The Fresh Loaf

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Ewabaker1's picture

Well!  this is my first post,  HMMMM!!! What do we talk about, well let's start out with Viva la Difference! 

I have been trying to find a pie dough recipe that would be consistent, and come out like my Nana's pies.  Always good!  Anyways my mom and I have been kicking aroung the family butter and shortening see if it could be more consistent, we agree that shortening and Lard both add the "flaky factor" but often find just one of these fats tends to not add much in the way of that Umami for pies.(exception is homemade lard, but a lot of work). 

So after exhaustive googling...I've discovered an old classic technique to enhance a classic Butter crust. 

I know it's been mentioned for baguettes and breads.  But it is the most wonderous technique for Pie dough...and I haven't had a tough or doughy pie crust since. The Cook's Illustrated technique is great, but I guess I am too lazy to use shortening and vodka with my Butter.

"FRAISAGE":  is the Key, a butter only bruddah long on flavor and texture....and truly not that much more work to guarantee sucess time and time again.

Here is a link to a photo step-by-step of options and technique for a pie crust using fraisage:

Bon chance and Bon appetit!  Great baking in 2011 to all!

dmsnyder's picture

A couple days ago, I tested my new KitchenAid Grain Mill's output with a formula calling for about 30% whole grain flour. It was very good. In fact, the flavor of that bread has improved over two days. Even as I dipped my toe in the home-milled flour waters, I knew that the real test, for me, would be how the flour performed in a 100% whole wheat bread.

Most of my breads are made with levain, but my favorite whole wheat bread has remained the “Whole Wheat Bread” from BBA. This is made with a soaker of coarse ground whole grains and a “poolish” made with whole wheat flour. I have used bulgur for the soaker in the past. Today, I used coarsely ground fresh-ground hard red winter wheat, the same wheat was used finely ground for the poolish and final dough. The formula can be made as a lean dough (plus honey) or can be enriched with oil and/or egg. I used both.

The KitchenAid Grain Mill does a great job with coarse grinding. I found that, with the first pass, the particle size is rather variable. It seems to even out by putting the flour through the mill again at the same setting.

I ground the rest of the grain at the next to finest setting. I put it through 3 passes of increasing fineness, actually. The flour ends up somewhere between semolina and AP flour fineness, at least by feel. This slightly coarse flour, fresh-ground, seems to absorb a bit less water than the KAF WW flour I usually use. I ended up adding about an extra tablespoon of flour to adjust dough consistency during mixing.

Bulk fermentation, dividing, shaping and proofing showed no differences I noticed from the behavior of this bread made with KAF WW flour. However, there was a remarkable difference in the aroma of the bread during baking and cooling. It filled the kitchen with a wheaty smell that both my wife and I found absolutely lovely. (As I write this, the bread is cooling. I hope it tastes as good as it smells!)

Another remarkable difference is that the color of the loaves is quite a bit lighter than loaves made with KAF WW flour and exactly the same other ingredients and the same baking time and temperature. I thought this might be because the KAF WW has malt added, but it is “100% hard red whole wheat,” according to the ingredient list on the bag.

The flavor of the bread is just perfect, to my taste. It has a wonderful whole wheat flavor with not a bit of grassiness. It is very slightly sweet. I used a very mild-flavored clover honey, and I cannot find any distinct honey taste in the bread. The flavor is bolder and more complex than this same bread made with KAF WW flour. I'm sold!

As I've written, above, Reinhart's whole wheat bread from BBA has been my favorite. I've made other whole wheat breads from formulas in Hamelman's “Bread” and Suas' “Advanced Bread & Pastry” that I found less tasty. I am now wondering how they would be if made with fresh-ground flour. Hmmmm …. This is shaping up to be a project.


louie brown's picture
louie brown

I had some starter left over from the blinis, and this formula looked manageable. I love caraway, so it was a no brainer. 

At the end of the entry for this bread, Hamelman suggests alternately shaping the dough as "fingers," ("salzstangerl") without further guidance. I chose 6 ounce, long sticks. Googling only too late, I see that a typical shape for these is to roll, stretch or flatten the dough and then roll it back up, croissant-style, then slightly curved, with tapered ends. Oh, well. They were delicious and even showed a decent interior, despite less than the most delicate handling on my part. I say were, because they are already gone, having served as the basis for the smoked salmon not consumed this morning.

As for the loaf, I was inspired to try Sylvia's elegant curved scoring, but the spring with the towels-and-brick-in-a-pan setup was so strong that the loaf almost came apart. Besides, I don't think that such a beautiful curved scoring is really suitable for the rough surface of this loaf. It really wants to be shown off on a cleaner surface. 

I can see fairly simple fixes for the flaws in this bake, but it will be a little while. I need to lighten up on the carbs for a while.

wally's picture


I must have been a good boy this past year, because Santa was very generous to me.  Under the tree I found a new brotform, a fabulous new baking stone - a FibraMent that measures 15" x 20" x 3/4" - a Lodge Combo Cooker and a new peel!  And although nearly felled by a terrific head cold, I could not resist the temptation to play with the new toys.

I bake baguettes at work every day - usually in the neighborhood of 140 or so - but I rarely attempt them at home anymore because of the steaming issues (I've bored everyone at TFL to death with) with my gas oven.  But....since using Sylvia's patent-pending (I assume!) steaming method involving wet towels in glass bowls brought to a boil in the microwave, I've had really nice results with my batards and boules, so it seemed only right to stick my big toe in the water of baguette-baking again.

I chose Hamelman's poolish baguette recipe which I've slightly upped to 69% hydration and slightly higher poolish content.  I think it yields a very workable dough in terms of handling, and I learned long ago that you don't need superhydrated doughs to achieve open crumb - just proper mixing, fermentation and handling.

Although my stone allows a 20" baguette, alas, even my peel only goes to 17 1/2", so I had to be content with something that is still a good half-foot shorter than the true thing.  I scaled his recipe to give me two baguettes at 284 g apiece - just about 10 oz which seems right to me for the size.

The paraphernalia involved in creating steam is: cast iron frying pan in bottom of oven loaded with lava rocks, and, Sylvia's (nearly patented) glass bread pan filled with wet towel and boiling water.  The procedure is to add the bread pan about 5 minutes prior to loading the dough, and then as soon as it is loaded  immediately and carefully pour a cup of hot water onto the lava rocks, close the oven, and repeat twice more at 1 minute intervals.  The pan with boiling water I take out after 15 minutes.

The FibraMent stone requires initial seasoning, which amounts to heating the stone to 100 degrees F for one hour, and then increasing the heat by a hundred degrees for one hour until reaching 500 degrees, where it remains at that temperature for two hours.  I realized that this would coincide nicely with the fermentation schedule for the dough, so as soon as I began mixing the dough I also started seasoning the stone.

Because the stone is a full 3/4" thick it requires a longer preheating period to build its thermal mass from my previous pizza stone that was only 1/2" thick.  But, as I've discovered from my initial bakes, it retains heat better and longer: both baguettes bent upwards at each end and interesting, both twisted slightly in the same direction as you can see from the picture at the head of my entry.  This greater retention of heat will require adjustments in my baking temperatures - downwards I think.

Anyhow, here are the results of the baguette bake: I'm generally pleased with the crumb but exhuberant over the open grignes the steaming created.


That night they served as a wonderful sop to a Thai green curry soup that I made with P.E.I mussels, Crisfield oysters (a special treatment of the famed Chesapeake Bay oyster) and a lobster tail.


A nice supper on a cold evening.

The next day I decided that I'd return to one of my favorite everyday breads: Hamelman's pain au levain using mixed starters.

(Also a good excuse to resurrect my refrigerated rye and white dough starters which needed feeding and use).

I scaled the recipe to yield two 680 g (about 1.5 lb) loaves.  One I allowed to proof in a banneton, the other in my new brotform.  This is a nice bread to make when you have a lazy day and don't need to accomplish the baking in a hurry.  Between the mixing and autolyse, its long fermentation (two-and-a-half hours) and equally long final proof, the process lasts about 6 hours before baking.  But since there's very little you actually need to do over this period (except for the mixing, one fold and then the final shaping), it's one of those breads that takes a long time but leaves you with lots of time to do other things while waiting on it.

I preheated the oven to 450 F, and put my new Lodge Combo Cooker along with its lid onto the FibraMent baking stone.

After going through my pre-loading steaming procedure, I first scored the loaf that I proofed in the banneton and plopped it into the Combo Cooker, put the lid on and left it on the stove.  The second loaf that inaugurated my new brotform I turned onto my semolina-dusted peel, scored and immediately slid onto the baking stone, followed by the Combo Cooker and a cup of hot water.  The steaming procedure was repeated twice more at one minute intervals.

After 15 minutes I removed the lid of the cooker and continued the bake for both loaves for another 25 minutes, removing the boiling pan of water 15 minutes before the end of the bake.

Here's the results:

The one of the left was baked in the Lodge Combo cooker, while the other sat directly on the baking stone.  Now some contrasts:

It's pretty easy to tell from their bottoms which was baked in the cooker (and the little peak-a-boo split on the bottom of the one on the right tells me I slightly underproofed them).  I think in future experiments I will either reduce the baking temperature, or more likely not preheat the cooker quite as long.

As for profiles, however, the two are essentially the same:

And finally, a crumb shot:

Many new toys for me to enjoy in 2011, and a reason to return to baguettes and old favorites.


highmtnpam's picture

version of a spreadsheet for Baker's Percentage??  I have been working on one, but there are formulas that I am not getting down correctly.  Thanks in advance.


SylviaH's picture

This is my first time making an Almond version or any version of a Russian Braided loaf and second attempt at posting it..a lot of writing today 'lol'..did better after going out to the movies!  A recipe from 'Baking Artisan Pastries & Breads' Ciril Hitz forward by Peter Reinhart

This bread is every bit delicious and rich as it looks...a real pleaser!  What a lovely gift it makes too!


1.  Whole Milk - I used 2% - 365g

2.  Eggs - I used 1 large and one yolk for sealing seam - recipe calls for 50g for dough

3.  Vanilla bean (optional) I used apx. 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or to taste.

4.  Bread flour - King Arthur All Purpose used -660g

5.  Granulated sugar -70g-  I used fine bakers sugar

6.  Salt - 13g

7.  Malt, diastatic - 7g

8.  Lemon zest - from 1/2 of lemon

9.  Unsalted butter - 70g

10.  Instant yeast - preferably osmotolerant , I used the osmotolerant - 13g or 3 teaspoons


The Day Before Baking

1.  Bring the milk and egg to room temperature...If you use a vanilla bean..split and remove, scrape out seeds. Add to milk.  I added the vanilla extract to the ingredients.

2. Pour the liquids into a 5-quart stand mixer.  I used my KAArtisan mixer and made pauses to keep the motor from overworking.  Add the bread flour and instant yeast,sugar, salt, malt, and lemon zest.  Mix on low speed until the dough comes together (cleanup stage).  Scrape the dough down off the hook from time to time.

3. Soften the butter to a plastic stage.  Increase the mixing speed to medium and slowly add the softened butter in stages.  Make sure each addition is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next.

4.  When the dough is fully developed, check for a good window pane.  Place into a plastic container sprayed with oil and ferment for 2 hours, room temperature.

5.  After bulk fermentation, place on a sheet pan lined with parchment.  I sprayed the parchment with a little oil.  Cover with plastic and place into the refrigerator overnight.  


Remove the dough from the refrigerator.

I rolled the dough out on a lightly floured board to apx. 16" by 1/4" thick, this gives you a nice width to your dough.

NUT FILLING - Can be repaired the night before

Nut Flour - I used Almond Flour - 125g

the recipe calls for corn syrup  25g or 1 1/2TBsp.  I use Lyle's Golden Syrup 2 TBsp. apx.

Water - Up to 60g - 6 TBsp.

If you use pistachio paste you can add 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Combine the ingredients except for the water, blend by hand and you also add 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.  I didnot add cinnamon.

Slowly add water until you get a nice spreadable consistancy and can be used on the day of use to help desired spreading consistancy.

2.  Spread a thin layer of filling over the entire surface of the dough, except leave 1 inch of a long end free of filling.

3.  Brush the plain dough edge with a bit of egg wash.  I make a wash with a pinch of salt and an egg yolk.  Roll up the dough evenly into a long log and seal the edge to the roll.

4.  For each pan cut the log 2 inches longer than the pan.  I set my pan down next to log and cut it 2" longer on both sides.

5.Take a sharp knife and slice down the length of the rolls.  Separate and twist two sections together two or three twists, keeping exposed layers facing up.

6.  Place the twisted strands into the prepared loaf pans.  Cover and let proof at room temperature until nearly doubled.  at least 1 hour.

7.  Preheat Oven 325F convection for 30min and bake for 40 -45 minutes until dark golden brown...Reduce temperature if they darken to fast.



Vanilla Bean (optional)  I used 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of almond extracts.

Milk - Up to 35 g - 2 TBsp.

Powdered sugar 150g - 1 1/4 cups

Lyle's Golden syrup - or light corn syrup -1 TBsp.


                                I used 2 - 41/2 X 81/2 lightly oil loaf pans -  This recipe is stated in the book to YIELD - 1 loaf 9 X 4 X 3 plus some extra for cinnamon buns. 



Nut Filling

Sugar Glaze

Egg Wash

Basic Sweet Dough

Chopped nuts for garnish



          Proofing  -  Note:  My new MacBook Pro's all very new to me :) and I love it.  I'm used to my old Windows XP ... so I'm still learning on this one.

I haven't quite figured out all about photo's yet, but getting there slowly but surely...nothing as fun as learning how to work a new PC for this grandma!


Back to the Russian Braid.











                                            Submitted to Yeastspotting




             Happy New Year!














Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

This is a story not about recipies, how good is my loaf, hydration or bakers percentages or any thing to do with my baking ability(or lack of after reading some blogs on TFL....that is a compliment to others that I am in awe of).

I have a lovely natured 11year old King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Beau. Besides his hobby of wanting always to be with us, sleeping and eating his nose will sometimes get him into trouble as I will explain.

For a long time now I have tried making without great success a baguette. They were only passable but not great. My sandwich loaves and sourdoughs were far more successful. Just before Christmas some one posted the recipe for  Anis Boabsa 2008 winning reciepe for baguettes(I think DMSynder was the contributor). I decided to try again but I was putting myself on trial here this night. We were going to dinner at a friends home where our French Rotary Exchange student from 5 years ago had come back to visit. My wife and I were his legal "guardians" so to speak back then. I thought why not try my baguette on a genuine Frenchman. The only way to find out.

I made 2 loaves using Anis's recipe with cold fermation as stated. The loaves were cooled on a rack and duly individually wrapped in a cotton T.Towel and placed on top of a ground vase about 20 inces high at the front door. The idea being we would not forget them as we walked out.

Now back to Beau the KC Spaniel  of mine whose love of all foods except onions and garlic is legendary. He literally sits on the entrance of our kitchen waiting to prounce on any possible dropping of food. So  Picture this...the old fashion movie or cartoon where the dog is sitting outside the butcher store, the butcher's back is turned and next the dog is running down the street with a trail of long skinny sausuges in his mouth and the butcher chasing him.

Now in real life......I heard a small commotion and the sound of my dogs paws on a hard surface floor running and slipping and generally being quicker than the normal. They are a lazy dog by nature. All I saw was this baguette disappearing around the corner into the TV room floating about 20 inches in the air. About the height of my dog.

So here is Beau, Baguette in tow with one end in his mouth and the other 18 inches floating back down his body scrambling for daylight and his eating mat where nobody touches his food. And me..........I was the above butcher.

Thank heavens I had two French friend thoroughly enjoyed my effort and baguette but was certainly more entertained by the above story as Beau was still a silly young dog when they first met.

Mind you Beau did demolish another exchange students Easter chocolates when she left them on her bed. I'm sure in his previous life Beau was a food critic.......A blessed 2011 to one and all.



louie brown's picture
louie brown

I always wanted to try these and now I am very glad I did. The flavor of the buckwheat is fantastic. Silverton uses a rye starter, the buckwheat, and white flour. She prescribes yeast, baking powder and soda. There is sifting of flour and separating of eggs, the whites being folded in. All this results in a very rich, tender product that is just delicious. What better way to start the year than with some of these topped with homemade creme fraiche and some American hackleback caviar! Happy New Year to all.

Mebake's picture

Just to finish off 2010 with a "cheerful ending , my starter has failed me twice. Having ventured on to bake Hamelman's Pain Au Levain with Wholewheat, My Doughs have twiced turned slack and headed to the trash bin instead of the oven, twice in a row? that is a killer. Add this to my lower back pain, iam not inclined to bake anytime soon. 

Iam a keen caretaker of my Starter, but lately i was unable to please it. Long story short, i have to keep an eye on it more often, inorder to revive the healthy population i always nourished.

Now i have to watch all the wonderful Year end bakes of my fellow TFl members, and drool on.

EDIT: Light Bulb On! I believe the reason behind my starter problematic vigor has to do with overfeeding right from the fridge. As Underfeeding reduces the number of viable yeasts that ensure fermentation, Overfeeding, seems, also overwhelms the starter, and the end result is same.


OldWoodenSpoon's picture

It seems like everyone is baking Raisin-Walnut bread of one kind or another.  Me too!  With the holidays drawing to a close, we are generally "sweeted out", and wanted a flavorful loaf that is not full of sugar, to go with morning coffee and all.  This seems to fill the bill nicely.  The recipe calls for minimal sugar, and gains most of it's sweetness from the natural sweetness of the raisins.

I followed the BBA formula with only a couple of exceptions.  I am still trying to use up some powdered buttermilk from the fridge, so I substituted that here and adjusted the water accordingly.  Also, Mr. Reinhart does not instruct to plump the raisins for this loaf, but I prefer the results I get when I do so.  I soaked the raisins in about 1/2 cup of brandy and enough hot water to cover them over in the bowl.  I thoroughly drained them before hand-kneading them and the walnuts into the dough.  I hand-kneaded the nuts and raisins so they would not get torn up by the Bosch, where I did the main work of mixing the dough.

I baked the dough as two panned loaves, in 8.5" x 4.5" pans, prepared with my pan release.  The house has been much cooler these past few day, so proofing took an extra 45 minutes or so.  Baking, however, was done a bit sooner than expected, probably because I left my baking tiles in the oven.  The crust is not adversely affected, however, and the crumb is very nice.

As you can see, I did not do a perfect job of shaping these loaves for the pan.  The crumb does not seem to show the obvious lines you might expect, given the exterior appearance.

These two loaves are the end of my 2010 baking year.  Tomorrow starts a new year, and I have the rye sour working already for the BBA Pumpernickel to kick off the new year.  That is another story though.

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy New Year!


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