The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rustic loaf out of my Zorushi!

sarafina's picture

Rustic loaf out of my Zorushi!


A wonderful friend got a new Zo three months ago and kindly passed her perfectly good older model down to me. I have, since then, been learning how to use it. It's been about 20 years since I was a weekly baker so it took a while to get in the swing of things and to learn how to use the breadmachine, which was totally new to me.

For the last few weeks I have been searching for a way to make a chewier, more open, more rustic loaf, while retaining the ease of the breadmachine one bowl, pretty much effortless baking process.


Tonight I think I have made a real breakthrough!


This morning I dumped a cup of water and a cup of bread flour and a half teaspoon of yeast into the Zo. I programed the homemade cycle to preheat for 15 minutes, knead for 10 minutes, rise for 2 hours, rise again for 2 hours and then stop. In the early afternoon, about 4 and a half hours later I added another half-cup of water, 2 and a half cups of bread flour and a teaspoon of yeast and a teaspoon and a half of salt.


I set the home made cycle to preheat for 15 minutes again, to knead for 15 minutes, to rise for 2 hours on the first cycle, to rise for 2 hours on the second cycle and then to turn off.


I dumped the dough out gently, it was very sticky but had nice stretch to it and clung together as it slowly gave up it's grip from the Zo bowl. I floured the board lightly and stretched out the dough, folded it in thirds, turned and folded in thirds again and then gently tightened up the loaf and stretched it out into a long wide flat loaf on the pizza pan, sprinkled generously cornmeal, that I usually cook freeform loaves on. I covered it with saran instead of a tea towel because I was worried it would stick to dough.


I preheated the oven to 525 and put a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven.

I let it rise for about an hour and then slid it into the oven on the pizza pan and poured boiling water into the skillet, closed up the oven and let it bake about 20 minutes until dark gold.


My family raved about the taste and texture. It came out so beautiful and more open than any of the previous loaves I have tried. The crust was thin and crisp with nice little blisters all over it, the body chewy and tender.


I have been reading thru the artesian recipe threads, the french bread lessons, the bread machine discussions, the poolish/preferments threads, absorbing all of the knowledge here. I feel like today's sucess was a direct result of all that wealth of information and experience everyone here has shared.

I am SURE I have room for improvment, but tonight?

I am so happy ; -)

Thank you all so much.

spsq's picture

I had to look up zorushi.  More sophisticated bread machine, right?


Have fun with your new motivational tool!

sarafina's picture

DOn't know about how sophisicated it is, just a brand name. My friend likes them because she says the shape (horizontal loaf pan) seems to make a nicer loaf. And I guess they don't all have the homemade cycle that allows you to program exactly what the machine does. The big benefit is being able to control adding rise time and turning off the bake cycle so you can remove the dough to bake in the oven.

Chuck's picture

Zojirushi brand bread machines are the one serious home bakers covet by far the most. They're the "cadillac" brand of bread machines. More important for home bakers, they're virtually the only one that provides that "homemade" cycle that you found so useful; the "dough" cycle offered by most bread machines is better than nothing, but it's nowhere near as customizable. Zojirushi's are the only brand of bread machine resold by KAF.

One of TFL's "forums" is specifically about "Bread Machine recipes" and may help you zero in on the most relevant postings.

sarafina's picture

A class by it's self huh?


Well, since I have no experience with any other brands, I shall just have to take my benefactor's and your opinon as gospel ; -) If other machins do not have that homemade cycle they should! It allowed me to let the poolish mooch along nice and slowly and then allowed the extra long rise times needed since I had cut back on the yeast. An earlier loaf I made used even less yeast, but did not have the nice open chewiness of this loaf. More close a crumb. If I am understanding the process the longer slower rising with less yeast is what is creating that nice texture.

I have been reading thru the bread machine forum and found it very useful. There is so much in here, it's gonna take me a while to work thru any significant portion of it. Any particular threads recomended given I am working on the rustic/french style bread baked in the oven, not the machine?

BellesAZ's picture

I'm happy you got great results from your bread.  I had all but given up on Bread Machines.  I do know the Zoji is highly recommended by both KAF and Cooks Illustrated as well as Consumer Guides. 

I have never been able to recreate what I can make in my mixers (I never had a Zoji either!) - in a bread machine. No matter what I do or how I try it.  A study out by Cook's Illustrated showed virtually no difference between a machine mixed bread (Like a KitchenAid or Magic Mill), but showed noticeable differences in a bread machine mix as compared side by side.  Perhaps you found the key secret that no one else has seemed to perfect.

Try resting your dough overnight and see if your flavor improves.  I am certain you'll be even more pleased!

Good for you and your Zoji!  Keep posting your results.  I love it!

BellesAZ's picture

I noticed the slashes are not as pronounced with these loaves.  Could that be because the dough had overrisen or do you think there was a lack of oven spring due to the mixing element of this bread?  Just curious.

I'm not being critical, Sarafina.  Your loaves are a gorgeous golden color.   Your slashes - something happened to prevent them from being dramatic looking.  Believe me, learning to slash loaves is also something that takes alot of practice.  It took me forever to prevent my loaves from deflating and tearing to shreds.  I did buy a Lame and it works so much better, but knowing when to slash takes a good eye.

BTW, would you post your recipe?  My friend has a Zoji and I'll give it to her.  She would love to have a try at this.

sarafina's picture

I know, my slashes suck. Even with the lame it's, well, lame ; -)


The dough is pretty sticky and the blade just drags thru the dough. That loaf was finally done with scissors I think. But I just didn't go deep enough.


This one is a bit better but still not great. I used a thin fillet knife dipped in water...

I think I need to slash longer not so across the loaf. And deeper. I am still working on getting a more chewy open body with bigger holes. But it's awful good just how it is. Makes amazing grilled cheese sandwiches! Any ideas on more openess and chew?


And yes thanks for the other suggestions, I continue to read and learn!


My current recipe is this;

Bread Machine French Bread

1c water

1c bread flour

1/4 t yeast

All go into bread machine and set on dough and left to run. I leave this to sit usually overnight.

Next morning/afternoon

1/2c water

2 1/2c bread flour

1 1/2t salt

1/2t yeast

On the homemade cycle; 15 minutes preheat, 15 minutes mix, 2 hours rise, 2 hours rise, 2 hours rise. Somewhere in the third rise I take the dough out and shape one or two loaves (above was one, with two they are skinny loaves) and put them on cornmeal on a baking pan to rise, covered with saran.

Preheat oven to 525. Place heavy metal pan on floor of oven (I use a cast iron skillet, but it strips the seasoning off) Boil a cup of water.

When the loaf is ready to bake I remove saran, open the oven, insert the pan really quickly and, with the boiling water in a small long handled sauce pan, pout it into the pan on the floor of the oven and shut the door fast.

Loaf is ready in about 12 minutes.



BellesAZ's picture

Awwww.. you'll have better slashes one day! 

I have to say, for bread that comes out of a machine, that's beautiful.  You really have done a great job of it.

Maybe your bread doesn't expand like other breads which would certainly make your slashes better looking. Using a lame isn't as easy as it looks and definitely takes practice.    Slashes are beautiful, but serve a purpose - allowing the bread to expand without tearing or ripping while baking.  With slashes like that, it doesn't seem as if your bread needs to expand. 

This is why I don't use a bread machine.  I had one years ago, but got rid of it after the first few times.  I used it for mixing and rising and it really disappointed me in the results.  I just prefer using my mixer or my hands.  You can't read your dough when it's sitting inside a bread machine and  I think you have to "feel" it to know if its right.

Maybe there are other bread machine users out there that would tell me otherwise and if so, I'd welcome another opinion.  However, I don't think you're ever going to get better than what you have produced here. 

Personally, I think your bread looks wonderful for coming from a machine!  Have you ever made it by hand?  I'm tempted to take your recipe and make this myself to see what your dough might be like out of the machine.  If I do, I'll post some pics.


sarafina's picture

So I have been doodling along with this project and I seem to have improved the openess of the loaf, and the slashes a bit too. No ears yet, but still, better.


I have done two things; I am cutting the slashes less across the loaf and trying to cut at an angle. And I am working at shaping and forming the loaf more tightly by sort of rolling it in on itself over and over.


I don't think I am doing anything else differently, so I am hoping that improving these techniques will help me to continue to improve.

VA Susan's picture
VA Susan

Nice Job, Sara!