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hansjoakim's picture

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and lovely new year celebrations!

After getting the rye sauerteig starter from Leader's Local Breads going, I have been gradually working my way through Hamelman's rye sourdoughs. I've become completely enamored with hearty rye loaves, and I feel I am getting a bit better at working with these kinds of doughs.

I've baked the straight oatbread from Bread several times, and it has served as one of my favorite "quick breads" that I make when I don't have the time to do a sourdough/pre-fermented bread. However, I've always thought that it's on the light side, and that it stales pretty fast. So, yesterday I had a go at a modified version, where I replaced some of the bread flour with a rye sauer. This is my first iteration, but I feel it turned out pretty good. I post my working recipe below. Next time, I think I'll substitute some of the bread flour with more wholewheat, to give it an even heartier feel. Suggestions are very welcome, and please let me know how it turns out if you have a go at it!

All the rye flour is pre-fermented (34.7%). Apologize for the awkward percentages, I did some tweaks to a preliminary formula, so most quantities came out with decimal percentages. The amounts below yielded two average sized ovals.

Overall formula

  • Wheat flour 260 gr. (42.1%)

  • Wholewheat flour 143 gr. (23.2%)

  • Whole rye flour 214 gr. (34.7%)

  • Rolled oats 143 gr. (23.2%)

  • Water 540 gr. (87.5%)

  • Oil 54 gr. (8.8%)

  • Honey 36 gr. (5.8%)

  • Salt 12 gr. (2%)

  • Fresh yeast 8 gr. (1.3%)

Rye sourdough

  • Whole rye flour 214 gr. (100%)

  • Water 214 gr. (100%)

  • Rye starter 11 gr. (5%)

Prepare rye sourdough 16 - 18 hrs. before the final dough is mixed. Bulk fermentation: 1 hr. Final fermentation: 50 - 60 minutes. Bake at 240C for 15 minutes, then at 220C for another 20-30 minutes.Loaves cooling


dmsnyder's picture

pain à l'ancienne

Rustic baguettes and ciabatta from Gosselin's formula (as described by Peter Reinhart)


Pain à l'Ancienne baguette crumb

I made these baguettes and ciabatta from the formula Reinhart says he got directly from Phillipe Gosselin. The version in "Bread Baker's Apprentice" is a modification.

This is a very high hydration dough (about 80%), and I made my dough with KAF's "French Style Flour," which is their T55 clone. This is a low-gluten flour, by American standards. The dough started out like a batter once the additional water was added. I mixed it in my Bosch Universal Plus for something like 15 minutes before it was smooth and shiney. It still flowed like a batter. For the next hour, I did Hamelman's folding in the bowl. It then doubled over the next 90 minutes. (This technique was improvised. I thought about chucking the whole project as a lost cause at several points, but I'm glad I didn't. I learned a lot.)

The loaves were divided and stretched onto semolina-dusted parchment. The baguettes were baked without further proofing. The Ciabatti were folded in the usual manner and allowed to rise for about 30 minutes before baking.

Note: No attempt was made to score these loaves.

The baguettes had the sweet taste and cool, silky mouth-feel of ciabatta. I count them a success. Whew!


ejm's picture


When I made challah earlier this year, I thought I did a 6 strand braid to wrap around the 6 strand woven ball. But it wasn't until I made festive bread this Christmas that I realized how to do 6 strand braiding correctly.

Braiding bread dough is really pretty easy. Even 6 strand braiding, once you get the hang of it, is pretty easy. But you don't have to tell anyone, if you don't want to. The final result is SO impressive!

The main reason that it's easy is that dough strands stay exactly where they are placed. This is a good thing. I highly recommend that you skip the step of practicing with ribbons or chords and go directly to bread dough. What does it matter if the braid is wrong the first time? The bread will taste just as good. And chances are, the braid will be JUST right!

6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
  1. Take the 2nd from left strand in your right hand and the 1st from the left strand in your left hand. You right hand goes all the way over all the strands to the right; your left hand goes over two strands to the center.
  2. Take the 2nd from right strand in your left hand and the 1st from the right strand (just a moment ago, this strand was the 2nd from the left...) in your right hand. You left hand goes all the way over all the strands to the left; your right hand goes over two strands to the center.
  3. repeat 'til finished. Tuck ends under.


This is what the finished braid looks like. Beautiful, isn't it? Note how the ends have been tucked under.


The bread recipe and more braiding photos are here:

I could never have managed this without looking at the following several times:


edit: I made a video of 6 strand braiding!

SylviaH's picture

I made this danish pastry from the recipe on Breadcetera by Michel Suas.  "Thank you very much Steve, your video is wonderful!"  It's definately an improvement over the first posted Danish Pastry...being Irish I of coarse used the suggested unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter...but I really think I would have liked a Danish Cream butter better in my pastry...this is just a personal opinion....the very first time I attempted making a Danish Pastry it was a sourdough one and I used a regular unsalted organic butter and I just liked the way it baked up a lot better and the flavor seemed good to me....not quite so...I hate to say it but...oily as the Kerrygold!!  I guess it's just to rich for my taste buds!

Shaping pinwheels really flattened out my pastry....the croissants however did puff up very nicely and I was pretty happy with the way they turned out...though to rich tasteing for my buds!!  Hope you enjoy the photos:  Sylvia

This dough is ready to roll out and shape into croissants...marked with 3 imprints...showing it's had all it's folds!  It was a lot easier to work with than the first recipe I posted earlier today.

I made these pinwheels, cherry, apricot a lot smaller than the last batch...some rolls have chocolate centers.

The Croissants puffed up very nicely.

Next morning ... I have added in a crumb shot of the croissants, pain au chocolat and danish fruit pastry!

The flavor is very good!  Now I wish I would have made them all a little larger and more pain au chocolat pastries!


Stephmo's picture

A few things converged on this fateful day. I had a craving for hummus, and I was out of pita bread. I didn't really feel like going to the store just for pita bread and then I started wondering how hard pita bread was to make. So to the google! And that's when the Fresh Loaf website informed me of the greatest fact ever. Pita Bread is one of the easiest breads you'll ever make. So the first thing I discover is that it's also one of the cheapest breads that I'll probably ever make. It starts with six ingredients (left to right: kosher salt, instant yeast, flour, buckwheat honey, water and olive oil): I figure that I had less than a buck invested by the time all was said and done. Mostly that's because I'm unsure as to how many cups of flour may actually be in a five pound sack of flour, so I'm guessing 50 cents for the flour. I also find out that my mixer can do most of the work. So mucho credit to the Indigo Master: Okay, an amazing thing happens. The rising part. I set aside the dough in a bowl to rise. It's only supposed to take 90 minutes and double in size. This has been a failure many times before in bread experiments. But LOOK: Here, I've taken my ingredients and transformed them into eight pieces of future pita rounds. These need to rest a bit and you can see the action shot taking place as husband begins to lay the damp kitchen towel over the dough rounds for a 20 minute rest. In the meantime, I heated the oven up and put my pizza stone in the middle to get nice and hot. I had the pizza stone because I like cooking gadgets, but I've never actually done my own dough on it. Once the pizza dough has rested, all that's left to do is roll them into rounds-ishes. This is the fun part as things are actually looking more pita-ish. I do take the extra step of the spray bottle as mentioned in the recipe (I'm paranoid and don't want to chance anything). Mostly, I think I scared the dogs. I do think I could have stood to have rolled everything a bit thinner... Otherwise, I'm incredibly proud of my result - and the pocket that appeared! Of course it was rather late, so the hummus had to wait. This was the beginning of my bread-making adventure. I hope to get more of my stories up here soon!

dmsnyder's picture

 Please Note: This tutorial has been updated extensively with additional material and new and improved videos. Here is a link to the updated Bread Scoring Tutorial: Scoring Bread: An updated tutorial

Scoring Bread


What is scoring?

“Scoring” is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread before it is baked. Some breads are not scored. For example many loaves baked in pans are not. However, almost all free-formed “hearth breads” are scored.

When is scoring done?

Scoring is generally performed just prior to loading the loaves in the oven.

Why are breads scored?

The purpose of scoring is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.” Intentionally creating a weak spot on the surface of the loaf prevents the loaf from bursting at weak spots created during shaping.

The pattern of cuts made, the angle at which they are made and the depth of the cuts also influence the rate of expansion and the formation of an “ear” - a raised flap of crust at the edge of a cut.

The pattern of cuts also can create a pleasing visual pattern on the surface of the loaf. While there are some very traditional patterns, for example for baguettes, the baker can use the scoring pattern to identify the type of bread or to create an unique pattern that identifies the loaf as coming from his or her oven.

The effects of scoring on loaf shape are discussed in more detail below.

How are breads scored?

Breads are scored with very sharp cutting implements. These may be straight or curved razor blades, which may be held in the hand or mounted on a handle. Scoring may be performed with other sharp, straight blades, even with a straight razor. Some bakers prefer serrated blades. Some examples are pictured below:


This is a “lame,” the French term for a razor blade used to score bread. This one is permanently mounted on a handle. Others are made with replaceable blades.

This lame holds the blade in a curved position. Others hold the blade straight. The curved lames are generally used for long breads like baguettes which are scored with cuts parallel to the long axis of the loaf. The cuts are made with the blade held at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf, about 20-30 degrees or so. The blade is held with the concave surface facing up (away from the loaf). A flap of dough is created that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”

Serrated knife

Serrated knife

Tomato knife

Tomato knife

These are examples of serrated, straight bladed knives. The first one is made expressly for scoring breads. The second one is manufactured as a “tomato knife,” but it is very sharp, holds its edge well and has been found to work very well for scoring bread.

Straight bladed knives are preferred for cuts made with the blade held perpendicular to the loaf's surface. This sort of cut is generally used for round loaves (“boules”). However, they can be used for the same kinds of cuts described above as well.

The angle the blade of the knife makes with the surface of the loaf is important in determining how the cut will open up. If you want the cuts to spread equally from the cut and to open quickly, the knife should be held vertically – at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf. This type of cut is usually made ¼ to ½ inch deep.

Wrong lame position


If you want the cuts to spread more slowly and create an “ear,” the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle with the surface of the loaf, like this:

Correct lame position

This type of cut should be shallower than the cuts made with the blade vertical to the loaf – about ¼ inch deep. A deeper cut will result in the flap closing from its own weight rather than separating from the surface of the loaf to form an “ear.”

The scoring stroke should be firm, rapid, smooth and decisive. For the beginner, it may help to take “practice swings” or to visualize the movements and totally focus one's attention before making the cuts. Understanding the functions of scoring and the effects of the variables described can help, but there is no substitute for experience. In this respect, scoring bread is no different from an athletic skill or any other art or craft. (Tourist: “Please, sir, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice.”)


The effect of scoring on loaf shape

Michael Suas, in his book "Advanced Bread & Pastry," provides some information about how scoring patterns influence loaf shape. Scoring is not just to make a visually pretty design on the top of a loaf. It is also how the baker controls the direction in which the loaf expands. This impacts the shape of the loaf cross section (rounder or more oval), the height of the loaf and, for a boule, whether it stays round or ends up more oblong.

According to Suas, long loaves like bâtards and baguettes are traditionally scored parallel to their long axis. This may be a single long cut or multiple cuts that are almost parallel and overlap somewhat (for ¼ to 1/3 of their length, generally).

Classic cuts

Classic Cut – Single and multiple cuts

However, for breads with high-rye content which have lower gluten and less oven spring, the traditional objective is to encourage a higher rise in the oven spring resulting in a rounder cross section. This is achieved by "sausage" or "chevron" cuts.

Sausage cut (on the left) and Chevron cut (on the right)

Sausage cut (on the left) and Chevron cut (on the right)

Boules are scored in a variety of patterns, again with differing effects on how the loaf expands. The common "tic-tac-toe" pattern and a simple cross will direct the expansion upward. More complex patterns like diamonds result in a relatively flatter loaf.

Boule with tic tac toe

Boule scored with “tic-tac-toe” pattern

One of most interesting effects is that scoring a boule with multiple parallel cuts encourages expansion at a right angle to the cuts. This results in an oblong loaf shape.


What's the point of an ear? Controlled bloom!

This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.

Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.

These San Francisco Sourdough breads illustrate a more "advanced" aspect of scoring that is alluded to by both Hamelman (in "Bread") and Suas (in "Advanced Bread & Pastry.")

San Francisco Sourdough Breads (from Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb")


Detail of bâtard crust, with "ear," grigne" & "bloom."


What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."

The angle is also important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.)

The second photo, above, illustrates a fairly nice "ear," but it also shows that the bloom occurred slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from left to right. The darker part on the left obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occurred too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration.

This boule was slashed with the blade held at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf. Note the even coloration of the bloomed crust.

In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:

  1. The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.

  2. The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.

  3. The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.

Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occurred.

Happy baking!


P.S. I have made a video version of this tutorial. It was my first attempt at editing a video. I am not delighted with the quality, but I hope I can show it and, maybe, get some help improving it. Here is the link: (for slow connections) (for broadband, e.g., DSL or cable)


SylviaH's picture

I printed out a recipe for this Danish Pastry dough and made the recipe:  I was not happy with the way the dough came out at seemed way to stiff from the beginning and it had some brown sugar in it...which seemed strange....the dough just did not handle easily for me.  They did not bake right for me at all.  After making these I went back to the site where I 'thought I had copied the recipe'...It had a different recipe on it!!  I looked at my copy of the recipe...only to discover I had printed out a recipe from another site...Ooooh!  I knew there was something odd when I saw the brown sugar ingredient!!  Though these are very tastey...they are not what a Danish should be at least to me anyway...though they used my good butter,organic flour, ect...I will not repeat this recipe or mistake copying again...hopefully!  This recipe below is from Epicurious.  The one I wanted was from 'Joe'  I have not made it before and wanted to try it....

I also have another recipe for Danish Pastry that I have the dough almost finished...I will post pictures later today...hopefully..they will turn out to be a little I'm just a novice baker... the recipe is not from Joe's another different recipe...I know it makes a nice Danish Pastry!!  I just hope I can have a successful bake with the next batch!  I have made Danish Pastry once before it was a sourdough recipe...I made bearclaws and fruit danish with was pretty good!

Danish Pastry is made with yeast.  I used Cherries and Apricot for the topping with a sugar fondant drizzle.

The dough just before rolling out and cutting>>>you can see the butter peaking through>>>not good!! 
The dough was started last nite.  One good thing my new camera now automatic sets the image size...that's a big help posting.

We ate some and they are really good!!  But as I said not what they should be like!!

I hope the next recipe turns out more like a Danish should....this seemed more like a puff pastry than a danish pastry....


SylviaH's picture

Thanks for the help, explaining and incouragement 'dmsnyder' from your post on this subject......I was having a little practice run on slashing...on Susan's Sourdough little boules...I was asked earlier to post before bake photo's..they were beginning to open up on the slashes from sitting to get this photo...the only thing I have maybe improved a little on is I'm slashing without much hesitation...I would like to take a loaf and make about 20 slashes in it just for practice... it's one of my favorite things to do when making bread!!  I haven't decided if I like my little red tomato knife or my double edge razor best for slashing...I'am leaning towards the razor...because I don't tend to go as deep...the knife seems to make the slashes a little wider and I tend to go cut deeper!! And then there's all the other things that come in to play with how the slashing turns out...steaming, dough ect., ect....practice!! : ) 


 MEOW!!!  I still need a lot of practice!!  Looks like two cats ears!! : )  Sylvia 

dmsnyder's picture

On Decembeer 31, 2008 ...

Norm's Onion Rolls

Norm's Onion Rolls (and a lone kaiser roll)

and ...

Apple Crunch

Apple Crunch, from the Summer Shack Cookbook

And, on January 1, 2009, I baked ...

San Francisco Sourdough from Reinhart's "Crust&Crumb"

San Francisco Sourdough from Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb"

The sourdough was delicious with lentil soup and a salad.


ejm's picture

Happy New Year!!

festive bread

In past years, I've made sweet saffron buns for Christmas. But after tasting the recently made semi-wild challah, we both agreed that while the saffron adds a lovely colour and flavour, it doesn't add quite enough flavour to merit the expense of using the saffron. We decided to forego the saffron and make plain sweet bread (we used the saffron in our shrimp for New Year's Eve dinner instead).

Saffron-less bread is delicious!! (Saffron shrimp is equally delicious!)

And I must say that I'm awfully pleased with myself for managing to do the six strand braid correctly - after reading, rereading, testing with string, reading, rereading the braiding section in Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer.

I had planned on putting together a little photo essay of the six strand braiding but right now, I think I neeeeeed to head down to begin New Year's Day celebrations. Hmmm, shall we start with Festive bread?


braiding festive bread

If you can't wait, please look here:


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