The Fresh Loaf

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em120392's picture

Hey guys! Here's my post about Casatiello, an enriched bread with cheese and meat. I'm doing the BBA Challenge for a project in my high school. My brother and I share a blog (he's going to start writing soon) where we document our journey through the Bread Baker's Apprentice. Here's the link:


Casatiello, a Neapolitan Easter bread, is also known as Tortano in other parts of Italy. The word casatiello is derived from the Neapolitan word for "cheese." Casatiello is enriched bread, much like brioche, with the addition of cured meat and cheeses. Traditionally, Italians add salami and pecorino-romano and/or provolone cheeses.

Like many other breads, casatiello has religious significance. The rising dough represents the resurrection of Christ on Easter. The traditional circular shape represents Christ's crown, and the eggs on top signify His rebirth.

To incorporate the meat and cheese, Reinhart kneads in these additions. However, while researching other recipes, they call for the dough to be rolled out flat, sprinkled with meat and cheese, and rolled up like a sandwich loaf. The traditional casatiello is topped with raw eggs, covered with dough crosses. When baked, the eggs atop the casatiello are similar to hard-boiled eggs. Reinhart bakes his bread in tall mold, like a coffee can, lined with a paper bag. However, many traditional recipes call for the dough being shaped in ring and baked in a tube pan.

In comparison to many of Reinhart's recipes, this bread can be made in one day, rather than retarding overnight. However, he does use a sponge to add more flavor to his bread. I began by mixing flour and yeast, which I added warm milk to. I let this ferment for about an hour, until it collapsed when tapped the bowl.

Meanwhile, I shredded some provolone cheese, and diced some salami. I sautéed the salami for a few minutes, and it rendered some fat and became slightly crispy.

Next, I mixed flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid. Next, I added eggs and the sponge to the flour mixture, and mixed until it became a ball. After resting a few minutes, (known as autolyse), I added ¾ cup of room temperature butter in 4 additions. The dough was sticky and soft, and I kneaded it for about 5 minutes until it became slightly tacky and smooth.

I sprinkled the meat over the dough, and tried to knead it in the mixer. However, the salami just whizzed around the bowl, so I decided to knead by hand. After the meat was incorporated, I added the cheese, which mixed in much easier than the meat. I let the mixed dough rest for about an hour and a half, for the first rise.

Since I didn't have coffee tins, and I didn't want to stray from Reinhart's recipe, I chose to bake the casatiello in two loaf pans. I shaped it like I would sandwich bread- I flattened it into a rectangle and rolled it into a tight cylinder. Remembering my mishap while shaping the brioche, I made sure to seal these loaves extra tight. After being shaped, I let the dough rise for the final time for about 90 minutes.

The loaves baked in a 350 degree oven until they were golden brown, and the insides reached about 190 degrees. Unlike the brioche, they were not glazed, but the top was speckled with dark bits of cheese.

When I cut into the loaf, I could see the bits of melted cheese, which made this cool, web-like structure in the bread. Maybe because I'm not a fan of cured meats is the reason that I didn't really find this bread to my liking. Although I liked the rich and soft texture of the bread, I didn't like the bits of salami. I probably should have cubed the meat finer, so it was more evenly distributed. I made this bread with my mentor, Mr. Esteban, in mind. He does not like sweet breads and casatiello is the epitome of the savory kind he would enjoy.

Esposito, Mary Ann. "Neapolitan Stuffed Easter Bread/Neopolitan Casatiello." Ciao Italia. PBS, 2011. Web. 18 Jan 2011. <>.

Reinhart, Peter. The Bread Baker's Apprentice. 1st ed. . New York, New York: Ten Speed Press, 2001.129-132. Print.


ananda's picture



80% Rye with a Rye Soaker, plus Black Strap Molasses

Very close to 2kg weight of paste, baked in a Pullman Pan, resulting in beautiful bitter sweet flavour!

This is close to Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe in "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes"   pp.213-4.   The differences I used were as follows:

  • Rye Sour is prepared as a liquid culture with water at 1.67 times the flour.
  • Molasses in the formula at 4% on flour
  • Overall hydration is increased to 85%
  • High Gluten flour is substituted with regular Strong White Bread Flour [Allinson, 12% protein]
  • There is no added yeast in the final paste.

Impact of relying on the Sour only for leavening meant 40 minutes bulk fermentation, then 2 hours 20 minutes final proof in the Pullman Pan.

Bake profile was 2 hours at 160°C, with a pan of water in the oven.

For more information on this bread, see my earlier postings, here: and here:




Pain au Levain using both a Wheat Levain and a Rye Sourdough

Hamelman (2004) has a similar concept in his book, above, but this formula is quite different in a number of ways.   Full details are given below:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Wheat Levain



White Bread Flour












2. Rye Sourdough



Dark Rye Flour












3. Final Dough



Wheat Levain [from above]



Rye Sourdough [from above]



Strong White Flour












Total Hydration



Total Pre-fermented Flour




  • Build both the rye sour and wheat levain using 2 elaborations plus stock starters, over a 30 hour period for the Rye and a 15 hour period for the Wheat.
  • For the final dough, first of all use autolyse, combining flour, water and rye sour. Leave for 40 minutes
  • Combine autolyse with wheat levain and mix for 5 minutes. Add salt and mix a further 5-10 minutes.
  • Ferment in bulk, covered, for 2 hours. Stretch and fold, and leave a further half hour.
  • Scale at 1.5kg + 1kg piece. Mould round. And place upside down in prepared Bannetons.
  • Proof in the fridge for 1 hour, then ambient for 2 hours prior to baking.
  • Pre-heat oven to 250°C, hold for 10 minutes before setting the bread onto hot bricks.
  • Fill a roasting pan with hot stones with boiling water for steam, and cut the top of the loaves before setting to bake. After 15 minutes drop the heat to 220°C. After another 30 minutes drop the temperature to 200°C and completely bake out each loaf.
  • Cool on wires
  • DSCF1618DSCF1625DSCF1627DSCF1629DSCF1634DSCF1638DSCF1640DSCF1642DSCF1643DSCF1645DSCF1646DSCF1647DSCF1648
    Ok, so there is evidence that my hands are not so clean; please don't make comments about this oversight on my part; the photographs are posted to be instructive and helpful.   Thanks for appreciating this!
    The finished dough was strong, resulting in a lovely finished flavour in the bread.   How I wish domestic ovens had sufficient power to do these large loaves full justice.
    Best wishes


arlo's picture

Before I went and watched my boss's dogs and house while he was away on vacation, I managed to bake a few loaves of bread that I did not get a chance to blog about.

The first loaf was a 100% whole wheat mash bread from Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.

Reinhart 100% Whole Wheat Mash loaf

I was rather curious about this loaf after having made a few rye breads using Hamelman's hot rye soaker technique. What I remembered from those loaves is the mash imparted a slightly sweet taste to the final loaf as if there was a touch of sugar or honey. Bwraith blogged about this bread as well seen here; Whole Wheat Mash Bread. There is no need for me to rewrite the recipe since it is available on Bwraith's blog, which he kindly supplied in his post.

I only made two changes to the loaf. I used a whole wheat starter in place of the biga, as Reinhart provides as an alternative leavening agent. Also I left out the suggested sweetener in the recipe for two reasons; I felt many of Reinhart's recipes from WGB to be far too sweet to begin with, and second because I wanted to see the potential of the mash. To my surprise I found the end loaf to have a full 'whole grain' taste which I desired, a slightly sour taste, but only a slightly sweet taste too. I half-expected the wheat mash to match the rye mashes I have dealt with before, but to my surprise it couldn't compare. Though this loaf was still very tasty. I imagine the sweetness I was looking for has to do with the more ferment-able sugars found in rye.


Reinhart 100% Whole Wheat Mash


The next loaf of bread I baked was from The Culinary Institute of America's Baking and Pastry book.


CIA Whole Wheat Levain Loaf

It was a simple whole wheat sourdough. The end product though after an over night retardation provided a very, very tasty loaf in my opinion that certainly surpassed what I was expecting. The formula and procedure follows;

Whole Wheat levain

Ingredients                         Bakers %              Weight

Bread Flour (Sir galahad)     50%                     5.4 oz

Whole Wheat Flour              50%                     5.4 oz

Water (DDT 76)                  75%                     8.1 fl oz

100% Starter *                   40%                    4.32 oz

Salt (Grey Sea Salt)            2.7%                   .3 oz


*Starter used was a 50/50 of Sir Galahad and Fresh Milled 100% Whole wheat flour. As with the whole wheat flour used in the loaf, it too was fresh milled.



1.  Combine the flours, water, sourdough and mix on low speed for about 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Add the salt and mix 1 minute on low and then 2 minutes on medium. Aim for a improved stage of gluten development. The dough should be slightly soft but elastic.

2.  Bulk ferment the dough until nearly doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Though it took me about 3 hours in a cold apartment. Fold gently and ferment for another hour. Fold again. Ferment for another 20 minutes.

3.  Preshape the dough into a round and let rest for 15 - 20 minutes.

4.  Gently shape the loaf into a batard or round when sufficiently relaxed.

5.  Place in a banneton lightly floured and covered with plastic overnight in the fridge to have a slow final rise.

6.  When the dough has risen, or the next morning, preheat your oven with your dutch oven or cc, or latest crazy steaming method to 470F.

7. When preheated, remove bread from retarder, load into your oven, score and cook covered (or steamed) for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes remove steaming apparatus, bake in a dry oven for 17 minutes, or until loaf registers 200F, sounds hollow when thumped or looks nice and done to you!

8. Cool completely, slice and enjoy.


CIA wholewheat crumbs


CIA wholewheat crumb

Two different loaves, but both very tasty.

varda's picture


I'm a simple person and I'm driven by simple hopes and desires.   So while I may drool over the pictures of impossibly gorgeous pastries that get posted with alarming regularity on this site, I have no inclination to emulate those bakers.   All I want is to master bread with essentially three ingredients:   flour, water, and salt.   And that's not so simple.  For the last several weeks I've been cranking out alarming quantities of the stuff and slowly tweaking the few parameters available when the ingredient list is so short: dough hydration, starter hydration, and percentage of flour in the starter.    (Oh and also mix of flour and proofing strategies.)    I finally put together a decent spreadsheet to help me with this tinkering.    And now I can just put in the hydrations, and percentage starter (and flour mix of course) and I'm off to the races.    While I started down this road with Hamelman's formulae, I find I'm unwilling to go back to that right now, as I find I prefer higher hydrations and starter percentages.  

The first loaf baked after 1.5 hours final proof.   The second which retarded overnight, had a bit more spring. 

Basic Sourdough bread baked on Jan 17, 18, 2011      
Starter 67% starter first feeding second feeding total  
starter seed 245   plus 3.5 hrs plus 12 hrs  
Heckers 138 50 45 233 94%
Hodgson's Mill Rye 2   5 7 3%
spelt 7     7 3%
water 98 35 32 165  
hydration       67%  
total grams       412  
  Final dough   Starter   percents
Bob's Red Mill White 500         Heckers 124    
Hodgson's Mill Rye 30                HM 3.7    
KA White whole wheat 70              spelt 3.7    
water 439   88   72%
total starter / flour in starter 219   132    
salt 13       1.8%
hydration of starter         67%
baker's % of starter         18%
Estimated pounds of bread     2.53    
Mix flour and water plus 30 minutes      
Mix salt and starter plus 50 minutes      
Stretch and fold plus 35 minutes      
Stretch and fold plus 65 minutes      
Cut and preshape plus 30 minutes      
Shape and place seam side up in brotforms.  Cover with plastic   Heat cup of water for 2 minutes in microwave.   Place one in microwave, other in back of refrigerator wrapped in a towel plus 45 minutes      
Turn oven to 500 w. stone plus 15 minutes      
Remove basket from microwave and place next to stove - put loaf pans plus towels in oven plus 30 minutes      
Turn heat down to 450 slash and place loaf in oven plus 15 minutes      
Remove steam pans plus 15 minutes      
Place loaf on rack          
After 19 hours remove second loaf from refrigerator, and preheat oven, stone, towels and bake as above.          

Second loaf: 

Slices from first loaf:


ehanner's picture

I have tried my hand at various recipes for Greek bread over the last couple years. People who visit Greece rave about the wonderful bread and I long to create such a loaf. David (Dmsnyder) has posted his latest improvement which I tried today with a couple of minor modifications. I won't re-post the recipe as David's is all you need to make this wonderful bread.

As David suggested, I lowered the oven temperature to 430F from the beginning. I made two full batches and on the second pair of loaves, I lowered the temp to 420 after 20 minutes and continued for another 20 minutes. After the 40 minutes baking time, I left the breads in the oven with the door ajar for another 5 minuets to harden the crust. The color is less dark, more towards golden although it looks darker in the photo. The crumb image is of the first loaf that was baked more boldly. The second two loaves are destined to be delivered to my son for his Greek dinner with friends.

The inclusion of Durum flour adds a very nice nutty note to the aroma. I almost feel as if I am smelling or tasting the sesame seeds on the outside. The Durum lends an unusual flavor. It is most delicious. The crumb is open well enough and the cells are gelatinous. The dough was 7.3 Lbs in total divided into 4 parts, mixed by hand and folded twice during the 2-1/2 hours of fermenting and proofed in round linen lined baskets. I pinched the dough while in the baskets across the sides to make them oval just before turning on to the flipper board. I spritzed the dough and sprinkled the seeds over all before slashing.

This is a terrific bread. The added honey helps it brown early. Next time I will start at 420F for 40-45 minutes to an internal temp of 205F.


longhorn's picture

Today's bake involved my interpretation of the Tartine Semolina loaf along with baking the boules simultaneously in a Cloche and in a Combo Cooker. The finished loaves follow! The black crumb is primarily a combination of poppy seeds and black sesame seeds. The Combo Cooker loaf is on the left and the Cloche loaf is on the right.

Tartine Semolina Loaves

Last fall I bought some durum flour and I have been intending to try it in bread. Since I have been working on the Tartine Country loaf I decided to try the Tartine Semolina recipe. I pretty much followed the recipe except that I use a higher dose of starter in my levain for my starter is rather mild. This recipe is very similar to the Country loaf in my opinion except that it uses 70% semolina/30% AP in the building the final dough AND it uses seeds (fennel, sesame, poppy) both in the dough and as a finish to the crust. I normally do a double batch of bread (around 5 pounds) and usually make four loaves. Time constraints today led me to divide the bulk ferment at 2 1/2 hours and retard half to finish tomorrow. As a result this posting will have a follow-up report tomorrow on the retarded dough.

My key comments involving the recipe would be that the recipe is not fully written. It has you roast fennel and sesame seeds in a skillet and grind them. Then add poppy seeds to the roasted seeds (and poppy seeds are not listed in the ingredients). This seed meal is added after the second S&F. The recipe needs to be read carefully for it is confusing.

I used very fine durum flour and it was lovely, and the resulting dough was strong and easy to work with. I will be using durum flour more often, I think.  I also found the roasted fennel and sesame seeds very appealing for the aroma they gave the loaves. (The poppy seeds were not roasted and didn't smell.) 

As usual, even though today was cold, my yeast was faster than allowed for in Chad's book. When I applied the poke test it indicated the dough was ready (even though I felt it was still a bit early). The results seem to suggest I should have given the bulk ferment another 20 minutes or so. The Cloche and Combo Cooker were heated for 1 hour at 475. The oven was turned down to 450 for baking. The loaf in the cloche was naked on the ceramic, the loaf in the Combo Cooker was on a layer of parchment. The bottoms of the loaves are shown below.

The Combo Cooker loaf on the left is a bit darker. I personally prefer the cloche loaf on the right, but as in the case of the oven spring and loaf baking the results are close enough that either is acceptable or can be with minor tweaking.

The crumb on these loaves was not as open as I am used to from the country loaf. I suspect that results from the introduction of the seed and seed flour but underproofing is also a suspect. It is worth noting that the Eric Kayser Pain aux Cereales has seeds and huge uneven holes so that tends to point the finger at timing or handling or even water absorption from the dough by the seeds. I would welcome comments by others regarding the influence of semolina on loaf volume. Flavor is delightful. I really like the subtle anise flavor from the fennel. 

Franko's picture

A plate of pastries

January has seen me doing more reading about baking than actual home baking due to three new additions to my book collection. Advanced Bread and Pastry-Suas, Breadbaking-An Artisan's Perspective-DiMuzio and Swedish Breads and Pastries-Hedh are all fine books to own and I've been enjoying them immensely over the last few weeks for their technical information and variety of recipes and methods. AB&P is easily the best text on baking in general that I've ever read, making it my 'go to' reference for some time to come I imagine.


Well eventually the time comes to put the books down and get back in the kitchen for a little practical application, so it was welcome that early last week my wife Marie asked me if I could bake a few pastries or muffins for a breakfast meeting she had scheduled with some of her colleagues at the college where she works. Nothing large or too fancy just something to nibble on during the meeting. I decided I'd make the Danish dough with Sponge from AB&P, along with some apple turnovers and a few carrot muffins for anyone wanting something a little less rich. The carrot muffin formula I've always used is one from my old trade school text and is still one of the best tasting and easiest versions of this muffin I've run across yet. Recipe to follow. The puff pastry for the turnovers was made earlier last year and the last piece of it has been taking up space in the freezer since, so I was glad to have an excuse to finish it off at last.  As for the danish dough, it's been ages since the last time I made one but this mix went well, the only changes being that I used AP flour (the closest to white bread flour I had on hand), added some ground mace to the mix and increased the overall ratio of butter from 31% to 35%, requiring me to give it an extra fold for a total of four single folds. Whenever I've made danish dough in the past it's always been done using the straight method of mixing, so the sponge is an extra step to make, but worth it for the flavour boost in the finished product and one I'll use in any future danish mixes. While I didn't get anything near as flaky looking as what's pictured in the book, it did make a very passable danish with a nice soft crumb and plenty of flavour from the butter and preferment. For me, taste testing danish is an exercise in restraint, and a good reminder of why I rarely make this pastry for myself. I did manage to keep it reasonably (Marie laughing in the background) analytical....this time, however the real test will be this summer when we'll be taking a river cruise on the Danube through Austria, Slovakia and finally to Budapest. Something, or more accurately someone, tells me I'll be eating nothing but rice and vegetables for a long time after that vacation is over.


75 gram carrot muffin

blueberry and lemon twists

chocolate and hazelnut rolls

small apple turnovers

Danish Dough with Sponge-adapted from AB&P




Sponge Formula






Bread Flour









Mix all ingredients with a DDT of 70F Ferment 12-16@ 65F-70F






Final Dough






Bread Flour












Mace powder















Butter for roll-in





Mix all ingredients for final dough on 1st sped for 5 minutes and on 2nd speed for 3 minutes to a DDT of 72F-77F. Bulk ferment for 45-60 min. Laminate 4x single fold resting 30 minutes refrigerated between folds and final make up. Proof final product for 1.5-2 hrs. Bake at 385F 10-12 minutes



Carrot Muffins





Cake Flour




Vegetable Oil




Baking Soda




Baking Powder





































Sift flour and baking soda, add salt and reserve.

Blend all but flour mix, raisins, nuts. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients and mix on 1st speed to incorporation, then an additional 30 -60 seconds.

Fold in raisins and nuts.

Let rest for 10 minutes, then scale 60g per muffin cup.

Bake at 380 for 15-18 minutes


em120392's picture

Today, I made Peter Reinhart's Rich Man's Brioche from BBA. I've never made such a rich, buttey bread, but it was delicious. I could only eat one slice, but with raspberry jam, it made the best breakfast.

I posted this on the blog my brother and I share ( ) We're both trying to complete the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge, and also, I'm completing a high school project about artisan breads.

Anyway, here's the post!

Nowadays, we know brioche as a rich bread, enriched with enormous amounts of butter and eggs. The name brioche is derived from the Norman verb, "to pound." The Norman region of France was well known for the butter which they produced, and excessive kneading was required to incorporate all the butter into the dough.

Brioche came to Paris in the 1600s as a much heavier and far less rich bread than the one we know today. Supposedly brioche became well known with Marie Antoinette's famous quote, "qu'ils manget de al brioche" during the 1700s, which translates to "let them eat cake." This referred to the peasants who rioted because there was a lack of bread. The different butter contents of bread were baked for different classes-even the food reflected the social-class divides in 18th century France.

In the Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart provides three different recipes which vary in the butter content. Rich Man's Brioche has about 88% butter to flour ratio, Middle-Class Brioche has about 50%, and Poor Man's Brioche has about 20%. Since I had never made brioche, I splurged and made Rich Man's-why not? The recipe makes three loaves- In my head, the idea of three loaves somehow justified the pound (?!) of butter in the bread.

Traditionally, brioche is baked in molds as brioche a tete, which are formed with two balls of dough. Served with jam, brioche makes a perfect breakfast, and topped with meats and cheese, it can be served for lunch or dinner, thus making brioche a truly versatile bread.

I began the brioche with a sponge of flour, yeast, and milk. After the sponge rose and collapsed, I added five eggs. Next, incorporated the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and sugar), and mixed until the flour was hydrated.

After a few minutes, I mixed in a stick of butter at a time, making sure they were fully incorporated before the next addition. The dough looked smooth, and almost icing-like, because of the butter. I had never worked with such a fluffy, light bread dough, so I felt kind of intimidated in new waters.

After all the butter was added, I mixed for a few more minutes until the dough was soft, and tacky, but not sticky. I spread the dough onto a cookie sheet and put it in the refrigerator to firm up and retard overnight.

Since I don't have brioche molds, I used three loaf pans. I cut the dough into three even pieces, and with a rolling pin, I formed a rectangle. Like sandwich bread, I rolled the dough up, and placed them seam-down in the pan, and let it rise for about two hours. After it had risen for the second time, I brushed it an egg wash, to form a shiny crust.

In a 350 degree oven, I baked the bread until it was golden brown, and the internal temperature reached 190 degrees. However, when I tried to take the bread out of the pan, it kind of stuck to my not-nonstick pans, which I didn't grease. With some slight prying, I got the bread out, but slightly crushed and deflated a loaf. Also, when forming the loaves, I didn't seal the seam well, and when baked, it split on the sides.

Once cooled, I cut the bread, which flaked like a croissant, and tasted so rich and delicious. Since there is so much butter, one slice is more than enough, but every bite was so delicate and smooth. I'm glad I splurged for Rich Man's brioche, but I'm not sure how often I'll make it because of it's richness. With raspberry jam, it honestly made the best breakfast.


Baking Mama's picture
Baking Mama

Kalanty was one of the many breads we made in class this week. I really liked this bread the best because of the toasted sesame seeds worked into the dough. Just before baking we rolled the tops in more sesame seeds and then scored the tops two different ways for different looks. We baked these breads in deck ovens with steam. One loaf was baked directly on oven bottom and the other was baked on a sheet pan. I could not tell much difference in the two loafs. I will do this bread again at home.


darren1126's picture



I'm going to try making an olive bread recipe and it calls for a "salt starter". I have no idea what this is. I'm not sure if this is just regular salt, sea salt, or something I'm supposed to create. I tried googling it but that wasn't any help. Could anyone offer some assistance.


Thank you!




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