The Fresh Loaf

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trailrunner's picture


The request for a good Challah recipe that was not sourdough had me posting my recipe that I have used since the 70's. I haven't been making it weekly as I did for decades since I have been working with wild yeast and have been exploring artisinal breads and formulas. It felt wonderful to have my hands in the dough and to knead and develop with only 10 min. of effort. None of the 3 days that I have been spending lately with a minute or 2 here and there. Different but nice in its own way also.  Crumb later when it cools. c 


hanseata's picture

Multigrain Pain a l'Ancienne

I'm baking my own version of Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne (from the BBA) regularly for three years now, it is a hot seller at our local natural food store. Since I wanted my bread to be a little healthier than 100% white, I substitute 100 g of the bread flour with whole grain flour, either rye, whole wheat, oat, spelt, corn or buckwheat. I also add a little sourdough just for the taste, and found the right baking technique for my oven. Thanks to DonD's - and others from TFL - advice to leave the breads for 5 minutes in the switched-off oven with the door slightly ajar, the crust comes out perfect now - and stays crisp for several hours.

After trying DonD's version of Pain aux Cereales (and loving it) I thought of doing something similar with my organic 7-grain mix (rye-, wheat-, barley chops, cracked corn and oat, millet and flaxseed), but in a simpler way that would better fit my time schedule, to be able to sell it. So yesterday morning I made a soaker from 100g multigrain mix and 100 g water. In the evening I mixed it with all the other ingredients and placed the bowl in the fridge overnight. I took the nicely risen dough out this morning at 4:00 am to de-chill and rise somewhat more. Three and a half hour later, with the Vollkornbrot already in the oven (I start with the breads that bake at a lower temperature), I divided the dough, placed the pieces in perforated baguette pans and let them proof for another 1/2 hour more until the rye breads were done and the oven reheated to 550 F.

I bake my Pains a l'Ancienne for 9 minutes, with steam, then rotate them, remove the steam pan, and continue baking for another 8 minutes, keeping the breads 5 minutes longer in the switched-off oven with the door ajar, before they are cooled on a rack. My oven is very well insulated (no steam escaping unless I open the door) and I bake with convection (fan-assisted, not "real"), since I bake on two shelves.

This is the result:

This one we kept and had for lunch, the others are sold. My husband's comment: "This is the best Pain a l'Ancienne you ever made".




rts306's picture

How to substitute yeast for sourdough?

Yes, this is not a typo...I know, I know....most people want to substitute sourdough for yeast in recipes but I have tried several times in the past and I have failed to continue a sourdough for long so I gave up.  I have many recipes that use do I convert these to dry yeast or instant yeast?  Possible?  Thanks for any help!

berryblondeboys's picture

I want a delicious challah recipe

When we lived in one of the places we lived, there was a fantastic challah bread I could get in the grocery store bakery. (I think it was when we lived in Ontario). You could pull it apart easily, it had a nice tear, like coming apart in strings, a bit sweet, very light, yet a nice chew. It wasn't brioche (but I love that too), it was a lighter flavor/texture than brioche.

Since then I've tried so many at kosher bakeries, Whole foods, grocery stores and they are all DRY. Bleck... I really detest dry breads. I'm also not interested in a sourdough starter (at this point) as I haven't grown one. Though I plan to start soon. Well, I guess I should say, I would be OK with a starter bread recipe, but I'm also interested in a regular yeasted recipe. So many of them look so nice, but then disappoint the palate.



Shutzie27's picture

Bread Manifesto

The following is my bread manifesto:

I do not ever ever bake bread for money, unless I am seriously and quite literally faced with homelessness. I'm far too selfish to turn this corner of reprieve in my life into a job.

I will never put myself in a position for anyone to turn baking bread into work or labor for me.

I will always make sure every loaf, roll or breadstick that comes from my hands is made with love and the excitement that comes from sharing something good and showing love in a tangible way. The ability to bake bread from scratch by hand is, after all, to some degree a gift and one that should be shared. (Granted, whether or not I have this gift is still debateable).

Someday I will make a baguette. I don't have a pan for it, and probably not the oven, either. I have been reading and re-reading the recipie and studying it like it was a final exam in the class of Life. I don't believe I am ready yet...perhaps when I've finished this semester of law school. But someday, I will make a baguette.  

After that, and only after that, I will attempt to make a challah bread.

I must also make another sourdough again, though I'm not entirely sure where that fits in and it might depend on how law school goes.

And finally, before I die, to celebrate a personal and deep victory of my own, I will make a croissant. Well, probably six or a dozen, because that's usually what the recipe calls for. I shall be exceedingly careful as to who I chose to share the croissants with, as well. The ones that turn out, anyway. It's not the kind of patience, care, precision, and effort one puts in for just anyone, after all.

Shutzie27's picture

For the love of dough

There is something almost primal about home-baked bread.

For millennia, mostly women (but I'm sure some men too) across every single continent have engaged in a fairly painstaking process of patiently grinding wheat or corn into flour, finding and adding just the right amount of water, and kneading, kneading, kneading until, finally, on a flat rock in the sun or atop an enclosed fire somewhere the cornerstone of the human diet was finished. How could they have known how much water to add, or that one must knead and not beat or grind the dough? Perhaps bread was born within us and simply came out.

Maybe it emerged in the form of a baguette, or a tortilla, a loaf, a pita, a crust or a stick, but it was bread and it was being made every day by somebody somewhere.

Humans engaged in this long process, over and over again, for their children, their mates, their communities or themselves. To celebrate, to mourn, to barter or to heal. In honor of their religion and sometimes, even, bread was made to renounce religion. Bread was at once precious and yet universal. It was for the rich to enjoy, the poor to need and the destitute to yearn for.

Environment, time and later wealth would play their defining roles, of course.

In France the nobles feasted on croissants, a rich bread because it required eggs for browning and a scandalous amount of butter.

Meanwhile, in Tuscany, the bread had to last and was often stale. Not to be denied any pleasure, the Tuscans soaked the leftover slices of the long, narrow loaves in olive oil and topped with basil and tomatoes and re-warmed the bread over the fire. Today, you can pay up to $25.00 for a plate of that--only we call it bruschetta and the bread isn't usually stale (though it may have been deliberately left out overnight to harden for authenticity).

French toast, or as I grew up calling it, arme ritter (poor knight) was fed as a dessert dish to knights. It contained key ingredients wealthier noblemen were likely to have, such as milk and eggs. As such, it was considered a bit of a luxurious dish and by serving it the noblemen were paying the knights proper respect...that being said, it was also appealing because it was a dish that was still relatively cheap to provide. In fact, French toast is sometimes called "The Poor Knights of Windsor."

Rich, poor, warring or at peace....everyone ate or at least needed bread. Of all the foods in the world, it is bread that became synonymous with currency the world over (lettuce is a distinctly American term).

All of which is well and good, of course, and lends to a deep sense of comfort when baking bread, but doesn't have a whole lot to do with why I bake it.

No, I think it would be far more accurate to say that I love dough more than I love baking bread.

I love the dough.

I love the way yeast proofs in warm water, as though the water, at just the right temperature, was holding some eternal secret of life and by adding the yeast and waiting I discovered it. Dough is love, and love is the essence of life.

I love how it transforms from a sticky, gooey sludge into a smooth, warm and elastic dough with just a bit of patient coaxing from my fingers. That my small, weak and unskilled hands could produce such an strong but elastic substance amazes me just a little bit each and every time.

I especially associate yeast dough with love. Like love, yeast dough is pliable but strong, but also requires just the right amount of attention to become something life-sustaining. Given too much kneading or water or flour, it can be ruined in an instant and become stiff, dry or cracked. Sometimes, just sometimes, like particularly strong love, if the dough has become too watery and is getting away from the baker, it can be fixed by slowly and carefully adding flour.

Both yeast dough and love can be coaxed, cajoled, rolled, folded and rocked into shape, but never, ever forced.

You have to truly feel the dough to understand it, and if you are only going through the motions you may end up with bread that is edible, but not bread that is also joyous. Yeast dough, like love, will give back whatever you put into it, and if you don't pay attention you will end up with nothing but a useless, heavy mass and a lot of wasted time you can never get back.

Yeast dough is warm from the inside out and, without even touching it, yeast dough can grow and grow until it doubles or triples in volume and can seem unstoppable. Anyone who has ever secretely loved another can surely relate.

The warmth of yeast dough doesn't come from an oven or a grill, but emanates gently from within it. Cover the bowl, come back in an hour or even just twenty minutes and--magic!--twice as much dough as there was before.

And like love, even punching it down a bit and reshaping it won't stop the way it will grow from within.

Some breads, just like some loves, need a bit more attention even when they're in the oven.

A baguette, for example, has to be perfectly misted while baking.

A challah bread (and is there any bread that celebrates life, family, love and tradition more? And no, I'm not Jewish, but it really is one of the richest breads in so many ways) won't settle for being shaped but must be braided.

The quietly demanding sourdough requires no less than at least three days of your time for the starter and, even then, can be a bit fickle.

And the croissant is a downright diva, demanding days of preparation and folding process akin the welding and hammering that goes into a genuine Samurai sword (only slightly less than 100 layers). It is a deceptively innocent-looking bread that requires a remarkable amount of skill.

Yes, some breads require the attention of a lover, others are as demanding as children, still other are as low-maintenance and accepting as an old friend, and still other breads ultimately require the patience, work and understanding that love for family and in-laws are exceedingly likely to require.

But all of them, if done properly, are unquestionably worth every second.

Naturally, after taking a golden-brown or spice-speckled or rich dark bread out of the oven, I'll treat myself to just a bit of it.

I'll allow myself that first moment of basking in the rich, comforting warmth of the oven, still lazily lingering within the welcoming center of the loaf. And I'll revel in the barely-there hint of sugar or natural sweetness that is woven tightly amidst the magical sponge of flour and yeast.

When the mood strikes me, sometimes that gentle, warm center is hugged by a protective crust with just enough crunch to turn that very first bite into an experience of its own, a sharp but simple contrast of texture that elevates the flavor exponentially.

But after that, really, the bread becomes almost a thing of the past. Baked, the loaf is now something that I take pride in having made and while I genuinely look forward to sharing with others, something is gone. I am forced to confront the fact that the towel-wrapped testimony to my secret baking obsession is not why I ever began making it in the first place.

JoPi's picture

Bakeries of 1946

I came across this video located in the Library of Congress.  It features  a bakery in 1946 along with bread baking know-how of that time. Enjoy!

Cathryn K's picture
Cathryn K

No Knead Sourdough



Finally found it! A way to incorporate good sourdough flavor with the ease of no-knead! :-) Unfortunately, we ate up a lot of this loaf before discovering that the photo was too big to upload- maybe I'll have it figured out by the next loaf. It has good crumb, a lot of natural splitting on top, and great taste, and sooo easy!!


Basing off a "Simple No-Knead Bread" recipe using 6 1/2 C AP flour, baked in a Dutch Oven, here are my variations and success!!

Mix together and let sit for 1/2 hour:

1 C whole wheat sour dough, mature

1 C white sour dough- mature

2 1/2 C water- room temp.

1 Tb. instant bread yeast

Then stir in vigorously: 

1 C rye flour - freshly ground, coarse

1 C hard winter white wheat - freshly ground

1/2 C hard red winter wheat - freshly ground

1 1/2 Tb. kosher salt

1/4 C sesame seeds

1/4 C flax seeds

Then mix in up to 4 C AP flour until the dough is thoroughly mixed and thick.

Autolyse 1/2 hour, Mix again for several minutes

Turn into a large plastic box, cover lightly, let rise 2 hours, S&F,

let rise 45 minutes while preheating the oven with Dutch Oven inside with lid on.

Dump dough into DO, bake 30 min. lid on, 33 min. lid off

Let cool at least an hour before cutting.


wally's picture

Profiles in Rye

Now that we've had a brief respite from oppressive heat here in the Washington, DC area I've turned my oven on again to take advantage of this fleeting opportunity.  It's been awhile since I've baked some ryes, so this seemed a good time to get my hands sticky again.

I decided on Hamelman's 80% Rye with a rye soaker; but my curiosity got me to wondering what that recipe might be like if I reduced the percentage of rye to 60%, but held the other ingredients constant.  So began an experiment in rye profiles.

Hamelman's 80% rye with soaker has a hydration of 78%, and the rye levain is 37% of the overall dough weight, while the soaker constitutes 22% of dough weight.  His soaker is equal parts rye and boiling water, so you immediately find yourself struggling to mix a thick, thick, paste.

In addition to the levain, he calls for 1.5% yeast.

I mixed both the levain and soaker about 10 hours before I did my final dough mix, because respite or not, my kitchen tends to stay around 76° - 78°F in the summer, so things happen sooner rather than later.

The next morning my rye sour was definitely ready - you could hear noises below the rye-floured surface as it worked.  The soaker had the wonderful aroma of a rye mash, which is one of the attractions of this bread - its wonderful sweetness.

The mix was for about 10 minutes total, all on speed one of my Hamilton Beach.  It resembled mud and was even stickier, as per usual.  The bulk fermentation is only 30 minutes, followed by air-shaping and a final proof of a little over 50 minutes.  (On my last pas de deux with this rye I went for a longer fermentation and was rewarded with a collapsed loaf that had an air pocket beween the crust and crumb that miners could crawl through.  Chastened I decided underproofed was a better bet.)

I air-shaped one loaf as a batârd and the other as a boule.  I heavily rice floured both my couche and banneton, and followed that with a heavy dusting of rye flour.  Despite my efforts, the boule found a minor sanctuary in a part of the banneton's cloth.  While I slashed the batârd I decided to go au naturel with the boule and bake it seam side up.

Both were baked with steam (such as my gas stove will retain) at 460° F for 15 minutes, after which I reduced the temperature to 425° F for another 30 minutes.

I left both loaves to cool and wrapped them in linen overnight. 

The boule showed its cracks from the dough's seams, along with it's bald spot from becoming too attached to the banneton.  Oh well.   I don't have a shot of the uncut batârd because I seem to have attacked it prematurely.  In any event, the crumb seems to me to have the profile typical of my bakes of 80% ryes. 

Definitely a cocktail bread and one I particularly enjoy with a good goat's cheese.

The next day, I decided to replicate the previous bake, but this time decreasing the percentage of rye to 60%.  The other departure was my decision to step down the hydration slightly, to 75% from 78%.  In all other repects the procedure was the same - both the levain and soaker were identical.  The only difference was in the final mix where the percentage of bread flour was higher, that of rye correspondingly lower, and the hydration stepped down just a bit.  The mix time was about 9 minutes, 5 on speed 1 and 4 on speed 2.  There was evidence of gluten formation at the end of the mix.

The bulk fermentation in this case was extended to 45 minutes.  Shaping took place on my counter, and while the dough coming out of my mixer felt as sticky as the previous day's dough, it was much easier to shape after its fermentation.  I again created one boule and one batârd  and let them do a final proof of 60 minutes.  Bake temperatures and times were the same.

Here's a shot of them out of the oven.

And one of the crumb.

Ok, so to the profiles, which not surprisingly, would seem to reflect the differences in the overall proportions of rye - 80% vs. 60%.

Here are a couple shots of the boules side-by-side, along with slices taken from the respective batârds.


Both, for my taste, are cocktail type rye breads.  I think even the 60% is a bit heavy as a sandwich bread except for a dyed in the wool rye bread aficionado.  And I find myself favoring the 60% in terms of tenderness of the crumb.  With both, however, the sweetness imparted by the soaker makes them truly flavorful breads.


Franko's picture

A Raspberry Tart

About two weeks ago I made up a 2.9 kg batch of puff paste to be used for making tarts , turnovers , napoleons, etc. It's a great thing to have on hand this time of year when all the berries and fruits are ready for picking. One of the things I really wanted to make was a raspberry tart, but our usually prolific raspberry cane is late this year because of the cool weather we had in May and June here on Vancouver Island. At least that's the theory my wife and I are going on. Luckily our local organic farmers aren't having the same problem so I bought a couple of baskets of gorgeous raspberries from a nearby farm. After a few days of making various items with the pastry, some successful some not , I'd acquired enough scrap dough to use for a 9 1/2 in. tart shell. Using scrap dough for tart shells is recommended because it doesn't have the 'lift' of an unworked piece of puff and because it's baked blind isn't necessary. I also made a little raspberry glaze and some pastry cream to finish the tart with. Once I'd formed the tart in the pan I lined the inside with a round of parchment and filled it with dried beans to keep the bottom from lifting as it baked. The shell was baked off at 410F for 20 min. and although the shell came out a bit darker than I would have liked , I wanted to make sure it was fully baked. Some of those unsuccessful items I referred to were the result of underbaking. While the shell was still hot I brushed some of the glaze over the bottom inside to seal it and then let it cool completely. My preference is not to use a lot of pastry cream in a fresh fruit tart, just enough to compliment the fruit rather than be a major component. Finally the raspberries went on, placing them around the edge and working to the center. I cut out a small round of parchment and placed it over the center then dusted the outside with confectioners sugar, removed the paper and glazed the berries in the center. All in all I think it turned out quite well. Because it's an all butter puff the flavor of the shell is rich and goes perfectly with fresh berries, the vanilla of the pastry working to bring both of them together.

Included is the recipe for the puff paste I used and a few photos.













Bread Flour







Pastry Flour















Cream of Tartar


























































Puff Paste/ Feuilletage


Mix the first 4 ingredients with the paddle on low to a fine crumb. Mix the water and the cr. of tartar and add to flour mix just until the dough comes together in small pea size lumps. Turn dough on to the bench and fraiser till smooth. Rest the dough in cooler for 30 minutes or until it reaches a temperature of 42* F

While the dough is resting mix the butter and flour together using the paddle. The butter should be soft enough to allow the flour to incorporate easily. Form the mix in to a square or rectangle and bring the temperature to 60*F before rolling in to the dough.  When the dough is rested and cool and the butter block is at 60*F it can be applied to the dough, either by cutting the block in small even size pieces or in one single piece. Once the butter has been applied give the dough a 3 fold, making sure that the edges of the dough are evenly aligned. Rest the dough for 30-40 min., roll out and then give the dough another 3 fold, followed by 2 more 3 folds  and one four fold, resting the dough 30-40 minutes between each set of folds. This will give you 973 layers. After the last rest the dough can now be frozen whole or cut into smaller sizes.  Thirty minutes before it’s time to use the dough give it one more ½ fold and rest for 30 min. then roll out for whatever shape is desired.