The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

  • Pin It
holds99's picture

Dan Lepard has hit a home run with these English muffins.  They're what I imagine English muffins should be and, in my opinion, they're about as good as it gets.  Mr. Lepard posted a link to his recipe in The Guardian newspaper article, which I have inserted below the photo. 

I used an electric skillet to cook them.  No oil, just "dry-fry/bake".  Preheat the skillet, with the cover on to get it heated like a small oven, before placing the muffins into the skillet.  The lid goes on the skillet while they're cooking, which holds the heat nicely and allows them to steam a bit.  I followed his directions and they're very easy to make and, as I said, his recipe produces terrific muffins.  For those who like a nice sour bite, you'll really like these muffins.  The dough needs to be prepared the night before, as it has to stay in the regrigerator overnight. 

Mr. Lepard calls for 50 ml of cider vinegar in his recipe, which gives the muffins a nice crisp, slightly sour taste on the order of a sourdough.  For my taste the sourness was fine.  However, I think next time I will reduce the vinegar slightly to about 30 ml vinegar mixed with 20 ml water just to see the difference.   I took the liberty of adding/imbedding some conversion notes (without making any changes to the original recipe) i.e. ml to ounces and cm to inches, etc.  Hope it was alright to do that.  I [bracketed] my entries and italicized them so it would be clear as to what I added.  Mr. Lepard says they can be made either in rectangles or rounds.  I chose 4 inch rounds because that was the largest cutter I have.  Mr. Lepard calls for 12 cm diameters, which is close to 4 3/4 inches.  He make them large to compensate for shrinkage after cutting. As for the leftover dough, after cutting the rounds, I simply rolled it up, kneaded it a bit and rolled it out and made 2 more muffins, for a total of 9 muffins.   They're great toasted with the holes absorbing the butter and marmalade.

Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins

Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins

Cider vinegar muffins

What the Americans call an English muffin we used to call, well, a muffin. But since those little cakes in paper cases have invaded the supermarket shelves and stolen the name, our own little plain bread muffin has become neglected in Britain. In the US, bakers have raised the quality of their English muffins to something close to perfection. Crisp on the outside, sour and holey inside, and chewy when toasted and slathered with butter. Make these and you'll see what we've been missing all these years. In this recipe, the dough gets mixed and lightly kneaded the night before and is left in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly. You can even leave it until the following evening if that works better for you.

Makes 8-10 muffins

50g unsalted butter

100ml warm water (by weight: approximately 4 oz. or 116 g.)

50ml cider vinegar [by weight: approximately 2 oz. Or 58g.]

100ml plain live yoghurt [slightly less than ½ cup]

1 large egg

1 level tsp salt

375g strong white flour

2 tsp easy-blend yeast [I used instant yeast and it worked fine]

Oil for the bowl

The night before, melt the butter in a saucepan [use stainless steel with the vinegar], then remove from the heat and beat in the warm water with the vinegar, yoghurt, egg and salt until smooth. Measure the flour and yeast into a bowl, tip [pour] in the butter and vinegar mixture and stir to a thick batter. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil the work surface and knead the dough gently for 10-15 seconds (see Basic techniques). Scrape the bowl clean of scraps of dough, wipe the inside with a little oil, place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a plate or cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The following morning (or evening), lightly oil a dinner tray and upturn the dough on to it. Stretch and fold the dough in by thirds (see Basic techniques), then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1-2 hours until it warms and begins to rise again. [It takes a full 2 hours at 75 deg. F.]

Line a dinner tray with a tea towel and dredge the surface liberally with flour. Gently roll out the dough [on a work surface] about 1½ cm [approximately 5/8 inch] thick, trying not to knock too much of the gas from it. Cut the dough into discs using a 12cm-diameter [approximately 4 ¾ inches] cutter (yes, that large, as they'll pull inwards as they bake), or take a sharp knife and cut the dough into 6 rectangles or something close to that. Carefully lay the cut dough on the floured cloth. Dust the tops with flour and cover with a tea towel. Leave for 1½-2 hours [they’ll take the full 2 hours at 75 deg. F.] or until doubled in height.

Get a large heavy-bottomed frying pan with a snug-fitting lid if possible. Place on a moderate heat until the surface is hot but not scorching.

Uncover the muffins and flip them one by one on to your hand with the cloth, then slide them into the pan. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 in at a time. Cover the pan with the lid to create a bit of steam to help them rise and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then check to see that they're not burning. If the bottom is a good brown, flip them over using a spatula. Cook on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. [I used an electric skillet with a lid, set at 340 deg. F. cooking them in a dry pan for 6 minutes on side 1 and 4 minutes on side 2 until they reached an internal temperature of 190 deg. F.] When done, remove to a wire rack, drape a tea towel over to keep them soft, and continue with the remaining muffins. Freeze in a zip-lock bag as soon as they're cold.


Crispy bacon muffins

Add 250g smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped finely, in with the flour, then continue with the recipe above.





dmsnyder's picture

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdoug

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough Crumb

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough Crumb 

KAF French Style Flour........500 gms

Water..............................370 gms

Starter.............................100 gms

Salt..................................10 gms

Instant yeast.......................1/4 tsp


I activated my starter and let it ferment for only about 4 hours. It did double but was not at its peak. While the starter was noshing, I mixed the flour and water and let it autolyse for about 40 minutes. Then I added the starter, yeast and salt and mixed well in a bowl.

I used Pat's (proth5) method of mixing: In the bowl, stretch and fold using a plastic dough scraper 20 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Repeat this every 20 minutes for an hour. At the end of that time, I had the best window pane I've every achieved. This is a great technique for somewhat slack doughs!

I then moved the dough to a 2 liter glass measuring pitcher with a tight fitting cover and refrigerated for 20 hours.

 The dough was then emptied onto a large wooden cutting board, well dusted with flour and divided into 3 sort of equal parts. It was less slack than my last batch and easier to shape. I gently preshaped into rounds and rested the pieces, covered with plastic wrap and a towel for 20 minutes. I then shaped into baguettes very, very gently so as to minimize bubble popping. The loaves were proofed for 1 hour on a parchment paper "couche."

 I had preheated the oven to 500F. I scored the baguettes. After loading the loaves onto my pizza stone and pouring hot water in a heated skillet, the oven was turned down to 460F on convection bake. After 10 minutes, I removed the skillet and turned the oven up to 480F, regular bake. I baked the baguettes for 25 minutes total. 


The loaves "sang" louder and longer than any I've baked. The crust was nice and crunchy. The crumb was the most open I've yet achieved in baguettes. I attribute this in large part to my shaping the baguettes more gently then ever before. I credit Janedo for the inspiration (as well as for the recipe).

I still need to work on scoring baguettes. *sigh*



DrPr's picture

I can't remember how I got into baking bread, but when I decided I wanted to do it, I knew I didn't want to use a machine- no machines at all, other than the oven. My hands would do all the dirty work.

The first thing I did was search the internet for breadbaking information (ok, so I did use a computer). There I learned about "real" breadbaking- the kind requiring a starter rather than yeast. A challenge! I was totally into that. Kind baking enthusiasts steered me towards books like The Bread Baker's Apprentice (which I love to this day) and I embarked upon my first adventure: making a starter.

I had so many questions! When is a starter ready? Is it supposed to look or smell like that? Should I start over? Once I was sure my starter was healthy and ready to use, I baked my first bread. I have no memory of what kind it was, but my first breads were all very amateurish. Some had little white spots, or problems with the holes or the crust from not kneading properly, not letting it rise correctly, or some error during baking.

But eventually I actually got good at it! I loved to fill the house (and the street outside) with the smells coming from my kitchen. I baked baguettes, Italian loaves, pumpernickel, rolls, pizza crusts, and breads I'd never heard of before. I loved learning new baking tips, like the right temperatures for dough-making and how to introduce moisture during baking at just the right time.

My favorite breads were ciabatta, asiago, and rosemary olive oil. Ciabatta is my favorite because the dough is so much fun to work with, and I enjoy the artistry and skill involved in getting a loaf just right, with the holes large enough and the crust just so.

Asiago and rosemary breads are great because they are wonderful-smelling and make the people I give them to very happy. I used to make a few loaves, package them with a personalized baker's bag (I found them in a restaurant supply store), and then ride my bike to deliver them to a friend, or drive to the next town over to give a fresh loaf to my parents. I gave away more than I ate, in fact, because I love to put smiles on faces.

I had fun buying bread-baking baskets with woven patterns in them because they produce breads with beautiful patterns and textures. Yes, I started to get fancy; I probably could have gone into business, but I didn't have commercial equipment. I tried to get a job at the lone artisanal bread-baking place in town but they weren't hiring. I think I offered to volunteer but by that time I was about to leave town.

I actually haven't baked since moving to start grad school. Between keeping a small apartment, studying and working full time, I don't find time to bake. But I keep meaning to. If I tried, I probably could listen to taped lectures while mixing and kneading. I could study while the dough is rising and read while a loaf is baking.

Hmmm... I think I might just go make a new starter!

Pablo's picture


I've newly discovered the concept of "crumb". I hope to be able to reliably create open crumb artisan breads (I think that's the right terminology). I'm at the beginning of this process. My current goal is to decide on a flour. I have two contenders, I prefer organically grown. I live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Seeing as Canada is a big wheat producer I want to find a Canadian flour. (I'm a US ex-pat, so I'm ridiculously attached to this country)

I wanted to get this blog started and introduce my quest. I'm really happy to have stumbled across this site.

My name is Paul, by the way, but there's already a Paul here. Being something of a Mexican groupie from California I chose the Spanish version of Paul, which is "Pablo", for my username. FYI.


glenmarshall's picture

This being the second time I've baked bread, I decided to try my childhood favorite.

Anadama Bread

Anadama Bread (from


½ c. coarse cornmeal
2 T. butter
2 c. boiling water
1 tsp. salt
½ c. unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 pkg. dried yeast
5 c. unbleached flour

Making it

  1. Stir the cornmeal slowly in water the boiling water and let steam over a double boiler for a minimum of one hour. You can make it up and let it sit overnight.

  2. Add the butter, molasses, and salt.

  3. Cool a bit. When lukewarm, add the yeast dissolved in warm water.

  4. Add enough flour to make a stiff bread dough.

  5. Knead for 10 minutes

  6. Turn into a greased bowl covered with a damp cloth and let sit for 1 - 1½ hours until double in bulk.

  7. Shape 2 loaves and place in 2 greased medium bread pans; let rise until double in bulk.

  8. Bake in hot 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Note: I baked it @400 for 30 minutes and then 350 for another 20.  


holds99's picture

For my first attempt at English muffins I decided to try Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from her Bread Bible.  The recipe uses a sponge/poolish and is an enriched (with butter and honey) dough.  I followed her recipe to the letter, except for diameter size.  After mixing I placed the dough in the fridge overnight for retardation.  She says it can stay in the fridge up to 24 hours. I left it in for about 12 hours.   The recipe calls for rolling the dough out while it is cold and cutting round 3 1/2 inch diameter  rounds (I cut them 4 inches in diameter).  Place them on a pan sprinkled with corn meal and sprinkle the tops lightly with corn meal, then allow them to rise (covered) until double in volume.

 Rose Levy No. 1Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 1

Photo below: Then place each dough round on a lightly buttered, griddle heated to medium.  Cook on one side for 10 minutes, flip them over and cook on the other side for about half previous time (5 minutes) until they reach an internal temp. of 190 deg. F 

 Rose Levy No. 3

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 3

Photo Below: The front 2 rows are the tops (after being flipped and cooked 5 minutes).  The back 2 rows are the bottoms (after cooking for 10 minutes).

  Rose Levy No. 3

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 3

The photo below is the crumb of the muffin.

 Rose Levy No. 4

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 4


In the opening passage of her recipe she says: "This incredibly smooth and supple dough is almost identical to the one for Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf (page 244).  Therein lies the problem. The muffins DO NOT resemble English muffins with the firm texture and craggy holes in the crumb.  The crumb was way too doughy and more like the texture of Wonder Bread than English Muffin. 

With all due respect to Rose Levy, who I think has written a terrific book (Bread Bible), which I bake from frequently---I would be less than honest if I didn't say strike this one from your "To Bake" list.

Dougal has posted a version of Dan Lepard's recipe for crumpets that I plan to try next.  Thank you Dougal.  I'll keep you posted.




ejm's picture

Onion Rings - June 2008

I've been meaning for ages to rave about the onion rings we made weeks ago using Tanna's (My Kitchen in Half Cups) brilliant idea for using up left over sludge after feeding the wild yeast. They were fabulous!! And very very bad for us. Because we want to have onion rings every day. This is not good. I really don't want to have to buy new trousers.

ehanner's picture

Mark's Olive Loaf post got me thinking about the flavors I like and what would work well in bread. There are a few combinations that seem to be naturally delicious in other situations. Garlic/lemon/olive oil for example or swap the lemon with another acid, say basalmic vinegar or some other milder vinegar. The contrast between the elements seems to be what makes my senses perk up. Chicken wings with strong garlic and lemon is good. Mint jelly with hot pepper is a surprise treat. Each is a clear distinct flavor on it's own. Sugar on tomatoes and salt on water melon are two more that make the point.

Recently I bought a quantity of large green olives stuffed with blue cheese that were really good. I've also had stuffed with Gorgonzola that were out of this world delicious. I've used both in bread along with stuffed with garlic with good results.

The thing is, and this is a totally subjective opinion, I like to be able to identify the flavors clearly. There are times when I enjoy a hint of this or after taste of that, like with wines, but for me, good garlic bread makes a statement. 

Along the same line, most of the music written in my life time that has become popular, is clean. That is to say you can identify and clearly hear the primary artist. You get to enjoy the personality of the singer or instrumental. Think about the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Sarah Brightman, Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all share that quality of clean clear, timeless sound. I try to season my foods with the same thought in mind. No screaming allowed, strong clear flavors that add to the base.

Good bread has a certain wholesome aroma depending on the type of bread, that sets the stage. Then if we are careful there is an after taste that stays on the toung that reminds of nuts or wheat fields. Adding a complementary flavor such as olives or savory seasonings or cheeses complicates the taste and (in my humble opinion) needs to be approached with respect for the over all outcome. To many flavors end up being a muddy taste.

Anyway, for what it's worth, that's my approach to flavors. Green tea with lemon and honey, Rustic farm loaf with rosemary, Deli Rye with caraway, apple pie with cinnamon, Bruchetta with basil and feta, Pita stuffed with tomato salad and Chili powder. These are some of my favorites.

Now I'm hungry!


lioness7's picture

Hello out there,

Can the person who produced that beautiful loaf of semolina sandwich bread bless me with their expertise or someone who has baked it since then and had the same results.

I've purchased some semolina flour from my local Wholefoods market but  in reading the receipe, I'm confused because it says something about  using durum flour.

Please instruct me.





Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries