The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

ehanner's picture

The Simple Sourdough bread posted below is such a beautiful loaf and the perfect size for dinner. Susan has been making this loaf as her daily bread for a long time, has perfected the process and shared it with us. This is a bread any of us who bake with a natural levain (SD) should be able to bake. Or, if you are not currently feeding a sourdough pet, this is a good reason to start.

I think it might be fun to take the challenge and try to duplicate Susan's handiwork. If nothing else it will be a good exercise in the building blocks of basic sourdough. From the looks of her efforts I can stand to pay attention to the details. On occasion I get a loaf that has the qualities of hers but I would really like to be able to make this bread on any day.

In the next few days I plan to give this my best shot and work on the technique until I understand all the subtle check points to arrive at a perfect loaf. Anyone care to join me on this?


turosdolci's picture

Taralli are a biscuit that is eaten by Italians any time of the day. It should be named the national biscotti because taralli are enjoyed by young and old. Wheather it is for breakfast, as a snack, dunked in wine, as a treat for children, they are a biscuit that fills every occasion.  They can be found  in every bakery, market and in every Italian home.  There are many preparations of taralli, but the one here is from the village where my grandparants come from, "Vieste (FG) Italy".

Puglian Taralli
Recipe Summary
Prep Time: 50 minutes 
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes @ 375 degrees F 
Yield: 5 Dozen

Dry Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached

2 cups semolina flour

2 teaspoons dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed, or 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


1 cup dry white wine, warmed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, warmed


Sprinkle the yeast over the warm wine and let it stand for several minutes, then stir it into the wine and mix well.  In a large bowl put all the remaining ingredients and your chosen seasoning. Mix and knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Return to a clean bowl and cover the dough with plastic wrap or a dampened towel and let it rise for 30 minutes or longer in a warm place.


Divide the dough into pieces. Roll them into 1/2” cylinders. Cut them into 6” lengths. Bring the two ends together and join them to make a round doughnut - like shape. Press your thumb on the ends to seal them.


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop the taralli in a few at a time. When the taralli rise to the surface, remove them and put them on a clean towel to dry.


Arrange the boiled taralli on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Note:  When crushing the black pepper, do not use a grinder.  The finely ground powder from the pepper will make the taralli taste hot.  Use only hand crushed pieces.

 An old Italian say: "No matter what the argument, it can be resolved with a glass of wine and a handfull of taralli"

SylviaH's picture

Today I thought I would fire up the wfo with the usual pizza first.  I made 3 pizza's and then the bread baking.  My pizza dough was from P.R.Book 'American Pie' the dough recipe was for the Napoletana Pizza Dough.  I always just flour dust my wooden paddle and slide my pizza into the I used half flour and half semolina...the semolina always burns like crazy when it hits the oven floor..indoors on my stones or in my wfo.  I guess it was just convenient all mixed in my little shaker!!  It is getting dumped! 

We love Oatmeal bread so I made 4 small boules of J. Hamelman's recipe from his book 'Bread'.  I also made Susan's Sourdough..Oh it tastes wonderful!  I'am still learning about the heat in my oven and experimenting with the steaming.  I would like to have seen the boule open up time I'll try the oven even hotter and more steam.  I didn't overnight the final proof but it did get a long stay in the frig today along with the Oatmeal loaves.  Getting everything ready 'oven heat and temperature leveled out and loaves proofed' at the same time can be challenging and will take a more baking than I have been doing in the wfoven.

It was a fun day of baking and I have learned to get my fire going with only a few minutes of smoke.  I feel very proud of being able to light a fire correctly!

See the black spot beside the pizza...that's the semolina and flour mixture.  I don't recommend using semolina flour on your paddle because it just burns!  It will stick to the stone and not to the pizza if a little does you can just wipe it off.  Hot coals will clean up anything burned on the floor..self cleaning oven!

Topped with San Marzano Tomatoes , dried oregano, fresh garlic, EVOO, Fresh Mozzarella, home grown basil..that's it!

Wait a minute I'm taking a crumb shot!

See those tiny little black specks...that's the semolina that was mixed with the flour on the wooden paddle.  Not recommended!

Oatmeal boules and in the center Susan's Sourdough boule...the glow on the wall is not from's a reflection from the camera shooting in the black of night with a flash.

J.Hamelman's Oatmeal bread WFOven baked

Susan's Sourdough WFOven Baked.  I would like to see it bloom open more on the top.  

The flavor is very good!




benjamin's picture

I was entirely inspired by Shiao-Pings recent blog entry entitled 'Sourdough Down Under'. The part that really grabbed my attention was the inclusion of Vegemite in the dough. As an English boy I have a love affair with vegemite's cousin from the northern hemisphere: marmite.

I have often spread marmite lovingly across my yeasty creations, yet had never considered incorporating it into a dough!

Long story short I simply added  it into my favourite sourdough recipe (pain au levain from "Bread"). I removed 40g of water and replaced with marmite. The result was fantastic. I can honestly say that this is the best my apartment has ever smelled! The taste of marmite is present throughout the bread, but particularly strong in the crust... so good!


thank you Shiao-Ping!!


happy baking








Elagins's picture

With all the focus on artisan breads and uber-ethnic loaves, I thought it might be fun to indulge my contrarian streak and bake a batch of good ol' white bread ... you know, bologna sandwiches, french toast, things like that. Thing is, I have this really nice organic bread flour and fresh compressed yeast that I hadn't used on pan bread before. So I did it: 60% skim milk, 2% salt, 8% each egg, oil and sugar, 3% yeast (to compensate for the enrichments). Well, the dough doubled in less than 45 minutes and proofed in 45 minutes. Baked at 350 for half an hour, and here's the result:

Stan Ginsberg

Shiao-Ping's picture

In a couple of weeks' time I will be visiting my favourite tea houses in Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  Oolong tea has become a drug to me; the first sip of this green tea very early in the morning before the whole household stirs, whilst seeing the sun rise, is like heaven to me.  My tea is my ticket to heaven.

Today is one special day for all of the Chinese in the world - the Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival (more like the Mid-Spring Festival for me down under).  This festival has been celebrated since the 7th century in the Chinese Tang Dynasty.  None of the stories, or legends, as to how and why this festival came into being has ever sounded credible to me.  I hadn't thought of it before but now I think perhaps this festival began more as a way of showcasing the ancient Chinese excellence in astrology, because this day, the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar calendar, is considered the day when the moon is the fullest and brightest each year.

The Chinese poet, Lee Bai or Li - Bai (701 - 762) in Tang Dynasty, died from trying to scoop the full moon out of the lake while drinking and dancing to the moon, a drowned drunkard basically.  The following is one of his poems that I love the most; I had it written in mad running style Chinese characters for me; while he drank wine, I drink tea:




I made a sourdough, intending to have it with Chinese sausage in a sort of open sandwich tonight to celebrate the full moon.  I used the "trinity" for Chinese stock pot - soy sauce, sugar & garlic (and I threw in sesame oil too) to flavour this sourdough:




When I was stirring my starter in the soy sauce mixture trying to break it up, I thought I must have poisoned the little beasties - there was absolutely no sign of life.  And sure enough, the dough, after 4 hours of fermentation, was flat as a pancake, dead as a door knocker!  Fortunately, it sprang up in the oven, maybe by 50 - 75%.  The raw garlic was so potent that while it was in the oven baking, I felt sorry for my poor neighbours.  I couldn't even say I liked the smell.  I don't know why I put in so much raw garlic in the first place - maybe I was trying to make a statement.  It really is not good form to be biting into a piece of bread so full of garlic; I mean, not on a night of beautiful full moon!






My Formula

  • 350 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 350 g bread flour + 1 tsp Chinese five spices

  • 190 g water

  • 30 ml sesame oil

  • 15 g dark soy sauce

  • 20 g sugar

  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced (two cloves should be plenty)

  • 6 g salt

Total dough weight 1.1 kg and total dough hydration 70%







tssaweber's picture


I was ready to leave for our hideout in Wisconsin when I realized that I forgot to prepare bread to take with me. Now a week without my bread was not an option. I decided to (mis)use my rye sourdough starter St.Clair, just refreshed two days ago, and mix some dough together for my simple sourdough bread, take this dough with me and bake it in the cabin. To make the story short, I overestimated the strength of this Montana baby and the bread came out as a brick. Not too happy, I was still without bread, I looked at my options. What I found was a plastic bowl, 2 lb or 907 grams of Gold Medal AP flour, of course bleached etc., a package of active dry yeast and salt.

Well that should be enough to create a cabin bread. I mixed all the ingredients together in the bowl, measured the water with the empty root beer bottle (591ml) and stirred it together for a 65% hydrated dough. I took it out of the bowl and slapped and stretched it (Méthode Bertinet: till it was a nice and firm dough. After an hour I stretched and folded (s&f) it once like Mark Sinclair (Méthode St.Clair) and then left it alone for 3 hours (had to go hunting). The cabin temperature was only 60°F so it worked out well and after this time the dough was ready for another s&f. In the meantime I heated the cabin to its normal 70ºF and after another hour, a s&f I shaped it into two loafs, let it proof for 30 min and put them in the 30 year old oven at 450ºF (more or less?). I added a little bit of water, I was afraid to much would kill this oldie, for steam, and 35 min later, tadaaa I had my simple cabin bread.

A little bit under proofed but ............ and was it good.


Und die Moral der Geschichte: sometimes simple things taste as good as the complicated stuff and of course I will not take bread with me from home anymore when I go up north.



More pictures you find here:

AnnieT's picture

Some time ago I posted a recipe for Cardamom Braids and wished I knew who to credit with the recipe. I still don't know but wanted to share this picture. The recipe called for dividing the dough and making two braids then stretching them to 18". I wanted to be able to give the loaves away and hate to give half a loaf so I made it into four braids. As you can see I baked them all on one pan and they "kissed", so next time I won't crowd them so much. I also made the dough in the morning and shaped the braids and put them in the fridge overnight so that I could bake them early next day. A.




weavershouse's picture

I posted this under Eric's SIMPLE SOURDOUGH CHALLANGE and here in my blog.

Two tries

Ok, here's what I did. Yesterday I made a loaf and baked it the same day. Today I baked a loaf I had mixed yesterday. I'm happy with both but want some improvement and I want to try some things a little differently.


Yesterday I used my starter that was made with AP flour. I consider my starter firm but it's not kneadable. I started at 7am, followed directions using the high gluten flour but 1/4 cup of oatmeal instead of the whole wheat. I wanted to see if I could make a loaf the same day with no refridgeration. I did the S & F's as instructed. It's cold in the kitchen, the dough was taking forever to rise so I moved it to a warmer spot on the oven. I finally baked it at 5:30pm. I was very surprised to see blisters on the crust because I thought that only came with time in the fridge. (Was my kitchen that cold??) Anyway, the crust was both crisp and chewy. Crisp on the outside with a chewy underside. The crumb was very open with nice shiny air holes and chewy. Holes are almost too big, I think. Taste was excellent fresh and this morning made very good toast with butter dripping on my front. I'm happy with the rise but I want the nice round boule with high shoulders. Try again.


The important things for me are:

Use high gluten flour if you like chewy

I did the S & F's in the bowl. Let the dough rise to double, turned it out on a lightly floured board and GENTLY did a S & F, pulling the dough out and folding it over itself, preshaped GENTLY, let rest, shaped GENTLY and it only took an hour to rise enough to bake.

I baked it under cover (in my hot le creuset) as written. Lately I've been turning the oven down from the 450ºF to 400ºF but not this time and I think it helped make the shiny holes and the crisp top crust.


Yesterday when I mixed the first loaf I refreshed my starter with high gluten flour and it was ready for me to mix this second loaf at 4pm. I followed the recipe and was ready to put in fridge at 9pm last night. This morning at 7am I took it out. It was well risen so I turned the oven on at 7 and baked at 8am. I was trying for a nice round boule but used an oblong basket with linen that I folded up around the dough hoping to keep it round. Instead I ended up with a square loaf! The blistered crust is nice, the taste is great with a tiny bit of sour. Very chewy and if you don't like chewy I'd try using regular AP flour.


Getting the dough from my basket to the le cresuet and trying to slash was not easy so next time I'm going to turn the dough unto a cookie sheet and use the stainless steel cover. I know it will bake the same as the le creuset because I've done it before. The slashing was impossible once the dough was in the HOT pot so I just used scissors to cut some kind of pattern that didn't come out very pretty. Next time I'm going to do like hans and just turn the dough upside down and let the bread do its own thing.


Thanks Susan for all your hints and patience. Do you think your very firm starter makes a difference in the outcome? How do you get your dough to the baking surface from your colander? How do you get your boule to pop up so nice and round??



ericjs's picture

Here's loaf number two which after shaping went into the fridge, came out 24 hours later and proofed for an hour before baking. Pretty similar to the last one.

(Apologies for the terrible picture...I only managed a couple of attempts before my batteries died and I was stuck with trying to adjust an over-exposed flash shot.)

That extra bit in the front is the last bit of yesterday's loaf...I'd forgotten there was still a piece in my bag which I'd brough back from work.

(P.S. I've just color-corrected the image to show the yellowish crumb (yes the color of the stone it's on is yellowish also)


Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries