The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

breadsong's picture

Hello, To celebrate the Hazelnut Harvest which happens this time of year, I wanted to make some sweet rolls, using hazelnuts.

These are rolls made with Basic Sweet Dough. with Nut Filling, from Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads by Ciril Hitz.
This is a nice sweet dough recipe and includes some lemon zest for an added dimension of flavor.

Hazelnut flour was used in the filling, and the rolls were glazed (icing sugar + a decent measure of Frangelico liqueur
+ a bit of cream + a bit of pure vanilla extract + a teeny-tiny pinch of salt).

This recipe produced 12 decent-sized rolls, baked in a 9x13 pan, with some extra dough left over; 
the roll ends were baked in small ring molds.

These rolls were good and tasty (I really like the liqueur-spiked glaze!).    Regards, breadsong

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Here's the latest bake...  70% Whole Wheat Pain Au Levain...  I'm trying to make a WW bread that also tastes good.  I think this is one of my more successful results...  I'm also working on a new boule shaping method that I'll call the "snail" method...  I think this is the best method as of late for shaping...  I'll post the recipe and method if anyone is interested... For now, here's another 360 degree view along with crumbshot.  Enjoy!


varda's picture

A few weeks ago, I made an accidental very sour rye bread, which had an addictive quality to it, but unfortunately failed in every other regard.   So armed with advice from some very helpful people on the forum, I have been trying to make a successful loaf with that same tart and delicious taste.   This I have not yet succeeded in doing.   Yesterday I decided to try to follow the Hamelman pain au levain approach with some notable deviations to see where that would get me.   So I started with the basic pain au levain formula, but upped the ratio of rye to bread flour to almost 1, and even higher on the starter.   Then for the second ferment, I placed the shaped loaves in linen lined bread pans for support, and refrigerated for 20 hours.   Then baked for over an hour in my WFO.   I thought that the long ferment and the higher percentage of rye flour would get me to sour (without turning the entire dough into starter which is why the original bread was such a failure) but it didn't.   But I did get a delicious rye bread with a much higher percentage of rye flour than I have ever dared to try.   So I'm not yet daring to make 100% rye (for which I'll follow Mini Oven when I do) and I still haven't managed to get back the sour without the flopping, but nevertheless I'll pause for a minute to enjoy this very tiny milestone. 

Yes, I scored two different ways - just to see - and got some extra scores besides.   Could have proofed even longer?

saumhain's picture

And that is how I celebrated it :)


So as I wrote before, I am now a happy owner of Michel Suas' "Bread and Pastry". I got it on Monday and ever since tried to figure out which bread to bake first - the problem was that I loved literally e v e r y t h i n g. My two final choices were "Rustic Filone" (made with 2 pre-ferments - yeasted and sourdough) and "Honey Wheat Pan Bread". I had almost decided with the last one, but as it takes only 8 hours to build levain and I could not get home that early, I had chosen "Filone".

It did not seem complicted at first glance. The truth is it's not comlicated at all. Things get messy when you fail to scale ingredients correctly. Like me. You see, I can handle pretty easily very wet dough, I can knead with my eyes closed, but I CAN'T FREAKIN SCALE! That is so annoying. Oh one more thing: I though I'd bake "Honey Wheat", because it involved double hydration technique. You mix the dough until gluten is developed and then you add some more water. You probably have heard about it, but I was honestly intrigued. So, back to my story. Instead of adding 191 g water I made it 161... I started kneading and immediately felt that something is wrong. I told you, I can handle wet dough really good, and I do prefer my dough wet. I like when it sticks to my hands a bit, because I know it would in the end result in nice open crumb and light texture. This dough was however not sticky at all; the floor would just remain somewhere on the bottom of the bowl with some crumbly ball in the center. Obviously it needed a lot more water. I splashed some more water, just to combine the remaining floor with that ball. I mixed it until there was about medium gluten development (I prefer to s&f the dough in the middle of bulk, instead of letting gluten fully develop at the beginning). I left my still too tight to the touch dough and thought I'd just sit and wait what happens to the dough next. I hesitated for a minute or so. Then added about 20 grams more water. At first I thought that I spoilt everything, because what I had in bowl now looked and the worse is that it felt like clay. However after about 2 minutes of intense kneading my dough was very soft, airy and finally sticky. So it almost like I tried double hydration technique and strictly speaking I think I liked it. Probably would try it with more breads, see how different types of dough react to it.

Oh and yes you can see my rustic filone on the photo above. Should have been two small batards, but I made it one. I am more than satisfied with the final product, although I need to bake it at least one more time to see what it's like with the correct amount of water :)

MadAboutB8's picture

It's my first time baking 100% whole wheat bread. The recipe comes from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread book.

I find the method to be interesting, by soaking all whole wheat flour used in the recipe in soaker & biga. I'm quite happy with the result. The crumb is rather open and soft, which is quite extraodinary for 100% whole wheat. From my past bakings, I find a high-percentage whole wheat flour loaf to have a rather tight crumb (and this loaf is 100% whole wheat). I'm now thinking of experimenting soaking the whole wheat flour for my next sourdough whole wheat loaf, probably with our favourite Hamelman's multigrain whole wheat sourdough:)

Most importantly, the bread tastes quite nice, and is a healthy option.

Here are some pics, for recipe and more photos, you can follow this link

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Well, my last post was all about my new WFO, and I said I would keep everyone posted on how things go as I complete the oven and learn to bake in it.  Some of the lessons have been hard to learn.  Having finally recovered (mostly) from the internet connectivity disaster my ISP wrought a couple of weeks ago, I'm now able to post some progress. 

I did bake in the oven, on September 29th.  I got three very nice loaves of Beth Hensperger's Pain Ordinaire, from her book "The Bread Bible".  I chose this recipe because it is a straight dough that can be completed start to finish in about 2-2 1/2 hours so it made my timing very simple for my first wfo bake.

This bread was very exciting, if only because it came out of the WFO and confirmed all of my hopes for how the concept of a wood fired oven would perform.  I was pleased with how well I was able to coordinate the dough and the oven, having both ready at nearly the same time.  Truth is I rushed the bread.  It could have used another 20-30 minutes to rise, but I wanted to bake!  The results were not at all bad, and the bread came out very well. (I took and processed these shots myself, so blame me not my photographer-wife!)

We ate two loaves, and I gave one to the neighbor that helped me so much in finishing off the dome build a couple of weeks earlier.

That, though, is the end of the good news.  In fact, it was the end of the oven (sob).   I said the first bake was on Sept. 29th, and on October 2nd we pulled the oven down.

The above is a shot from inside the dome of one of several through-cracks in the dome.  And here is the outside.

They were not originally this wide, but I was expanding them so I could patch them, then I found the through-cracks, and the roof fell in, almost literally.

These pictures speak pretty well for themselves, and I have not much to add...

And finally...


What can I say, but that it was my fault.  We did a good job of building the dome, and I ruined it by over-firing it in one of the very first "small drying fires" (see my earlier blog post for the original admission of this sad truth).  I called my neighbor that helped me put it up and he came over and helped me pull it down.  His words of greeting were, "So, when do we do it again?".  My answer was "Soon!" and my wife's was "Start today!".  We did, but the starting was in cleaning up the mess and hauling away the first try.  I have a huge pile of busted up oven dome in a ditch behind the woodpile.  The winter rains will melt it down and I'll add it gradually to the garden where clay and sand will be welcome additions to the complete lack of topsoil around here (It seems like everything growing around here is in hauled-in soil).

So, I began again.  I learned from my first oven that this time I want a chimmney because I am tired already of getting covered with soot just by going near the oven door.  I also learned that my clay-sand mix was way too short on clay and long on sand.  I learned lots of lessons about patience in waiting for natural drying (no more "drying fires" till the oven is already dry!) and about how it is not as hard as it seems to put one of these domes up.  Next time I'll be better prepared, and more relaxed about it.  There is much less need to hurry than I thought the first time out.

I spent a couple of weeks researching design options to add a chimmney, on materials, and on trying out mock up designs to see how they looked and how they fit my somewhat odd eliptical basic shape.  And now I have started to rebuild, beginning with a new, square arch.  I concluded that the square arch, while much less romantic, is (imho) more practical in form, function, and fits my skill set better.  I can build a square arch that will stand.  My track record for the curved arch is less sterling, to say the least. So here I go again, rebuilding my wood fired oven from (almost) scratch.  I have had to partially reset the oven floor, but not entirely.  I have moved everything forward toward the mouth of the oven to preserve space inside for baking.  Here is what I have so far, beginning with the new arch vertical columns.

Next I added the top row of cap-bricks on the arch as you see here.

Finally, so far, I've started cutting and laying out the "inner firewall" that will be the face of the oven itself.  I'll post more about this later, but for now I'll just say that when I saw the concept it made instant sense to me, and using the basic idea I was able create a plan that gives me a chimmeny, an insulated gap between the heat sensitive front arch structure, and a solid face for the dome itself.  As I said, more on all that later.  For now, here is what it looks like  (from the back, inside-the-oven view) with the bricks cut but just laid in place for now.  Mortar will come this weekend.

So out of the disappointment of my first failure I press on, with determination to be more patient this time, and to end up with an even better oven.  Mean time, I'll just keep baking in the kitchen!

Still hanging in there

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Inspired by one of Shiao-ping's early bakes...  I'll post a description shortly...  For now, here's a 360 degree view of the loaf...  It's cooling now, so I'll have to post crumbshot pics tomorrow...




500g AP

300g Water

150g Sourdough Starter @ 100% Hydration

12g Kosher Salt

7 Scallions/Green Onions

Sesame Oil

962g Dough weight not including scalions/sesame oil.




10:00am - Feed storage sourdough starter 100g AP and 100g water, leave on counter covered.  Should increase by 50% in 2-3 hours.

12:40pm - Mix all ingredients in large bowl with wooden spoon.  When a rough dough forms, squish out all the lumps with wet hands, cover and let rest.  This should take no more than 5 minutes.

2:24pm - Stretch and fold dough in bowl, cover and let rest.

3:29pm - Stretch and fold dough in bowl, cover and let rest.

4:20pm - Stretch and fold dough in bowl, cover and let rest.

5:30pm - Stretch and fold dough in bowl, cover and let rest.

6:00pm - Wash, dry, thinly slice scallions, place in bowl and set aside.

6:30pm - Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.  Stretch dough out like a pizza.  Brush dough lightly with sesame oil, and distribute scallions on top of dough.  Roll dough into log, then with the seam side up, roll dough up into a snail.  Please seam side up in floured banneton, place into plastic bag.  Proof for 3 hrs.

9:00pm - Arrange baking stone on 2nd rack from bottom along with steam pan (loaf pan filled with lava rocks, fill halfway with water).  Preheat oven to 500F with convection.

9:45pm - Turn off convection.  Take banneton out of plastic bag, sprinkle boule lightly with flour.  Lightly flour peel.  Turn dough out onto peel, slash lengtwise (along the roll), place into oven directly on stone.  Bake 500F for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes, remove the steam pan, turn oven down to 450F and bake for another 35 minutes.  After, turn oven off, leave loaf in for another 10 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing and eating.

Sent to Susan @ Yeastspotting on 10/17/10


GSnyde's picture

I baked Greek Bread (Psomi) today, using Brother David's Sourdough version with some Durum flour (  The first time David baked Psomi was at our house last December, with the assistance of his Greek daughter-in-law (one of our very favorite nieces).  That occasion was reported in his blog post here (

I loved that first Psomi, and have been Pso looking forward to trying to bake it myself. is usually the case with my baking, all did not go perfectly with these Psourdough Psomis.

It started out alright.  David's formula was clear as always, and the dough handled nicely.  This was my first attempt at shaping boules, and I'd say I did ok, helped by his tutorial on the subject (geez...I'm starting to sound like his PR agent).  And I have to say I love my proofing baskets from TMG.

But as I looked at the two loaves and the size of my pizza peel and the size of my baking stone, I realized I might have a space problem.  When I flopped the loaves from the proofing baskets onto the parchment-covered peel, each overlapped the peel a bit.  And when I slid them onto the baking stone, the loaves were only an inch or so apart and both were near the edges of the stone.

So I was not surprised, when I opened the oven to pull out the steaming stuff, to see the two loaves had [ahem] become engaged.


I was surprised to see how unevenly my poor old oven was baking these two conjoined loaves.  So, I clove them apart with a bench knife, turned them around to try to even out the browning, and turned the oven down to 425.

I may have more than my share of baking misadventures, but I also have my share of surprisingly happy outcomes.  In this case, though they are a bit carbonized at the tops, the two loaves have a nice thin crispy crust, a medium density moist toothy crumb, and a delightful toasty flavor.



Even the surgical scar healed up nicely.


Next time I bake this bread, I will use a cookie sheet instead of the smaller pizza peel.  And I will start the bake at 450 and turn it down to 425 right after loading, to reduce the char.


This dough could be made into a very nice sandwich loaf or roll.  I think I may need to try this recipe for buns for Greek sausages. Importantly, my chief taster has declared this bake to be a success and worthy of repeating.  And Pso I shall.

In closing, I will repeat the tale of Seseemeus which I shared in David's first Psomi blog post.  A lesson whose moral is: don't let pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of enjoying the purdy dang good.

I am sure you are aware of Aeschylus' unpublished play, The Bakers, in which the hero, Seseemeus, maniacally pursues perfection in his Greek Loaf, and keeps coming SO close but--at least in his mind--never attains it.   Poor Seseemeus neglected to appreciate fully the very very very good bread he baked, so keen was he on achieving the unattainable perfection.  And those who enjoyed his very very very good bread thought perhaps that their enjoyment of it reflected some defect in their taste.  A real tragedy!


txfarmer's picture

Right after I made and posted about lye pretzels last time, arlo brought this article to my attention - ah ha! Who knew lye pretzels are "in fasion" again, does that make up for my 10 year old jeans? :P Still having that whole big jar of lye to use up, I made pretzels again, but the recipe is a combo of the NY Time recipe and Nancy Silverton's Sourdough pretzel recipe, then at the very end, I added my own "TXFarmer spin". I had some cooked red bean left from making mooncakes, so I filled a few of those prezels with sweetened coarsely mashed red bean paste. Delicious! I do apologize if it offends any German TFLers though. :P


Sourdough Pretzel (NYTimes+Nancy Silverton+my own craziness)

-makes 12 pretzels, each about 110g

water, 218g

starter (100%), 207

bread flour, 567g

barley malt syrup, 21g

salt, 2tsp

lard, 23g (Yes lard! Butter would work but lard gives a better/more authentic flavor, as well as whiter crumb. I have a big container of lard in my fridge at all times, embrace pig fat!)

1. Mix and knead very well. This is a dry dough, similar to bagel, but do knead well. I kneaded by hand since my mixer was doing other more important things like whipping 12 eggs, it' took some elbow grease but could be done.

2. No bulk rise, divide dough into 12 portions, round, and rest for 45min.

3. Shape into pretzels, do keep middle portion fat, and two ends pointy.

To add filling, first shape the dough into a batard, then roll into a long oval, add filling (not too much though!), roll up, seal well, roll out to desired length

4. Rise at room temp for 1 hour, the dough would've visibly expanded, then put in fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

5. mix 30g of lye into 1000g of water, wait for 10 min for it to completely dissolve, the water would become warm. Dip each pretzel in lye water for 30 sec, put back on baking sheet, score at the "fat belly" (if you have filling inside, score at an angle so the filling won't leak out), spread coarse sea salt on top (not for my red bean paste ones).

6. Bake for 20 to 25min at 400F.


Tight even crumb, just what I like. I didn't wait for the lye water to dry before scoring, so if you look closely, the edges of the cuts are yellow, need to improve on that.


The ones with filling are REALLY good, this way I don't have to dip the pretzel in other stuff. There are many other filling possibilities, PB&J? Nutella? Pumpkin pie? Maple cream? BBQ pork? Curry chicken? Endless.

----------------------------Completely unrelated-------------------------------

Here's a great coconut cupcake recipe I made a few days ago for my running friends,


I highly recommend this epicurious recipe, I did use cake flour rather than AP flour in the recipe, and used a cream cheese icing rather than the original one, both the taste and texture are really good.

The key of the recipe is "reduced coconut milk", I have some leftover, and I will be dunking everything in it! Even if you don't make the cake, make this!

Submitting to Yeastspotting

BerniePiel's picture

I've been doing a lot of baking the last few days to help me meditate and leave the worries somewhere else.  Baking bread is such an enjoyable, fun, healthy and nutritious thing to do for yourself and your family and/or friends.

Today, I decided to try my hand at a semolina-whole wheat sourdough loaf that was infused with darkly toasted sesame seeds in both  the dough and on the crust.

Here are the ingredients, mixed in this order:

  • 700 g of spring water;
  • 200 g of starter, roughly 75% hydration;
  • 200 g of leaven consisting of 2/3's APF, 1/6 whole wheat; and, 1/6 pumperknickel flour; 

[I've had this starter for some time and I'm pretty unorthodox from the scientific baker in that I pour out whatever I think will do the job to keep my starter going, mix in a combo of flours given in the portion listed by volume and mix with spring water till I have the consistency I think works best.  It works for me and I like things to  be simple, enough said.]

  • 900 g of flour, consisting of:
  •  650 g of KA Durum semolina flour;      
  • 250 g my milled whole-wheat flour, somewhat coarse;
  • 20 g sea salt - I used Irish herer, but I doubt it makes a huge difference. ( I'm sure open for comments about this);
  • 50 g spring water (I actually used this to dip my fingers into to do the S&F's and found I used almost all of the water which became well incorporated into the dough and saved the usual sticky mess I've had at other times.


  • Pour the starter in the water, all at room temp, slightly cool;  mix the starter so that it almost disolves in the water;
  • pour in the whole wheat and mix;  by mixing it first with the water, it has a bit longer time to autolyse which is necessary since it is a whole grain product;  I usually mix either by hand or use the Polish bread mixer.  I injured my right wrist tendon playing tennis a few weeks ago and it still hasn't quite healed so I used the whisk to help ease the pain of mixing and not unduly exerting stress on the ligament.
  • Mix all of the flour thoroughly so that there is an even moistness throughout and no dry flour is left on the sides or underneath.
  • Let the dough sit for 20 minutes add the salt and seeds and do several strech and folds and moisten your hands so the flour doesn't stick to them.  When I stretch and fold I usually use a plastic or rubber dough scraper and scoop it down the large glass bowl that I use to mix with.  I then reach the bottom and slip under the dough with the scraper and scoop it up and into the center of the flour.  After a while of doing this, the dough starts to get shaped into a boule/ball.  I do between 10 and twenty of these, just till the dough feels manageable.
  •  My other method is a little more tricky and requires some exercise.  I use the scraper and go under the dough then lift all of the dough out of the bowl and let the weight of the dough stretch out the flour to about a foot or 18" in length.  I then fold the dough over itself as I lower it back into the bowl; rotate the bowl and pick up the dough again so that the new fold is to the side rather than to the top or bottom of the length of dough.  Imagine picking up a kitchen towel from a long end, holding it up so that the towel is straight up and down.  Then put the dough, or fold the dough, i.e, towel in half as you are lowering it into the bowel.  Pick up the towel again, only this time use a side, not the fold, nor the open ends that make up the folded towel.  Again, let the dough stretch itself out and when it reaches about a foot and a half in length, fold it again as you put it back into the bowel.  I  think this procedure helps build structure to the loaf and glutten which is the building block of the structure in the dough.  I will do this five or six times.
  • Next let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and do the stretch and fold again, rest, do it again in another 30 minutes..  But wait, isn't that the standard litany used by most of the bread makers?  Well, that's what  I did for months and months, until today when I was kept from doing so by important telephone calls that went on and on and then a client visit.  I managed to get two stretch and folds and added 3/4s cup of darkly toasted sesame seeds with the salt and mixed very well to spread the seeds evenly thoughout the mass.  Because of complications, I then had to let the dough sit covered on the counter for 5 hours because I just couldn't get to it.  I was surprised to find that it was just fine and doing quite well.  I did one more stretch and fold, put it in  the fridge for two hours, and came back and decided to see if it was really all that necessary to ferment the dough overnight.  Well, it wasn't and  the taste and complexity of the dough was very nice.  But, of course, a true test would be to let it sit in the fridge overnight and shape and bake to see if the taste improves.

Here are the photos.  Sorry no crumb shot of the batard because its a gift, but I'm sure the boule is representative.  The boule was baked in a round covered clouche for 15 minutes at 525 and then uncovered for 25 at 470.  The batard was cooked at 550 on the stone and steam was injected from a garden sprayer on the sides and top of the oven about every 4 minutes for a total of 4 times and the spray was for a duration of about 20 to 25 seconds each time.

This is the resting dough after being pulled from the fridge.  You can see there are a lot of sesame seeds in the loaf which contributed to the nutty flavor given by this bread.  That, along with the texture and taste created a wonderful combination.

resting dough

The next shot is a photo of the sesame seeds which were baked in a pizza pan till dark.  Be certain to stir them around after you take them out of the oven because the pan will continue cooking them and could burn them.  There is an amazing amount of oil in these little seeds.  These seeds were saved to go on the outside of the loaf.  I must ask what is the best way to affix these seeds to the loaf so that they will stay on the loaf.  As I'm cutting the loaf all of the seeds on the outside just pop off.  I had a similar loaf at the Farmer's Market in Prospect Park in Brooklyn a few weeks ago and it was divine and the seeds stayed on the bread slice.  How do you make this happen?  Anyone, please.

The following are the finished loaves and the usual crumb shots.  I hope you will try this bread some time, as it is delicious.

The boule.

I will be the first to admit my batard shaping is woefully lacking.

The batard

BTW, that's my jar of starter in the background.  Just an old mason jar and when I extracted the starter for these loaves, the jar was at half the level you see.  The starter had replenished its growth that I had used in these loaves.  I will take about half of this amount, discard the rest or use it to make pancakes, etc., and then mix with spring water to dissolve and add one cup each of AP or BF and WWF which I mill myself from some local hard winter red wheat.


Here are some crumb shots.


The crust was not crackly, but chewy and crunchy, perhaps from the seeds, but it had a good texture for the flours used.  There was a nice moistness to the crumb, but not wet or damp.  The internal temp was 209 when removed from the oven measured from the bottom of the loaf.



Surprisingly I was eating this bread at 6 pm and had started it about 9:30 a.m.  Very easy bread to make, not a wet dough at all, and quite manageable.  Just have a good strong starter.  I will say this that I'm guessing but I suspect one of my stretch and folds are equal to about two of most other bakers because I really work the dough by letting it stretch from its own weight and fold it over at least ten times, maybe more, just till it feels like it has a good consistency and strength.  Then a longer rest, but at least 30 minutes, but I'm not overly concerned if its 45 minutes or 60 before I do the next S&F.  I think I should call this my "No Anxiety" bread.  It takes care of itself with a little guidance from you.  Happy Baking.


Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries