The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

  • Pin It
dstroy's picture

So, as you all already know, World Bread Day happens to coincide with Floyd's birthday. This year, I decided to try the recipe that qahtan had posted here in this forum a while ago (which keeps coming up in discussion) for the Guinness Stout chocolate cake.

I was a teeny bit intimidated actually, because the measurements are in weight rather than in cup measure units, but I pulled out Floyd's bread scale, which to date I had never used for anything beyond weighing the occasional package, and I decided the recipe sounded too good not to make the time to learn now.

I thought you might find amusing the endeavors of a complete baking newbie in attempting this recipe. Floyd's the baker around here, not me - I am on the site all the time but usually I am just clearing out spam and checking out the new recipes (to ask Floyd to bake later, heh) or keeping track that threads don't start spiraling out of hand. Most of the bakers jargon and knowledge, however, tends to go over my head.
I did learn a few key points during the course of baking, here's a rundown of the kitchen chaos that occurred. I'm pretty sure that Floyd is way better at keeping the messes minimal, because I think I spent more time cleaning the kitchen than I did in actual cooking.

The cake, however, turned out phenomenally, despite my lack of baker's experience. We give this one two thumbs up, all the way around!


I dropped two sticks (8oz) of unsalted butter into the mixing bowl and added the 12 oz soft dark brown sugar, which measured out to about 1 cup of well packed sugar and got it mixing.
In a second bowl, I beat 4 eggs, and then I added them into the main cake batter in the mixing bowl.

Then I made my first mistake, which was when trying to figure out what 8 oz of flour measured out to, I put my third mixing bowl on the scale and started to pour directly from the flour bag, which landed about a quarter of the bag in the bowl and a lovely white cloud of the stuff in my face and hair. Eventually I managed to scoop out the extra flour until the scale showed the right amount in there and then I mixed in the 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

The recipe then calls for you to 14 fl oz stout Guinness and the only size of beer I could find was a larger bottle. I'm not sure if I did it right, but I didn't find a measuring cup with ml measurements, so I ended up zeroing the scale on another bowl and then pouring the beer in until it weighed the 14 ounces.
This turned out to be pretty comical when I then added 4 oz of Droste cocoa, because the stuff is really expensive so I didn't want to have cocoa powder flying everywhere, but when I tried to stir it into the beer, the mixture began to froth and bubble and eventually this too turned into a spectacular mess.

Eventually though, I got the cocoa and flour stuff into the mixing bowl and got it all into a goopy consistency (though I also learned the importance of remembering to switch off the mixer before lifting the beaters to scrape the sides of the bowl - this piece of "education" earned me some artistic chocolate messes splattered on the cabinet, ceiling, and walls!)

Then I then poured into a slightly-larger-than 9 inch spring form tin which I'd buttered well.

That went into the preheated oven at 350F for a little over an hour until a toothpick inserted in the cake came out clean.

But despite all my amateurishness, the cake cake out splendid.


I had read that some FreshLoafers really liked "naked" or whipped cream only toppings on this cake, but I couldn't bear to not have something with it, so I found a recipe for a cream cheese icing with whipping cream that was absolutely perfect for this cake.

Take 8 oz cream cheese and 1 cup confectioners' powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater until smooth.
Then add about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency.

And I forgot to add the grated chocolate that qahtan had recommended into my mix before putting it into the baking pan, so I ended up using it as decorations on top. (The heart outline was done with chocolate syrup.)

A few candles on top and we were ready to serve!

Happy Birthday Floyd!


This cake was so amazingly rich and dark. No taste of beer, the kids were amazed and didn't believe us when we explained that there was beer in there. I've never made anything like it before. This is some serious chocoholic dream material!

Thank you, fellow FreshLoafers, for the recipe! This was a great one!

dmsnyder's picture

I am again trying Ed Wood's "San Francisco Sourdough" starter. I began activating the dry starter just a week ago. It took about 5 days to get it up to speed. This is the first bread I've baked with this new starter. It's my "San Joaquin Sourdough" made without any added instant yeast and with KAF Bread Flour.

My San Joaquin Sourdough is based on Anis Bouabsa's method for baguettes, which utilizes a long cold retardation at the bulk fermentation stage. The flavor of the bread was what i usually get with this formula. It is very mildly sour. There was no distinctive "San Francisco Sourdough" flavor, but the starter is still very new, and the flavor should develop over the next month or so. We'll see.

I have another couple loaves shaped and cold retarding to bake tomorrow. Those were also made with this starter but with a more conventional method. I expect them to be more sour in flavor.


davidg618's picture

We are having homemade soup tonight for dinner. Since we've been eating a lot of sourdough lately I decided to make Hamelman's Pain Rustique. A unique bread, attributed to the legendary French baker. educator and author, Raymond Calvel, its poolish preferment comprises more than half of the entire dough weight.

Two pounds of poolish, for three-and-a-half pounds of dough!

One gets an interesting shape when the a loaf hangs off the edge of one's too-small-for-three-loaves baking stone.

The crumb: open, firm chewiness.

David G

chouette22's picture

Last weekend, I wanted to get my baguette experiments on the way, and used one of David’s (dmsnyder) comments and his wonderful posts (how fantastic to be able to benefit from them and the ensuing comments of the members here) as a starting point. My goal eventually is to try all of his three favorites, the one by Samuel Fromartz and any other styles that catch my attention, to see which one I might favor in the end.


This past Saturday I made Pat’s baguettes (proth5) using David's recipe, shaping one into the classic form and the other one into an épi one.



Then on Sunday I attempted Philippe Gosselin’s baguettes, again following David's footsteps, and again making two épi shapes, since we like the crust and crunch so much. I baked them quite a bit longer than what the recipe suggested, but couldn't get a darker color. 

We liked all of them, the tastes were wonderful, but for some reason I didn’t get too much oven spring in either of them. I’ll have to keep trying. Gosselin’s needed a lot less attention I found. Either bake disappeared on the same day…

I also made a big Zopf, this time after my compatriot Thomas’ recipe:

It came out very well, but I guess I cannot really compare it with my age-old recipe, since I tested a new flour that I recently bought at Costco: The Eagle Mills AP unbleached blend of white and ultragrain flours, as the label states, 20lbs for $5.68, can't beat that!

If you are interested, you can see the nutritional profile here. Its protein content per 100g is 13.7, fiber 12.2, and ash 1.6. They are selling it as AP flour and I am checking if I can really use it as such. Since it has quite a percentage of whole wheat in it, and I often mix my AP with whole wheat anyway, this could be quite convenient.

For a Zopf however, one typically uses only white flour. My daughter was suspicious right away when she saw it, since the appearance was a bit less white (or light yellow) than what she is used to see in a Zopf. She often suspects that I smuggle “healthy” things into her food, when she prefers bread and pasta, for example, to be as white as possible. Some weeks ago I made a Chocolate-Zucchini-Bread, and she loved it, thinking it was a chocolate cake. Later I made the mistake (I thought she was old enough now – 12y) of telling her that it actually was Zucchini Bread – she had no more of it!...


DerekL's picture



Focaccia baked from the recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I meant to take a picture when it first came out of the oven, but it smelled so dang good, dinner was ready, and we were hungry!

Shiao-Ping's picture

It all started with this picture when I dropped my son at his mate's house for tennis and saw these colors:   


                                                             The pink bougainvillea next to their front door against

                                                                      a flowering jacaranda in the background

A few days later a girl friend invited me to have tea in the park just round the corner from her place, under the flowering jacarandas.   

           Symphony jacarandas:


           First movement


                                          Second movement


                                                                           Third movement, and


                                                                                                      Fourth movement 

And this was the bread that I made for our tea: 



                 Pain au Levain with Praline Rose 


My Formula

  • 350 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 310 g bread flour

  • 40 g medium rye flour

  • 262 g water * see note below

  • 183 g Praline Rose (pink caramelized almonds), 1/3 of the weight of total flours

  • 11 g salt

  • Extra rice flour and medium rye flour for dusting

Total dough weight 1.15 kg and dough hydration 75% (*Note: I did 75% hydration but in truth the hydration of the final dough felt much higher because of the sugar dissolved from Praline Rose which I over-looked.   70% hydration, or 235 grams of water, would have been plenty.  Because of the wet dough, extra stretch of folds became necessary to build up dough strength.)




  1. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except salt and Praline Rose until just combined

  2. Autolyse 30 minutes

  3. Stretch and folds in the bowl 100 times (I tried to build up some dough strength before the nuts go in), then

  4. Fold in salt and Praline Rose by way of S & F's 100 times again

  5. Bulk fermentation 2 hours with 2 sets of S & F's of 80 - 100 times each at 45 minutes and 90 minutes (see Note above)

  6. Divide into two pieces and pre-shape to rounds (or leave as whole), rest for 15 minutes, then shape to boules and place in a flour dusted banneton

  7. Proof 1/2 hour then into fridge for overnight retarding (I did 18 hours)

  8. Next morning bake with steam at 240C / 460F for 10 minutes and another 30 minutes at 210C / 410F (It was a mistake to bake at such high heat.  I completely over-looked that there was a lot of sugar in Praline Rose.  I did see that it browned very quickly in the first 10 minutes of baking and turned down the heat to 210C but had not realized at that point that the dough would burn anyway because of the sugar level.  The oven temperature should not have been more than 200 C for the whole duration of baking.)





                                                I truly burned this bread but the crumb was lovely and open.


This was one of the best sourdoughs I have made, despite the charcoaled crust.  The crumb is very chewy and mildly sour.  I don't taste much sweetness from the sugar, very little in fact.  I am very confused as to why this bread does not taste sweet.  If my memory serves me right, the pre-crushed Praline Rose I've got has only 20% almonds, which means at 183 g of Praline Rose, there was 146 grams of sugar, about 1/4 of the flour weight!!   Then, why doesn't this levain bread taste sweet?!  In fact, I don't think I've ever had a sweet sourdough, not even the chocolate sourdough I made.   Is that why they say sourdoughs are NOT fattening?!  Hog heaven?!




turosdolci's picture

I spent my summers on Cape Cod where there were cranberry bogs in our back yard. After the harvest was over there were often many berries just lying on top of the bog that got missed in the harvest and we would collect them and make muffins, cranberry bread and mix them with apple pie - they add a little tartness to the pie that I really like. 

View my recipe for Cranberry Walnut bread  at

breitbaker's picture

gave Reinhart's Pane Siciliano a go yesterday...followed formula pretty much to the letter...I absaloutely LOVED the flavor of this loaf...something about it was remniscent of hot buttered popcorn....of course there was no cornmeal, or butter involved in the formula. So i'm guessing it was the combo of the 3 day fermentation/proofing process and the sesame seeds and semolina, that evoked that flavor........

the crumb was a (i think) a little more closed than what I could see in the picture of BBA...but I baked straight out of the refrigerator on the third morning, and Reinhart mentions that you may have to let the bread proof at room temp for a bit before baking if the bread hasn't fullen risen...however, I am far from being a pro at judging over/under proofing and I tend to err on the side of underproofing....the whole "poke and spring back" thing I "sorta" get...but it seems that each formula responds a bit differently...oh shoot, guess that means i'll just have to bake more bread...awful trial, isn't it? :) :)

oh, and i forgot to mention that the recipe makes 3 loaves...I made 2 loaves in the morning  and stuck the remaining dough back in the fridge...pulled it out before supper and shaped into 2 baguette-style loaves...let them rest while i heated the oven to 500...sprayed loaves with water and slashed...then baked with steam for a total bake of about 20 min. or til nice n brown...After 2 min. in the oven i turned it down to 450 for the remaining bake...served 'em up at supper and they were GONE. Thin crispy outer crust and creamy insides.. Reinhart mentions that this dough makes great breadsticks..which is essentially what this was (albeit a single, long breadstick)..i would definitely make this again and serve them with a good pasta dish!

Shiao-Ping's picture

Wine is abundant in our household; a day rarely goes by without some consumption of wine.  When I read Erzsebet Gilbert's post: A winemaker wants to be a wine-baker, I thought what a good idea.  There was a lot of discussion there whether or not alcohol kills off the yeasts.  I thought the only way to find out is to try.  Recently I have been making mainly Pain au Levain breads, so I took my formula and simply replaced 60% of hydration with wine.  This number was a matter of convenience and also because I felt any less than 50% the wine flavor might not come through.  As my starter is normally 75% hydration and my Pain au Levain is normally 68% hydration, when I substituted wine for the hydration for the final dough, the wine worked out to be roughly 60% of all hydration. 

I did four doughs in the following order (my starter was the same for all four doughs):

(1) dough one with red wine previously boiled and cooled down to room temperature of about 20C / 68F;

(2) dough two with white wine previously boiled and cooled down to room temperature of about 20C / 68F;

(3) dough three with red wine as is from a bottle at room temperature; and

(4) dough four with white wine as is from a bottle in the refrigerator but warmed up to 20C / 68F. 

The boiling was supposed to take off the alcohol in the wine (14.5% for my red, Australian Shiraz, and 14% for my white, Chardonnay).  

My formula for all four doughs are the same as follows: 

  • 300 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 285 g bread flour

  • 15 g medium rye flour

  • 192 g wine (for dough one and two above, I measured at least 220 g of wine to allow for evaporation from boiling)

  • 9 g salt

Total dough weight (each) 800 grams and total dough hydration 68%

  1. In a large bowl, mix wine and flour only until just combined

  2. Autolyse 40 minutes

  3. Add salt and starter, and knead by hand for 3- 4 minutes (alternatively, stretch and fold in the bowl for 100 times to thoroughly mix all ingredients to a homogenous whole)

  4. Bulk fermentation 2 1/2 hours with two sets of stretch and folds, each set 20 - 30 times (dough temperature about 20 C/68 F, adjust fermentation time longer or shorter depending on room and dough temperatures)

  5. Pre-shape to a boule, rest 15 - 20 minutes, then shape to a tight boule

  6. Proof for 1/2 to 1 hour then place in the refrigerator for overnight retarding (I did 19 hours)

  7. Bake next morning with steam at 240C / 460F for 20 minutes and another 20 minutes at 210C / 410F


Below are the first and second Pains au Levain with wine (previously boiled to take off the alcohol): 





             red loaf on the left and white loaf on the right



             Pain au Levain with boiled red wine





                   crust of Pain au Levain with boiled white wine





Both loaves have very open cell structure as above; the white one tastes to me no difference to a normal Pain au Levain, but the red one seems to taste more flavourful (I don't know if I am imagining flavors because of the color).  Both crumbs are mildly chewy and not very sour, just like normal Pain au Levain.  As the alcohol was taken off, the breads do not taste to me to have any trace of wine, save for the color in the red loaf.  The breads are lovely just the same but I don't know if I can say for sure that the wine improves the bread in these two instances. 


Following are breads made with wine straight from the bottle (dough three and four descriptions above).  The doughs looked noticeably smaller after fermentation compared to the first two; however, it did not appear that the yeasts were completely killed off, there were some activity but far less compared to the first two loaves.  The crumbs are very dense but extremely flavourful.  When the breads were being sliced open, you could smell the strong alcoholic aroma from the wine.  The white loaf has a hint of bitterness about it, but the red one has none of it (I don't know why but I can only guess that other flavor compounds which have come through the red wine have masked the bitterness). 



               Pain au Levain with red wine (straight from bottle)


                                                         By the time I took this shot, the natural light was out so the color here is not exactly true. 



               Pain au Levain with white wine (straight from bottle)



As someone says, flour is for baking, and wine is for drinking, and so perhaps it's best to keep the two separate?!  Or, as Erzsebet says, they are delicious together too?!  

I guess, it's your choice.



SumisuYoshi's picture

Tabatière shaped Pain de Camapgne

This bread ended up being somewhat abused, but it still turned out very tasty and nice looking! I had planned out the day and while I had a meeting at school, that I was expecting to take quite a bit of time, things still ended up funky. My best estimate for when I would get home left the dough for this bread with about 2 to 3 hours left on the bulk ferment. As it turned out, I had to have my mom give the dough a quick stretch and fold for me and stick it in the fridge. But of course then things started moving fast, so it never should have gone in the fridge...

Why don't we go back to the start... The recipe for Pain de Campagne in the Bread Baker's Apprentice calls for a pate fermente, however, as I am wont to do, decided to make it as a sourdough (my first time making this recipe too, I always tell people not to do that). So I started the recipe out with a sourdough adaptation of the pate fermente, added some of my starter and subtracted an equivalent amount of water and flour from the recipe. I keep a stiff starter these days, I've found it easier to keep, work with, and get the flavor I want than a liquid starter like I used to have. Usually I put the starter in the water for the recipe and mix it fairly thoroughly to get a milky looking fluid with small bits of dough still in it.

Pate Fermente Ingredients

Well, the next step is obviously to mix those ingredients together! I gave them a quick mix with my dough whisk, scraped the dough down into the bowl and left it to rest for 10-20 minutes. Not quite an autolyse since the dough has salt and wild yeast, but I find it still helps to make the dough more evenly hydrated and develop the gluten.

Mixed Pate Fermente

After the rest, time to turn it out and give it a quick kneading to make sure everything is well incorporated, and it was!

Kneaded Pate Fermente

I forgot to take a picture of this step, shame on me, but I left the pate fermente to rise until about doubled, degassed it, and stuck it into the fridge to wait for making the final dough the next day. I purposely removed it from the fridge right before making the dough as I wanted the bulk ferment of the dough to proceed rather slowly. The recipe calls for bread flour, with a small portion of either whole wheat or rye, my starter already has some whole wheat flour in it so I decided to use rye flour in the final dough.

Risen and Degassed Sourdough Pate Fermente Pain Campagne Ingredients

As with the pate fermente, I mixed the dough loosely and let it rest for a while to incorporate.

Mixed Dough left to rest

After kneading I wasn't sure if the dough was going to get bigger than the container it was in or not, so I stuck that container without lid in another larger bowl.

Kneaded and set aside to rise

Around that picture is where I left from school, and well, I wasn't there for the stretch and fold so no pictures of that. And I was rushing too much for most of the rest of the baking process (I was also making prebaked pizza crusts for my dad), and sending good rise vibes to the dough. What helped a little bit was putting some hot water in the larger bowl the dough bucket was sitting in, sort of a little dough sauna.

Risen Pain de Campagne Risen Pain de Campagne

Looking through the book, I opted for 3 different loaf shapes. Auvergnat, Tabatière, and Fougasse.

Auvergnat shaped Pain de Campagne Auvergnat shaped Pain de Campagne Auvergnat crumb Tabatière shaped Pain de Camapgne Tabatière shaped Pain de Camapgne Tabatière crumb Fougasse shaped Pain de Campagne Fougasse Crumb

So, for dough that really got abused with the attempted retardation, then right back out of the fridge shortly thereafter, and baking after midnight when I needed to get up early, I was really happy with how this turned out! The flavor was really amazing, the second day after it was baked it was starting to get a bit more sour than what I generally prefer, but it was still really good.

And again, submitted to YeastSpotting this is becoming quite addicting!

Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge



Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries