The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Syd's picture

This made some of the nicest hot cross buns I have ever tasted.  I used the same dough as for the Asian Style Pain de Mie but added:

  • two very generously heaped teaspoons of mixed spice (I made my own and used these ratios which I found on the internet)

16 parts cinnamon
8 parts coriander
4 parts allspice
2 parts ginger
2 parts nutmeg
1 part ground clove

I used whole spices and ground them up in a coffee grinder. I think using my own freshly ground spices made all the difference to this dough.  The aroma was intoxicating.  Nothing I have ever bought from a shop smells even remotely as fresh and as pungent as that.  Omit this step at your own peril!


  • 230g of raisins

I scaled them at about 90g a piece and arranged them close to (but not touching) one another on a baking tray.  This amount of dough made 24 buns.  For the cross on top I made a paste of flour and water which I sweetened with some sugar and then piped it on with a piping bag.

They took about 2 and a half hours to rise.  I baked at 180C (with convection on) for 18 mins.  I allowed them to cool slightly for five minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a wire rack to cool.

They are pillow soft and delightfully fragrant.

I expect them to keep well, too seeing that I used the water roux method.  They took three and a half days to make from start to finsih but they were well worth the effort.


davidg618's picture

Normally held in January, because of a bout with sciatica, this year's open house was delayed until this weekend (April 3). Nonetheless, it was, as ever, a great bash.  The food this year was inspired  by the book Charcuterie, introduced to TFL by hansjoakim in a recent blog. The centerpiece of the spread was a Pate de Campagne (country terrine) and a Shrimp and Salmon Terrine with Spinach and Mushrooms. A choice of two sauces, Orange-Ginger and Remoulade; and two chutneys, Spicey Tomato and Farmhouse, accompanied them, but I preferred them sauce-less, with a slice of baguette. We also served home-smoked Pulled Pork with my BBQ sauce (an annual favorite), Tart Cherry-Pecan and Almond-Amerreto biscotties to dunk in the wines, and little spiral sandwiches we purchased.


As always, our new wines, and past years' favorites were featured, and, by popular demand, I also brewed a Pilsner for those who prefer beer. The four year old Barley Wine is showing a distinctive sherry-like, hopped flavor. It's an acquired taste, but I made a few converts.

My wife took the opportunity to surprise me using the party as an opportunity to celebrate my 75th birthday anniversary. The actual date isn't until June, but, if I've learned anything in seventy-four-and-a-little-more years, never turn down the chance to eat cake!

The picture was take on Memorial Day 1938. Cute kid, huh?

David G


breadmantalking's picture

In North America, sweet potatoes or yams are traditionally harvested and eaten in the fall of the year.  Sweet potatoes are root vegetables and, although they look very much like regular potatoes, have certain qualities that make them ideal for bread. They are sweet of course, hence the name. More importantly, they are orange in color something that adds a wonderful, delicate shade to the bread.

They are to be found everywhere in the world in many shapes and sizes. In Israel we have a member of this family, locally called batata, (stress on the second syllable) an Arabic word for potato.  It is both similar in texture and bright orange just like the North American sweet potato. It can be used interchangeably for all recipes that call for sweet potato. I have even used it to make a great sweet potato pie and candied yams.

This bread is a soft, delicate sandwich bread that is a gentle orange color. It is not the screechy, bright orange of Halloween, but rather it takes on a subdued, understated hue. It is perfect for sandwiches that have drier contents (meat and/or cheese) but probably would not be appropriate for wetter ingredients (like sauces and gravies). Mostly, it's delicious and perfect for breakfast. Makes great toast, too, and tastes great with butter or jam.

Here's What You'll Need:
for the starter (poolish):
200g (1 3/8 cup) AP flour
200g (3/4 cup + 1 1/5 Tbs) warm water
1 tsp. yeast

for the dough:
400g poolish
1 cup (250ml) warm water
10g yeast (2 tsp.)
800g (about 3 1/2 cups) AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, baked until soft and mashed
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped rosemary

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Make the poolish by  mixing the ingredients together. Let it sit, covered, at room temperature for about 3 hours. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Peel and mash the baked sweet potatoes. You can bake them with the rosemary if you wish to intensify the flavor.
3. Knead together all the ingredients, including the poolish to make a slightly sticky dough. Knead it until it is smooth, then form it into a ball
 and place the dough in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise. Let the dough rise until doubled, in a warm place. This will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4. De-gas the dough as little as possible when handling. Form the dough into 2 round loaves, or torpedo shape or even rolls. Cover with a towel for a final rise, about 45 minutes.

5. Bake at 350F (175C) for about 40 minutes for loaves, or about 20 minutes for rolls. Cool on a rack.

cranbo's picture

I had read on Chowhound in a 2003 post that Puritan Bakery in Carson, CA supplies most notable SoCal burger chains (including InNOut, Fatburger, and Tommy's, among others) with their buns. 

Interesting article in last week's Orange County Register about Puritan & their process:

From "The secret behind SoCal's best burgers" by Nancy Luna

Puritan buns are made the same way your grandmother used to bake bread in the kitchen – only at a much larger scale... Flour, water, shortening and yeast are mixed and set aside in a large trough where it rises and develops flavor...

At the end of the four- to six-hour fermentation process, the mixture (not considered dough, yet) bubbles up – becoming a taffy-like blob.

Plant workers and machines then take the sponge mixture and add sugar, yeast, salt, flour and water to make dough, which is then shaped into buns before baking. The end result of the seven-hour process is a spongy, pliable bun...

While its base sponge-dough recipe is the same, Puritan customizes buns for restaurants and chains with specific needs. For example, In-N-Out's four-inch buns are "tweaked" (Puritan won't say how) for better grilling results. Tommy's buns are made to better support its heavy chili slathered burgers. Islands restaurants use a larger, five-inch bun. Seeded buns are delivered to The Habit.

Full article at

I think it's interesting that the sponge has shortening in it.... Haven't seen that before in a sponge, is it uncommon? Not to mention that their entire process (from sponge to finished product) is about 7 hours.
I also wonder about the "tweaks" for better grilling results; more sugar or shortening for better browning? Any other ideas of what tweaks they might be applying, for example, for support of heavier burgers?

I learned from the photos that Puritan does use hamburger bun pans. In the photo gallery, there is a decent photo showing the bun texture

varda's picture

Last week, Lynnebiz and I decided that since we weren't likely to get to Viet Nam or other exotic locales anytime soon, we would explore close to home.   So we took a food excursion to Watertown, Massachusetts.    Watertown, like all the towns around here, was settled by Europeans in the 1600s - in fact in 1630 only ten years after the original European settlement at Plymouth.   However, its face is continually changing as wave after wave of immigrants arrives.   This makes it particularly attractive for people who love good bread, and authentic food in general.    Today it is an ordinary middle class workaday town just outside of the city of Boston.   After having worked in downtown Boston for a couple or years, I thought I was being exiled to Siberia when I got a new job in Watertown - but I quickly found that I could eat better in Watertown than I had in Boston.   That was ten years ago, and if anything the situation has only gotten better.    The first stop on our excursion was to Arax, an Armenian grocery.

Workaday street by Arax Market

Wall of spices at Arax - remind me never to buy spices in the supermarket again

Second we went a few doors down to the Massis Bakery, also Armenian.   There we found:


cracker bread and pistachio treats

No, that's not a bagel - it's around 10 inches in diameter.

And my "travel" companion:

We moved on to an Iranian Bakery which was too dark inside to get much, but the window tells you something in itself -

and down the street to Sofra's which I'm told is some American entrepreneur's foray into the market:

They have interesting spices too - I got za'atar here for my Tunisian bread. 

I hope that Lynne will post too.   We went to several more places, and I didn't get everything.    So yes, the North End is nice, but so is this, and less on the beaten track. 

MadAboutB8's picture

My effort to try finishing some of our massive bag of potatoes continues. This time I was hoping to use up 2 kg in one go.

I love potato and rosemary in bread (they're great as pizza topping as well). Potato gives tender and mild sweetness to the crumb. Rosemary gives fantastic aroma to the bread. The two work together perfectly.

I adapted recipe from Peter Reinhart's BBA. I also included some cheddar cheese into the bread rolls and reduce the amount of salt by 40% as a result. Less salt in the recipe made the fermentation so much faster. I was surprised at how much effect salt has in the fermentation.

We had the rolls with potato soup, which worked perfectly. It might sound like a potato overload, bread & soup. However, the potato taste in bread was rather subtle, it's hardly noticeable.

The recipe and more photoes are here.


Mebake's picture

I thought i'd share my piece of illustration on the Stretch and fold in the bowl technique:



txfarmer's picture


I first learnt about Pain Pailasse from Don's post here, have been intrigued by the unique shape ever since. Since the original version is likely made with a wet white dough using levain, I thought it'd be appropriate to recreate it using my 36 hour sourdough baguette dough. Loving whole grain flavor in my baguetts, I just can't make an all white dough, so I used some rye starter to bring out extra flavor, the total rye ratio is 10%. Don kept his dough at 75% hydration, I used 78% to account for extra water absorbed by the rye flour.

AP flour, 425g

ice water, 315g

rye starter (100%), 100g

white starter (100%), 50g

salt, 10g

- follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here, but twisted two of the shaped baguettes to create Pain Pailasse, while keeping the other two as normal baguettes.


The "normal" baguettes were open, light, and moist as expected


The Pain Pailasse ones had good shape and crust


Seemed to have relatively open crumb, but not very evenly distributed


However, a side by side comparison shows that the crumb of Pain Pailasses(on the right) is much tighter than the regular baguettes(on the left)


I think lack of scoring was the main reason for tighter crumb, but otherwise, the loaves were still very flavorful and tasty. And looked unique as well. (the cross section pieces were from regular baguette.)

Submitting to Yeastspotting.

dmsnyder's picture

100% Whole Wheat Bread from BBA

I've been admiring the whole wheat pan loaves txfarmer has shown us in recent weeks. Her use of intensive mixing to achieve a higher rise and airier crumb has particularly intrigued me. (See SD 100% WW sandwich loaf with bulgur (cracked wheat) - discovered a new favorite ingredient). When I read her blog, I decided to make the same bread. However, on further reflection, I changed my plan. I have a favorite 100% whole wheat bread – that in BBA – and I really don't like the combination of sourdough tang and whole wheat flavors. So, I decided to fiddle with Peter Reinhart's formula for 100% whole wheat bread using some of txfarmer's techniques to see if I could get a lighter-crumbed version of a bread I already know well and love. The crumb texture I have gotten with this bread is moist but rather dense and crumbly, following Reinhart's suggestions for mixing time. This is not at all unpleasant to eat, but is very different from the airier crumb txfarmer and khalid have shown.

Reinhart's formula calls for a soaker with a coarsely-ground grain and a whole wheat poolish. As usual, I used bulgur for the soaker, and I used fresh-milled whole wheat flour for the poolish. The flour in the final dough was KAF Organic Whole Wheat. The procedures described are those I used. They deviate from both Peter Reinhart's and txfarmer's in significant ways.



Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Medium bulgur






The day before baking, measure the bulgur into a 3 cup bowl. Pour the water over it and cover tightly. Leave at room temperature until used.


Whole Wheat Poolish

Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Whole wheat flour



Instant yeast


0.028 (¼ tsp)




The day before baking, mix the poolish ingredients. Cover the bowl tightly. Allow to ferment until bubbles start to form (2-4 hours), then refrigerate.


Final dough

Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Whole wheat flour






Instant yeast


0.11 (1 tsp)




Vegetable oil (optional)



Egg, slightly beaten


1.65 (1 large)

Seeds to garnish (optional)


2 T



All of above



All of above



  1. Mix the soaker and poolish, as instructed above, the night before mixing the final dough.

  2. One hour before mixing, take the poolish out of the refrigerator to warm to room temperature.

  3. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  4. Using the paddle, mix at Speed 1until a ball forms on the paddle and the ingredients are well-mixed (1-2 minutes). Note that the dough should be quite tacky – neither dry nor sticky. Adjustments can be made by adding either water or flour during this step or during the next mixing step. (I added about 15-20 g additional water.)

  5. Let the dough rest, covered in the mixer bowl, for 20-40 minutes.

  6. Switch to the dough hook and mix at Speed 2 until a medium window pane can be made. (20-25 minutes) Note: Reinhart's instruction is to knead for 10-15 minutes, “less” if machine kneading.

  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.

  8. Ferment for two hours or until the dough has doubled in volume, with a stretch and fold on the board at 60 minutes.

  9. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form them into pan loaves.

  10. Place the dough into lightly oiled medium loaf pans and place the pans in food-grade plastic bags or cover well with a towel or plasti-crap.

  11. Proof until the loaves have almost doubled and are peaking above the rims of the pans. (About 90 minutes)

  12. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle.

  13. Optionally, spray the loaves lightly with water and sprinkle on seeds or rolled oats.

  14. Optionally, score the loaves.

  15. Bake for 45-60 minutes. At 30 minutes, rotate the pans 180º, if necessary for even browning. The interior temperature should be at least 195ºF, and the crust should be firm on the top and on the sides of the loaves. If necessary, return the loaves to the oven and bake longer. (My loaves were done in 45 minutes.)

  16. Immediately transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  17. Cool thoroughly before slicing.

I noticed two significant differences in this dough, compared to my previous bakes of this bread. First, the dough was less sticky than usual. Second, the loaves achieved significantly greater volume during proofing. I attribute this to the more intensive mixing, but also the S&F which serves to further strengthen the dough but also equalized the dough temperature and redistribute the products of fermentation.

Once baked, the loaves felt much lighter than usual. When sliced, the reason was quite obvious. Rather than the cakey, somewhat crumbly crumb this bread has always had in the past, the crumb was airy and, in txfarmer's words, “shreddable.”

Crumb from a previous bake of the BBA 100% Whole Wheat Bread, made following Reinhart's mixing time instructions

Crumb of the 100% Whole Wheat Bread from BBA mixed as described above


The flavor of the bread is basically unchanged, but the mouth feel is entirely different - light and mildly chewy. I was amazed.

I'm looking forward to having toast for breakfast.

Thanks, txfarmer, for your inspiring and informative postings!


Submitted to YeastSpotting








jschoell's picture

This was very easy and tastes better than your average sliced bread... It looks cool too!


Ingredients: (for white dough)

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Ingredients: (for beet dough)

Do the same as the white dough in a seperate bowl, replacing the water with beet juice. To obtain beet juice, I shredded 3 pounds of fresh beets, loaded the shreddings into a mesh bag, and squeezed  out the juice. I recovered about a cup, so I added water to make 1 1/4 cups. 

Instructions: (remember you are making TWO doughs)

  1. Add all the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt) into two bowls and stir with spoon for about 15 seconds.
  2. Add water to one bowl and beet juice to the other bowl. Stir for about 1 or 2 minutes.
  3. Cover the top of the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.
  4. Let sit on counter top for about 12 to 16 hours (I ussually do this for about 13 hours), the dough will look all bubbly on the top when done rising.
  5. Generously sprinkle flour the top of your clean counter top or a cutting board (don’t worry about using too much flour, it won’t hurt it).
  6. Slowly pour the dough from each bowl on to the floured surface, using the silicone spatula to help it peal off the sides of the bowl.
  7. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and rub your hands together with flour.
  8. With you hands, gently stretch each dough out to a rectangle shape.
  9. Lay the beet dough on top of the white dough.
  10. Roll up the dough from one end to the other.
  11. Place the dough into a lightly greased bread pan (seam side down).
  12. Let dough rise till it is a bit above the top of the bread pan (about double in size or 1 to 1.5 hours).
  13. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  14. Place bread in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  15. Remove from oven, dump bread out on a cooling rack or your counter top and allow it to cool.

There is a delicious flavor from the beets...somewhat salty, a bit savory, and a smidge of sweet. The deep cherry red color emitted from the crust, but inside it lost the red component and is a boring brown. I think I'll try the beet dough on the outside next time.

Does anyone know why this happens?


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