The Fresh Loaf

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ejm's picture

Royal Crown's Tortano

This spectacular bread is made with bread and a little wholewheat flours, potato and a little honey.  If you haven't made it yet, you've got to try it. It's fabulous!

- Elizabeth

my take on the recipe: Tortano, based on Royal Crown's Tortano in 'Artisan Baking Across America' by Maggie Glezer

hanseata's picture

On Tuesday a horror scenario unfolded in my Bar Harbor kitchen. Preparing my breads for Wednesday's sale I made the fatal decision to give my doughs the stretch-and-fold treatment instead of just leaving them to the mixer. I had no idea what dark forces I unleashed!

Follow this link at your own risk:

Pain de Campagne, one of the evil perpetrators - after his containment.

DonD's picture

I have not done much baking in the last month and a half since my Father suffered a stroke. After a brief stay in the hospital, he was moved to a rehabilitation center for speech, occupational and physical therapy. Subsequently, our days were busy with work, shuttling my mother back and forth from her apartment to the rehab center where she would spend all day with him and preparing dinner for her in the evening since she was too tired to even think about herself. Unfortunately, because the stroke had affected his speech and ability to swallow food, he was progressively getting weaker and complications set in until he was moved back to the hospital where the doctors told us that basically they could not do anything else for him. We moved him to a Hospice Center in the Washington area a week from this past Tuesday, a beautiful and peaceful place.

Since all my siblings and their families were in town to visit my Father and to comfort my Mother, this past Saturday morning, I made two batches of dough for a family dinner. One was a white flour Baguette dough with liquid levain and the other was a high extraction Pain de Campagne dough with liquid levain, both intended for overnight cold retardation and baking on Sunday. The doughs had just gone through partial bulk fermentation and were put in the refrigerator in the early afternoon. We headed to the Hospice Center to spend the afternoon with my Father but upon arrival, learned that he had just slipped away peacefully. He was 91 years-old.

The next 3 days were a blurr with so many things to attend to. The funeral and cremation occurred on Tuesday July 20. It was preceded by a heart-warming Buddhist Ceremony and gathering of many Relatives and Friends.

Yesterday, we finally had a day to wind down when I realized that the doughs after three and a half days were still sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be baked. They had tripled in size and the high extraction dough had rendered some liquid. Since we had planned a Family Dinner yesterday evening, I decided to go ahead and bake them anyway and share them with my Family in memory of my Father.

The doughs had become very extensible to the point of becoming limp. As my head was still preoccupied with so many thoughts, by mistake, I baked the high extraction dough as Baguettes and the white dough as a Batard.

The Baguettes did not have the usual oven spring but the taste was surprisingly sweet and nutty. The crumb was a little bit denser but not overly tangy in spite of the extensive retardation. The Batard had much better oven spring and the crumb was open, slightly chewy and again not overly sour. We enjoyed them with a perfectly ripe Camembert and toasted to the memory of my Dear Father and Mentor, the man who taught me so much about the enjoyment of good food and wines.

Goodbye Dad...



txfarmer's picture

This is a variation on a formula I learned at the SFBI baguette workshop. The original version was delicious, but crumb was not that open since hydration was only 68%(probably to make it easier for students to handle). I increased the hydration to 75%, scaled the amount to fit home ovens, kept the rest the same. Still minimal hand mixing, with a long bulk rise and several folds. Delicious and nice open crumb.

Poolish Baguette With Sunflower Seeds (adapted from SFBI)


Bread Flour (I used KA AP flour), 163g

Instant Yeast, 0.12g (I mixed 1/2tsp of yeast, which is about 1.5g, in 150g of water, then took 12g of yeast water)

water, 163g (if you measure yeast like I did above, minus 12g of water from this amount)

1.Mix and leave at room temp for 12 hours.

-Main dough

Bread Flour (KA AP), 330g

water, 173g (I used 207 to bring the hydration to 75%)

yeast, 1g

salt, 10g

toasted sunflower seeds, 59g

malt extract, 2.5g (I used barley malt syrup)

poolish from above

2.Mix water, flour, malt, and poolish,autolyse for 20mins

3.Add salt and sunflower seeds, hand mix to combine

4.bulk rise for 3 hours, with 3 folds at 45, 90, 135min.

5.divide into 4x220g, preshape, shape into baguettes

6.proof for about 45min

7.bake with steam at 460F.

Sunflower seeds don't absort that much water, so it was a very wet dough. Scoring is tough, no ears to speak of.

Nice open crumb though

The taste is incredibly nutty and fragrant from the sunflower seeds, can't stop eating those!


Neo-Homesteading's picture


Living somewhat secluded from quality bakeries and grocery marts lately I've been missing the amazing Amoroso hoagie rolls I got all the time when I lived in Philly. Over the years its become somewhat of a habit for me to just look at calorie content at the bread at the market because I figure if its going to be blah and stale I may as well try to avoid cankles. So I thought about possibly mixing the idea of great hoagie or hamburger rolls with maybe a little added health. I utilize flaxseed meal and flax seeds to these buns and they came out wonderful, slightly nutty in flavor with a soft texture perfect for cold cuts or even burgers. 


Link to external blog post and recipe:


wally's picture


I love English muffins, not only for breakfast but as a sometime lunch mate (ok, so I like tuna melts). But they pose a quandary for me: my usual recipe is easy to work with and handle, but produces muffins with a rather tight crumb. And let's face it, English muffins are all about nooks and crannies, so this won't do.

There are, of course, lots of recipes for English muffins that are based on dough with a batter consistency that produces wonderful open crumb. But these necessitate using either muffin rings or accumulated empty tins of canned tuna. Frankly, my kitchen already has too much stuff and I'm not about to begin assigning a shelf to empty StarKist cans. Plus, I want a formula that can be used in a bakery where production might involve a hundred or more on a daily basis. For that, EM rings (or empty tuna cans) aren't the answer.

So after a lot of playing with the hydration in this recipe I think it's reached a point where the dough is both hydrated enough to produce those wonderful nooks and crannies we all love, yet still amenable to shaping. (Hydration is 70%.)

One of the nice things about this particular recipe is that the levain constitutes over 30% of the dough weight, so it brings a tremendous amount of flavor to the muffins.

This will produce six, 3.5 oz/99 g English muffins, and a smidge of leftover dough.

Levain: Mixed 12 - 14 hours prior to final dough
Flour   .15 lbs/67 g
Water  .15 lbs
Levain .15 lbs

Final dough:
Flour   .59 lbs/266 g
Water  .34 lbs/155 g
Salt      .02 lbs/7 g
Instant dry yeast ¼ tsp/1 g
Levain .45 lb/202 g

Mix: DDT = 76° F
Add levain to water, then add dry ingredients and mix on speed 1 for approximately 3 - 4 minutes. Mix an additional 3 - 4 minutes on speed 2 until moderate gluten development. (With my fairly weak Hamilton Beach I'll sometimes go to speed 3 for a minute if the dough insists on climbing up the dough hook).

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to ferment for 1 ½ hours.

On a well-floured surface, divide dough into 3.5oz/99 g pieces. I roll these by turning the floured side up, and using the stickiness of the non-floured dough which is now side-down to let me create apricot-sized pieces.

Place rounded dough balls on a well-semolina-dusted pan with ½" sides. (They don't need to be ½", but for purposes of shape, you don't want to use either a flat sheet pan or one with, say, 1" sides). Leave sufficient space between them so that they can spread out without touching. Spray tops of dough with Pam and then tightly wrap the pan with plastic crap (dmsnyder's most apt description). The tight wrap with plastic will allow the dough to rise out versus up during its final proof, thus creating nicely shaped rounds of the appropriate size. (Also the reason for a pan with sides!)

Proof for 1 hour.

Heat electric skillet to 400° F and very lightly oil. Place muffins, semolina side down, in the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. (The dough will be very sticky, so the method I've adopted which allows me to handle without misshaping them in the process is to lightly wet my finger tips and then pick them up and place them in the skillet.)


Cook (I'm so used to saying bake this seems unnatural) 8 minutes - 6 minutes at 400° F and 2 minutes at 350°F. Turn and cook another 7 minutes at 350° F. Place on wire racks to cool.  (Below on left, a cut muffin, on the right, a 'forked' one.)


I'm pleased with the openness of the crumb that this recipe achieves - and without the hassle (to me at least) of having to use molds to keep the muffin shape.

And now, on a very warm Washington, DC evening, salade niçoise à la English muffin.




msbreadbaker's picture


I am just starting Peter Reinhart's "starter" and am in the seed culture phase, the very beginning. I just completed day 2. Day 1 said 1 cup of dark rye, (I used pumpernickel flour) and 3/4 cup of water. Place in 4-cup measure, tape level of mixture, cover and let sit 24 hrs. He said it should not rise much at all. By the 23rd hr., it was about 25% risen. Then day 2 mixed 1 cup bread flour, 1/2 cup water and the sponge. Well, I did this at 4:30 today, it is now 2 hrs later and it is rising considerably. He says still should not rise today. What should I do, stir it down or leave it alone. Also, it does not smell bad. The room temp. is about 73-74 degrees.

Thanks for any info and advice, love this wonderful site.

Jean P.

turosdolci's picture

It is natural to consider that Ricotta and almonds would be married together into a delicious soft biscotti flavored with almond oil. Almond ricotta biscotti are delicate cookies but with an intense aroma. We always include it on a “Torta di Biscotto di Nozze” because they are so perfect for a biscotti wedding cake.  It is the almond oil that gives these cookies that lovely warm almond flavor.

Ziege's picture

I returned to the US a few weeks ago from a year living abroad in France as an exchange student, and it is interesting to be back. I am full of memories of the Mediterranean landscape and mes pensées often drift to the days that I spent biking up the Mont Ventoux and eating dinner with my host family, who thought that I was crazy for baking my own bread ("You call that bread?! That looks more like a moist brick to me!" my host dad would call out) and for biking 12 miles to get to school every day. I could ramble about my past year's experience for hours, but instead I'll spare you tales of coed bathrooms (that was a first day of high school in France when I discovered that young men and women share les toilettes) and my first encounter with modern dance and write about something a little more related to this blog: the plight of my sourdough starter in France, and its revival aux Etats-Unis.

August 2009, my starter embarked for its first voyage out of the US. Packed in a tupperware container, and sheathed in multiple plastic bags labeled "sourdough starter for making bread" (I feared that the airport officials would confiscate my suspicious-looking container full of ooze), it boarded the flight at San Francisco. And many, many hours later, we arrived together in Montpellier, France. That would be the end of our amicable friendship. As the months went by, I would feed my starter with French (T 150) flour just as I had in America, however it seemed to become less and less responsive. On its fiestiest of days, bubbles the size of strawberry seeds would form; otherwise, the starter was about as active as my neighbor, who sat in front of the TV all day and complained that the day was too long. 24 heures- c'est trop longue! At least he had an excuse. He was in his eighties, whereas my starter was less than a year old. So, needless to say, my bread that i produced from the starter was quite dense and multiple times I had to make a loaf or two of yeast bread to raise my confidence in my bread-making abilities. Not that there's anything wrong with yeast-risen bread, but I had been trying for months to make good bread with my sourdough starter.



Here's what a typical slice of my 100% whole wheat bread that I made in France looked like:


(in the background you can see my sprouting avocado plant)


Needless to say, France was not too impressed by my bread baking skills. Oh, I exagerate. A few good loaves came out of that starter that had journeyed so far- in particular, one walnut loaf that I assume was tasty as I left it on the counter at a friend's house and when I went looking for it a few hours later, the loaf was gone and in its place was a dusting of crumbs.


July 2010- as I packed up my bags (the night before my flight), I wrapped up my starter, still in that same tupperware container, and this time labeled the bag with, "levain pour faire du pain/sourdough starter". This label was partially for airport security, and served in addition for the starter itself, who I think had forgotten that it was supposed to be a leavening agent and was considering itself instead as some sort of sauce bechamel gone rancid. Anyway, a few connecting flights and plane meals later, I arrived home. Home! After a year of struggling to remain a vegetarian in le pays du foie gras and a year of daily adventure, I was home. It was sad and nice at the same time. I immediately rummaged through my suitcase to verify that the levain hadn't been confiscated- and sure enough- it was still there! I fed it with some Stone Buhr flour (which my local supermarket doesn't carry anymore...darn!), and went off to visit my friends whom I hadn't seen for nearly a year. When i got back the next morning, I was blown away by the activity of my starter. It had actually doubled in size! And there were bubbles not the size of blackheads, but the size of popcorn kernels! Wow! I've been making bread since my return, and I have been more than satisfied with the results.


Here's a walnut loaf:



and here's a plain loaf:



that are both 100% whole wheat (of course).


I am puzzled by the inactivity of my starter in France- the only possible hypothesis is that my starter simply didn't pick up the French language like I did, and so the American yeasts were unable to communicate with the French yeasts. Sacre bleu! In any case, my starter is thriving and well back on top of the microwave at home, and the bread is much lighter and tastier. And thanks to Minioven- who instructed me to "clean the cage" when it comes to feeding a starter. I had posted a blog back when I was in France complaining about the sluggishness of my starter, and she emphasized the importance of dumping out half of the starter at each feeding, and increasing the amount of flour that I was nourishing my starter with. I think that these two pieces of advice have helped a lot.

benjamin's picture

This week I tried my hand at the 'sourdough seed bread' from Bread by Hamelman. This is the first time I have attempted this loaf, however I am yet to be displeased  with a single recipe from 'Bread', and so fully expected to be satisfied with the outcome… I was not disappointed.
The dough was a little tricky to work with and tried its best to make a mess of my Kitchen Aid mixer… I take no pleasure in reporting that it accomplished this task with vigor! The mischievous ball of flour, water and seeds insisted on climbing its way up the dough hook, all the way up to the moving parts… Needless to say, much time was spent by myself and my very patient girl friend to undo my mess.
Attempted destruction of a kitchen aid aside, the endeavor paid off. The loaves baked up beautifully with a thick crunchy crust. The toasted seeds add a wholesome deep flavor to the bread which can be enhanced even further by toasting your slice first! The crumb was relatively open and even, however I feel this is the one area that I may be able to improve on a second attempt… possibly increasing the hydration slightly to achieve a more open structure.



Happy Baking,



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