The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dasein668's picture

Christmas Breads

Whipped up a few loaves of bread for our annual Christmas Eve open house. These included my second sourdough loaf which was much improved over my first attempt. Of note, based on some hints from this site, I had moved my starter toward a much drier starter, then mixed the dough in the evening and popped the dough into the fridge for about 14 hours for the primary. I pulled it out and let it warm up, then gently folded a few times and proofed for about 4 hours at room temp before baking. Results were a nice chewy crumb with a gentle sourness that was quite lovely and not at all overpowering—perfect!

Here are the breads, left to right Potato Rosemary Bread from BBA, Pain a l'Anncienne from BBA, and a simple 65% hydration lean dough using my sourdough starter.

And sliced in a bowl.

Scone Boy's picture
Scone Boy

Home baking: where to buy the stuff I need without going bankrupt?

Hello, I'm fairly new to baking and have taken it up enthusiastically in my home. So far, I'm working without all the speciality tools like a baking stone, lame, couche, baking parchment, banneton, etc. Now, I want to buy these speciality items to make baking easier and to, hopefully, improve my bread. Here's the dilemma: where do I buy these things? I don't fall into the category of wanting to buy wholesale in large quantities; at the same time I don't want to pay the 'Williams and Sonoma' price. Where can I get good quality home baking equipment at affordable prices? I live in Portland, Oregon. I also would consider ordering on-line if you have a good suggestion from the cyber-shopping world. thanks,Scone Boy

bitbyter's picture

That classic sandwich loaf shape

Ok, this might get long. I have tried to bake my own bread regularly in the past but always ended up discouraged. I recently found this site and it gave me the courage to try again but I am again starting to get frustrated. As somewhat of a sandwichalohic I am trying to achieve that perfect "mushroom" sandwich loaf shape (looking at if from end on) that most store purchased bread has (even the bakery artisan bread). I am currently using the Rustic Bread recipe found on this site and while I like the results I still find it a little dense and it doesn't obtain the shape I am looking for.

My question is, should the mushroom cap shape at the top of the loaf be created by the second rise in the bread pans or is it caused by the oven spring during the baking? I think it should be caused by the bread overflowing the pan slightly during the second rise but it never seems to rise this high. If that is when it should obtain this shape then I think I might just increase the recipe so that the pan is filled with more dough.

Thanks for any information you can provide.

donnas4girls's picture

The Art of International Bread Baking @ The French Culinary Institute

If any one has an opinion on this course please let me know.I am thinking of attending in the fall of 2007.My main interest and passion is Artisan Breads and I am debating which program would suit me better.

The other option is a Pastry and Baking Program which would be more general but I am more interested in the baking , bread aspect and working in a bakery or bread shop rather than preparing desserts for a restaurant.Do you feel I would have job prospects after graduating from FCI's bread program?

I would appreciate any feedback.Thanks for your help.

wvwyatt's picture

bread bowl

I am considering making lobster bisque soup for Christmas eve dinner and would appreciate good recipes for bread bowls.



gianfornaio's picture

Poilane loaf vs. Zingerman's Pain de Campagne

I've been wanting to try Poilane's bread since reading about it in Reinhart's BBA and have found that you can order it directly from Poilane (

I've been considering ordering a loaf for my family in Iowa for the upcoming holiday, but am a man of relatively modest means and balk at the $36 price for a 1.9 kG loaf. I've discovered that Zingerman's bakehouse in NYC offers a similar loaf, their 2kg pain de montagne ( which they say "is the closest thing We've ever tasted to the much-loved loaves of Paris' premier baker, Lionel Poilane," for $20 (although I'm not sure how much shipping is, so there's that). 

I'm leaning toward the latter option because it will cost me just over half as much.

Above all, I'm curious about whether anyone who has tried both breads can tell me how they compare.   

Cheers and Crusty Regards,



SharonMC's picture

In Search of a Dinner Roll recipe...

I happened upon a tiny little place in downtown Montgomery, TX not but a week ago.. It was quint, and had the most wonderful food. But what stuck with me was the ROLLS. They were huge, shaped like muffins you would see in the best bakeries. The tops were beautifully golden, obviously freshly brushed with butter. The inside was spongy, almost "Wet" with a light, oh so light sweet flavor - without the slightest hint of a yesty smell..


I've tried, and tried, and TRIED to find a recipe that makes a roll like this.. But nothing comes out as light, as moist or as sweet as these.. Anyone have any ideas?



beenjamming's picture

Fig and Fennel Bread

I spend an embarassing amount of time wading through online recipe collections, mentally baking things that sound good. One afternoon I came across a fig and fennel bread recipe at, *actually* made it and rather dissapointed. The flavor combinations had so much potential but the bread was pretty substandard. I fiddled around with their recipe until it hardly resembled the original at all and the results have yielded a tasty staple.

Fig and Fennel Bread

check it:

8oz bread flour

8oz whole wheat bread flour (or more white)

4oz whole grain rye

13.5 oz of room temperature water

2 tbs butter, melted

2 tbs blackstrap molasses

1 1/2 tbs fennel seeds, toasted

1 tbs caraway seeds

1/4 cup rye berries, popped (heat it a dry skillet, they pop like popcorn!) Hulled barley or walnuts substitute well but in general this ingredient in entirely optional

6oz calimyrna dried figs chopped coursely (other vareties are ok, I would avoid black mission figs though, they're a bit too sweet.

2tsp instant yeast

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt


The procedure's fairly standard, but there are a few things worth mentioning along the way. From start to finish, this will take about 5 hours.

1. Combine flours, seeds, salt, yeast and berries; whisk together

2. Combine butter, molasses, and water; whisk together

3. Combine above. Bring dough together. Knead like mad.

4. Once your dough passes the membrane test, add chopped figs and knead just to distribute figs. Note: If you knead for to long you can pulverize the figs which on top of all the germ and bran, molasses and berries really prohibits bubble formation. Still tastes great but I generally prefer a lighter bread with good sized chuncks of figs.

5. Form dough into a tight ball, oil a bowl, toss to coat, cover and let it ferment until it has doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven, baking stone(bottom rack), and cast iron skillet(top rack) to 425F.

7. Shape your loaves (usually 2) on durum or cornmeal, and let them proof at room temp until they look ready to go, about doubled in size. Note: For a dinner party I once made 2oz round rolls, dimpled the center and plopped on a dollop of tangy goat cheese and let the rolls proof around it. If you do this, bake the rolls on a half sheet pan, at the temp as below, without steaming your oven.

8. Right before you put you loaves in, pour ~1 cup of water in the skillet, plop them in, then spritz with water at 1 minute intervals for the first 3 minutes of baking.

9. About ten minutes in, rotate your loaves to ensure even browning. When they look done, check for 200F.

10. Once they hit temp, get 'em on a cooling rack, wait, then eat. Best served toasted with butter, goat or cream cheese.


Toasted, topped with goat cheese


The final loaf has a chewy, thick crust and a soft moist interior. If you find your figs are too dry inside, mascerate them next time(I've never needed too). Chances are you'll have a burnt fig chuck or two on the exterior of you loaf. If that's going to get to you, just pluck them off before you put your loaves in the oven. I've tried topping loaves with rye bran, rolled rye or oats, and kosher salt and fennel seeds all of which looked tasted great. I'm sure there are more tasty ideas out there (I'm trying pecorino shavings next week)! This figgy bread makes a great figgy puddin' substitute at that annual Christmas party. You can find the 'original' recipe here. Let me know what you think!

ubaker's picture

Looking for Power Bagel Recipe

I can't seam to find a Power Bagel Recipe, can anyone help? 

beanfromex's picture

What country do you live in?

As a newcomer to this site, I am always interested in where the people live who contribute to any forum . I came up with idea by reading the post from Finland..So.. how about we put the state or province and country where we live with a short explanation of where that might be .


I live in Tabasco, Mexico. Just below the Gulf of Mexico, midway between Cancun and Mexico city.