The Fresh Loaf

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smasty's picture

Growing up as the grandaughter of Ukranian immigrants, this was a staple every time we visited.  As relatives have died off, this isn't made in my family (in its true form) anymore.  I have a sister that makes it in a bread machine every so often, but it isn't the same.  I figured I'd make some practice loaves since Easter is coming up.  This is my first brioche since I started baking about 14 months ago.  The bread came out exactly as I remember from my childhood--a wonderful incredible crumb...yeasty, slightly sweet, delicate, tears in nice strands.  However...the crust is yucky.  Way too tough (as it always was growing up!).  The big loaf with the braid was HUGE....4.5 pounds after baking.  It took about 1 3/4 hours to bake (to 200 degrees internal)...I think that's what leads to the tough crust.  I don't know...maybe old-time Ukranians love the tough crust.  I'd like to learn how to avoid that next time---ideas? Oh...due to the overly dry crust, I find this bread tends to go stale really quickly, at which point it makes absolutely wonderful bread pudding.  The recipe is below the pics


Done...what you can't see is the bread split on the other side of the braid due to it's massive size and lack of support, so the braid ended up off-center


Original Recipe: (Caution...this makes a massive amount of dough! The first step can be done in your mixer, but is too big after that)

1 tsp sugar

1 c lukewarm water

2 packages dry yeast (note: yeasty flavor is desired)

3 c scalded milk

Tons of flour (14 c)

6 eggs, well beaten

2/3 c sugar

1/2 c melted butter

1 T salt

1 c raisins

Scald milk and let cool to lukewarm.  Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in water, add yeast and let stand 10 minutes.  Add milk to yeast and 5 c flour (I used 150 g. of KAF AP per cup). Beat well until smooth.  Cover and let rise in warm place until light and bubbly (for me, in Denver, this only took about 45 min due to high elevation).  Add eggs, 2/3 c sugar, butter, salt, raisins.  Mix well.  Add about 9 cups of flour or enough to make a moderately stiff dough (note: I only used about 7.5 cups).  Knead until dough no longer sticks to hands.  Turn dough out on floured board, knead until smooth and satiny.  Place in bowl to rise until double.  Punch down, let rise again to double.  Shape enough dough into round loaf to fill greased dutch oven about 1/2 full (I baked on my stone).  Let rise until double.  From remaining dough roll out ropes for braids.  After pinching off dough for braids, remaining dough can make another loaf.  (note: you can easily get 3 large loaves from this recipe).  Let ropes for braids rise (covered).  Just before dough is ready to be baked carefully place braids or ropes arranged in a cross on bread.  Use an egg wash over the entire loaf.  Bake in preheated oven--400 degrees for 15 minutes then lower oven to 350 for at least another hour.  Loosely cover loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning.  (I found I needed to move these to the lowest rack due to their height). Let cool in pans about 15 minutes before removing.  To facilitate removing loaf from dutch oven, wrap a damp, cool cloth around pan during cooling period.   


occidental's picture

Today I made Ciabatta Rolls from the formula found in "Local Breads".  This is of course a very wet dough but since there isn't really shaping involved it's pretty fun to work with.  Instead of loaves I stretched the dough out and used a pizza cutter to make rolls. 


I placed these on parchment and let rise for about 30 minutes, until they start to get 'pillowy' - yes a very technical state of dough.


Pop them in the oven and in a few minutes you have great rolls.


Sorry, no crumb shots, these are for a potluck tomorrow.  They are really light though so I'm pretty sure the crumb is as you would expect, open and chewy.


ehanner's picture

In another thread a few days ago, Andy (ananda) was discussing what a true artisan bread looked like and clipped a photo of this white bread in with a beautiful crumb structure. I asked him if he would share the details, which he was kind enough to oblige me.

The more proper name for this would be a Pain au Levain with mixed formula starters. It is made entirely with bread flour in my case and is truly a wonderful bread, even though I had a little trouble at the end. Here is the post with the formula I used.

This mix makes 3760+ grams of dough which I divided equally into 4-940g loaves. You could make half the batch easily enough but I needed some bread for friends I hadn't gifted in a while so I made the 8 Lbs.

The first build of a starter is done using a 100% feeding which gets it going on a fast pace. The second elaboration is done at 50% with the over all hydration thus far at 60%. The final dough mix is a 65% hydration mix so it is much easier to handle than the 80% Rubaud dough I have been playing with recently.

Another interesting aspect of this formula is that it calls for an overnight retarding of the starter after the second build. This is unusual for me as a step in the process but the flavor development is certainly noticeable.

I had a little trouble getting the levain incorporated evenly and eventually ended up using my DLX with the hook installed to mix the dis-similar masses. I also mis read the proofing and after 45 minutes baked the first pair of loaves while the remaining pair waited in the cool garage.

As you see, I proofed the first two using a couche and the second pair were proofed in a plastic banetton. And one of the loaves in a banetton was sprayed with water to see if I could encourage cracks. It's hard to see in these images but the crumb is translucent and very nice mouth feel.

I highly recommend that you try this bread. The flavor is outstanding, nutty, great after taste. My neighbor just called to tell me it was their favorite so far and they get a loaf of many many different breads.

Thank you Andy, this is truly a Wonderful White bread. Next time I'll let it proof longer, and there will be a next time.


Is that a Fish?

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

I have come to the realization that I don't like bread flour...  Let me clarify this by saying I don't like making bread with all bread flour...

I recently acquired a 50lb bag of King Arthur Bread Flour through the generosity of Will Slick...  It has 12.7% protein...

I find that breads made with all bread flour are too chewy for my taste.  I have found that my sweetspot for bread flour is not more than 30% with the remainder in AP flour.

Also, I find that if I'm making breads with mostly whole wheat flour, using AP flour in the remainder works just fine...

This just means that the bread flour will last me a lot longer, and I still will have to buy AP at the market unless I can get my hands on a 50lb bag of AP...

meadmaker's picture

Yesterday, the bread faeries did not give me their blessings.

While the Challah bread came out looking gorgeous, it also came out way bland! The two possible reasons I could come up with are:

1) Old bread flour; and/or

2) Too much yeast.

I had used a recipe out of Sherry Yards' "Secrets of Baking" (I think that's the name of it, anyway, without going into the other room to verify it.)

INJERA BREAD:  And the Injera dough did rise, but it was VERY dark. There was no way around that. Soooo, what I'm thinking is that, while using 100% Teff flour may be the 'authentic' way they make it in Ethiopia, the yummy Injera bread at the restaurants in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego are made from another recipe. With or without Teff, I don't know; however, from those that I've had at the restaurants were generally much lighter in color which is a dead giveaway that they're using some other flour(s). The best I've been able to make at home has been the buckwheat flour with seltzer water recipe. They held up well during cooking and tasted very acceptable as an accompaniment to Doro'Wat.

occidental's picture

Recently I baked Oatmeal Cinnamon Rasin bread form Hammelman's "Bread".   There are a few good write ups on this bread on this site, just do a search... I adapted the formula somewhat so I'll give you the details.  First of all, the home version makes 3 loaves and that was too much for me so I resized everything to make two 1.5 pound loaves, and while converting I converted everything to grams as I find using grams is more precise.  Also, instead of using just rasins I had a mix of dried canberries, currants, cherries and pomegranates that I substituted for half of the rasins.  Here is what I came up with for a formula:


  • 456 grams bread flour

  • 152 grams whole wheat flour

  • 100 grams rolled oats

  • 380 grams water

  • 66 grams milk

  • 45 grams honey

  • 45 grams oil

  • 13 grams salt

  • 7 grams yeast

  • 10 grams cinnamon

  • 100 grams rasins

  • 100 grams dried cranberry blend


Soak oats in the warm water used for the formula for 20-30 minutes

Soak rasin mix in enough water to cover (this is advised to avoid burning the rasins while cooking)

Mix all ingredients except the rasins together and mix for 3-4 minutes once ingredients come together 

Drain rasin mix and add to dough, mixing an additional minute.  I did not pat the rasin mix dry and the consistency of the dough went from being very stiff to one that was sticky and loose.


Dough after mixing


Bulk ferment:

I placed in a covered container and let rise for a total of approximately 2.5 hours.  During that time I performed 2 stretch and folds since the dough was feeling rather sticky and I wanted to build up the strength.  Hammelman says that this dough can be bulk fermented overnight, which may be a good option for those looking for a warm breakfast loaf. 

Shaping and final ferment:

I divided into two loaves and shaped as you would a sandwich loaf, rolled the top of the loaves on a wet towel and then pressing them in some dry rolled oats for decoration then placed them in a standard 1.5 pound loaf pan.  I covered and let rise until the dough started to top the pan, 1.5 to 2 hours (I wasn't really watching the clock).


I baked at 450 F for the first 15 minutes and then lowered the heat to 425 until the internal temperature reached about 200 F.  I did not steam the oven.  Total bake time was about 40 minutes...sorry I'm not much of a clock watcher.




This bread has a great well balanced flavor, it is not overpoweringly sweet nor does it have a really strong cinnamon taste, the flavor of the wheat is still there.  For me what probably made this bread one that I would make again is the mix of dried fruits I substituted for half of the rasins.  I've never been a huge fan of rasin breads but the varying flavors of all the other fruits really give this bread a unique flavor.  I imagine you could substitute many different variations of dried fruits, I just happened to look in the cupboard and added these on a whim.  This bread is great toasted, give it a try if you are looking for a good breakfast bread.



Chausiubao's picture

For the past five school sessions my class has been working on making wedding cakes. More decorative then edible (literally so, as we make them to put on display, in addition to learning the business of wedding cakes), this project has come to completion. It was quite the event.

First we rolled out the wedding cakes of our predecessors from six months previous, in a ceremony that can only be described as the cake toss. 

As an after thought, that particular cake was quite beautiful with gum paste flowers crowning it; it was also quite durable, as it remained mostly intact after its disposal. 

But at the end of the day we got work done too, each of the us thirteen students completed a wedding cake. Here is mine, as well as several others.

It was a good project. We all worked hard and discovered the rigors of one of the bigger parts of the bakery business. Honestly I think we each overawed each other with our decorative ideas, especially so when they were in tangible form on this last day. At least for me, it was humbling and empowering. We even got to bond a little at the end.

Collectibles from the labor of thirteen cakes, all together!

audsodbaker's picture

I just found this site while looking for a recipe for bagels, 'cause I can't get what I call a "Real Bagel" out here.  They make a basic dough recipe & just bake it in the oven so it "looks like a bagel", but isn't.

The recipe looks good, but b-4 I plunge into the enjoyment, I'm wondering if any of you out there can give me some tips for baking "breads" at high altitude.

I grew up on the East coast, but now I live in Northwest Montana, at about 3100', very dry.  I have tried on several occasions to bake bread.  The 1st rise seems to go OK, but after the 2nd rise & baking it in the oven, it comes out flat & very heavy.

Also, it seems like alot of the recepes call for Instant Yeast, & I am unable to find that out here, so I guess I would need tips on how to use the recipes with what I can get out here "Rapid Rise"

Thanx in advance!

davidg618's picture

We usually consume our breads before they stale, but after our recent "open house" party, we had, collectively, about a loaf and a half of two different sourdoughs, and a 40% rye loaf; far too much for just the two of us to eat before staling. I cubed the leftovers, and spread them on a baking sheet, uncovered, for twenty-four hours. Then I put them into the food-processor, and turned it on until I had about six cups, or so of bread crumbs. Not having anything immediate for them, I froze them.

A couple of nights later Yvonne asked me to make baked cod fillets. I usually use panko crumbs in my recipe for baked cod, but when I looked the cupboard was bare, and I wasn't going to make the sixty-mile round trip to the Asian food market just for a bag of of panko crumbs. Out came the sourdough crumbs.

My baked cod recipe is super simple. I season plain crumbs with salt and pepper; add a Tblsp. of sweet, smoked paprika; and a sprinkle of chipotle chilie powder: just enough that makes my guests ask,"Is there chili powder in this?". I mix in about two Tblsp. of melted butter to one cup of crumbs.  I then take the frozen fillets, brush them quickly with hot, melted butter and roll them in the crumbs, patting them into the solidifying butter as I go. Then twenty-five minutes in a 375°F oven, or until the fish flakes easily.

This time, with the dark sourdough crumbs and a hint of rye flavor, I thought the paprika and chipotle wouldn't work, so I mixed up some Herbs Provence: dried thyme, fennel, and rosemary. Added them to the crumbs, with salt and pepper, to taste. And proceeded as usual.

We've got a new favorite, but won't abandon the old one. I thought we'd miss the super crunch panko supplies, but were pleasantly surprised when we found the sourdough crumbs--somewhat soft to the touch when thawed--crisped in the oven to near panko-like texture. I also made some herbed rice (fresh thyme and tarragon) to side the fish.

I think sourdough bread crumbs have become a staple in our home.

David G

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Here's just a quick list of my favorite bread books:

A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective by Daniel T. DiMuzio

The Art of Handmade Bread: Contemporary European Recipes for the Home Baker by Dan Lepard

Good Bread Is Back: A Contemporary History of French Bread, the Way It Is Made, and the People Who Make It by Steven LaurenceKaplan and Catherine Porter

Artisan Baking Across America: The Breads, The Bakers, The Best Recipes by Maggie Glezer and Ben Fink


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