt, rye, and buckwheat along w/3 cups WW, 1 teaspoon yeast and 2 tbspn vital gluten.  What's the fancy french word I can't pronounce...for the overnight ferment?

Then I add 2 tbspn each of molassas, buttermilk powder, BRM 10 grain, flax seed, hulled millet, steel cut oats, quinona, and sesame seeds.  I also add at this time 2 tsp salt and bread flour to make a slightly sticky dough.

Let it rise, divide, knead, shape, slash, let rise, and bake w/o preheating at 450 for 30 plus till the interior is 190+

I shape my loaves and use bakers secret brownie pans for my shaped loaves....


so, what should I tweak, do differently??  (besides figuring out how to take the closeups in focus)

thanks for all the reading I've enjoyed on here

thanks for a great site Floyd

Tom in west central Indiana