The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ejm's picture

Lucia Cats

Even though Santa Lucia Day is 13 December, I made Lucia cats so we could have them for breakfast on Christmas morning.

I now know that I should have placed them further apart on the pan so they wouldn't grow together. Luckily, they taste just as good!!

Merry Christmas to all!

umbreadman's picture

As I promised, here's a picture of the one stollen that has survived the initial onslaught. This one, unlike its predecessor, remained mostly intact while it baked.


I followed PR's formula for stollen, using about half whole wheat and half white flour. I soaked red and white raisins, figs, dates, apricots, and candied lemon peel in dark rum. I made the almond paste with equal parts peeled almonds and sugar and adding rose water until it came together into a ball in the blender. the lemon really stood out in a non-overpowering way, which was great with all the other fruit being sweet and still tasting of rum. I definately plan on making this again, trying to get the paste (or maybe marzipan next time) more into the center of the dough before i bake it. 

dolfs's picture

Inspired by Susan's account in her blog, I decided to make Panettone as presents for friends for the holidays.


I pretty much followed Susan's recipe. I used vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans, and I did soak the fruit in Amaretto and Rum, plenty of it. Before using I drained them and then tossed the fruit in some flour to dry it. I used half the water and it seemed the dough was way too wet. So I added about 5 good size spoons of flour. Then, in the final mixing stage, I used a tiny amount of water to get it where I thought it needed to be. Did I mention I love my new DLX mixer? This batch of 4.7 pounds of dough would have never made it through my KA mixer!

Like Susan I converted my normal stiff starter with three 50% hydration feedings in a four hour cycle. Started in the morning so pre-dough was ready for mixing around 9PM. Add 12 hours ferment and ready for production next morning. I proofed in my oven with the light on. It took about 4.5 hours. Unlike Susan's instructions I let it proof a little more in the oven, until about 1/2" under the rim. Then I glazed with the glazing from the recipe, added some blanched almonds on top and put a candied green cherry in the middle, pearl sugar around. Oven spring was incredible. Interestingly enough, I must not have put even surface tension on the dough. The decoration that was smack in the center moved outward on some breads during the oven spring. Baked 40 minutes at 350F on rack (not on stone).

I had inserted wooden skewers, as suggested before putting dough in the molds, and so immediately after baking I removed the bread to hang it upside down. The construct I came up with consisted of two plastic storage creates with some slats across them.Panettone hanging out to dryPanettone hanging out to dry

The tips of some skewers came a little close to the oven wall and smoked a little in the beginning. I considered soaking them for my next bake, but decided against that. I am afraid the moisture escaping from them might not do the bread any good. The bread was finished around 9PM and I let it hang overnight.

We tasted one this morning. I had to, honest! I never made this before and I wanted to make sure the result was OK before starting to hand these out to friends as holiday gifts.

Panettone sliced and crumbPanettone sliced and crumb 

The bread is quite delicate. I think it came out excellent and the taste was just wonderful. I either have improved my baking skills and am now able to adjust doughs based on (expected) feel, or I continue to get lucky. Most of my first time breads work out just fine. Susan's recipe and description in her blog ( is excellent, so I am not repeating it here.

We're restraining ourselves and have half left for tomorrow. The other three went to friends this afternoon. I have another starter building and will mix pre-dough for another batch of 6 tonight.



See my My Bread Adventures in pictures 

AnnieT's picture

I hope it isn't too late to add a recipe? I see that TT loooooooves butter so here is a real artery clogger for you. I make it every year to give as gifts because it is easy and tastes wonderful. When I arrived in America in 1967 one of my first friends was a Scottish woman and this is her authentic shortbread recipe.

Margaret McLaren's Scottish Shortbread.

3 sticks butter, at room temperature, 1 heaping cup of powdered sugar, 1 egg yolk, 4 cups ap flour, sifted.

Sift the sugar into a bowl and work in the butter and egg yolk with your hands. Mix well and add flour 1 cup at a time. Make into a jelly roll shape and divide into 3 for 8" to 9" rounds. Pat out on waxed paper - I line a layer cake tin with a circle of paper - to 1/2" thickness. Prick all over and score into segments, then crimp the edges with the fork. Bake at 300* for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Should be very pale.

If my d-i-l hadn't scared me with salmonella warnings I could eat the dough uncooked, it is that good. Yes, I used to do just that! Margaret didn't specify salted or unsalted butter, your choice. I did cut it into squares one year but the rounds are much easier. Hope someone will try it, A.

tattooedtonka's picture

Seems like everyone has their favorite soups to go with their breads this time of year. Well even an ol' carnivore like myself enjoys a nice soup and bread now and again.  So here ya have it. 

This recipe was given to me by my co-worker, so I do not claim ownership.  I do however, find it most excellent!!!

Black Bean & Ham Soup w/ Lime Wedges

1 Large Onion, chopped

1 Large Clove Garlic, finely chopped

1 Medium Stalk of Celery, chopped

2 Teaspoons Parsley

4 oz. Ham, chopped

1 (14.5oz.) Can Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth

1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

1 (15oz.) Can Black Beans, drained

Garnish with Lime Wedges

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, or whatever you use to prevent sticking, into a large saucepan.  Add chopped ham and heat over medium heat until hot ( I like it a little seared).  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Stir in chicken broth, celery, parsley, oregano, and red pepper.  Heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  During this time remove 1/2 cup of the black beans from the can and mash with a fork or potato masher.  At the end of the broths 10 minute simmer add the mashed black beans and the remaining whole black beans into the broth mixture and heat through.  Serve with lime wedges.

And don't forget to have some of your favorite bread on the side....


TT's Other Breads

dmsnyder's picture

On Fleur-de-Liz's strong recommendation, I made Hamelman's Mult-grain Levain yesterday - a double recipe, in fact. Not incidentally, this was the first bread I've mixed and kneaded using my new Bosch mixer. (See my previous blog entry for details.)
 I had a slice ... well, two slices actually ... for bedtime snack last night and some more, toasted, this morning.

This was a very heavy dough because of the high proportion of seeds and grains in the soaker. The calculated hydration was 98%. Once kneaded, it acted like a "normal" dough of 68% or so to me. It was still on the sticky side of tacky when I formed the boules.

The bread baked up with a nice looking crust, but, presumably because of the high water content, it softened during cooling. Toasting crisped it up nicely, though. The crumb was moderately open, and it was nice and chewy. The taste was very nice. It has 2/3 bread flour and 1/3 whole wheat, not counting the bulgar I substituted for 1/2 of the cracked rye called for in the recipe. It had a pronounced whole wheat flavor with an overlay of flavors from the sunflower and flax seeds. The rolled oats, which were in the soaker, contributed to the aroma more than to the taste. 

This is a very good bread, but I can't say it is going to be a personal favorite. Of course, the competition for places on my favorites list gets stiffer every week it seems.

Hamelman's Multi-grain LevainHamelman's Multi-grain Levain

Hamelman's Multi-grain Levain crumb

Hamelman's Multi-grain Levain crumb


parousia's picture

Just the other day, Tuesday, I attempted another loaf without following a recipe, but rather the instinctive artisan intuition.

Well, this is the bun that popped out of the oven. It is my most successfull loaf ever, though the recipe will remain a family secret.

Merry Christmas,


dmsnyder's picture

I think I gave my new Bosch Universal Plus mixer an adequate first trial this afternoon.

Last week, when I was effusing about how wonderful Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread was, Fleur-de-Liz came back with something to the effect that it was okay, but Hamelman's Multi-Grain Levain is really good.

This intelligence merged with my wanting to give each of my office staff a loaf of home-baked bread tomorrow, which is our last work day before shutting down until after New Year's Day.

So, last night I mixed the levain, soaked the soaker and, this afternoon, started making bread.

Now this reportedly wonderful bread has a bit over a pound of levain, a pound and a half of soaker, consisting of mixed grains and seeds, and a pound and a half of flours (plus water, salt and yeast). It's a somewhat wet dough, although it doesn't act like the actual hydration level of ... ready? ... 98%. That's because of the water in the soaker. The dough is heavy with coarse grains and seeds. The formula weighs 4 lbs., 11 oz.

I subjected the Bosch to a double recipe. That's over 9 lbs of dough.

Well, it pretty much filled the bowl of the mixer. I got nervous. The mixer yawned and just did it's job.

Hamelman's instructions, which are for a spiral mixer, call for 3 min. mixing on 1st speed and 3 minutes kneading on 2nd speed to get "moderate gluten development," whatever that is, and a dough temp. of 76F. At 3 minutes kneading, the dough was nowhere near developed, so I kept going. I stopped every couple of minutes, checked the gluten development and took the dough's temperature. It seemed to have my idea of "moderate gluten development" and the right temperature after about 9-10 minutes of kneading.

After 2 hours fermentation (at 69F) with a folding after about 45 minutes, the dough was really nice and developed - smooth and tacky but not sticky.  I made 5 boules (5 at 1.5 lbs. and 1 of about 2 lbs, with the remainder.

I wonder if the kneading time with the Bosch is generally so much longer than Hamelman specifies for a spiral mixer. I thought it would be shorter than the KitchenAid, but then maybe 2nd speed on the Bosch is slower than on the KA. How much can I generalize from the bread I'm making to levains without such a high proportion of soaker?

Any comments, experiences and suggestions from users of Bosch or DLX mixers would be gratefully welcomed.



P.S. Photos and review of the bread are pending cooling, slicing, tasting, posing, etc.


Fenrir's picture

Well, after a bit of a break from baking I'm trying to get the hang of it all over again. I had a few loaves I wasn't happy with so I went back to the first recipes I used, namely the 1984 version of Laurel's. I came up with these, they're the best ones I've made, so obviously I could use some tips! I pretty much make only WW bread, this time with KA.


JMonkey's picture

I've only had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco twice, and both times it was on business. But I made sure to stop by the ACME Bread Co. store at the Ferry Building to pick up a small boule of that famous local sourdough, or perhaps a walnut or olive levain.

I'd never tried their baguettes, however, and, since I've recently been very much in the mood for a baguette, and since I'd not made a single recipe from Maggie Glezer's well respected Artisan Baking, this seemed like a natural for the weekend.

I was mightily impressed. The flavor was excellent, just as good if not better than the single step baguettes I made last week. If only I'd gotten ears all over the bread like the one at the top of the bottom loaf!

The recipe makes 2 lbs of dough, which gets split into two 8 oz. baguettes and a 1 lb boule. But I just divided it into three and make three 10+ oz baguettes. Because I shaped my last baguettes a bit tool long for the stone and had them drooping off the ends, I erred on the other side, and made these a bit too short, so they ended up looking a bit more like sub rolls than baguettes ... but heck, I called them baguettes, so baguettes they are!

I was particularly impressed by the crumb, which I got a good shot of the next day, as I made sandwiches. The internal structure was remarkably open given that the overall hydration is just a notch above 66%, a hydration at which the dough is very easy to handle.

It's an unusual dough in that it uses two different pre-ferments: a poolish and a pate fermente (also known as old dough). It's worth the trouble though.

Old dough

  • Instant yeast: 1/4 tsp
  • Water at 110 to 115 F: 1/2 cup
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour (I used Giusto's Baker's Choice):3/4 cup or 115 grams
  • Salt: 1/4 + 1/8 tsp or 1 gram

Sprinkle the yeast in the warm water and let it dissolve, which takes about 5-10 minutes. Mix the flour and salt, then add 1/3 cup of the yeasted water (reserve the rest -- you'll need some for the poolish). Mix it and knead it for about 5 minutes. Let it rise for about 3 hours, and then pop it in the fridge.

  • Instant yeast: 1 Tbs of the yeasted water
  • Flour: 1 cup or 150 grams
  • Lukewarm water: 2/3 cup or 135 grams
Mix it all together until everything is hydrated, cover, and let it sit for about 12 hours. Bubbles will be popping at the top and it'll look a little wrinkly when it's ready. My house is cold (around 55-60 at night), so I let it go for about 16 hours.

The Final Dough
  • Flour: 2.25 cups or 340 grams
  • Instant yeast: 1/4 tsp
  • Lukewarm water: 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs or 180 grams
  • All the poolish
  • All the old dough
  • Salt: 1.75 tsp or 9 grams

Step One: Autolyse
Mix the flour and the yeast together. Then, add the water to the poolish so it will come out easily from the bowl, and pour it into the flour. Stir it up until everything is hydrated, then knead it a few times to ensure everything is well combined. Cover and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Step Two: Mixing
Break up the old dough, then add it along with the salt. Knead until you get a smooth dough that can pass the windowpane test, which is about 10 minutes or so. Cover and let it rise for about 3 hours, until it has at least doubled and you can see large bubbles. Give the dough a good stretch and fold at 20 minutes, 40 minutes and 60 minutes. Then let the dough rise for the remaining 2 hours.

Step three: Pre-shaping
Before you begin, pre-heat the oven to 450 F. If you've got a stone, make sure it's inside and also place a steam pan on the bottom rack. Glezer recommends you form it into a stubby batard. I just formed a boule. Either works, I'm sure. Let it rest for 30 minutes. This seemed like a long rest to me, but it made a big difference in my being able to easily shape the dough.

Step four: Shaping
This is where she asks you to shape the baguette. I wish I could describe how to do it, but really, you need to see photographs. Essentially, you pat it gently into a rectangular shape and then fold the top long side into the middle, and seal it, gently, but firmly. Do the same for the bottom. Then pull the top completely over the bottom and seal. Finally, with a rocking motition of your hands, start in the center, and gently, but rapidly, move outwards, stretching the dough to its proper length.

Let it rise for about 30 to 60 minutes. When it's ready, the dough will slowly spring back from a gentle nudge with your finger.

Step five: Scoring and baking
Score the baguettes with a blade at a 45 degree angle, with slashes that run primarily down the length of the loaf. Bake with steam at 450 F for about 25 minutes, until the inside of the loaf reaches at least 205 F. Let cool 30-60 minutes before devouring.


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