The Fresh Loaf

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Neo-Homesteading's picture



So this was about my third time making soft pretzels only the first making them with sourdough. I'm having a bit of a time mastering technique but getting closer with each try. This day my kitchen was hotter than hell so it caused a bit of an issue I believe the pretzels came out of the fridge and then over proofed wicked fast. I've got my shaping more consistent but my problem seems to lie mostly in the water bath. I researched authentic german bagel recipes and even watched a few german bakers videos. I was surprised to find out that a lot of German bakeries don't even do the boiling bath they only do egg wash or they dip them in the lye solution for a second and then bake. I really wonder though does the texture and crust form anywhere close to what I'm accustomed to? I'm highly tempted to actually try not doing the water bath next time, I love soft pretzels so much but they keep coming out so ugly. They always taste amazing and those I share them with dont complain but as I'm trying to master the authentic recipe, I think the outer crust still needs a bit of work. I hope to find the closest authentic german brezel recipe I can. 


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hansjoakim's picture

They call it the most important meal of the day, and I tend to agree with them. Get off to a good start, for instance with your morning newspaper, a cup of black coffee and some still-hot-from-the-oven breakfast rolls, and you're at least halfway there. Yesterday, I mixed, bulk fermented and shaped some mini-batards from a batch of Hamelman's "Semolina bread with a whole-grain soaker" formula (p. 137 in "Bread"). This delicious and simple formula is extremely versatile; I've used it for regular breads, rolls and some uttely delicious, crunchy baguette-shaped loaves in the past. The durum flour makes the crust crisp and crunchy and the whole-grain soaker adds plenty of chew to the crumb. I rolled half of the mini-batards in sesame seeds and kept the other half plain, before placing them in the refrigerator for proofing overnight (approx. 14 hours). I had also prepared a batch of raisin bun dough, and these were also proofed overnight in the fridge, ready for baking first thing in the morning. Here's a snap of the plain durum mini-batards just before they hit the oven:

Durum bread rolls - proofed


As the goodies baked and filled my apartment with the most pleasant smell, I brewed a couple cups of coffee ("black as midnight on a moonless night", to quote Twin Peaks' Special Agent Dale Cooper) and leafed through the newspaper. Below is a photo of the raisin buns (at the back), the durum minis and some oatmeal raisin cookies (to go with that glass of milk). Enough to lighten up my monday morning!

What's for breakfast, honey?

lief's picture

I have to give a shout out to Dan Lepard for the inspiration on this bread. You see, I really like tamarind so I've been kicking around the idea in the back of my head that I would like to make some bread with tamarind in it. However, I wasn't taking the thought too seriously given the tartness of tamarind fruit. Then the other day, I happened to be randomly perusing Dan Lepard's website,, and I came across his recipe for a tamarind date cake. I thought, oooh, that sounds delicious... and then lightning struck! Of course! Dates are the perfect complement to tamarind, and I felt that the addition of dates would make my elusive tamarind bread idea reasonable. Dan Lepard's cake also included walnuts, and I thought that was a great idea, so I included them in my bread as well. Here are the results of my first formulation:

The boules were wrapped in floured cloth inside mixing bowls for proofing, so there is a bit of flour on the crust, but the crust is STILL being whitened due to insufficient steam. This is the second time I've baked bread and been aware of what the most probable cause of the whitening is. As such I made one final adjustment to my steaming method (on top of my adjustments from last week) and went for it. Usually, after shutting the oven door I immediately go and set the timer. This time I watched the oven and sure enough, as soon as I closed the door, I was able to see a bunch of steam rise out from the top of the "closed" door. Within 5 seconds it was gone. Argh!! BTW, I'm a renter, so short of buying a new oven for the landlord, my last hope rests in the covered "self-steaming" method.

But enough about crust whitening! This bread is delicious! It is fairly sweet with a wonderful taste and texture imparted by the walnuts. The taste of the tamarind is more subtle than I was going for, so I will be making adjustments to the recipe. Also, I wanted the bread to be a bit crustier, so I'll probably give it a longer bake next time. I was fooled by the gorgeous dark, reddish brown crust that I saw near the bottom of the boules (since the top was whitened) and took them out of the oven a little sooner than I should have. All in all, I'm fairly pleased with the results (whitening aside) given that it is my first attempt and I was not following a recipe.


Floydm's picture

Actually a few of these are from Montpellier too, like the first few:

Macarons are all the rage.

This bakery had the dark baguettes set aside for people like me who like them that way.


Floydm's picture

We just got back from our first trip to Europe with kids, our first trip overseas in nearly twelve years. We spent most of it in southern France but flew in and out of Paris.

As you can imagine, I made all kinds of plans for hitting bakeries while passing through Paris.  We got in on a Sunday and left Paris early Monday though, so most bakeries were closed.  We did find one that was open in the neighborhood we were staying in, which was on Rue de Lombards, one of the gayer streets in gay Paris.  Coincidentally it was also pride weekend, so the bakery was baking up special treats.

We headed to Montpellier after that, where I had a lot of really good though not incredible bread.  I wasn't so envious of the quality of the bread, which was comparable to what you can find in a good bakery here, as I was the abundance:  whereas we have four or maybe five good bakeries in all of Portland, every five or ten blocks in Montpellier there were decent bakeries.  Every the baguettes they sold in the grocery stores were quite good.  And cheap.  And I really loved these:

Nothing fancy, obviously, but mildly sweet chocolate brioche that you can find in every grocery?  I'm extremely envious.  I wish we had breakfast buns readily available that weren't as syrupy sweet as doughnuts or Danishs.  The closest thing I can thing of here is Kings Hawaiian Sweet Bread which is quite good but not the same.

When we returned to Paris I tried to arrange to hit some of the better known bakeries but didn't have much luck.  We got sandwiches from Pain D'Epis and I snapped a few photos but it was the middle of the day and we were headed to Les Invalides, so I didn't buy any of their breads.  They were nice looking though.

Julien was the bakery we went to the most.

Gosselin, which I tried to visit. Unfortunately it was being remodeled.

Oh yeah, and I wanted to head over to Poilâne on our final day in Paris but opted to take the kids to the Pompidou instead, but noticed they had Poilâne bread in the local grocery store.  So I tried it this way.


hanseata's picture

Today's baking was my (less sweetened) version of the German Many Seed Bread from "Whole Grain Baking". Instead of a soaker and a biga I used just the soaker with stretch & fold technique for the first time, adding some more water. The breads turned out really nice, I think it's an improvement.

Sorry, no crumb shot - these breads were for sale.

dmsnyder's picture


I made my San Joaquin Sourdough today with a couple of modifications.


The last few bakes, I have substituted a liquid levain for the the firmer levain and also have used a higher percentage of levain, although, since I've used a liquid levain, the percentage of pre-fermented flour in the dough is actually lower. Also, note that, while the “final dough” hydration is 72%, the total dough hydration is actually closer to 78% because of the high-hydration levain. This is actually a somewhat higher hydration than my original formula for San Joaquin Sourdough.

The second modification was to cold retard the dough for a longer time – 36 hours as opposed to the 16-20 hours I have generally used. This was for my convenience, but I've also been curious about the effects of longer cold retardation on this dough.


Liquid Levain:

Baker's %

Weight (g)













Final Dough:

Baker's %

Weight (g)

AP Flour



Whole Rye Flour
















  1. Mix the liquid levain (1:5:4 – Starter:Water:Flour). Let it ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

  2. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the starter and dissolve it in the water.

  3. Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix thoroughly using the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

  5. Repeat the “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and do a stretch and fold.

  7. Return the dough to the bowl and cover.

  8. After 45 minutes, repeat the stretch and fold on the board.

  9. Reform the dough into a ball and replace it in the bowl.

  10. Allow the dough to continue fermenting until the volume has increased 25%.

  11. Cold retard the dough for about 36 hours.

  12. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately transfer it to a lightly floured board.

  13. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape them into logs or rounds, depending on whether you want to make boules or bâtards. Cover the pieces with plasti-crap and let them rest for 60 minutes. (Give them a shorter rest if the kitchen is very warm. You don't want them to expand very much, if any.)

  14. Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  15. Shape the pieces and place them in bannetons or on a couche. Cover the loaves and proof them until they have expanded by 50-70%. (30-45 minutes)

  16. Pre-steam the oven. The transfer the loaves to a peel (or equivalent). Score them, and load them onto your baking stone.

  17. Steam the oven. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

  18. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus. Turn the loaves 180º, if necessary for even browning.

  19. Continue to bake the loaves for another 15-18 minutes or until their internal temperature is 205ºF.

  20. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  21. Cool the loaves completely before slicing.

Because I was planning on a longer cold fermentation, I refrigerated the dough sooner than I would have otherwise – when it had expanded about 25%. In the refrigerator, the dough continued to expand, but very slowly. At 24 hours, it had expanded to 150% its original volume. At 36 hours, it had doubled in volume.

The dough was of about the same consistency as usual. This is a sticky dough, at 78% hydration, but it was easy to handle with lightly floured hands. The dough had nice extensibility but excellent strength. The pre-shaped pieces and shaped loaves held their shapes very well. I could not say that the longer cold retardation resulted in any problematic gluten degradation.

The crumb was as expected with this bread. There was no evident effect from the longer retardation. The flavor, on the other hand, was distinctly tangier. The initial flavor was the lovely, complex flavor of the San Joaquin Sourdough. The moderate sourness came through a bit later, and the flavor lingered on the palate for an exceptionally long time.

I would certainly recommend trying this version to any who have enjoyed the San Joaquin Sourdough before and favor a more assertive sourdough tang to their bread.


Submitted to YeastSpotting


holds99's picture


I'm not really sure if there is a fixed definition for a miche.  From what I can determine, from reading baking books and information posted on the Internet, there are numerous miche formulas, ranging from exclusively whole wheat to mixed-flour.  Based on my limited research, one thing that seems to make them stand out from the crowd is their size---they're big.  The legendary French baker Lionel Poilâne, who reintroduced the miche in Paris in the 1970s created his loaves using stone-ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven.  Mr.  Poilâne's loaves weighed 2 kilograms each (4.4 lbs).  I made mine approximately the same size.  His were round, mine are oval, because, as you can see from the oven photo, that's the only way I could get these two big guys into my oven.

"Poilâne is most famous for a round, two-kilogram sourdough country bread referred to as a miche or pain Poilâne. This bread is often referred to as wholewheat but in fact is not: the flour used is mostly so-called grey flour of 85% extraction (meaning that some but not all of the wheat bran is retained). According to Poilâne's own website, the dough also contains 30% spelt, an ancestor of wheat." [Wikipedia]

After a number of iterations I've come up with a mix of flours that I like and, for my taste, has good flavor.  I also incorporated a soaker in this version.  Anyway, here's the latest iteration. 

This recipe uses a double levain build, a total 14-18 hrs. total build, depending on room temperature (I used a tablespoon of mature culture, equal amounts all-purpose flour and water for each build (8 oz. water, 7 oz. flour)).

Final Dough

All the levain - 29 oz.

White all-purpose flour - 34 oz.

White whole wheat flour - 16 oz.

light rye flour - 7 oz.

Water -  35 oz.

Salt - 1.5 oz (2 Tb.)

Soaker (optional) 2 cups cracked rye

Total water = 51 oz (including levain)

Total flour = 71 oz (including levain)

Hydration = 71%

Note: Give the dough three (3) stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals.  Then retard it in fridge overnight or for up to 20 hours before removing and bringing to room temp. After the dough reaches room temp. (approx. 2 hrs.) divide, shape and place in bannetons seam side up.  Allow to nearly double in volume (finger poke test) and turn out of bannetons onto parchment lined baking pans sprinkled heavily with semolina flour.  Score the loaves and bake in preheated (475 deg. over) with steam.  After 10 minutes reduce heat to 450 deg.  Bake for 40-50 min. Check for an internal temp. of [EDIT] 205-210 deg.

Cool on wire racks.

breadsong's picture


I picked up the CIA book "Artisan Breads at Home" by Eric Kastel from the library and was delighted to find a recipe for Chipotle Sourdough, using pureed chipotle chiles in adobo as an add-in.

For 48 ounces of dough, the recipe calls for 2.6 ounces of pureed chipotles combined with 1.3 ounces whole wheat flour as the add-in; I kneaded this in by hand at the end of mixing.

This bread is spicy and so, so tasty. I think it will be perfect to serve with an al fresco Mexican dinner and Margaritas!

The author advises the reader to "use it to create your most memorable grilled cheese sandwich" - a great idea I can't wait to try.

It's too bad the crumb shot doesn't show any pieces of chipotle chile - but they're in there, trust me!












Jw's picture

What is far away depends very much on your own perspective... I was in San Diego, CA, last saturday. Great farmers market in Little Italy. Surpised by the quality of Sorry that I could not buy anthing - the market was at the beginning of my stay there-, but it sure was tempting.

And my boy just returned from Paris (a week's holiday) and brought me the following from Poilane. What more can one wish for? It smells great. Time for some holidays now! Happy baking. Cheers, Jw.




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