The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

the P and the C's picture
the P and the C

I grew up having papo secos (pops), Portuguese buns, on a regular basis. Everything went in these things or just eaten as is or with soft butter. So, when I began baking bread I had to attempt these and have since made them a few times. When memorial day came around a while back I of course had burgers and I used my papo secos recipe to do so and the result was slamming! A few had sesame seeds and egg wash with honey and others were naked as a Jay Bird..... And not to disrespect the original I made the pops too.

Oh, and here's a Chicago dog I put together.

Portus's picture


… bakes by Lechem and leslieruf presented a personal challenge, so midweek I retrieved my aging AYW from the depths of the fridge, fed it a fresh apple and tried my hand at Hamelman’s recipe this weekend.  These pictures tell half the story, and the second half will follow with a crumb shot tomorrow – my first slice will be a celebration of SA’s victory over England at rugby this evening!  At first blush the raisins look a bit sun burnt notwithstanding a bake at 230C with protective stainless steel lid for the first 15 minutes followed by the balance of time at 220C.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

These are my first baguettes, ever! I am so glad with how they turned out especially that they were not baked in an oven. I feel that it is a real accomplishment in my baking; I thought baguettes were impossible to bake in my clay pot, but I just defied that today. Perhaps the only impossible clay pot bakes are breads that cannot be flipped like a pizza but if it can be flipped, I can handle it! :)

These are Vietnamese baguettes, ones used for banh mi which means these have rice flour in the dough. It is not confirmed if it is true or not but I saw baguettes with rice flour in TFL and experienced its effect in bread doughs in the past so I added a bit here too. They differ from classic French baguettes in that they have a lighter, airier, fluffier crumb with a thinner more crackly crust. A banh mi place opened here a couple of years ago and I was amazed with its taste, it was a harmony of contrasting flavors and textures. I don't know if their baguettes were from Vietnam but it had those characteristics. My favorite was the grilled pork banh mi. Within a few years that I have not visited, I just found out that they were closed but I miss banh mi so much that I decided to try make my own. Fillings are easy to make however the bread was not.

Banh mi dough is highly standardized in Vietnam so no one actually knows what goes in the dough. I consulted various sources and proceeded to make my own dough. I used some AP flour, rice flour, water, sugar, salt and a BF-fed levain. Most recipes I found added ascorbic acid to the dough but I omitted it and just relied on the lactic and acetic acids produced by my starter. To provide additional lift to the dough, I added a bit of baking powder. I poured water until I got a gloopy mess then kneaded it until I got a strong windowpane, it roughly took 30 minutes. The dough was pretty strong at the end. Bulk fermentation took 4 hours until more than doubled. I divided it into 3 and preshaped them into tight boules then they went to the fridge immediately.

The next day I shaped them quite differently from how you shape French baguettes. I flattened the boules into a sort of rectangular shaped with one end wider than the other then you roll tightly into a cylinder then taper the ends by applying more pressure as you roll it outward. Although the dough is so wet, it was not so sticky to shape.

I proofed them for 1 hour. They doubled so quickly.  I am not that confident in scoring dough so I mustered enough courage then scored confidently. In Vietnam, they only do a single long slash. I also tried the classic scoring. I struggled with making a straight single long slash and it did not open up so well. I think I did better with the classic one because it was easier because the blade has to travel shorter. I baked them in my clay pot over heated pebbles and had I shaped them any longer, they will not fit in my pot anymore! Average length was 8 inches or 20 centimeters.

Here are the baked baguettes.

The crust was super crispy when they came out of the clay pot.

Is that an ear? I'm not sure what an ear is. Please enlighten me.

I should have changed hand positions to pick the loaf up in a better angle.

Crumb shots. The crumb was very soft and light with the slightest bit of chew and fluffy and tight typical of its kind. Mine were just moister and a little more stretchier than a banh mi baguette crumb.

I can pull out the crumb easily like this.

Ready to be filled with various fillings.

Although I tried to achieve a Vietnamese baguette, the results are actually in between a Vietnamese and a French baguette. The crumb is lighter, tighter, softer, airier and fluffier than a traditional French baguette but the crust was not as thin, delicate, crisp and crackly as a Vietnamese baguette. I think I have made a new baguette, can they be called Philippine baguettes or more accurately Pal baguettes or baguettes à la Pal?

The crust became soft after cooling which was easily remedied by a brief toasting prior to filling (that's what they do in Vietnam too, right? but over charcoal) probably because the baguettes were small and can't be baked long enough to drive out the moisture for that long lasting crispiness. Should I make a drier dough or bake them longer over gentler heat. I am happy with the crumb though. I prefer the look of the classic baguette with multiple cuts, I think it was way prettier!

The taste was complex. Sweet with a little tang and a clean wheat flavor with dark caramelized notes from the bold bake. They were a bit light on their own which means they lend themselves extremely well to sandwiches. Honestly, they were much more flavorful than the baguettes used in the now closed banh mi place that I used to visit here.

Now I understand why some folks here chase baguette perfection. It's so much fun and fulfilling even with failures. I can't wait to make a French baguette or really, I can't wait to make another baguette of any kind though I know 24 inch ones are just another dream for me because of the limited size of my clay pot. I still can't believe that these baguettes came out of my clay pot!

I chose to make a simple banh mi this time which is not a very popular variation. Thankfully Helen from Helen's recipes brought it to light! 

Good Bread + Good Egg = Bliss

Fry it sunny-side up then drizzle it with Maggi! We also have an affinity with Maggi sauce. Rice and just it is a lunch, an egg is just a bonus!

It's a nice snack when you wander off-road. The combination of the light and crispy bread, the rich eggs and the savory Maggi sauce is just so satisfying! I was also surprised with how filling it was, it sustained me for 3 hours!

It's my birthday and I just received the best birthday gift. I just verified my licensure exam rating and it was unexpectedly very high. I just prayed to pass with a 75.00 rating but God made me achieve more than that. It was just 2.20 points short from making it to the top 10 passers of the hardest licensure exam here! 


As a techer with a major in social science, I might ask you sometimes a question or two about history, culture or food. :) It's fun to know other people and cultures through food. I once made an Ethiopian student taking his PhD in my university smile. He was alone and I ask him if he was a French teacher and he said a no, a FIRM NO! Then I asked him where is he from and he said Ethiopia, so I said "Wow! Do you make and eat injera here?" and he flashed a huge smile. Then I said again "I know you you sometimes make it as a plate and you eat it with doro wat." he smiled again this time much bigger. He said he never thought that someone outside his country will know something about their culture. I even studied simple Amharic (Ethiopia's official language which is so difficult for me) greetings and greeted him whenever I saw him and with that we became friends during his stay in the university. Well, I only learnt about injera here so thanks a lot TFL!

Feeling more than contented, we just bought some KFC which is my favorite fried chicken of course with some rice and lots of gravy (I hope you don't find it strange, I think it's only here where it is done!) and some ice cream (again with strange flavours!) for a simple celebration.

It was what I ate too during the 12 grueling hours of the exam.

And some mangoes just harvested today!

God blessed me with another year in my life and I am very thankful for it along with all the blessings that I have received this year. Thank you TFLers! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!

dabrownman's picture

That Lucy is a pistol.  She has been working very hard for weeks on her app to replace every job people do, just like Silicon Valley is doing, thinking they were going to beat her to it and the next thing you know she stopped working on that, thank goodness, and started working on her new even more important app.

This one will make all food be invisible and have no smell.  She was worried that people get hungry and want to eat more food mainly because it looks and smells good and most of us are already too fat and need to back away from the food bag as it is.

She says it is for our own good plus the food we can’t see or smell to eat, that we don’t need in the first place, because we already have too much, can be sent to the starving people of the world who need it and never get to see or smell food in the first place so they won’t miss it like we would.

She thinks it is a huge win win; the fat people of the world will be thinner and the thin people of the world will get fatter and she will get really, really rich somehow and everyone will be happier.   I told her that I would be happier if I could afford to buy better wine because I think I’m going to be drinking a lot more of it as time goes on. 

I went on to say that I would really appreciate it if she would start working on a wine app where all wine was great and was free.  She got pretty upset with me when I also told her that I thought her first app would have made us thinner anyway because, without jobs, none of us could afford to buy food anyway.

Chicken Noodle Veggies and Shiitake soup makes a great lunch on bale day

She reminded me that thin starving people would not get fatter with the first jobs app and it wasn’t a win, win for everyone.  I reminded her that thin starving people couldn’t even find the food to eat it if they couldn’t see or smell it.  After that it started getting nasty so I made her start working on this week’s bread recipe instead.

A mixed fruit and melon breakfast starts of bake day on the right foot

Oddly, there is one of many parallel universes, where everything is exactly the same as this one, you and I are all there, except what we call food is already invisible, has no smell and the people there eat colors instead.  Oddly, the people there are all very fat, you look huge!  there are no thin people at all, but there are no dogs or baking apprentices to be found anywhere either.   Maybe they are eating them too?  We are getting off track here - on to bread and other stuff.

Your Mom made this for you for lunch if she was like my Mom but this one is a fresh Albacore Tuna, colby jack, Swiss, pepper jack and Parmesan cheese an Poblano pepper, bechamel casserole.

This one puffed itself up nice in basket and then sprang well too with lots of little blisters

 It was starting to open at the seams before it went in,

Lucy knew full well that we had plenty of white bread and wanted to do another one after our freaky, friendless fracas of words about her apps just out of spite so I had to set he straight telling her I was working on an app to make all dog food look and taste exactly like bricks – not that the stuff I feed her doesn’t already, so she got the hint and came up with a 50 percenter.

It is a 6 grain 50% whole grain, bran levain bread using our usual spelt, oat, Kamut, rye, red and white wheat with all of the remaining dough flour being LaFama AP.  All of the bran was in the 100% hydration, 7.5% pre-fermented, single stage levain.  When it had risen 75% we retarded it for 24 hours.

When we took it out of the fridge we stirred it down and let it warm up on the counter until it had risen 50% as we autolysed the high extraction and LaFama dough flour for 2 hours on the counter with enough water to get the overall mix to 78% with 2% Kosher salt sprinkled on top.  Then we mixed in the levain and did 100 slap and folds to get the gluten started.

Here it is before it was toasted for bruschetta

We let it sit for an hour before doing another set of 30 slap and folds.  We then did 2 gentler sets of 10 slap and folds and 4 slap and folds on 30 minute intervals and let it again all on 30 minute intervals.  Then we shaped it as a boule and placed it into an oiled SS bowl, covered it in plastic wrap and into the fridge it went for 12 hours of cold retard

We took out this morning, gently removed it from the bowl and immediately pre-shaped it and 10 minutes later final shaped it into a boule.   We forgot to lightly dust the basket so we did plopped the dough into it naked, seam side down…… so we could bake it seam side up un-scored and something different for a change.

Once unmolded onto parchment on a peel and slid into the 500 F combo cooker we spritzed it well, even tough it probably wouldn’t do much for blistering a 50% whole grain bread.  We turned the oven down to 450 F immediately for 20 minutes of steam.  We took the lid off, turned the oven down tp 425 F convection and baked it for 8 more minutes before removing it from the bottom of the combo cooker to let it finish baking on the bottom stone for another 8 minutes. 

At 208.5 F on the inside we called it done enough.  It bloomed sprang and browned up well enough and the blisters were well muted compared to a white bread but there were way more of them for sure. 

It smelled great when the lid came off  and we expect the bread to have a decent crumb perfect for bruschetta later tonight! We were right and the toppings were tasty too with the balsamic glaze and Parmesan to top it off.

Lucy has a salad fettish for sure

This bread came out just liked we had hoped.  Not too open and the perfect platform for bruschetta which was terrific.  This bread is really tasty with 50% whole grains when compared to 20%  and it was even better toasted plus it was still crispy on the outside for a change just a few hours after baking..... it has softened this morning like normal.  The crumb was still soft and moist

Janet's picture

I love making bread but until now haven't had much success with sourdough. I think I've "cracked" it now - the flavor and texture is pretty good but it's cracking on top. I'm using the no knead method, mixing the dough the night before, folding in the morning (can be anything from 12-28 hours) and leaving to prove for an hour or so. My Dutch oven is a little too large for the amount of dough so I put another dish inside it and this work well. 

With my first two attempts the dough was really wet and hard to work with. I changed the recipe (the one I used for this   is from Breadtopia) and the dough is firmer but still a little tacky to touch. I think even although I do slice the dough on top (difficult because it's tacky) the crust would still separate - it almost looks like pork crackling. It's really only cosmetic but guess I'm a perfectionist. 

To cook I heat up the Dutch oven with the second dish inside, bake at 220C for 45 minutes, remove the lid and bake a further 10-15 minutes. I've had to increase the first cook time a further 10 minutes for the last two as it still looked a little doughy. I'm looking forward to exploring your site and trying new recipes.

leslieruf's picture

It was absolutely bucketing down and as we had been warned of the approaching storm I decided to make yesterday a bake day.  Refreshed Yeast water and levain on Saturday and made initial builds of levain and left overnight.  It is winter and so things are moving a bit slowly.

First off the rank was a repeat of Abe’s Swiss Farmhouse bread.  I followed the recipe here

pretty much so won’t repeat the whole method.  The changes I made were to use a mix of pecan and brazil nuts as I didn’t have enough pecan nuts and the bazil nuts needed to be eaten.

 The other change was instead of mixing gently by hand, I actually did 150 slap and folds to incorporate everything except nuts and raisins.  Once I felt I had enough gluten development I patted the dough out and spread nuts and raisins over it and continued with gentle stretch and folds until they were mixed in thoroughly.  Only one stretch and fold after about an hour.  Baked the loaves late afternoon.  Dough was easy to work with, shaped well and I think baked up beautifully. Here is the Crumb shot


Just before lunch I mixed up the flours and water for a 2nd try of Ru’s Toasted Oat sourdough.  I wanted to see if I needed as much water as last time.  I added all of the water as I went and the dough just sucked it up.  I ended up adding another 30 gms so hydration was actually more like 100%!!    My method was the same as here

I shaped the easy to manage dough, put it in the banneton seam side down (first time ever!) and gave it a bench rest of 1 hour before retarding overnight.  This morning I baked as usual.  The seam opened up and seems to have created a bit of a hole in the centre, probably poor shaping on my part.  I think I prefer the way a score opens on a batard so don’t think I will do this again.

 Crumb shot

Lastly I made Teresa Greenway’s Potato water Blister Crust sourdough BUT I found a little kamut in the fridge left over from another bake.  I substituted this small amount for 1.55% bread flour.  The dough certainly felt different – a bit more grainy, but by the time I had finished bulk ferment all the liquid was absorbed and dough was quite poofy.  I made 3 x 550 g loaves, retarded overnight and baked this morning.  I wanted to try different scoring patterns so each was scored differently.  They baked up really well and I was happy with oven spring.


The crumb is not at all what I expected.  But it is slightly yellow from the very small amount of kamut, the texture is fine and soft and although I haven’t tried it yet, a friend to whom I gave one loaf said it was delicious!

this one inspired by isand66"s lovely scoring patterns!



The crumb is not at all what I expected.  But it is slightly yellow from the very small amount of kamut, the texture is fine and soft and although I haven’t tried it yet, a friend to whom I gave one loaf said it was delicious!



So a busy day, a really good bake and we had thunder, lightening, rain (142 mm in 24 hours) but although we are expecting more rain tonight, it has been quieter! Thank heavens.  


TomK's picture

I repeated last week’s bake of 36+hour Baguettes, overall hydration at 74% this time. The shaping went much better and although I thought the scoring was easier the cuts didn’t open up as well as I hoped.

Type 70 flour, proofed en couch and transferred to the stone by flipboard. 4 Demi-baguettes, 15” long, 250 grams dough weight each. Baked with hot water on lava rocks for steam in the first half of the bake. It’s a good challenge and there’s always a reason to do it again! I need to shuffle the loaves around on the stone next time to get the sides to brown more evenly 

The crumb is pretty good with nice glossy cell walls and the darn things keep disappearing along with the chèvre.


Gwen's picture

Last night I made six loaves of Tartine. Four, using the basic formula, I bake last night after a three hour rise. Two of them I added rosemary and sautéed shallots. 

Two of them I started a little later and refrigerate overnight for a morning bake. Those two had 20% gray flour, 10% whole wheat, and 70% bread flour.


This is the 3 hour bake without gray flour 


This is the overnight gray flour bake


isand66's picture

       Following on the path of my West Coast baking friends DA and Lucy, I was inspired to make a mostly white bread with a few twists.  I had not used Kamut for a while, so in went some fresh milled and sifted once with a #40 sieve into the mix along with a high percent of pecans and a healthy dose of buttermilk.

The dough was very hydrated coming in at just under 85% hydration but was still very manageable to shape.  I decided to follow the resident baguette expert at TFL Mr. Donnie Bags and shape part of the dough into the aforementioned shape.

Download the BreadStorm File Here.

The dough baked up nicely with a nice golden brown crust and yellow open and chock full of nuts crumb.  A great bread for some cheese or brushed with  fresh olive oil and grilled.

Levain Directions

Mix all the Levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I usually do this the night before.  Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours,  and the buttermilk together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 60 minutes or longer.    Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), and the water, and mix on low for 5 minutes.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (If you have a proofer you can set it to 78 degrees and follow above steps but you should be finished in 1 hour to 1.5 hours).

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 465 degrees.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.

Now for something completely different for those of you who are interested!  Some late spring garden photos for your viewing pleasure.


Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries