The Fresh Loaf

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wally's picture

This weekend I decided to return to the scene of my previous crimes in the name of croissants and have another go at them.  I've been spurred on in part by hansjoakim's magnificant croissants he shared with us a few weeks back, as well as by ensuring conversations involving him and ananda about differences in puff pastries and in the levels of butter and lamination involved in each.

One lesson I took away, is that my previous attempts have involved greater amounts of butter than is standard for croissants - about 38% of total dough weight, versus what I now understand to be 25% in classic croissant dough.

With this in mind, I went back to the drawing board and adapted a recipe from Dan DiMuzio's excellent textbook, Bread baking: An Artisan's Perspective.  It is quite similar to that of SteveB's which can be found on his blog, bread cetera.

As with previous attempts, I've deliberately frozen the croissants after shaping. 

When needed, I move them from the freezer to refrigerator for about 12 hours (usually overnight), and then allow them to proof at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours before applying eggwash and baking.

I've also followed DonD's method of baking, which involves starting the bake with steam at 425°F for 5 minutes, then turning the oven down to 400° for another 5 minutes, and finishing up at 375° for 5 minutes.  The resulting croissants turn a nice golden color, while the interior remains moist.

I also thawed and baked a half dozen croissants previously made with the higher butter percentage of 38% of dough weight to see how the results differed.  (And I threw in some pains au chocolat as well). 

Thus armed, I head over to my brothers, confident that between he and his wife and my nephew and niece I'd have an objective tasting audience :>)... well, at least an enthusiastic one.

So, here are the results.  First up, crumb shots of the latest batch of croissants with butter content equal to 25% of dough weight:

As you can see, the lamination is pretty distinct and my first reaction was that the decrease in butter shows in the crumb structure.

Ok, so on to my more buttery croissants:

Not bad, but it seems clear to me that the crumb is not as well-defined, and I attribute this to the higher butter content.  (Although, I must confess, strictly from a taste standpoint, I prefer these - they just melt in your mouth).

Finally, my pain au chocolat, which is a definite improvement over past attempts at resurrecting from a frozen state:

So, this has been an interesting and very instructive introduction for me to laminated pastries, to which I owe thanks again to hansjoakim, ananda and DonD for sharing their knowledge, insights and enthusiasm for this most wonderful viennoiserie!


Jw's picture

That would be the French Bread II (with Pâte fermentée), also from Crust and Crumb. I mixed more all-purpose flour (4.5 of 7 cups) then bread flour. Added flaxseed. What's new: I used a razorblade to do the scoring, still have to get used to that. I allow for deeper scoring then the surgeon's knife, but it is more difficult to make a regular pattern. I'll have to find a straw to attach the blade too....

The inner-outside of the crumb is really good, in the middle it is getting close to ‘too thick'. Notes to myself: just do the ‘ready test' again (by pushing in a straw of wood), add more salt (this is too low for our taste), wait as long as possible with adding salt (let the yeast do it's word first). Otherwise: doing fine for a second batch of bread, doing great for the looks of bread.



One bread is already gone... (with salmon and other fish, really great tast). I used all of mine pâte fermentée, next time I'll save some for a next bake.

Happy baking,


hansjoakim's picture

Well, I'm not suggesting putting rye flour into your macaron batter, although that could be interesting for savoury macarons...if such a crazy thing as a "savoury macaron" exists... Let's do the rye thing first and then look at the macarons afterwards.

This week I've been playing around with a very simple recipe for a 40% rye. I wanted a formula that I could mix and bulk ferment in the afternoon/early evening, and then bake straight out of the fridge, first thing next morning. I also wanted a bread with a subtle, pleasing rye taste - nothing overtly sour or aggressive on my plate, thank you very much. So after some fiddling around, I ended up with this recipe.

Here's my mise en place (clockwise from bottom): Ripe rye sourdough, lukewarm water, flour mix and salt.

40% rye mise en place

The modest 72% overall hydration makes this dough easy to work with, and shaping is straightforward. The dough was noticeably gassy both during the fold and when it came time to preshape and shape. I'm not really sure if a fold is necessary for this kind of dough, but I still like to pull it out from the bowl, place it on the table and feel its consistency. I ended up with simply degassing it lightly, and then stretching the sides ever so carefully before folding the sides up as usual. Make sure you don't tear or rip the dough - the rye flour makes this kind of dough a bit tough and not particularly extensible.

First thing next morning:

40% rye


And here's the crumb shot (from a little later in the day):

40% rye crumb

The formula yielded a bread that was pretty much as I expected it would be: Delicate rye flavour, hints of rye sour and a rather light crumb. The crust packs much flavour on its own, and it even had clear signs of crackles along the sides of it. I've been enjoying a couple of these loaves with sausages and smoked salmon all week long.


Now, for the (as advertised) macaron part. Macarons is a great way to get rid of leftover egg whites (should you have any). The batter is merely whites, sugar (powdered and granulated) and almond meal. There's no such thing as almond meal around here, so I had to buy whole almonds, blanch them, grind them and then process until a very fine consistency together with powdered sugar. I'm not sure if grinding fresh almonds yields a better macaron, but it took me over an hour to produce that almond meal... better be worth it... better be worth it...

To some, there are two things that require all the stars to be perfectly aligned to get right (not to mention the humidity, temperature and performing several sacrificial ceremonies): Starting a sourdough culture from scratch and getting the macaron batter to the right "flowing like lava" consistency...

There seems to be (at least) two schools re: macaron making, depending mainly on what kind of meringue the batter is prepared with. Most internet sources and textbooks (including ABAP), settle for a simple French meringue. Non-compromising, hardcore macaron aficionados never settle for anything less than a full Italian meringue. The Italian meringue is supposed to give more consistent results, less lopsided feet, no cracked shells, a batter less prone to overmixing and shells that can be baked immediately (as opposed to the French meringue ones, which benefit from at least 20 mins. rest between piping and baking, in order to produce a firm shell). It is also claimed that success with the French meringue method hinges on using either aged egg whites or egg white powder. Phew. Such a simple, straightforward list of ingredients and then these detailed, scientific instructions, no wonder the stars need to be aligned to get these guys right.

I had enough egg whites over to try two batches, so I decided to make one with a French meringue and one with an Italian. Some remarks:

  • I did not use aged egg whites for either method, and I did not add any egg white powder. All eggs were separated merely hours before mixing the batter, so there shouldn't be any "aging" effect in either mix.
  • For both mixes, the shells sat approx. 20 mins between piping and baking, in order to toughen up their shells.
  • I found it easier to mix the French meringue batter than the Italian one. The batter made with Italian meringue took quite some time to come together, while the French was easier and quicker to get to the "flowing like lava" consistency.
  • I followed the recipes and baked the French meringue macarons at 180C for 10 mins, with the door slightly ajar the entire time. The Italian meringue macarons were baked at 160C for 15 mins with the door closed. I baked them in a conventional oven (no convection/fan-forced bake), and the shells were baked on the thin, perforated baking sheets shown below:

Piped macarons


I'm not sure how to explain it, other than either blind luck or being blessed with a macaron-friendly oven, but both batches had close to 100% success rate. Of approx. 40 shells in either batch, only one or two came out with lopsided feet. No cracks. I couldn't believe it.

Of the two recipes, I was most pleased with the one with the French meringue method. I think that baking at 180C produced a better interior body in those macarons than those that were baked at 160C. Some of the latter had air pockets close to the top shell, whereas the first ones had a full, lovely chewy body. I bet the Italian meringue macarons, baked at 180C, would've produced equally good interior bodies in the shells. I also feel that baking with the door slighly ajar produced a more even heat in the oven, at least a more even colouration was noticeable.

Filled macarons


The macarons were filled with a dark chocolate ganache (with a hint of Grand Marnier thrown in for good measure).

Breakfast for champions:

Macaron breakfast


jennyloh's picture

Somehow,  my miche was NOT quite a miche,  as it had a darker brown.  I wonder if my flour has a mixed of rye,  it turns my bread dark brown.  I went into the website - Aurora - Weizen Vollkornmehl.  But there was no indication of rye mix,  it just indicated whole grain whole wheat.  I guess it has more bran than other whole wheat flour?

My bread cracked up as well,  I guess because I baked it cold,  and its suppose to flat out,  but I put it into a claypot?

Perhaps someone can enlighten me?


The crumbs were denser than I like.  Somehow, most of my whole wheat breads turn out like that,  I've changed my technique to stretch and fold,  the white breads turn out very very well,  but not whole wheat.  Why?  Do I have to do more stretch and fold?  



Last question:  We seldom eat wholemeal bread.  What does wholemeal bread goes well with besides cheese?


More details - click here.



dmsnyder's picture

SD Psomi after Greenstein's "Psomi Bread"

On page 151-153 of Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker,” there is a recipe for what he calls “Psomi Bread.” He says he had this from a bakery in New Hampshire and made his own version. His formula is as follows (The weights are my estimates. Greenstein only provides volume measurements.):

Sponge (150% hydration)

½ cup warm water (120 gms)

2 packages active dry yeast

1 ½ cups buttermilk or sour milk at room temperature (357 gms)

3 cups whole wheat flour, preferably stone ground (384 gms)


Dough (67% to 82% hydration, depending on am't of AP flour added)

4 tablespoons honey (84 gms)

2 tablespoons butter or shortening (24.5 gms)

2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (266-399 gms)

2 teaspoons salt (9.24 gms)

½ cup toasted sesame seeds

Flour, for dusting work top

Oil, for greasing bowl

Additional sesame seeds, for topping (optional)

Shortening, for greasing pans


  1. Dissolve yeast in water. Add other sponge ingredients and mix. Cover and ferment for 45 minutes.

  2. Mix dough ingredients into sponge using 2 cups AP flour. Mix and add more flour as necessary. In stand mixer, dough should clean bowl sides. Mix 8-10 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

  3. Transfer dough to oiled bowl. Cover and ferment until double.

  4. Divide dough into two equal pieces and preshape. Rest 10 minutes.

  5. Shape into pan loaves or free form.

  6. Proof until doubled. Score with 3 diagonal cuts and brush with water.

  7. Bake in pre-heated 375ºF oven 35-45 minutes.

  8. Brush again with water and cool on a rack.


Now, over the past year, I've been trying to find recipes that would produce the kind of Greek bread that my daughter-in-law has described having in Greece. About the first thing I learned is that the Greek word for bread is … Psomi. So, Greenstein's formula surely was for a bread of Greek origin. I gather he had no clue that he was making “Bread Bread.”

I also learned that the typical Greek village bread was always made with a sourdough and that it used whole-grain flour. Inclusion of fat – either lard or olive oil – was common, as was the addition of honey. Sesame seeds and at least some, if not all, durum flour were also commonly used.

So, looking at Greenstein's formula, I see he uses a yeasted sponge made with buttermilk or sour milk. I think it's safe to assume this was to acidify the dough to taste somewhat like sourdough would. I see Greenstein uses both AP and WW flour, but all the WW is pre-fermented. I decided to take Greenstein's recipe a step back towards it's presumed origin. More steps may follow in the future.

I also decided to apply some of what I'd learned about whole-grain bread baking from Peter Reinhart's books and used both a soaker and a levain and pre-fermented 25% of the total flour. Following Reinhart's formulas in “Whole Grain Breads,” I divided the whole wheat flour equally between a soaker at 87.5% hydration from milk and a levain at 75% hydration, with the seed culture 20% of the flour. I used my stock sourdough starter which, as it happens, is kept at 75% hydration. I also followed Reinhart's guidance and used 1.8% salt for the total dough, with some of the salt in the soaker (to inhibit enzymatic activity).

So, this is the formula I developed:



Wt. (gms)

Baker's %

Whole wheat flour






Active starter (75% hydration)








Wt. (gms)

Baker's %

Whole wheat flour













Final dough

Wt. (gms)

All of the levain


All of the soaker


Bread flour




Honey (4 T)


Olive oil (2T)




Toasted sesame seeds

½ cup





  1. The night before baking, mix the soaker. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (If not then ready to mix the final dough, the soaker can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

  2. Mix the levain and allow to ferment until ripe (at least doubled and volume, with a domed top) – 4 to 6 hours. (This can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

  3. If either (or both) the levain and soaker were refrigerated, take them out to warm to room temperature (about 1 hour) before mixing the dough.

  4. Cut the levain and the soaker into about 12 pieces and put them in the bowl of a stand mixer together with the other ingredients. Mix with the paddle until they form a shaggy mass (1-2 minutes at Speed 1).

  5. Switch to the dough hook, and mix to achieve moderate gluten development. (7 minutes at Speed 2)

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl, and ferment until increased 50% in bulk with folds at 50 minute intervals. (About 2 ½ hours)

  7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape into balls. Let the dough rest, covered for 10-15 minutes.

  8. Shape the pieces into boules, batards or pan loaves and place them in bannetons or pans or on a couche.

  9. Proof until increased 50% in bulk. (2 hours, 15 minutes in my kitchen at 72ºF)

  10. While the loaves are proofing, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF with a baking stone in place and your steaming method of choice. (If baking pan loaves, the stone and steaming are not necessary.)

  11. When the loaves have proofed, transfer them to a peel. Pre-steam the oven. Optionally, brush or spritz the loaves' surface with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Score the loaves. Traditional scoring for a boule is 3 transverse cuts. Transfer to the oven.

  12. Steam the oven, turn the temperature down to 350ºF and bake for 40-50 minutes.

  13. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.


The crust was chewy and the crumb chewy but tender. The flavor was "sweet and sour whole wheat." It was actually pretty sour - more than my wife liked. I have made sourdough whole wheat breads before and did not enjoy the combination of whole wheat and sour flavors, but I did like this bread. This tasting was when the bread was just ... well ... almost cool. It will no doubt mellow by morning. I'm eager to taste it again after a good night's sleep.



Submitted to YeastSpotting


Jon Morrison's picture
Jon Morrison

I am slowly getting ready for Farmers Market.  Still cooking in my home.  The commercail kitchen is still a couple of weeks away.  I have five different sourdough breads, three different flour blends.

Using Peter Reinhart's Pain au Levain, morph some into Pain ausx herbes provance using Panzy's Herb de Provence blend.

Using Peter's San Francisco recipe I use Gérard Rubaud flour blend.  Some of it morphs into a multigrain using 3/4 King Arthurs Harvest Blend and 1/4 extra poppy seeds.

I also made Reinhart's Whole Wheat sourdough.

This week Olve bread will be added to the mix.

About everyother week I bake sour dough bagels.


I tried to make a rye starter, but it didn't work out yet.  I'll be back working on it later this summer.


One thing I have found that helps male the herb bread and multigrain bread is to add these when the adding the water to the firm starter.  They get well blended in before the flour and salt are added.


This has been quite a journey.  With last week baking 36 loaves in five days.  Very therapeutic and fun.


My one worry is trying to bake in the steam convestion oven.  I read a lot of horror stories.  Any help would be get.


Jon Morrison

The Bread Dude

as one of my customers calls me.




jombay's picture

Definitely the best but most rich cinnamon buns I have ever had. Used Suas' croissant formula, then I threw together some cinnamon sugar and cinnamon icing.


davidg618's picture

There are, at least, two threads running currently whose subjects deal with "the past'":


I am especially taken with the latter, more so with the author, than with any particular book, he wrote.  Apparently, Mr. Fredrick T. Vine, was a popular and successful author, and baker at the turn of the 19th to 20th century.  A superficial web search finds at least five bread and baking books, writings by Mr. Vine, sufficently treasured that reproductions are still sold today.

Browsing through one of his,

Practical bread-making: a useful guide for all in the trade (1900)

 By Frederick T. Vine,

here is one excerpt I found particulary chuckle-inducing, considering the "hole-i-er than thou"  point-of-view many of us share.


IF there is one thing more annoying than another to the baker, it is to cut a handsome-looking loaf and to find it full of large, unsightly holes, especially when, as is generally the case, you desire it to cut extra nice.

This is no new thing, but has been with us to plague the bakers' life for many years, and very many schemes have been tried to banish it, but all to no purpose; it is still unfortuuately with us, and I am not sanguine enough to predict its banishment from reading this chapter. However, I will endeavour to reason it out to you, and give my own theories upon it, together with the many remedies I have tried and suggested for its cure."

Frederick T. Vine's writings, and hundreds of other culinary books are available at:

David G

tananaBrian's picture

I'm feeding my levain tonight, plan on baking on Sunday ...for real this time.  My wife and I are going out for dinner tomorrow since it's our 6th anniversary.  That would conflict with a late afternoon Saturday baking, so I'll bake for sure on Sunday and probably also on Monday to get caught up with The Bread Challenge.  Sunday will be Hamelmans Whole Wheat Bread w/pate fermentee and Monday will be his whole wheat bread with soaker.  I'm looking forward to trying a soaker since I haven't tried that method yet.  Too bad I don't have any properly aged home-milled whole wheat ...I'll have to depend on King Arthur as usual!

Here's the latest on the garden shed project:

Trusses going in.  I wasn't sure how I'd do this, but as it turned out, it wasn't too bad.  Uprights on the end of the shed for support, then all trusses loaded onto the walls upside down, then I flipped each upright using a 2x4 that had a piece of wood on the end with a large 'V' cut in it as a "lifter upper thingy".  Worked like a champ.


All trusses in place, uprights still in place.


Uprights removed and 2nd floor "attic storage" flooring and sides installed.  This will be where Christmas and camping stuff resides when not being used.  2nd floor door to be built into far end (ladder access only).


Eaves over gable ends built (note short ridge beams, rafters off the ends, and blocking).  Now I'm going to get all the outside siding done before I do the roof.  The upper parts of the siding will be easier to nail in without the roof sheathing in the way.
















shansen10's picture

When I bake baguettes, they are coming out too dark on the bottom, too light on top.  I have a baking stone in the floor of my oven (GE Profile gas) and I place the loaves in the perforated baguette trays in the middle of the oven.  Also, the thermometer I place inside the oven reads a lower temperature than what the digital oven temperature indicator says, by anywhere from 25 to 50 degrees. 

Any suggestions?  Thanks, I love to bake breads (especially sourdough), have been doing it consistently for 8 months and want to keep improving, to the point that someday I may feel proud enough to put up some photos!



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