The Fresh Loaf

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Nomadcruiser53's picture

Today I tried Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta. It was quick and easy as stated. I did do the SD variation to use up some of my starter and found I did have to add another 1/2 cup of flour for it to come together even after 1/2 hour mixing.

With the leftover I did up a pizza dough for supper tonight.

The pizza was great with a garden fresh salad and red wine. Dave

rayel's picture

I found this pan in my basement in its original box and thought I would try it out. I extended it about 17 inches for this loaf, but I believe it was too long for the amt. of dough. It is quite wide as well. It worked nicely but again I think I could have made the pan smaller.  Ray

cake diva's picture
cake diva

cherry peppers grilled

... a bowl of cherry peppers, grilled.

Every summer, my husband buys pepper plants, even though I have never had any success growing them.  Eggplants, zucchini, cucumbers, Chinese long beans- no problem, but peppers- just can't grow them.  So, this year B. says maybe you'll have better luck with cherry peppers, and proceeds to buy 3 plants.

Coming back from a month-long vacation in Asia, I find the cherry peppers ripe for picking.  Excited, I grilled, peeled and deseeded them- visions of cheese-stuffed, batter-dipped, fried torpedoes dancing in my head.  Better imagined than done!  After an hour of prepping, I quickly realized it would be a daunting task to batter and fry each one of what was left of the starting vegetable, let alone stuffed them with cheese.  Thus was Plan B born.  I would use the peppers judiciously in a sourdough bread.

For my sourdough bread, I turned to a recipe from Janedo ( which was her interpretation of Leader's Pane di Genzano, and made my own loose version. (Sorry, Janedo, I can't find the exact page to insert here for reference.)

Two days prior to bake, build your sourdough starter.  You would need 368g of SD. I chose to make 480g of a target 60% hydration preferment because that is what I had on hand and I already have the calculation from a previous bake.

Day 1:

  • 17.78g 60% hydration starter

  • 22.22g AP flour

  • 13.33g water

   12 hrs. later:

  • all of the above

  • 66.67g AP flour

  • 40.0  g water

Day 2:

  • all of the above

  • 200g AP flour

  • 120g water

   When the starter is active, about 4 hours...

  • 370g of the active starter (refrigerate the rest for future bakes)

  • 400g water, room temp

  • 500g flour (I used 300g bread flour, 120g First Clear flour, 75g AP flour, 6g vital wheat gluten. No particular reason for the amounts;  I had run out of bread flour)

  • 4 g instant yeast

  • 8 g of Kosher salt (reduced from original 15g amount in anticipation of dry cheese addition)


  1. Combine the above in the bowl of a mixer and mix with a pastry blade until a wet dough forms.  Now comes the cautionary part.  You may choose not try this at home with your regular benchtop mixers as the procedure calls for cranking the speed to settings above manufacturer recommendations.

  2. Turn on the mixer to medium-high speed and let knead for 10 minutes. Here I switched to the dough hook and placed my Hobart N50 to the 2nd setting (the model only has 3).  Be careful as Janedo cautions as the mixer can start to move and fall off the counter.

  3. Now increase the speed to high for 8-10 minutes. The dough is expected to form stringy strands and then thinner ones, and will eventually pull away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball, but slide down when the mixer is stopped.  Here was when I got really nervous as the mixer jiggled and made loud noises.  I was perhaps lucky this time that nothing got blown up.

  4. Do a windowpane test to make sure gluten has formed.

  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let ferment for 1.5 hrs.

  6. Then punch dough down, and do a couple of folds (I used my scraper since the dough is sufficiently wet);  cover and again let rise for 1-1.5 hrs.

  7. When doubled, take dough, degas and shape tightly.  (I made 2 boules).

  8. On one of the boule, I added cherry peppers and grated Parmegiano Reggiano).

folding peppers

     9.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1.5-2 hrs. (I did mine on parchment).  In the meantime, with an hour to go, preheat oven to 500F.

     10.  Score bread and slide onto hot stone, while reducing oven temp to 450F.  (I also took the hot water on cast iron pan + misting-the-oven strategies).  

     11.  After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 410F and bake for another 20 or so minutes until very dark.  (I skipped this step because I prefer my bread lighter in color.  I also typically mist my bread right after the bake to get a softer crust if I'm not going to consume the bread immediately).

cherry pepper boules

I know, my scoring remains a weakness. These I scored using sanitized wallpaper knife.


Crumb was satisfactory with enough holes.  The flavor of the bread is just as I like it- with moderate tang.  Now for the Cherry Pepper Parmesan bread- wheww!  It was hot!  I didn't know cherry peppers were that hot.  (Now mind you, I only go as high as 3 on a scale of 0-10 in Thai restaurants).  The dried cheese was, needless to say, fantastic and probably would have been more so had it been left on its own.

Cherry pepper cheese bread is being sent away to K. who can appreciate the heat, but daugher #1 and I, we're keeping the unflavored one. She's having her slice, as I write this, right off the panini grill, to be topped with fresh goat cheese.  Me- I'm having mine grilled and topped with good old-fashioned peanut butter.  I love the simpler things in life.

hot boule

dmsnyder's picture

A bowl of cherries

Hi, loafers!

I just returned from a week on the Oregon coast vacationing with our sons and their families. <sigh> It always seems too short.

I took along some previously baked breads - a Miche, Pointe-à-Callière, a Susan from San Diego's Ultimate Sourdough and Salome's Sourdough Potato-Walnut Bread. I also baked a couple loaves of San Joaquin Sourdough while there, again hazarding an unfamiliar oven and no baking stone. The breads I baked there suffered most from the scoring not opening up well. One I baked under a stainless steel bowl to steam. The other loaf was steamed by pouring boiling water into a heated skillet. The magic bowl technique worked better, I think.

I believe my older (3 years old) granddaughter ate the lioness' share of this loaf as PB&J sandwiches!

I also made AnnieT's Sourdough Pancakes with local blueberries twice. One time, I made some with roasted pecans. Yum! Highly recommended.

I took along starter in two forms: I dried some starter, and I made a very firm ball of starter about the size of a golf ball. I only ended up using the latter. It traveled for two days at room temperature without appreciable expansion. (No problems with Homeland Security.) I cut it up into very small pieces and soaked them in water for a while, then mixed the slurry well and added enough water to make an intermediate starter of about the consistency of my usual 1:3:4 (S:W:F) starter. This fermented overnight and was reasonably happy the next morning.

The other essential equipment I took along included a large Silpat mat for stretching and folding and forming loaves, an instant read thermometer, a plastic scraper and some instant yeast. I purchased a couple of large stainless steel bowls and a large cookie sheet in Oregon before heading to the beach. 

There was nothing I didn't take along that I wished I had. I think this is a good, minimal equipment list for bread baking on vacation.

My only regret is that my vacation coincided with Shiao-Ping's SFBI adventure. It would have been so neat to have met her face-to-face while she was in California! And tomorrow, I start Jury Duty. Not my choice for how to ease back into the real world after a wonderful vacation.


bshuval's picture

Hi all,

I just had to throw away my two rather expensive wooden bannetons, and I had to share my story.

As many of you know, you are never, ever, supposed to wash bannetons. You let the dough rise, and then you just tap out the excess flour. In San Diego I've had them for two years, and they were fine. Now I am in Israel, where the climate is different. The summer is much hotter and much more humid, which makes a difference, insect wise. I was going to use the bannetons tonight, after not having touched them for a few months. To my horror, they were full with little tan dots. These are either insect eggs or yeast spores (the dots did look a lot like granular yeast), but I am going with insect eggs as the more likely suspects. I am just glad I caught them at this stage, before all the insects were born (although I have the exterminators coming this Thursday).

At first I tried to wash the bannetons. This not only did not help much (there were eggs between the crevices of the wood), but also taught me why bannetons should never touch water. The wood is very soft, and the water made it expand and splinter. To the bin they go (not that I could have ever brought myself to use them after having seen them infested with insect eggs). I do this with a heavy heart but with no regrets.  

The most annoying thing about this is that it wasn't easy to get the bannetons. I had to specially mail order them. I made sure to get the wooden, highest-quality, ones. And now they're gone. Poor me. The next set of bannetons I buy will be plastic. At least those can be easily cleaned.


Nomadcruiser53's picture

Well we went on holidays and I forgot to take my starter along so I had to live on bread machine bread while we were gone. My starter (Bob) survived the 3 weeks home in the fridge just fine. Today I finally had some free time and what I wanted most was Beer and Cheese SD. I used PR's basic SD recipe and replaced the water with beer and added the cheese after the 1st knead and rest.

I made 4 loaves. We just had to cut into them to go with supper, thus a perfect photo op.

This one is a lager and swiss SD. The swiss taste comes through nicely and my Starter seems nicely sour after his 3 week stint in the fridge.

This is an ale and spicy gouda. Wonderful SD flavors and the heat of the gouda is noticable, but not over powering.

wally's picture

Last week I tried Hamelman's fougasse with olives recipe for the first time and had a very happy outcome.

However, in attempting to move the bread onto parchment after scoring it, I nearly had disasterous results, since the scoring leaves it without any 'backbone.' So I resolved to do a bake today avoiding last week's hassles by allowing the fougasse to rise on parchment paper.

Trouble is, I was too clever by half in my approach (as the results of my niçoise olive fougasse below attest).

Here's what happened, and, in retrospect, how to avoid my mistake.

The fougasse (a bread of Provence) goes through three shapings after its bulk fermentation:

1- it's lightly shaped into a ball and allowed to bench rest for about 20 min.

2- it's rolled into an oval shape with a rolling pin and then allowed a final rise for about 60 minutes, and

3- picking up the dough, you then stretch it out to about 1 1/2 times its orginal length, and then fashion it into a triangle whose base is about 1/2 of its length. After that, it's scored and loaded for the bake.

My misstep occured in step #2. I lightly floured parchment paper, and then rolled the boule into an oval and allowed it to rise for an hour. Unfortunately, after an hour resting on the parchment, it effectively glued itself to the paper, which made step #3 impossible. In attempting to scrape it off onto a floured countertop, I severely degassed the dough. Ergo the very, very overbaked (shall we just say burnt) middle of the loaf.

With my second bake - a roasted garlic and anchovy loaf - I smartened up and in step #2, I rolled out the dough into an oval on a well-floured surface - not parchment paper. After the hour's rise, I was able to lift if off the countertop without degassing it, and then transferred it to the parchment paper, where I did the final shaping (#3).

You can see the quite different result below.

I get raves about the bread - it's a bit like pizza without the sauce. In fact, someone suggested that a marinara dipping sauce would be a good accompaniment.

I'm surely going to continue baking this. Hopefully, the lessons learned in this round will lead to trouble-free shaping next time!



chouette22's picture

Every time I spend five, six weeks with my family in Switzerland in summer, this is the bread I am looking forward to eating the most.

It is originally from Geneva (the French-speaking part of Switzerland) and its inventor is Aimé Pouly, the author of the book “Le pain” (available, but out of stock right now at Amazon, only in French, as far as I know).


He is one of the originators of the “Slow Baking” movement, where bread dough is made completely without the too commonly used industrial flour mixtures that speed up the fermentation. Most  bakeries have everything but time, it has to be fast and cheap, and the lacking taste is being helped with additives – a very common approach nowadays, as the well-known German baker Süpke (referred to recently by Hans Joakim) explains in this very interesting article about preferments (in German though). He says, that until he discovered the Slow Baking movement, the only preferment he’d use in his bakery was sourdough. All other dough was made with the use of “little helpers” or convenience additives, as most bakeries do. Now, he says, he doesn’t sell a single bread with yeast  that has not gone through some type of prefermentation, and the change was everything but easy, he adds. The entire rhythm of the bakery changed completely, but the resulting breads were absolutely worth it.

Aimé Pouly believes in the old approach of a very long fermentation (about 24 hours it seems) and all breads are hand-formed and therefore no two of them are the same. This is the first fresh bread recipe worldwide that got patented, in 1995. Since then, every bakery that wants to sell this bread needs to get the license from Pouly, and apparently only good, quality bakers are able to get it. Then an advisor comes into the bakery to teach the bakers. MANY bakeries in Switzerland now sell the Pain Paillasse, and in the meantime also over 50 bakeries in Germany, and many places in France, Spain, Austria, Italy, and probably more, but the flour will always get delivered to all of them from Switzerland, as part of the recipe. A true success story of slowness, as it is sometimes referred to.

It originally came in three types: white, dark, and rustique (with seeds), but now also with olives, or chocolate, as a provençal version, and more.


The crust is strong, and the crumb is very open, soft, sweet (there is, however, no sweetness added, it’s just the long fermentation) and very moist.

The taste is just wonderful! My favorite one is the rustic one with the seeds.


Since the recipe is a secret, I have recently tried to recreate a version of it. I saw a recipe for Alpine Baguettes in the blog Beginning With Bread. It is from Daniel Leader’s book “Local Breads” and he got it from Clemens Walch in the Austrian Alps. Since I liked the outcome so much, I have now purchased the book and intend to try many more recipes from it.

We really loved this bread! I have made it twice now, the first time with a whole-wheat starter and the second time completely according to the recipe, with a rye starter (that I have changed from my AP starter over the course of three or four feedings). I could not, however, detect a really different flavor or behavior of the dough, thus in the future I will just take my WW starter. If you like breads studded with seeds (it contains a soaker of sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds, as well as rolled oats), then give this a try!

This was my outcome:

The Paillasse rustique has most of its seeds on the outside (it specifies this on the paper sleeve in which it is being sold), the inside just has a few and is otherwise mostly like the dark Paillasse. The Alpine Baguettes are full of seeds inside, but since the hydration is quite high, it's not easy turning the final loafs in a mixture of seeds and grains to coat them.


Shiao-Ping's picture

Day one of Artisan II course at the San Francisco Baking Institute, Frank our instructor touched on a buzz word for me - Freedom.  This was by no means any where in the manual or was there any hint on his part of an emphasis when he mentioned it; it was a casual passing comment.  He said the best bread for him is a bread with a pre-ferment (poolish or sponge where there is a small amount of commercial yeast) and a levain (in the final dough which is then retarded), and that this combination gives you a lot of "freedom."  

There were 16 of us sitting in the classroom.  Not everyone gets a message at the same level.   I am not suggesting one level is higher than another, or a student who gets a particular message is a better baker than the rest of the class.   I am saying - the message I received has a special meaning to me, and me only.  For the rest of the day, I was chewing on the concept.   I did not know what exactly in Frank's remarks that fascinated me - is it the excitement in the knowledge that the combination of a pre-ferment and a levain would give me the possibility of making a great flavored bread, or what?  It was not until the next night when I was reading my French bread book (which I brought from home) with the assistance of Google translator on French bread tradition that it clicked on me - tradition? freedom? 

Is tradition a quantifier and qualifier, a boundary, a set of rules and conventions; or is tradition a liberator?   Why did the best abstract artists in fine art history start their life-long pursuits by doing serious charcoal sketches and still-life drawings?   I am a Chinese, but do I want to be bound by it?   Freedom.   My tradition is one enriching element in my fabric but I do not want it to be a boundary.   I learn bread, but I do not want to be bound by the bread conventions.   I will make breads that are meaningful to me, whatever that is.   I answer to myself.

As in any learning, formula can never replace the reasoning behind.  The concept is always more valuable than the mere formula.  Once we are able to extract the governing concept or principle from the formula, we have freedom to construct our own formula.   The aspect of freedom excites me far more than the formula.  But I have to start my learning from the formula. 

A Sourdough Formula From Scratch - 5 Days Start To Finish

day 1 at noon, starting to make the culture

  • 200 g bread flour

  • 200 g whole wheat flour

  • 400 g lukewarm water (80F)

day 2 at 8 am

culture on day 2 morning before feeding (after the very first mixing of flour and water the day before)

  • 200 g bread flour

  • 200 g lukewarm water (80F)

  • 200 g culture from the day before (threw away the rest)

day 2 at 4 pm

culture on day 2 afternoon before feeding

  • 200 g bread flour

  • 200 g water

  • 200 g culture from the morning (threw away the rest)

day 3 at 8 am

culture on day 3 morning before feeding

  • 200 g bread flour

  • 200 g water

  • 200 g culture from the day before (threw away the rest)

day 3 at 4 pm, beginning to turn the culture into a starter


culture on day 3 afternoon before feeding and turning into starter

  • 300 g bread flour

  • 300 g water

  • 120 g culture from the morning (threw away the rest)

day 4 at 8 am

starter on day 4 morning before being fed

  • 300 g flour

  • 300 g water

  • 200 g starter, amount increased from 120 g to 200g as this would be used in the afternoon to make sourdough!

day 4 at 3 pm, starting to hand mix the following ingredients for sourdough:

  • 673 g bread flour

  • 471 g water

  • 18 g salt

  • 337 g levain from above

Total dough weight 1.5 kg and total dough hydration 76% 

  1. Mix the above ingredients in a bucket (or a large bowl) by hand. 

  2. Turn out the sticky mess onto the work bench.

  3. Use the palm of one hand, stretch out (like smearing) the sticky mess against the work bench for one minute, not any longer, to thoroughly hydrate the flour;.

  4. Scrape the sticky mess back into the bucket.

  5. With one hand holding the edge of the bucket, another hand stretches and folds the dough onto itself at one corner of the dough; then gives the bucket a 1/4 turn, and stretches and folds the dough again until you have done four corners (ie, one round); do two round in total, no more.

  6. At 30 minutes mark, repeat step 5

  7. At another 30 minutes mark, repeat step 6; at this point you will notice some strength in dough has developed.

  8. At another 30 minutes mark, repeat step 7.  As some dough strength has developed, you will notice the dough is smooth and silky and easily clears the side of the bucket as you stretch and fold in the bucket.

  9. At another 30 minutes mark, turn out the dough onto a well floured work surface.  Oil the bucket before you attend to the dough again.

  10. Now, pre-shape the somewhat loose dough (due to high hydration) into a boule by folding 1/4 of the dough onto itself until all the dough is onto itself, then flip it over; and with two hands on both sides of the dough, create surface tension by applying downward pressure against the work bench and form the dough into a boule.

  11. With the flexibility of a gymnast (joking), flip the pre-shaped boule into the bucket (right side in the bottom) in a swift motion.

  12. Dust your linen lined basket with rice flour or a mixture of bread flour and rice flour.

  13. At 15 minutes mark, turn out the pre-shaped dough onto a well floured work bench.  Shape again as in step 10 but try to do it as tight as possible without tearing the skin.

  14. Flip the shaped dough into the basket, right side down.  Cover.

  15. At 30 minutes mark, wheel (I mean, chuck) the dough into your fridge for overnight retardation (14 hours). 

day 5 bake this little baby

  1. At 7:30 am, turn on your oven to pre-heat to 450 F

  2. At 8:00 am, remove the dough from the fridge to room temperature. 

  3. Invert the dough onto a peel, and clean off rice flour on top if there is any.  Dust the surface with bread flour or stencil the top with favourite design of your choice. (At the last minute, I cut out three round circles as stencils.)

  4. At 8:30 am, score your dough; steam your oven for 2 seconds, load the dough onto the baking stone, steam for another 2 seconds, and bake for 30 minutes; then, bake for another 30 minutes with the oven door ajar to vent (in order to dry out the crust) or until the crust is of a desired color. (Note: for home baking the steaming is done after the dough is loaded with 1 cup of water onto lava rock filled cast iron roasting pan.)

  5. Cool completely before slicing. 

And, here is my true San Francisco Sourdough made in San Francisco.  (The above procedure is my own, adapted from various sources mentioned in this blog as well as Frank our instructor's instructions.)



   My true San Francisco Sourdough made in San Francisco






Crust:  I cannot claim credit for the beautiful crust.  Frank was our master baker, the man at the oven.  He controlled the oven temp, the length of the baking, and all that cares that go with the baking.  The crust is very crispy and full of that caramel/charcoal fragrance.





Crumb color: I have never seen such a beautiful crumb color.  You would say there was hardly any oxidization of flour at all due to the way the dough was mixed and fermented, resulting in this exceedingly creamy, somewhat golden, color. 

The taste is a little bit sour.  I am surprised as I would have thought with the liquid levain, there would be more lactic acidity, rather than acetic acidity.  Maybe overnight retardation is the reason.  Or maybe any true San Francisco sourdough is sour... that San Francisco air and sea breeze?

The mouth feel of the crumb is moist and mildly chewy, full of life.   





Before I leave San Francisco I have one more job to do - to "immortalize" my San Francisco starter to bring home to Australia in dry form.  After using it to mix the dough at day 4 afternoon, I had about 460 g of liquid starter (100% hydration) left.  I turned it into a stiff starter (50% hydration) at the end of that day's class and this morning (day 5) I fed it again.  When I finished today's class, it was already very bubbly.  I brought it back to my hotel and was painting the starter onto a few parchment paper.  Before I had done painting the 5th piece of paper, the first one partially dried.  It was lucky that I turned the liquid starter into a stiff one as it dried faster; my decision was one of greed - I thought with a stiff starter, more flour, more beasties. 



                                 Here is my abstract starter painting with flour and water to finish the day.


p.s.  I asked Frank if I could blog today's sourdough.  I never received a YES answer so quick.   His reply was as if my question was unnecessary. 

boathook1's picture

Once I've made a starter how long should I keep it before trying to bake with it? Does it continue to get more sour with age? MY AIM IS TO BAKE A REALLY SOUR LOAF...

I could not be much newer at this... I'm seeking two things:

1. VERY SOUR tasting results.

2. The simplest recipes.

Could I be asking too much? Is there hope for me?! !... I'm willing to learn... My baking history consists of a cookie mix that came in a cardboard container from the freezer dept. of the local Piggly Wiggly [?]... Oh yeah.. I did a few potatoes once too but if I recall correctly I ended up burying them in my back yard.... {late at night too}... I guess it's also worth mentioning that in the divorce papers I was served, my kitchen antics were a key factor in chasing the little woman from my loving embrace... {Have you ever tried reading fine print when your glasses are all clouded with flour powder?... And you're up to your arm pits in dough that is heavier than you can lift?}... A nasty rumor has found it's way to me as well... According to a recent ruling by the courts I'm not allowed to bake within 500 feet of my former wife......

I remain, your humble and curious student..



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