The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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cookingwithdenay's picture

On August 7, 2009 the release of a new movie starting Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) opens in theaters nationwide. The movie was written and directed by Nora Ephron and is an adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. You can learn the plot by visiting the trailer and I won't bore you with that information. Over twenty seven years ago I had the honor of serving in the United States Navy and being stationed in Okinawa, Japan. It was a bitter sweet experience for a culinary obsessive compulsive cook like myself. Locating ingredients was a task and as a relatively new bride I was eager to prepare meals that were not only delicious but divine.

I have never really written about how I became so astute in the kitchen. I can say that I would not be the cook I am today were it not for a cookbook edited by Charlotte Turgeon titled The Creative Cooking Course. You must understand that during that time, military bases offered very little to choose from as far as ingredients go, so my now ex purchased three cookbooks so I could flex my culinary muscle; venture out into local markets and with the assistance of the Creative Cooking Course, a Betty Crocker Cookbook and one other that obviously was completely unimportant since I can no longer remember the title create culinary magic.

I bring this book up because it is through this book that I learned about food, food from all over the world. I cooked my way through this cookbook and I can tell you every recipe that worked and those that did not. Somewhere out there a budding novice is wondering how can I too become a great cook or baker? All I can share is that you must literally cook and bake your way into greatness. I think Nike said it best..."Just do it!" Julia Child once said, "never apologize." She was absolutely correct. Cook, cook, cook, bake, bake, bake and don't apologize. If someone does not like what you have prepared, fine...and as Jae would say, "keep it movin."

I had a copy of The French Chef years ago and found it quite boring, but recently I asked my daughter for a copy for Christmas. Now, over a half century old I can appreciate what Julia Child was trying to do and why. I too must encourage cooks and bakers to not settle, but rise up, grasp a good cookbook and cook, bake, "Just do it!"


cookingwithdenay's picture

Have you ever developed an original recipe? Most people think it is some long drawn out process, but remember you are not Pillsbury test kitchen with thousands of dollars and test kitchen cooks to address ever question or issue.

When you find a recipe that is good, reliable and consistent...that's a keeper. If it is not, you have a couple of choices. Rework the recipe, refine it so it works, put it in the "to-do" pile for a later date or toss it. What you do depends on how much time you want to devote to recipe and only you can answer that question.

As you test, and retest, you will find a pattern to the process and it will fall into an everyday groove. I would suggest that you schedule time each month to test or at least review the recipes you are working on. Remember it's not just about recipes, this is a listing of products you can enter into contest, feature in a magazine or newspaper, include in a future cookbook or sell in your home-based bakery. When your bakery is up and running and a local journalist ask...may we have a recipe to attach to your story? What will you say, no they are all secret...

Always have a dozen or so recipes that are uniquely yours that you don't mind sharing...just in case.

You may also want to place a recipe in your marketing materials...not that people will prepare them necessarily, but to show you are open to sharing your knowledge and skill. You are a great baker and this is not the time to be shy!

Now with that said, you don't have to give out your best recipes, just things you don't mind sharing. Give it some thought.

There is an old saying, there is nothing new under the sun, and it is so true. It is easy to add a new twist to something, but food companies spend millions to create new products, it's a real challenge; but every once and a while an independent culinary innovator comes up with a unique and inspiring food, spice or taste. Take a look at what is missing out there on the grocery shelves... get creative. I would love to see an alternative to buttercream frosting, but I have not yet figured out what it should be, something sweet, creamy and not made with all that fat.


cookingwithdenay's picture

Three years ago I moved to the Cary, North Carolina and quickly became aquatinted with my new rural surroundings. My neighbor suggested I visit the Raleigh Farmer's Market conveniently located on I-40 and Lake Wheeler Road, exit 297; and it turned out to be am unforgettable experience. I was soon taken back by this 75 acre facility providing up to 225,000 square feet of covered, climate controlled, year round retail and wholesale space. Sold were seasonal vegetables and fruits by the pound or by the bushel. There were homemade baked goods, jellies, jams, honey, and the North Carolina Seafood Restaurant serving up deep-fried Calabash-style seafood, with mounds of home fries and hush puppies.

On that beautiful Saturday morning the baked goods caught my eye. I had not seen snicker doodle cookies or buttermilk pies in years; the array of baked goods was awesome. Let there be no misunderstanding, these are serious bakers and they take as much pride in their products as the North Carolina farmers.

First time visitors will be amazed at the amount of food and the number of customers that rolled through the market and after talking to a number of the vendors there is not doubt that North Carolina is a special state; not because it grows more sweet potatoes than any other state in the nation, but because it actually encourages home food processing. Food entrepreneurs can try their luck at creating unique specialties like pickled okra and homemade snicker doodles; taking their culinary creations from kitchen to market.

Years ago when the United States was predominately rural there were many home-based bakers, farmer's wives who sold their jams, and jellies for pin money, along with homemade breads, pastries, cakes, pies and cookies. It is this opportunity that is fueling the local economy by providing local bakers the chance to share their baked goods and earn extra income. Who knows when that culinary hobby will turn into a full time venture?

North Carolina is one of twelve states that allow home-based food processors the opportunity to sell their goods directly to the public. In fact the idea of selling homemade baked good has become so popular there is now a gated area for home-based bakers at the Raleigh Farmer's Market; and featured are homemade carrot cakes, pound cakes, pies, a wide assortment of cookies, and breads; there is literally something for every sweet tooth at the market.

So, the next time someone says, "You really should think about selling that pie," you might want to mosey on down the Raleigh Farmer's Market and see if your sweet treat can stand the heat.


Pablo's picture

This poor bread had a tough time of it with me.  It's Pumpernickel Bread from the BBA.  I made the levain version without instant yeast.


7 oz. starter - 100% hydration

7oz. Giusto's pumpernickel flour

6oz. water


9 oz. high-gluten flour (I figured it was important to use high gluten flour since there is a 25% rye component and rye has gluten issues.  I mixed a high [14%] gluten flour at the ratio of 97g 12% protein white flour to 3g 75% protein Giusto's VWG)

1 oz. brown sugar

.5 oz. powdered cocoa

1 1/2 t salt

1 cup old bread bits (a previous SD baguette)

1 oz. vegetable oil

2 oz. water


Make rye starter: mix starter, rye and water, ferment at room temp 4-5 hours until bubbly and foamy.  "Immediately put in the 'fridge overnight"  Here's where the trouble started.  My starter bubbled and tripled, woo hoo, I put it in the 'fridge.  When I took it out the next day, it had fallen back to essentially it's original size.  That made me worry about that word "immediately".  Hummm...  maybe my starter was right on the edge of over ripe, maybe I should have refrigerated it more immediately.  I soldiered on.

Next day: remove rye starter from 'fridge an hour before using.  Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt, add starter, bread crumbs (if only I'd noticed it said "crumbs" and not "cubes") and oil.  Scrape it out onto the counter and knead.  Supposedly the dough should pass the window pane test.  Ha!  I was worried about not overmixing a rye dough and making it gummy, I did knead for a full 6 minutes, rather vigourously, but then i stopped, although it didn't approach the window pane test, in fact it broke apart the moment I attempted to stretch it.  And the bread cubes.  oops!  Not even moistened.  Those are the white chunks here and there in the crumb.  Live and learn.

Ferment to double.  Preshape into two loaves, shape into boules, proof.  I over proofed.  The dough was fermenting faster than I thought and it got away from me.  I didn't attempt to slash as I was afraid it would just collapse.  Luckily I proofed it on parchment paper so I just slid it in the oven.  It rose not at all in the oven, but it had risen quite a bit while proofing and it didn't collapse in the oven, so it could have been worse.

Given all that, it came out OK.  I was very leery of using brown sugar and cocoa in a "real" bread.  The flavour is actually pretty nice.  I'm favourably impressed.  My next rye will be a light rye with caraway seeds though.  And that will be soon.


dmsnyder's picture


The San Joaquin Sourdough has been my wife's favorite bread for quite a while now. It's not that she doesn't like other breads. She thought Salome's Potato-Nut bread that I baked yesterday was “amazing.” But, if I had an “everyday bread,” I guess this would be it. The recipe and background on this bread are described in my blog entry for Pain de Campagne.

While this loaf used the method I have described a number of times, the ingredients were a bit different. I had about 20 gms of 100% hydration starter left over from another bread, so I used it and made up the rest of the 100 gms of starter from my stock 1:3:4 mixed flour starter. I'd exhausted my stock of Giusto's whole rye flour, so I used KAF Pumpernickel, which is more coarsely milled. I figured the 100% hydration starter provided a little more water, but the pumpernickel probably absorbed a little more, so I used 10 gms less water to mix the dough. In other words, I kind of faked it.

The dough tripled during cold retardation in bulk! That's probably why I didn't get much of a rise during proofing or much oven spring. The poor yeastie beasties must have been starved. <sniff>

I baked under an aluminum foil roasting pan for 10 minutes at 480F/Convection, then another 20 minutes at 460F. There wasn't a lot of oven spring, and, while there was respectable bloom, no real ear formed.


It turned out that the bread had a nice crumb structure, and the taste was as good as I've ever made, if not better. It was assertively sour, which we like. Interestingly enough, while I'd been having mild problems with the retarded dough being slacker than I wished, this dough was a bit more elastic. I can't explain it, unless it was due to the slightly lower hydration (73% vs. 75%).

I think I'll bake this bread again with 10% pumpernickel flour.




Pablo's picture

A Tale of Two Boules

I wanted to find out if I could bake a decent loaf without adding any flour to a starter.  I keep my starters on the counter and feed them twice a day at 1:5:6.  My routine has had me taking 5 grams out and mixing that with 25 grams of water and 30 grams of flour.  The leftover I then mix with flour down to ~50% and stash in the 'fridge.  I'm currently running two starters, my own that I started around the time that I started here at the Fresh Loaf last August that has been with me through thick and thin, which is fed 85% white, 10% rye and 5% ww, and Carl's Oregon Trail starter that I rehydrated a week or two ago and have been feeding 100% white.

The starter balls on the left are Carl's, accumulated for a few days, those on the right are my regular starter.  I'll get to the bread cubes in a minute.  For the Carl's loaf I had 375g of starter at 50% hydration and I kneaded in 45g water mixed with 6g salt.  The dough handled nicely, I proofed it for 2.5 hours at room temp and baked under a bowl. 

The loaf looks nice, but the crumb is very close.

I haven't played with the Carl's starter yet at all.  This was my first usage.  I imagine that treated differently I'll get a more open crumb.  It's certainly edible bread. 

For the other starter I was inspired by reading David and Mini's recent comments about including old bread in your loaf.  As long as I was experimenting anyway...  Something I learned is that I probably want to cut the crust off tough old SD (leftover from the proofing experiment) before using it.  Luckily I picked up from David the idea of soaking the bread before adding it.  I did not do that with the BBA Pumpernickle loaf that is now proofing and I think what I'll have is "Chunky Pumpernickle".  Since the soaked bread crumbs were a complete hydration unknown I just winged it adding water and I added a little too much, the dough was pretty tacky, but I could handle it, barely.  I was determined to not add any flour and to just use 100% starter.  It was doing fine until it stuck to the couche when trying to get it onto the parchment paper to bake.  I panicked and just abandoned it to the Oven Gods.  What I think I should have done was treat the inadvertant degassing as simply a degassing and reformed the loaf and let it rise again.  Lesson learned.  So the poor flat thing went in the oven and came out as above.  But, look at the crumb!

Not spectacular but much more open than the first one.  How 'bout that.

So, I answered my own question about whether I could bake a serviceable 100% starter loaf.  Yes. 


weavershouse's picture

Today I made Mark Sinclair's wonderful Multigrain. I've made it before and don't know why I waited so long to make it again. The aroma of this bread baking should be enough to get me to make it often. Ehanner posted his loaves last year and his crumb is very open and beautiful. And the crumb on his is lighter in color for some reason. To see his take on this bread go here...


Mark's recipe makes 4.6 lbs of dough enough for 3 good size medium loaves and one that I made into a small cinnamon raisin pan loaf. Even with a tighter crumb than Eric's the bread is still light and delicious. Toasted for breakfast or for sandwiches is my favorite way to eat it. I used mostly white whole wheat for the whole wheat called for otherwise I followed the directions as given. I didn't use a mixer.



chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

I am back but this time with no bread,,, I am back with my ful & Taameya. I promised before that I'll share the recipes with you. Sorry for being late but I had a lot of work to do. First talking about Ful Medames "Ful medammas also Foul Medammas (Arabic: فول مدمس fūl mudammas) is popular in Egypt , often eaten at breakfast. It consists of brown fava beans, partially or completely mashed, which are slow-cooked and served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. Ful medames is typically eaten with Egyptian bread ('eish masri).'egyptian pocket bread or flat bread" Though originally a peasant food, ful medames has long been part of the daily Egyptian diet. Some have described it as being "like a stone in the stomach". This has led to it being consumed by many in the Middle East in the early morning meal to prepare for a day of fasting during Ramadan. The dish's name derives from the Egyptian language: ful is the Egyptian word for fava beans, and medames is a Coptic word meaning "buried." The second word hints at the original cooking method, which involved burying a sealed pot of water and beans under hot coals." Thanks to wikipedia ;))) So today I am going to tell you how we cook ful from scratch. Ingredients:- 200gr. Fava beans "the best quality has a lighter color" 50 gr. Of chickpeas "it is not in the original recipe but sometimes I add chickpeas for change, the original recipe contains just fava beans". 50 gr of yellow lentill 50 gr. of wheat seeds A half of small lemon. First wash all these seeds very well then cover it with water for 2- 4 hours. Rinse it again and put it in a pan we use a special pot, it is like a jar, we call it "damassah" The capacity of our pot is 3 litres. Put the seeds and fill the pot with water till the top just leave 1 cm without water. Put it on the stove till boiling then tranfer it on a heater like this one, a lot of people use the stove by putting the ful pot on the smallest and weakest flame, but this heater gives wonderful results because we will leave ful for 7 or 8 hours on the this weak heat. After this period take some with a spoon and test it , if it is done squeeze a half of lemon and pour your ful in a container so after being cooled you should put it in the refrigerator and it can be freezed very well too. If you test it and you find that fava beans still firm and there is no enough liquid in your pot add water but it has to be very hot, just to keep the lovely light color of beans.and let it more time on the heater or on the stove. you'll find all the pics in my blog. It is time now to talk about falafel , in egypt we call it taameya more than falafel it is a little bit different than the lebanese & the syrian one, we use more green herbs and we use just fava beans to make it. Fo me I use to make it with fava beans but sometimes as a change I mix with my fava some chickpeas. "Falafel is a fried ball or patty made from fava beans. Originally from Egypt,[1] falafel is a popular form of fast food in the Middle East, where it is also served as a mezze. Falafel is usually served in a pita-like bread, either inside the bread, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flat bread. In many countries falafel is a popular street food or fast food. The falafel balls, whole or crushed, may be topped with salads, pickled vegetables and hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a mezze. During Ramadan, they are sometimes eaten as part of an iftar, the meal which breaks the daily fast after sunset." o.k thanks again to wikipedia. The ingredients;- 250 gr.skinless and crushed fava beans. Sometimes I put 125 chickpeas and 125 fava beans, but the egyptian original one does not contain chichpeas at all. 1 big onion 2 garlic cloves 125 of green herbs " leeks ,parsley, coriander, and dill Salt & pepper cumin and dried coriander. Wash the beans and rinse it then cover it well with water for 6 hours, if you are using chickpeas you will leave it for 12 hours. Rinse it and strain it very well then add to it the onions and the garlic and the fresh herbs "washed and cut to be ready to go to the food processor" you will mix all and put it in the food processor , it will take from you some time to be a real paste. You can add to it the salt, pepper , cumin and dried coriander or you can wait till you will start to fry it, I usually freeze all the quantity after dividing it into portions. To fry it , we need 250 gr of falafel paste and 1 big egg beat the egg with a fork and gradually add you falafel paste , add 1 tsp of sodium bicarbonate and continue to beat it for 2 mn. Add your salt , pepper , cumin and dried coriander. Apic for the whole meal. please check my blog to watch all the pics, I could not put it all in two places, forgive me !! Start to fry it, I made a videoooo, yes I did it for the first time in my life , my husband and me, were struggling two days to make it, but finally we did it , it is horrible but I hope that it really helps. You can watch it now on youtube but please no laugh we are the worst editors in the world, next time would be better ;)) Thanks to all of you, this forum is really the best !! Chahira Daoud There was a fellow here on TFL, he was talking about "David" and how there is a lot of David on the forum...... David , I am a David too, " Daoud" is David but in Arabic, Cheers David ;)))

davidg618's picture

Before today I'd never tasted nor baked Brioche. Yesterday I began by making the dough,  and today I made two tries baking it.

First Try

The crumb, and flavor, seem to be what I should expect, from this dough, so for a first time, ever, I'm pleased, especially after reading all the cautions--offered by the author, and elsewhere--about making high fat percentage doughs; but as you can see I have a long way to go learning to construct these rascals correctly. I've nicknamed the one in the upper left corner Nearly Headless Nick (Harry Potter fans will recognize the name.)

The formula is from "Baking Artisan Bread" by Ciril Hitz, and I followed it and the author's instructions to the letter, except constructing the individual rolls.  The ones shown were constructed using the little-ball-on-top-of-the-bigger ball approach. Additionally, the intructions called for 90g of dough for each mold, and I thought my molds were the same size as those shown in the author's pictures. They weren't.  One head slipped off entirely. The oven spring in this dough made them look more like popovers than brioche in my forms.

So I tried again. using some of the reserved dough--thus the 1 and 1/2 tries--with three changes. First I reduced the quantity for each mold to 65g, secondly, I'd baked the first four at 345°F on the oven's convection mode, as recommended by the author; the 1 and 1/2 try I used the recommended 265°F thermal mode setting, and lastly, I used the author's novel shaping. Here's an attempt to explain it in words. Starting with the dough pre-shaped into a ball, by pressing and rolling with one finger two balls--one large, one small--connected by a thin neck of dough is created. Then, the neck is stretched to three fingers width, the larger ball is turned into a doughnut shape, and the smaller ball--neck intact--is passed through the doughnut hole, and the doughnut shape is gently coaxed to collapse around the now curved neck. (I  hope readers can visualize this. I couldn't have done it with out the author's pictures.)

Try 1 and 1/2

Photo says it for me. Far from perfect, but OK.

David G

Talever's picture



Hello all

I am looking for some help finding a recipe to make a Danish pasty that I use to buy every Sunday for my grandmother in South Philadelphia.  It was rectangular pasty with a crumb and icing drizzled over it. 

If anyone is familiar with this or has any ideas I would appreciate the help



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