The Fresh Loaf

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Shiao-Ping's picture

There is a bakery in my neighbourhood called Baker's Delight which is a chain all around Brisbane.  They have a bread with a surface that looks like mottled skin of a tiger and it's called Tiger's Bread!  It looks most unusual and every time I walked past that bakery I wondered how it got that spotted skin on top.   

A week ago I received my "Special and Decorative Breads" by Alain Couet and Eric Kayser, which apparently is a text book for bread chefs in France.  I was going over the pages.  I don't read their recipes, I just love looking at the photos.  And, wouldn't you know? - there it is, Mottled Bread, on page 34, which is also called Pain Marin Tigre!   This bread originates from Holland and Northern Germany.  The mottled surface is due to an easy technique where a semi-liquid dough is brushed on the top of the loaves right after the dough is shaped for proofing.  This semi-liquid dough is similar in consistency to a sponge starter.  It's almost like the bread has two layers going into bake.  I see this technique quite frequently in Japan.   

Now, the yellow semolina flour that I ordered from King Arthur Flour arrived yesterday after two weeks been with the Australian Customs.  They are really tough (I mean, the Australian Customs).  A three pound bag cost 3 dollars but the DHL across the Pacific Ocean was many times that, which I could accept, but the Australian Customs... they stressed me out.     

Anyway, I was rejoicing the arrival of this golden semolina flour and wondering what I should make it into.  Whatever it was, I thought I'd better get my starter ready.  So, before bed last night, I refreshed my SP's starter.    This morning I was thinking, how about Golden Semolina Sourdough with Garlic Corn?  Plain semolina sourdough doesn't interest me enough.  I thought the color and the sweetness of corn go well with yellow semolina, and the texture would provide an extra dimension to the soft sourdough crumb.  As for the garlic, well, caramelised in olive oil, it is a combination that Chinese love.   All this musing turned out to be academic as I couldn't get to the shop early enough!  I needed to start the first fermentation by 8 am because I had a walking planned.  

As I was driving home from my walk, it came to me - why not Mottled Golden Semolina Sourdough?  Now, I felt excited.   

My 100% sourdough had not risen very much when I got home at around 10:30 because today was a very cool day, 19C (66F).  I gave it a stretch & fold and moved it to a sunny spot in my balcony.  The dough felt very soft; I knew there and then that I would need to give it a couple more stretch & folds to strengthen it.  At 1 pm, it doubled (after 5 hours of bulk fermentation).  I checked its temperature with my digital IR thermometer - 23C.  I moved it back indoors because it's ready to be shaped.  I prepared the semi-liquid solution for brushing.   I divided my dough into 4 pieces, and shaped them into rods; brushed the semi-liquid dough on top of all of the rods and placed them on baking paper resting on my counter top.  At 2 pm, I turned on my oven to 230C (450F).   After 2 hours of final proofing, at 3 pm, all 4 rods went into the oven.    Here are the pictures of these mottled 100% sourdough breads:



Mottled Golden Semolina Sourdough 



The crumb  


I am pleased.  The crumb is very open.  The flavor is exquisite.  And the mottled crust?  It is paper thin and soooo crispy.  I never knew I could feel satisfied so easily.  While I was preparing dinner, the moon has risen... from the east....



Moon light in my balcony    



alliezk's picture

Ten Teachers, Ten loaves, Ten days.

I am going to give all of the teachers who have impacted me each a handmade loaf of bread. I need to find recipes for visually appealing, distinct loaves so that I can express my appreciation, and of course so that I have an excuse to try new recipes!

If any one has any suggestions, Id love to try them. I also plan on using some of the recipes on this site and in the BBA. And of course, as my graduation present was a new camera, I'll share all of my experiments.

Happy Baking.

EDIT - Also, what type of kitchen scale would people recommend getting. There is such a wide range that i'm not sure which is the right one.


yozzause's picture

Hi everyone this is my first ever blog and introductory blog to the fresh loaf
I am 58 years old
I did my apprnticeship as a baker at Noonans Bakery in South Perth Western Australia, worked for 10 years in the trade but got out due the pressures of anti social hours and a young family as well as big bakeries taking over the trade closing down the local bakery.

Worked for 21 years as a government bus driver but got out when the labour side was hived of to private enterprise, stayed as a government employee working for Tafe, currently a supply officer, buying all the colleges requirements.
At tafe we have a hospitality section and the students have a small bakery attached to the main kitchen, from time to time i have been able to assist some of the chef lecturers with my bread skills.
I was able to get our building trades lecturers to have their student build a wood fired oven in the training restaurants forecourt.
The project had all the element that were required for the building apprentices seting out the foundations raising walls, pouring a reinforced concrete raft laying fire bricks , constructing arches, chimney, pouring insulating material, constructing roofing etc.
we now have a wood fired oven that will cook pizza and holds around 18 500g loaves (5kg flour mix) it's marvelous everything i could have hoped for, lights easy bakes to perfection.
I really want one at home and it is on my list of to do things. i have always maintained an interest in bread baking and find it quite therapeutic.
I am really enjoying the fresh loaf since i founs it and will post some pics soon. YOZZA

xaipete's picture

A friend of mine, who is a great baker, sent me this recipe that she adapted from a clipping that she cut out of the Chicago Tribune in 1994. She's getting ready to move and discovered it when cleaning out her files. She had kept it for 15 years but never tried it (just how many of us have recipes lying around for decades that we've never tried?) The recipe from the clipping was from The Bread Book by Betsy Oppenneer.

I just made half of the recipe but I was really sorry that I didn't make the full batch because this is such a delicious bread with a lot of interesting flavors, a nice soft crust, and a powerful aroma that was even present upon opening the loaf up the next morning. It made my whole kitchen smell like a bakery.

Kalamata Olive, Sun-dried tomato, and Feta Bread

400 g water

14 g instant yeast

625 g bread flour (I used KA--you might need a little more flour depending on how wet your olives and tomatoes are)

42 g dried milk powder

18 g sugar

7 g salt

1 egg, beaten

180 g pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half or thirds (I used a drained 6.5 oz. jar of TJs)

8 oz. julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (can use reconstituted dry pack if you prefer; I used an 8.5 oz. of TJs julienned sun-dried tomatoes)

25 g chopped fresh parsley (fresh basil would also be delicious)

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Egg wash

Combine water, yeast, flour, dry milk, sugar, egg, and salt in mixer bowl. Mix with paddle just to combine. Add in tomatoes, olives and parsley at the end being careful not to break them up too much.

Let dough rest 15 minutes in covered mixer bowl. Turn out onto lightly floured counter and knead a few turn to form a ball. Place in oiled covered container and let rest another 15 minutes. Do a stretch and fold. Return dough to bowl. Wait another 15 minutes and do a 2nd stretch and fold.

Return to covered bowl and let rise until double (about an 1 1/2 hours--I can't remember exactly how long this took).

Divide dough into two equally sized balls and roll each out into a cylinder about 12" long and 1/4" thick. Sprinkle each rectangle with half the feta, and then cut the rectangle in half length-wise.

Roll up each strip of dough tightly to form a long cylinder, and then roll each cylinder back and forth until each is 24" long. Braid two cylinders together and then coil them to form a round loaf.

Place each loaf on parchment, spray lightly with pan-spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let proof until almost double, about one hour.

Place oven stone on rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375º F.

Just before baking, brush loaves with egg wash. Bake directly on stone for about 35 minutes until center reaches 190º F.

Makes two round loaves (can also be baked in loaf pans).

Kalamata Olive, Sun-dried tomato, and Feta Bread

We cut a few slices of the bread when it was still warm (we just couldn't wait; it smelled so good). The reason why part of the slice is missing in this shot is because my husband pulled off one of the bulbs and ate it before going to bed. (Geeze, Jim, you wrecked my picture!)

Kalamata Olive, Sun-dried tomato, and Feta Bread

It also makes great toast. I had it for breakfast and lunch!

Kalamata Olive, Sun-dried tomato, and Feta Bread


David Wilson's picture
David Wilson

I just finished a loaf of sourdough from this recipe

...And I think it turned out fairly well. I had to take some liberties with the development/rising times due to time constraints, but it seemed to work. The dough sat covered for an hour or so after mixing, then a stretch-and-fold, four hours in the fridge, stretch-and-fold, overnight (10 hours) rise in a cool-ish room (~62 degrees), a third stretch-and-fold, after which I shaped it and let it rise in a basket for just over 3 hours. Baking was 40 minutes at 450 degrees, on a stone.

The dough after mixing:


After a stretch-and-fold:


In the basket:


A Fresh Loaf:


The crumb:


Clearly I need to learn how to score loaves properly. Nonetheless, I'm pretty happy with the look of it. The crumb could have been a little more open, I think, but it was tasty! Not super sour; the spelt and rye go together very well. Many thanks to JMonkey for coming up with a superb recipe. As this is only my third or fourth sourdough loaf I hope to improve upon the results next time.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I was inspired by David (dmsnyder) and his 5 hour baguettes. I needed a sandwich bread that was as lean as I could get it but was still very much soft crusted and soft of crumb. I've found it, I think, by slightly modifying the 5 hour baguette idea and adding one enrichment: olive oil.

Stephanie’s Simple Bread
Makes 1 small loaf

225g AP or bread flour
10g rye flour
15g white whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
170g water

Mix ingredients in the bowl for your stand mixer until you form a shaggy mass. Mix, on low, for 5 minutes, then increase speed to medium for 3 or 4 more. I left this in a clean bowl for 75 minutes for a first rise, folding at 25 and 50 minutes, and 60 minutes for a second rise. Shaped carefully and proofed for 40 minutes, scored, and spritzed with water. Baked for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.

I posted the recipe on my blog, too.

So thank you David. Thanks also have to go out to Susan of Wild Yeast for inspiration due to the fact that I was browsing the Wild Yeast Blog when I thought about how good a simple bread would be with the locally homemade ham salad I bought today.

ArtisanGeek's picture

Like many of you, I don't always have time to bake my own bread and I buy artisan bread where I can find it; sometimes from chain deli-bakeries and sometimes from independents. This is the first in a series of  retail bakery artisan bread reviews I will be publishing. I'm most interested in hearing your comments and learning where folks who appreciate good bread buy there loaves. First up is Whole Foods Market Ciabatta. The bread you get from Whole Foods will vary according to your region. Each region has a bakehouse that supports several stores. The stores I visit are in the Raleigh/Durham area of  North Carolina. I have found that most of the breads here are excellent and the Ciabatta is one of my favorites.

Whole Foods Ciabatta

The crust on this bread is nice and crispy. The crumb is semi-chewy, almost creamy. I can tell the dough is a proper 100% hydration by the awesome open whole structure. This is a lean Ciabatta (no olive oil) and I actually prefer mine this way. I buy this bread about once a week and will continue to do so. Usually, I will bring it home, cut it into thick slices, and freeze it. I take out a few slices at a time, thaw them, and pop them in the oven at 425 for about 12 minutes. I have found that I can keep it for weeks using this method and it tastes as fresh as day one out of the oven. The Whole Foods Ciabatta is one of those retail loaves that I find not only edible, but downright excellent!

Ciabatta Crumb

David Wilson's picture
David Wilson

I've just been given some nice baking-related presents for high-school graduation: a proofing basket, electronic scale, pizza stone, and a copy of "The Bread Builders". Excellent!

Thus ought to improve upon my hitherto rather inconsistent volume-measured bread. The question now is, what should I bake first with my new tools? Any suggestions? =]

Shiao-Ping's picture

In my last post, French sourdough breads in Japan? ... and "variety breads"?, I mentioned the Taiwanese chef who won the second place in the 2008  the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris.  The chef who was responsible for the baguette/specialty breads section was Pao-Chun Wu from Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan.  The bread that won him the championship in the Asia qualifying tounament a year before the 2008 Olympics of bread-baking (to use SusanFNP's words at her Wild Yeast blog, as well as the 2008 "Olympics," is a creation incorporating a Taiwanese local dried fruit, longan, which was soaked in red wine and then made into a Pain de Menage style of bread.  (For a picture of this bread please refer to my comment in my last post.)

Longan (see pictures below) is a Southeast Chinese fruit, known for its rich syrupy aroma.  Throughout Chinese history, it is said that the North has ginseng and the South has longan.  The small town, near Kaohsiung, where chef Wu sources the dried longan for his championship boule, has been producing it for hundreds of years.  As soon as longan is harvested, it is roasted in a wood fired oven for six days and nights, during which time the town people take turns to mind the fire at night.    


Longan literally means "dragon's eyes" in Mandarin    

As I have no way of sourcing this dried longan or having access to chef Wu's recipe, I decided to make do with what I have.  I do have a reference point as I had the pleasure of tasting it five months ago when I was back in Taiwan visiting my parents for Chinese New Year.    

I bought a bag of the dried fruit from China town in Brisbane, soaked the fruit in red wine (with a touch of Grand Marnier) and refreshed my starter at the same time last night.  I am finding my starter has been performing much better since I changed its hydration to 75% from 100%.  This  morning I mixed my dough as normal, autolysed, salted it, then mixed again, then added the dried longan and mixed it again.  I then divided it into two portions; the larger portion I added extra toasted walnuts to make it into a boule; the smaller portion I made into two skinny breads.  First fermentation was 3 hours in the balmy wintry outdoor temp of 25C (77F) and proofing was 2 1/2 hours.  It was baked in a very hot oven at 240C (460F) with steam.


Red Wine Longan & Walnut Boule (It's early winter here in Australia but my bougainvilleas are still roaring with blooms.)    


The crumb of Red Wine Longan & Walnut Boule    


Red Wine Longan Sourdough    


The crumb of Red Wine Longan Sourdough    

I am very happy with the results of these breads.  The rich aroma from the longan and red wine is a cracker combination.   There is a delicate balance between the sweet longan and the added salt.  I was a bit shy with the red wine so the crumb color isn't as deep as in my memory.  In fact, a vintage port  may even be a better pair with the longan.  Both breads are delicious.  The crumb is moist and flavorsome and the crust is crispy and aromatic.  To further improve the flavor I could try retarding the dough next time.    

The silly thing is I thought I had my glasses on when I was weighing my ingredients (I was aiming for a final dough hydration of around 69%, counting the red wine) but the final dough was 400g more than I thought!  I do not know how much more flour or water that was actually put in.  My dough felt more like 72% than 69%!  As the flour I used was high gluten at 13.6%, I knew I could push the hydration to give the crumb a better chance of opening up; but I did not want too much hydration as my technique could not handle it.  My daughter asked me to write up the recipe for next time.  Well, it'll have to be a new one then.    


naughtyprata's picture

Hi, there!

I've been watching all this great content about bread making and have long wanted to participate in the discussions. I have been interested in baking bread for a long time and had taken some commercial bread making classes back in the Philippines, as well as some personal lessons from my old aunt who is a nun. It has best remained as a hobby for me till I got to Singapore where I wet my feet again. The Fresh Loaf site is quite inspiring and I have shared your site with some of my officemates. And yes, they get surprised that a guy like me is into baking.

Artisan flours are a bit hard to come by here except for some Gold Medal and Bob's Red Mill varieties and an occasional Waitrose strong bread flour from Down Under. The locally-milled flours do not perform as well specially with the extremely hot weather here.  

I've been trying out recipes from Reinhart, Bertinet and Berenbaum. Here are a few of my recent attempts - Bertinet's Guinness Loaf (w/o the Aniseed), Berenbaum's Flaxseed and White Sandwich Bread. I hope you enjoy these photos.


Guinness LoafFlaxseed LoafSoft White Sandwhich Loaf


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