The Fresh Loaf

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GSnyde's picture

I seem to be developing a pattern for my weekend bakes: one lean bread and one hearty rich something-or-other. Today it was Polish Country Bread with Rye Soaker and Chicken Pot Pie. Both were excellent (yes, I do say so myself) and both owe much to my TFL mentors.

The big excitement this weekend was stopping at Keith Giusto’s Bakery Supply in Petaluma and scoring some wicked flour (


Then, of course, I had to try it.

Polish Country Bread with Rye Soaker


I have baked several breads with a portion of whole Rye flour. In fact most of my favorite sourdoughs have some rye, including Brother David’s much heralded San Joaquin Sourdough and my San Francisco Country Sourdough. I do plan to try a “real” Rye bread at some point soon. Meanwhile, I was intrigued by Wally’s blog post about Polish Country Bread with a Rye soaker ( I mostly followed Larry’s formula, but I increased the Rye to 20% by increasing the soaker to 110 grams of Rye flour and 220 grams of water; accordingly, I reduced the water in the final mix. Also, in place of the Sir Galahad, I had to use the Central Milling Co.’s Artisan Bakers’ Craft flour (with a touch of malted Barley flour in it) that I got yesterday at Keith Giusto’s Bakery Supply. This bread gave me a chance to experience some of the characteristics of Rye flour while baking something in my comfort zone.

The night-before prep of soaker and two levains went fine, but I found the dough very hard to mix by hand this morning. It started out lumpish and stiff. I added a small amount of additional water. Then after 10 minutes of bare hands mixing it became as sticky as anything I’ve worked. Finally, with several minutes of kneading on a floured board, it started to get silky and workable, though still pretty dense. It didn’t really windowpane, but I decided it was ready because I had had enough mixing and needed my cappuccino. The dough became much more cooperative as it got stretched and folded during the bulk ferment. It was still not easily malleable, but it felt like bread dough. This experience helped persuade me that I might need to get a mixer for firm doughs and big batches. I look forward to seeing David’s BUP in action next weekend.

The two loaves, one boule and one batard, rose nicely in their bannetons, and I could tell when I slashed them that they were just ready for some baking. Indeed, they sproinged like crazy in an oven steamed with a combo of Sylvia’s Magic Towels and a cast iron skillet with lava rocks. The crust was crispy and fairly thick, with strong caramelization (not as dark as the photos indicate). And I don’t believe I’ve had such big grignes before. And since I pre-heated the stone for over an hour on convection setting, the bottoms were nice and brown.



The crumb was not as moist as the Pain de Campagne I’ve baked recently, but it was a nice combination of airy and chewy.



Chicken Pot Pie

When I was a boy in the Old Country, we had a unique dining establishment called The Chicken Pie Shop. Its décor featured 1950s old growth naugahyde booths (in a variety of green tones) with pastel sheet metal chicken sculptures on the walls. It served chicken pies and little else. I describe it in the past tense (though the place is still there) because the memories are more real than the present. For much of my short adult life, I have been trying to replicate those pies—flaky crust with big chunks of chicken and a simple thick Chickeny gravy.

A couple years ago, I found a recipe that is pretty dang close ( I have made it several times, using Pillsbury pie crust dough. Having drooled over trailrunner’s Apple Crostada recipe (, I decided I needed to bite the bullet and make pie crust for the first time (I know, I have big gaps in my culinary experience…but at least I’m trying to fill them). My wife knows a lot more about pie making than I do, having lived for part of her youth with her expert-baker granny. So she (wife, not her granny) helped me with the crust. It seemed to be going well, though I think we added too much buttermilk, and overhandled it a bit. It was good tasting but not flaky. Not bad for a first try. It made for a delicious dinner, and a valuable pie crust lesson.

The chicken pie has about one-third of a pound of butter in it, between the crust and the gravy. But, as my spouse says, it has some vegetables, so it's good for us.


Another bunch of lessons learned, and the homework was good enough to eat.


dmsnyder's picture

As most of you are aware, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the U.S. of A. next Thursday. Family gatherings and big dinners are traditional, although the foods that are traditional vary considerably by region and from family to family. These traditions usually involve a lot of cooking, but they make menu planning relatively simple, unless you have family members with a variety of food allergies or other aversions. 

There are also traditions regarding foods eaten, not on Thanksgiving, but on the surrounding days. I'm not aware of a lot of these. The one that comes to mind is going out for Chinese food the Friday after Thanksgiving. This is an American Jewish tradition. I have no idea what Chinese-Americans traditionally eat the night after Thanksgiving.

These days, with the increased mobility of American families, the Thanksgiving gathering often involves relatives traveling great distances in order to be together for the holiday. This also means the gathering is more than a one day affair. And that means meal planning and cooking need to be done for much more than the one big Thanksgiving dinner.

We will have family starting to arrive next Tuesday, and the last will leave the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. We want to have time to play with the grandchildren and visit with the grown-ups. So, we're spending this weekend preparing food to be frozen, so we don't spend all next week in the kitchen.

I started 2 days ago (Wednesday), feeding 2 different starters. Last night, I mixed the dough for San Joaquin Sourdough. This will be baked tomorrow as baguettes to make into French toast. Susan made a vegetarian stock to use for our Thanksgiving stuffing and for a potage. (One daughter-in-law is a vegetarian.)

Today, I built up a starter which will be used tomorrow to make Country Rye Breads from "Tartine Bread." I have the flour for this pre-weighed on the counter.

I also made a batch of NY Baker's babka dough and made up the cake crumb/sugar/cinnamon filling too.Tomorrow, I'll make up pecan rolls, but stop before cutting the rolls and freeze the logs to cut, proof and bake while company is here. 

I then made pasta dough for fresh tagliatelle for Tuesday night's dinner. The bolognese sauce is simmering now. I'll stir in some pesto before serving. (No pesto for the kosher daughter-in-law. It has cheese in it.) Tomorrow, I'll roll out, cut and dry the noodles.

I'd planned to also make a batch of the pie crust using trailrunner's recipe, but my wife hijacked the Cuisinart to grind hazelnuts for a Frangipani-Pear Cake. So, that's added to tomorrow's fun.

Sufficient excuse for not making pie crust today

Let's see ... That just leaves making Turkey stock (for brother Glenn's best ever gravy) and a big pot of Potage (from Patricia Wells. HIGHLY recommended!) for lunch or dinner one day, baking two kinds of bread, making the pie crust dough and putting together the pecan roll logs for the next two days. All this in between other necessary errands, naturally.

Hey! I forgot the bagels! Maybe we'll make them along with the Challah, rye bread, Apple Crostada and knotted rolls Glenn wants me to show him how to make ... next Friday. 

Happy getting ready for Thanksgiving to everyone!


MadAboutB8's picture

This is the recipe I love from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker Apprentice. This bread makes a great toast. The bread has 16% grains which contribute to the sweetness and fantastic aroma. The bread is very moist from many grains that hold the moisture and contribute to the natural sweetness. 

The recipe also contains brown rice that can be substituted by white rice or wild rice, but brown rice seems to blend in the best. I used white rice as I had some left over frozen from few weeks ago.

"White rice can be seen in the crumbs. It made the crumb so moist."

The original recipe is a straight dough, i.e. using commercial yeast without any pre-ferment flour. I always wanted to try converting a commercial yeasted bread into sourdough and see what the taste difference it would be. As a relatively novice bread baker, I also wanted to test my baker percentage calculation.

The intant yeast in original recipe is replaced by sourdough starter in liquid levain form. The original recipe is for 2-pound loaf, which means I need to use the baker's math to calculate recipe for desired final weight, 3.5+ pounds for two large loaves. It was fun using the baker's math. I felt like yelling 'bingo' when I finished the calculation.

I find Peter Reinhart's original recipe is very sticky, almost too sticky to work with.  So, I reduced the hydration to 74%, which is still a relatively wet dough (maybe because it also has about 4% of honey in it) . I also substitute 20% of bread flour with whole wheat flour. The original recipe also has honey and brown sugar that I also reduced both amount by half as the bread would be naturally sweet by long fermentation and grain soaker.

I just realised that I pretty much changed most of the Reinhart formula. Basically, the ingredients remain the same, but their amount were changed.

What is the result?, you might ask, after the convertion to sourdough and many ingredient changes. Well, the flavour profile changes substantially which, I believe, is resulted from using sourdough starter. It introduces acidity and tang into the bread which is non-existent in the original version. The sourdough version also has tender and moist crumbs. It is not as sweet as the original. Do I like it enough to do it again? Yes, this recipe is a keeper.


For more details and recipe you can visit the blog here:


ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

It rained all day here yesterday which is good as I decided to bake all day.  I had chosen to make dmsnyder's San Joaquin adaptation and have another go at the 1,2,3 formula which has only been successful for me once.  I am sorry that I didn't stick to the recipes and got my timing all out of whack!  With the 1,2,3 recipe I added about 15% rye and maybe 20% wholemeal instead of all white.  I didn't get the rise out of it that I was hoping for, but was saved by some oven spring.  The San Joaquin loaves came out a little crusty, but okay and amazingly light which I thought was a good sign.  I could barely contain myself to wait until the loaves were cool to slice open and see what was inside.  The 1,2,3 crumb was very ordinary looking, although I am more looking forward to the taste than anything.  The San Joaquin was very open and we tasted straight away.  I'm no bread connoisseur, but it was very yummy (in layman's terms, lol). I finally got my Bread Baker's Apprentice in the mail and was highly amused by Peter Reinhart's description of what should happen when tasting bread.  It's kind of like When Harry Met Sally!  Anyway, here's my bake.

1,2,3 boules and San Joaquin batards.

The open crumb of the batard

Thaichef's picture

This information is for all my friends at TFL.  Help is badly needed.  Calling all Ronray male and female for help.  Here is the scoop:  After baking sourdough and other yeast bread succesfully for almost a year and a half, I felt smuck. So to bake some simple bread like "buttermilk Bread" from Laurel 's kitchen bread book is nothing, so I thought. But, I was wrong. The result was so disappointing that I am shocked.  Here is the recipe:


7 g. active dry yeast

1/2 c. warm water (120ml)

3/4 c. very hot water (175ml)

 1 1/4 c cold buttermilk (300 ml)

1/4 c honey (60ml)

5 1/2 c whole wheat flour (830 g)

2 tsp. salt (11g)

2-4 tbsp butter 28-56 g (I used 2 tbsp)

Dissolved yeast in the warm water.

Mix hot water with cold buttermilk, honey together. The temp. should be slightly warm.

Put all the flour in a large bowl, add the salt, mix well. Make well in the center . Pour the buttermilk mixture  and the yeast in the hole. Mix well. Test the flour to see if it need more flour or water add more water of flour as needed. ( I added 2 tbsp. of water since the dough seemed to be dry) The recipe said tht it need to be knead 20 min. then put in the bowl for first rise 1 1/2 hour.

At this point I did the following, I let the dough rest 20 min.(autolyse), I did a stretch and fold 6 times at 10 min. interval, then first rise 1 hour.

I press the dough flat and let the dough rise on its 2nd rise 45min.(per recipe) use the finger poke test then shape put  in bread pan, poke test again  and bake it at 325 F. as recipe stated.

The recipe said that the dough will be soft and will rise extreamly high but mine was hard and  hardly rise at all. the bread  great but the apearence was extreamly poor. 

The Laurel's kitchen bread book is awsome and I want to try making more whole grain bread.  My first try was a flop as though I am a novice bread baker.  What happen? Help is need badly. I need to make this bread for sell but I will not be able to sell any if it looks like a midget!!!

I did test my  active dry yeast and it is active. My hot water was 102 F and the warm water was 98 F. I make sure that the salt doesn't touch the yeast.  So what went wrong? i think that Lendy D made whole wheat bread from this book before and gave high praise for it. So what went wrong?

Help, Help, Help!




mgiger's picture

I have been following this site for a few months now and learning a lot.  I caught the "bread bug" recently and have been seriously baking bread at home since about April.  This is my first blog entry (ever, about anything).

One of my major challenges has been fitting the baking into my hectic work week and crazy weekends.  This receipe is one solution I have found.  It is 100% whole wheat and requires minimal "kneading."  The ingredients are as follows:

500 g whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
350 g water
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt

My method takes about 24 hours, with all work done in the evenings (convenient for the work week).  The first night, I mix together the ingredients and stir vigorously in the bowl, using the handle of a wooden spoon as a "dough hook".  Then, using a dough scraper, I knead for a minute or two.  Over the next 90 minutes, I do three "stretch and folds" at 30 minute intervals.  Then, I let it sit overnight on the counter at room temperature (about 9 hours total).  The next morning, it's into the refrigerator until I'm home from work the following evening.  I take out the dough, form it into a boule, and let it proof until just short of doubled.

I bake the loaf on a stone with the oven preset at 500 degrees, and immediately turned down to 450 degrees, for about 40 minutes.  I pour one and a half cups of water into a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven for steam generation.

The result is some pretty good oven spring for a 100% whole wheat bread, and a fairly light, but still hearty crumb, slightly sweet from the honey.  While it lacks the large holes of a bread with more white flour, it was not at all dense.  See the shots below.

The Loaf

  Crumb shot

That's it for the inaugral post.  Cheers to all!


amolitor's picture

No pictures, I am just recording this recipe here for my own use, really, but feel free to try it out! This is my first effort at recreating a bread my father made a lot when I was young. It's not wildly far off, but needs some work.

Evening of Day 0

Make a poolish: 1 cup warm water, a pinch of yeast, 1 cup bread flour. Mix, let stand out (covered) overnight.

Morning of Day 1

The poolish should be active, inflated, and bubbly. If not, wait until it is.

  • Scald 3/4 cup milk, set aside to cool.
  • Crack two eggs, reserve 1 tablespoon of the white of of one them. Beat eggs thoroughly.
  • Add 1T sugar and 1.5 tsp ground cardamom (to taste -- 1.5 tsp is a nice starting point) to the now-warm scalded milk.
  • 2 tsp salt.
  • Proof 1/2 tsp instant yeast (or 1 tsp dry yeast) in 2T warm water.

Add all of the above to the poolish, and mix. Work in sufficient bread flour (about 4 cups) to make a slightly sticky dough, one that can be kneaded on a board without sticking, IF you dust with flour constantly. Knead until smooth, and until it windowpanes pretty well.

Let rise until doubled, or thereabouts. Degas a bit ("punch down" or "stretch and fold") and let rise again. I did not get too aggressive with degassing, and I wasn't really letting it fully rise (impatience, and I wanted two risings before shaping). I handled the dough fairly gently between kneading and shaping.

Divide into 3 equal parts and braid. I formed three baguettes, basically, and braided them. Instructions for braiding are in any challah recipe.

Let rise until doubled, or until poke-test. Pre-heat oven to 425.

Mix your reserved 1T egg white with 1T water, mix thoroughly. Glaze the loaf with this mixture, place in oven, REDUCE HEAT TO 400 degrees. I let it rise on parchment paper on a peel, and slid it off onto my pizza stone. Sprinkling with poppy or sesame seeds after glazing and before baking would be nice, but I hadn't any this time so I didn't.

After 20 minutes, turn the loaf and re-glaze. Bake another 25 minutes.

The result is a fairly robust rich-tasting bread, with a mild cardamom flavor. Toasting it or making french toast brings out more of the cardamom. The crumb has nicely "artisanal" uneven holes throughout. The bread's probably not auitable for sandwiches or really any truly savory use. It makes wonderful toast and french toast, and is great with just butter as well.

Thoughts for a future iteration

Work the dough a little less, and possibly add some oil. The crumb is rich and fairly tender, but isn't fragile at all in the way one expects from a brioche. I think a tablespoon of oil or butter might help, here.


curvesarein's picture

Well I decided to do something good for our health. Something I did 25 years ago and before when my young family was growing. I used to grind my own wheat and make my own bread from whole wheat grain. Everything we ate was fresh and full of nutrition and fiber. Then I married the Italian (half Irish too) and he wanted white bread or Irish soda bread etc. Not gonna touch the brown stuff. So I sold all my equipment to buy a stove! Big mistake. But seemed the thing to do at the time. Make the hubby happy! I wanted a new stove too! So now 25 years later I made a new investment in our health and bought a new model Bosch Universal Plus mixer with 800 watts of power and the ability to knead 4 loaves of bread in 10 minutes. Then I was on the search for the recipe from 30 years ago! Happy I found the website The Fresh Loaf and Old Wooden Spoon gave me the recipe I used back then ( that gave away our age right away!) My first day in the kitchen was like  the I Love Lucy show. Now I don't like to be on camera but this would have won me enough money to pay for my equipment for sure! Did I say it was an investment, not just a purchase.   Here is what I purchased after much research and past experience.     Nutrimill Grain Mill Nutri Mill Grainmill Flour Grinder   Now the first day was quite interesting, all seemed easy enough so I skimmed the directions on the equipment. I set up the Nutrimill to grind my wheat. Obviously I didn't have it quite locked in right as flour started shooting out the side, but one quick stop and we got that under control. Not too much mess to clean up. Then on to proofing the yeast. A little honey, warm water and yeast. It starts to bubble so I know it's working. Yay! Next is to start filling the mixer with water, flour, salt and honey, then I turn to find the yeast. It is starting to bubble forth like champagne out of the cup ! So I add that and proceed to add more flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. (that's how you tell it's ready)    Now my first mixer had 2 speeds, this has 4. I think I must have put it on speed 3. Somewhere someone said I should remove the outer rim of the bowl at this stage.     Now I never did that with the old one. But I figured why not, so removed it.    Then turned my back on the machine and went to the sink. I turned around and dough was breaking off and flying around my kitchen, I kid you not! Splat in the dining room, splat on the counter, splat on the kitchen floor. I put that rim on as fast as I could blink an eye. All went well after that and we got some beautiful tasty bread. Next baking day went smoothly with great results, (cinnamon bread) everyone wants to buy it. Not happening, that executive decision was made the first day. I'm not 25 anymore! I used to make 15 loaves a day, babysit and deliver the bread. $1.50 a loaf in the 80's. Now today was my 3rd day baking. I had to grind 20 lbs of wheat into flour that I sold for $4.00 for each 5 lbs. That took a while. Then I had some left over and decided to start a second batch of four loaves of bread. Needed to grind more flour.    Rule # 2 , don't overfill the hopper or turn your back on it. I'm always trying to multi-task. I turned around and the stove side of my kitchen looked like the first snow of winter!    I'm having to learn lots of patience with this new process, but the rewards are warm soft whole wheat loaves of bread. Guess what the Italian is eating willingly now? At lunch he waited for me to slice bread to make his sandwich. The little white rolls nearby were crying! The pictures tell the rest! I hear there really is an episode of I love Lucy baking bread! Gotta get that one from Netflix. Linda McErlean   "Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains un-awakened."    

breadinquito's picture

Hi everyone, have not written for ages on the site and I now have the chance to have a baking stone brought from a relative going to Miami...can anyone suggest any place? thanks in advance. Paolo from Quito

hanseata's picture

Last week we bought a bag full of assorted apples from a farmer. Not only the bag was huge, the size of some of the apples (Macoun) was gigantic, too. What to do with all these beautiful apples? A dreary day makes you think of comfort food, and there's that old saying: "Life is uncertain - eat the dessert first". I'm never one to resist the craving for dessert, anyway, and the oven was still warm from baking bread in the morning.

Among my cookbooks is one exclusively on apple cakes (Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen"). I made already a few of them, but wanted to try something new. Many of the cakes are baked on a sheet pan, the kind Americans call "bars" and Germans "Schnitten". I wanted it to be simple, with a lot of apples, some nuts and, preferably, some liquor in it.

This is what I came up with:

Apfelkuchen with Almonds and Apfelkorn Cream

My cake has more apples than the original one, and, also, different kinds for a more complex taste. The original recipe calls for Amaretto, but I didn't have any and my husband doesn't care too much for it, either. Also, I liked the idea of an additional apple flavor, so I took the Apfelkorn I had in my cupboard (I'm sure Calvados would have been a great choice, too). I used brown sugar instead of white, and, also, reduced the overall amount of sugar - it's still sweet enough.

It turned out really nice, with a fresh, strong apple taste - and just a hint of booze.



125 g all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat pastry flour (or more all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
75 g butter
1 egg
30 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
25 g almond meal
750 g apples, mixed, (I used Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Macoun)
juice of 1 lemon
150 g butter, softened
75 g brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
20 ml Apfelkorn or Calvados
100 g all-purpose flour
250 ml whipping cream
25 g almond slivers



Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. Butter a 1/4-sheet pan.

In mixer bowl, sieve together flour and baking powder. Add butter, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and almond meal. Knead at low speed until all comes together, then switch to medium speed (KA 6) and continue kneading until smooth. Wrap dough in foil and refrigerate for 30 min.

Roll out dough to size of sheet pan. Transfer to pan and press dough up around sides to shape a small rim. Prick with fork several times.

Bake 12 - 15 min.


Reduce oven heat to 350 F/180 C.

Peel (only green ones) and slice apples Toss with lemon juice. Set aside. (Red apple skin looks nice when baked, the green turns brownish).

In mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar, vanilla extract, egg, lemon zest, Apfelkorn (or Calvados) and flour, mixing well after each addition.

Whisk whipping cream until stiff. Fold into filling, and spread evenly over pre-baked crust. Top with apples and sprinkle with almonds.

Place in lower third of oven. Bake ca. 35 min. (if top browns too much, cover with aluminum foil).











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