The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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bnom's picture

Have an excess of zucchini blossoms in your garden?  Here's what I did with a little leftover dough (Hamelman's French bread) thin sliced mortadella, fresh mozzerella. I tossed the zucchini blossoms with a little olive oil and S&P and tossed them on the pizza for the last minute or so in the oven.  Shaved some parmegiano reggiano on at the end and bellisima!  


I love this tart.  The fresh prunes are simply tossed with a little sugar (1/3 cup) and then baked in a tart shell for about 50 minutes.  

breadsong's picture

Hello everyone,

This bread is Whole Wheat Bread, from Eric Kastel's Artisan Baking at Home with the CIA.

This is a straight dough which includes whole wheat and honey. After shaping the boule, it was sprayed with water, gently picked up, turned over & rolled around in a bowl full of sesame seeds; then gently placed seam side-up in a cloth-lined banneton for final proofing.

After proofing & turning out onto a parchment-lined peel, the boule is misted & left to sit for a few minutes, scored, then misted once more before loading into the oven. (When misting, be careful not to get the parchment wet - I learned tonight that damp parchment doesn't slide well when trying to load the stone!).

I think the sesame seed crust is kind of pretty - and the loaf smells sweet and wheaty. We're going to slice it tomorrow for breakfast so I'll try to take a crumb shot then.

Regards, breadsong

hmcinorganic's picture

Tonight I needed a quick loaf for sandwiches and I had a bit of free time, so I made this loaf from Bernard Clayton's new complete book of breads.  After making so much sourdough lately, it was nice to get a completely different smell in the kitchen.  This is a standby recipe;  when I opened the book, this was bookmarked already.  

I forgot all about it while making it;  its supposed to be a single rise bread but I left it in the mixer while helping the kids with piano lessons.  After about an hour, it had risen in the mixer nicely.  (I had meant to mix for 5 min, let rest 20 min, then finish kneading for 3-5 more).  Instead, I loafed it (it was very sticky for some reason) and let it rise.  And proceeded to completely forget about it AGAIN.  At one point, I looked up and saw the loaves, so quickly preheated the oven (425 for 35 min, no steam).  The crust is nice and dark.  They smell great.  Toast for breakfast.  Mmmmmm.

Nothing rustic about it.  Just some good quality bread.  Very yeasty aroma when I opened it up.  Nice even soft crumb with a hard crust.  Lovely.

GSnyde's picture

The Quest for Great Buns

Friday morning I mixed the Biga for Italian Sourdough, per David’s recipe ( The goal: perfect buns.

Friday afternoon, once the Biga had doubled, I massaged it with a dough scraper and decided it was too stiff and gummy/sticky to mix into the dough by hand.   I have no stand mixer, but I staved off panic.  I talked my little KA hand mixer into giving it a go.  Following David’s instructions, I cut the Biga into the dry ingredients.  This  took several comical minutes with a kitchen shears and spatula (think Lucille Ball trying to divide a one pound wad of bubble gum).  It might have worked better with a mini-chain saw (except for the Biga splotches on the ceiling).  Once the Biga was cut up, the hand mixer worked pretty well, and after about 10 minutes with the mixer and 20 or so S&Fs, I had something fairly uniform.

After the primary fermentation with periodic S&Fs, the dough doubled on schedule, and I had a nice silky mound of bread-to-be, the nicest dough I’ve worked in all my (10) days of baking.


Making a split batch of rolls and a batard gave me a chance to try (and maybe even improve) my shaping skills.  Of the 5 rolls, 3 are pretty much the shape I was going for.  I should have re-shaped the other two, but I was tired and didn’t want to break every last bubble.


The loaves proofed faster than expected and they had to go into the oven before the stone had preheated enough.  So I didn’t get great oven spring (see  Though they were fully baked, the bottoms are blond.  I also forgot to rotate the loaves and my oven heat is apparently pretty uneven.  That said, they looked pretty good on top, and the crumb is nice.




The texture of both crust and crumb is pretty close to what I remember (and like) from David’s previous bakes of this bread, though not quite as airy.  I am happy with the outcome, and happy to have learned the lessons—start pre-heating the oven before you think you need to, and don’t forget to rotate the loaves.

Because the Italian Sourdough got done start-to-finish on Friday, we were able to get to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market Saturday morning.  Made quite a haul of stone fruit, strawberries, corn and very photogenic vegetables.


For dinner Saturday, the buns were excellent brushed with garlic-rosemary-infused EVOO and grilled for sandwiches of Teriyaki-marinated local King Salmon, heirloom tomatoes and lemon mayonnaise.  I guess, with the Teriyaki and the Italian bread, we should call these “Orientalian Salmon Sandwiches”.


And the Batard made great toast Sunday morning, accompanying “Spanish” omelet.


The main Sunday event, of course, was the lamburgers that started my quest for great buns (hold the snickers).  (See  Using an ancient Greek lamburger recipe I made up—ground lamb leg mixed a day ahead with minced onion, flat leaf parsley and garlic, and oregano, salt and pepper—I charcoal grilled the burgers and the buns (brushed with the same rosemary and garlic-infused EVOO) and layered with feta, heirloom tomatos and lettuce, with a dab of the lemon mayonnaise.   They were even more delicious than they look.



The quest was worthwhile and the buns were excellent, but I think these are a bit dense for burger buns.  Good thing lots of bun recipes came to light.

Other Weekend Bakes

In addition to the Italian Sourdough, on Saturday I mixed the dough for, and Sunday I baked, Susan’s Ultimate Sourdough for the third time…and with the best results yet.  Even with less proofing and a very well pre-heated oven, I still didn’t get great oven spring. 



The Bread Professor (DMS) thinks maybe my oven vents too much, or I don’t have enough thermal mass to keep the steam going.   He suggests lava rocks, but didn’t say what I should do with them [smileyface].

But I’m happy with the progress.  The texture and flavor are delightful.  My chief bread enthusiast loves the chewiness and the flavor.

And Saturday night I mixed up the liquid levain for Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough; and I mixed the dough Sunday morning and baked two batards Sunday night.  I made sure they were proofed right, and in addition to the usual cast iron skillet for steam, I spritzed them with water after about 10 minutes. 

My shaping skills have improved some (I keep watching Floyd’s great batard-shaping video).  And I got better, if not really good, oven spring.


Still, not a real open crumb.  But mighty tasty.


To top the weekend, this morning we had the famous Salmon Hash with a toast medley.


Since the learning experience for a novice baker is enjoyable in itself, the (mostly) good bread is just a bonus.  I had the chance in one weekend to try three different sourdoughs, one with a Biga and one with a liquid levain, and different formulas, and different flavors.   I got better at shaping batards, and at reading the dough’s signals.  I do need to figure out how to get better oven spring; I’d love to get a more open crumb.

Some time this week, I’ll have to make Sourdough Pizza dough, for a Greek Pizza with the leftover lamburger and Feta.

Thanks to TFL (especially David) for all the great tips, and the fun.



dmsnyder's picture

Today, I baked Hamelman's "5-grain Levain" from "Bread."

Various TFL blogs have featured this bread. They can be found by searching the site. The recipe was posted by fleur-de-liz here: Eric: Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain. She was a very active contributor to TFL at the time I joined and an inspiration to me. She encouraged me to bake this bread for the first time way back when. It is, indeed, among the most delicious breads I've ever made or tasted.


varda's picture

It seems to me that if you are trying to gain proficiency in baking bread that it helps to pick a formula and make it over and over again until it starts to seem natural and easy.   I'm not there yet with Hamelman's pain au levain but it ain't for lack of trying.  My biggest difficulty with it so far has been something that should be simple - following the instructions.   When I first started making it I viewed the rise times as something like suggestions.   2 hours seemed like a ridiculously long time to do the final rise, and I would do 1 hour and then wonder why the bottom split.   Last week I did an experiment.   I split the dough into three 1 lb loaves and tried doing a final ferment of 1.5 hours, 2 hours, and 2.5 hours respectively.   The 2.5 hour rise won the looks test, but the 2 hour tasted the best.   And surprise, surprise, the 1.5 hour loaf was a mess.   Today, I followed all of Hamelman's times with 2 hours for the final ferment (the book says 2 to 2.5 hours.)   I still can't get as pretty a loaf as my model in all this (and the post that set me off on this particular quest)   But that doesn't mean I can't keep trying.   And the great thing about practicing on a bread like this is you get to eat it. 

breadsong's picture

Hello everyone,

These buns are from CIA Artisan Breads at Home by Eric W. Kastel.
I replaced some bread flour with whole wheat and topped with sesame seeds.
The egg glaze gave them a nice shine! ...mmm...burgers...can't wait!

Regards, breadsong



turosdolci's picture

Smothered with spices and baked to perfection this is an all American apple pie. Baked with red, ripe juicy apples straight from a New England farm.



wassisname's picture


It was time to clear out some of the flotsam and jetsam of flour remnants.  It was  also time to unwind after several weeks of "disciplined" baking. 

So, into the dough went WW bread flour, WW turkey red flour, whole white wheat flour, pumpernickel  rye, medium rye (I think), molasses and caraway seeds.  And to top it off I dug out the ancient bottle of Jaegermeister that has been lurking in the dark depths of my freezer for more years than I can remember and threw in a shot of that as well.  I seem to have reached a point in my life where actually drinking the stuff has really lost its appeal.  But, the first time I combined German breadspice and molasses in my rye bread I noticed that the sweet, herbal flavor was very similar to the black stuff in the green bottle... and also Ricola cough drops now that I think about it.  So it was only a matter of time before it ended up in the bread.  The Jaegermeister, not the cough drops.

So I doubled the recipe, threw it all together and made a big, ol' loaf of this:


 And it actually turned out really tasty.

To follow-up on a previous post:  Sometimes it really is enough just to show up.

These two loaves went to the fair.  Embarassingly underproofed and really dense.  But they won their classes.  I'm pretty sure they were the only breads in their classes!!  Because I couldn't find a second place entry in either one.  There is no shame in cherry-picking!!

And more bagels!  This time with almost all KA whole white wheat flour to lighten things up a bit.  I was also able to locate the one jar of barley malt syrup in the area and make it mine.  Then underestimated the oven-spring and all the holes closed up!  But oh, what a difference in flavor


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

This experiment was inspired by Farine's post on her blog about the Meteorite...

No process pics or anything as I probably screwed this thing up totally along the way...  This dough is "impossibly" wet...  I even decreased the hyration to 95%...  It's like trying to bake poolish...

So here's the question...

Is it a meteorite or a cow pattie?  You be the judge...

Crumb shots tomorrow...



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