The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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GlindaBunny's picture

I've been lurking on this site for awhile and decided to register so I can start keeping a log of what I make.  My husband loves when I make the Italian bread listed under the Favorite Recipes, so here's how my first batch came out.  I melted a little butter on the top after removing it from the oven.

Italian Bread 

 closeup of crumb

Sorry about the poor picture quality.  I'm lazy and use my husband's camera phone so I can email the photos to flickr as soon as I take them.

bshuval's picture

I've been doing quite a bit of baking this weekend. In addition to the Grape Harvest Focaccia I've blogged about yesterday, today I made the potato pizza from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking". The recipe calls for a very wet dough -- more water than flour, actually. You knead the dough using the paddle on your stand mixer for 20 whole minutes. In the process it miraculously transforms from this:

Kneading the dough

To this:

It really is a quite unbelievable transformation. However did anyone figure it out? This dough, albeit wet and sticky, passes the windowpane test:

 I liberally oiled (although, in retrospect, not liberally enough, as a bit of pizza stuck to the pan) a half-sheet pan, and shaped the wet dough onto it, carefully as to not burst any bubbles. I had to let the dough rest several times in order to stretch the dough to fit the entire pan. Each time, using some more olive oil. I added the potato-onion-rosemary topping (the potatoes were thinly sliced using a mandoline, and then salted and squeezed from the liquid before mixing with the onion and rosemary). I added some more olive oil on top of the topping. 

I put the pizza into a preheated oven for 40 minutes. Shortly after the pizza began baking, the house filled with a wonderful aroma of onions and potatoes. It really got those gut juices going! Halfway through the baking I took a peek to rotate the dough, so I used that occassion to take a picture of the partially baked pizza:

40 minutes later, the pizza was ready:

 The pizza is done

I removed it from the pan (as I said above, I didn't oil the pan well enough, so it stuck in a couple of places.) The crust rose nicely; here is a side view:

This was a fun baking project!  

bshuval's picture

Today I decided to bake the Grape Harvest Focaccia from Daniel Leader's new book, Local Breads.

Since I prefer my doughs to be lean where possible, I decided to make it without the 1/3 cup of olive oil in the dough that the recipe calls for. I only used about half a tablespoon of olive oil for spreading over the dough before baking. I also increased the amount of red grapes. The amount called for in the recipe didn't seem to be enough. 

I was very happy with the result. I don't miss the oil at all, and the focaccia is moist and flavorful. The rosemary gives a delightful taste (and fragrance) to the bread. This bread is recommended. 

I am including three pictures:

The whole focaccia, just out of the oven:

  Grape Harvest Focaccia, whole

 Here is a close-up of the focaccia:

Close-up of Grape Harvest Focaccia

And here it is, sliced: 

Grape Harvest Focaccia, sliced

Floydm's picture

A couple of recent things I baked

Some french bread I put together quickly for a pot of black bean soup. Not world class bread, but great for mopping up the soup.

My Christmas Stollen. I used the Peter Reinhart recipe. I changed a few things, like using Amaretto instead of Grand Marnier and dried cranberries instead of raisins. I was very pleased with the results.

tattooedtonka's picture

First off I must admit something.  A little while back JMonkey asked me if I still had any of my old starters going, and I told him no, they had all been ditched.  Well, come to find out, that was not entirely true.  Lurking in the way back portions of the lower fridge a Cambro container of starter was found.  So off to the internet to see what month it was when I started it.  It appears to be from back in May.  Its a little grey (well maybe more than a little) , but its still sealed nicely.  Its got a bunch of hooch on top, so I go to my Crust and Crumb book to try to find out if Reinhart has an opinion on this.  He says hes had 'em work after 6 months in the fridge.  So I'm at about 7 so what they heck.  I stir it up.  Measure out 100grams, mix in another 200g. of water and 200g. ww flour.  And put it out on the counter for the night.  Sure enough this morning I have a revived starter.  I split it off into a white, a ww, and a rye.  And here they are back from a nice little 7 month slumber and perky in just a day and a half.

As for baking this weekend, my pumpernickel fom Bernard Clayton was a flop.  My Boules of french bread came out fine.  But my newest attempt, a healthier bagel (if there is such a thing).

These bagels were made from a sponge made with KA Sir Lanelot flour, but the final build flour was just a combination of Whole Wheat and Rye.

Its not a white bagel, but I started feeling a little guilty from eating so many white bagels over the last couple weeks.  I figure two or three of these and I should be good to go back to my white bagels right? ;-)



TT's Other Breads

Thegreenbaker's picture

Well, I have picked up where I left off and am having a great time.


I tried to make stollen. It was my first attempt, and I think it was ok, but I know what I will change for next year.

Toast the almonds, omit the mixed peel, add more Marzipan perhaps and change some of the fruit I put in. I used apple brandy to soak the fruit which was lovely but could have used more fruit.

I added half the required fruit amount and thought that it looked like a lot of fruit so I made another batch and aded the fruit to that, then once cooked, I realiused that the fruit was scarece. Which for my preference is good, but for my hubby.....not so good.

Also, my stollen seemed really crispy and too brown. I followed the recipe but I used strong bread flour not all purpose flour, so perhaps that was the reason.

I also decided against icing it and went with a brown sugar (muscovado sugar) glaze with shaved almonds. Perhaps I should have iced it.


Oh well, this is how we learn and become better bakers :)


Stollen shaped and ready to proof 


 Stollen a little over cooked I think.


I also made my first batch of ciabatta today. I began the poolish last night and I tell you I am so proud of myself!

I decided to improvise as I was shaping and threw in a heap of red onion, and lovely organic 10 year old cheddar (I dont know much about cheese except what I like)

and bot was it consumed by myself, my hubby and my 5 year old very soon after it came out of the oven!

YUMMO! That is most definitely a make again bread :)

I will post pics as soon as I remember what my flickr account details are! lol.




ejm's picture

Lucia Cats

Even though Santa Lucia Day is 13 December, I made Lucia cats so we could have them for breakfast on Christmas morning.

I now know that I should have placed them further apart on the pan so they wouldn't grow together. Luckily, they taste just as good!!

Merry Christmas to all!

umbreadman's picture

As I promised, here's a picture of the one stollen that has survived the initial onslaught. This one, unlike its predecessor, remained mostly intact while it baked.


I followed PR's formula for stollen, using about half whole wheat and half white flour. I soaked red and white raisins, figs, dates, apricots, and candied lemon peel in dark rum. I made the almond paste with equal parts peeled almonds and sugar and adding rose water until it came together into a ball in the blender. the lemon really stood out in a non-overpowering way, which was great with all the other fruit being sweet and still tasting of rum. I definately plan on making this again, trying to get the paste (or maybe marzipan next time) more into the center of the dough before i bake it. 

dolfs's picture

Inspired by Susan's account in her blog, I decided to make Panettone as presents for friends for the holidays.


I pretty much followed Susan's recipe. I used vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans, and I did soak the fruit in Amaretto and Rum, plenty of it. Before using I drained them and then tossed the fruit in some flour to dry it. I used half the water and it seemed the dough was way too wet. So I added about 5 good size spoons of flour. Then, in the final mixing stage, I used a tiny amount of water to get it where I thought it needed to be. Did I mention I love my new DLX mixer? This batch of 4.7 pounds of dough would have never made it through my KA mixer!

Like Susan I converted my normal stiff starter with three 50% hydration feedings in a four hour cycle. Started in the morning so pre-dough was ready for mixing around 9PM. Add 12 hours ferment and ready for production next morning. I proofed in my oven with the light on. It took about 4.5 hours. Unlike Susan's instructions I let it proof a little more in the oven, until about 1/2" under the rim. Then I glazed with the glazing from the recipe, added some blanched almonds on top and put a candied green cherry in the middle, pearl sugar around. Oven spring was incredible. Interestingly enough, I must not have put even surface tension on the dough. The decoration that was smack in the center moved outward on some breads during the oven spring. Baked 40 minutes at 350F on rack (not on stone).

I had inserted wooden skewers, as suggested before putting dough in the molds, and so immediately after baking I removed the bread to hang it upside down. The construct I came up with consisted of two plastic storage creates with some slats across them.Panettone hanging out to dryPanettone hanging out to dry

The tips of some skewers came a little close to the oven wall and smoked a little in the beginning. I considered soaking them for my next bake, but decided against that. I am afraid the moisture escaping from them might not do the bread any good. The bread was finished around 9PM and I let it hang overnight.

We tasted one this morning. I had to, honest! I never made this before and I wanted to make sure the result was OK before starting to hand these out to friends as holiday gifts.

Panettone sliced and crumbPanettone sliced and crumb 

The bread is quite delicate. I think it came out excellent and the taste was just wonderful. I either have improved my baking skills and am now able to adjust doughs based on (expected) feel, or I continue to get lucky. Most of my first time breads work out just fine. Susan's recipe and description in her blog ( is excellent, so I am not repeating it here.

We're restraining ourselves and have half left for tomorrow. The other three went to friends this afternoon. I have another starter building and will mix pre-dough for another batch of 6 tonight.



See my My Bread Adventures in pictures 

AnnieT's picture

I hope it isn't too late to add a recipe? I see that TT loooooooves butter so here is a real artery clogger for you. I make it every year to give as gifts because it is easy and tastes wonderful. When I arrived in America in 1967 one of my first friends was a Scottish woman and this is her authentic shortbread recipe.

Margaret McLaren's Scottish Shortbread.

3 sticks butter, at room temperature, 1 heaping cup of powdered sugar, 1 egg yolk, 4 cups ap flour, sifted.

Sift the sugar into a bowl and work in the butter and egg yolk with your hands. Mix well and add flour 1 cup at a time. Make into a jelly roll shape and divide into 3 for 8" to 9" rounds. Pat out on waxed paper - I line a layer cake tin with a circle of paper - to 1/2" thickness. Prick all over and score into segments, then crimp the edges with the fork. Bake at 300* for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Should be very pale.

If my d-i-l hadn't scared me with salmonella warnings I could eat the dough uncooked, it is that good. Yes, I used to do just that! Margaret didn't specify salted or unsalted butter, your choice. I did cut it into squares one year but the rounds are much easier. Hope someone will try it, A.


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