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Inspired by Susan's account in her blog, I decided to make Panettone as presents for friends for the holidays.


I pretty much followed Susan's recipe. I used vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans, and I did soak the fruit in Amaretto and Rum, plenty of it. Before using I drained them and then tossed the fruit in some flour to dry it. I used half the water and it seemed the dough was way too wet. So I added about 5 good size spoons of flour. Then, in the final mixing stage, I used a tiny amount of water to get it where I thought it needed to be. Did I mention I love my new DLX mixer? This batch of 4.7 pounds of dough would have never made it through my KA mixer!

Like Susan I converted my normal stiff starter with three 50% hydration feedings in a four hour cycle. Started in the morning so pre-dough was ready for mixing around 9PM. Add 12 hours ferment and ready for production next morning. I proofed in my oven with the light on. It took about 4.5 hours. Unlike Susan's instructions I let it proof a little more in the oven, until about 1/2" under the rim. Then I glazed with the glazing from the recipe, added some blanched almonds on top and put a candied green cherry in the middle, pearl sugar around. Oven spring was incredible. Interestingly enough, I must not have put even surface tension on the dough. The decoration that was smack in the center moved outward on some breads during the oven spring. Baked 40 minutes at 350F on rack (not on stone).

I had inserted wooden skewers, as suggested before putting dough in the molds, and so immediately after baking I removed the bread to hang it upside down. The construct I came up with consisted of two plastic storage creates with some slats across them.Panettone hanging out to dryPanettone hanging out to dry

The tips of some skewers came a little close to the oven wall and smoked a little in the beginning. I considered soaking them for my next bake, but decided against that. I am afraid the moisture escaping from them might not do the bread any good. The bread was finished around 9PM and I let it hang overnight.

We tasted one this morning. I had to, honest! I never made this before and I wanted to make sure the result was OK before starting to hand these out to friends as holiday gifts.

Panettone sliced and crumbPanettone sliced and crumb 

The bread is quite delicate. I think it came out excellent and the taste was just wonderful. I either have improved my baking skills and am now able to adjust doughs based on (expected) feel, or I continue to get lucky. Most of my first time breads work out just fine. Susan's recipe and description in her blog ( is excellent, so I am not repeating it here.

We're restraining ourselves and have half left for tomorrow. The other three went to friends this afternoon. I have another starter building and will mix pre-dough for another batch of 6 tonight.



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For thanksgiving I again made my pumpkin bread (recipe), and this time I made one jack-o-lantern, like last time, and one bread shaped like a turkey.

Thanksgiving turkey breadThanksgiving turkey bread

The picture was taken the day after the bake (Wed bake) and due to some bubble under the crust, it wrinkled a little). Still, this worked out well I think, both shape and flavor. There is nothing left at least!

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Today I decided it was time for a serious try at baguette and epi.

Baguette and EpiBaguette and Epi

I made a straightforward french dough (68% hydration) and did not knead, but used the stretch and fold approach, both to develop the dough, and part way through bulk fermentation. I made two demi-baguettes and one epi. Unlike all my previous baking, today I used the convection mode which gave a very even browning of the bread (also used baking stone and steam of course). The crust was crackling, which was also a first for me. Way cool to hear that. It all resulted in a very thin but crispy crust and a very tender inside with nice crumb and decent holes.

Baguette and Epi crumbBaguette and Epi crumb 



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My wife loves pumpkin and so I'd been having this idea of making some kind of pumpkin bread, but I wasn't sure what recipe. Yesterday I happened to pick up Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread" and found, on page 178 the recipe for "Pan de Calabaza", a sephardic pumpkin bread. Looked good so I decided to make that. After thinking for a while what shape I would make it (3-braid, 4-braid, loaf etc.) I decided to try something different.

Double Pumpkin BreadDouble Pumpkin Bread

I call it "Double" pumpkin bread because it contains pumpkin, and looks like one.

Recipe (as computed from the original using my spreadsheet:

  • Bread Flour: 100%, 3 1/8 C, 506 g
  • Water: 28%, 5/8 C, 142 g
  • Salt: 1.6%, 1 3.4 t, 8.1 g
  • Instant Dry Yeast: 1.17%, 1 3/4 t, 5.9 g
  • Pumpkin Puree: 23%, 6 1/2 T. 110 g
  • Cardamom, ground: 0.19%, 1/2 t, 912 mg
  • Ginger, ground: 0.18%, 1/2 t, 859 mg
  • Sugar, granulated: 14%, 5 1/4 T, 52.8 g
  • Vegetable Oil: 11%, 3 3/4 T, 47.4 g
  • Egg: 9.88%, 1 large, 47.4 g

This makes 2 pounds of a 44.45% hydration dough, although I found myself adding just a teeny bit of water. Makes a large loaf, two small to medium loaves, or 1 loaf and a few rolls.

  1. Mix ingredients until incorporated (if using mixer, use the paddle).
  2. Knead or use dough hook on mixer until good development. Dough will "just" clear the bowl, and should be smooth, silky and pass window pane test.
  3. Transfer to oiled container and let rise until almost tripled in size. You can do this in a fairly warm place as the flavor of the bread is determined by the ingredients, and not much by fermentation, so no need for slow fermentation.
  4. Degas gently and shape into a ball. Give it a 15 minute bench rest before proceeding.
  5. Shape as desired. Challah type braid is traditional but it is up to you (see above!)
  6. Let rise until, again at least doubled and the dough does not come back when you push a finger into it.
  7. Brush with glaze of one egg and a pinch of salt.
  8. Bake, in a preheated 350F oven for approximately 35 minutes. Internal temperature 197-202F. If it is getting to dark, tent with aluminum foil.

The taste was delicious, with the spices noticeable, but subtle. Fine textured crumb, soft crust and very moist inside. Worked well with pumpkin soup and everybody at our Halloween party loved it (and the three pizza's I made!) In case you are wondering: I kept the teeth light by covering them with an aluminum foil cutout after about 10 minutes of baking.



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I have completed a first version of my dough calculator spreadsheet that I think is in decent enough shape to share. I have described this spreadsheet (in previous incarnations) and previous posts. This version is quite different in that it is much more automated and supports a "normal" style of using baker's percentages with preferments. I've found it invaluable in reverse engineering formulas (when no percentages are given), scaling, and overall analysis (hydration for example). Please check it out and give me feedback.

The above is just a screenshot of a tiny piece. You will find the documentation here: The sidebar on the left contains a link to download the actual spreadsheet. Unfortunately, right now this spreadsheet is only supported on Windows, see the documentation. Macintosh users can use Parallels Desktop of VMWare Fusion, or Apple's Bootcamp (now part of Leopard) to run windows. In fact, the spreadsheet was developed under Windows XP running on Parallels on a 17" MacBook Pro.

Here is a (partial) list of functionality:

  • Compute weights and volumes from formula with percentages and total dough weight
  • Scale formulas to any desired dough size
  • Support unlimited number of preferments in dough
  • Compute slightly larger preferment sizes to compensate for evaporation and container loss
  • Compute final loaf weight based on estimated baking loss (evaporation)
  • Convert volumes of ingredients to weights
  • Reverse engineering. You enter ingredients and weights or volume in practically any units, and it computes the baker's percentages for you
  • Conversion between regular milk and dried milk
  • Conversion between sugar/honey/Splenda
  • General conversion between volume and weight for specific ingredient
  • Conversion between Fresh/Active Dry/Instant Dry yeast
  • Compute hydration contribution of each ingredient in formula
  • Compute adjustments to formulas when substituting different hydration level starters for others, or for yeast
  • Compute necessary water temperature for formula based on desired dough temperature, room temperature, ingredient temperature and mixer friction. Also computes amount of ice needed as substitute for water to reach the right temperature
  • Analysis of formula and overall dough for hydration, and cost

I am sure that there may be rough edges as, so far, I have been the only user. Please report back any problems in comments on this blog.


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My first attempt failed, but this second one was much better.

Thom Leonard's Country FrenchThom Leonard's Country French

The first time I was baking six loaves (3 different recipes, 2 loaves each) on one day, and I wasn't quite with it (tired). I did not take care of the dough well enough, I suppose. It took way to long to ferment and rise, and as a result was over proofed. When I slashed it, it collapsed, and never quite recovered in the oven. It was still quite edible with some soup though! 


So, back to the drawing board. Second time around I made sure I had a good gluten window. This time around I also did a longer autolyse, and waited to add the salt until much later. I did three folds along the way during the bulk ferment. Finally, I made sure I shaped a good really tight boule. The effort paid off. I had a minor collapse during slashing, but probably more due to me trying to slash "assertively". It came back just fine in the oven!

Thom Leonard's Country French CrumbThom Leonard's Country French Crumb

The crumb was nice, and the crust incredible. The taste was very complex and very sweet. Only a hint of sour. I baked this as an almost 3 pound loaf, so I did use only about 55 minutes of baking time, rather than the 70 minutes suggested for the 4 pound version. Internal temperature was 210F. I did not have high-extraction flour. Last time I did an approximation by sifting coarse whole wheat flour, but the bread came out a lot darker than it should. This time I used a fine whole wheat mixed with regular bread flour (Giusto's Ultra Performance). To keep the color down I used 50% whole wheat and 50% white whole wheat (both KA). 



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Entertaining my little boy again tonight, so time for another easy baking project he could help with. He loves pineapple and we had some a couple of days old, so time to do something with it. Recipe from The Joy of Cooking (I've always had good luck with the basics from there). Took about 20 minutes to prep and get in the oven, bake at 350F for a little over 35 minutes.Pineapple upside down cakePineapple upside down cake 

This was made with fresh pineapple bought in chunks so no "disks" or circles (from the can) with cherry's in it.



  • Drain and place one paper towel in 1 layer to absorb excess juice: 7 slices canned unsweetened pineapple (or equivalent fresh)
  • Melt in a 9x2" circular cake pan: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Tilt to coat sides with butter.
  • Sprinkle evenly over bottom of the pan: 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar 
  • Place 1 pineapple ring in the center, and arrange 6 more around it, and place in the centers of the rings, and in between, 19 maraschino cherries, or pecan halves (or just fill with chunks, like I did)
  • Whisk together in bowl: 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons buttermilk (I did not have any so I used just under 2 T of regular milk and a little lemon juice because some acidity is needed for the baking poweder to work), and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mix together in a mixing bowl: 1 cup all purpose flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Add to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is just moistened: 6 tablespoons of unsalted, softened butter, 6 tablespoons of buttermilk (I again used regular milk, and this time some pineapple juice).
  • Increase speed to high and mix for 1.5 minutes.
  • In three steps, add 1/3 of the egg mixture, mix high speed for 20 seconds, and repeat until all incorporated.
  • Scrape batter on top of pineapple, spread evenly and smoothen out. 
  • Bake in 350F preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and tilt to all sides to loosen cake from sides of pan. Let cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Place serving plate on top of cake pan, upside down, and using oven mitts hold the combination and flip over and remove cake pan.
  • Let cool a little more and serve! 



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The Jewish members of my family and friends, have been fasting for the last (almost) 24 hours, as is traditional for Yom Kippur. I have been making their life difficult by baking and making the house smell very tempting. The good thing is that those "fasters" will be allowed to enjoy the results in a couple of hours.Break-fast bake IBreak-fast bake I

Inspired by Mariana, I produced Challah and "rolls" today. Half the rolls are filled with sugar, the other half or so with the poppy-seed paste. The recipe I used, like Mariana, is Rose Levy Beranbaum's "New Traditional Challah".

Break-fast bake IIBreak-fast bake II



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Today it was time for my first try at Essential's Columbia from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking".

Essential's ColumbiaEssential's Columbia

I hadn't gone there before, so first a trip to the store to get non-diastatic malt syrup and toasted wheat germ. I mixed the levain midnight the night before using my Glazer French style firm starter. It was plenty ready the this morning at 8AM, but my schedule included a meeting with a client from 1-2:30 so I waited until 10AM to put the final dough together. Kitchen was at 72F, doubled by 3PM, folded and put it back one more hour. Then pre-shaped, 15 minute bench rest, and shaped and placed into wooden banneton. Completed its proof by 7:30PM at which point I slashed and baked as per instructions.


I had just a little trouble releasing one of the loaves from the banneton (see the "stray" slash on the left loaf) and did not slash quite deep enough (I think). The crust was not as dark red/brown as in the book, but it came out pretty well, and tastes great, with a nice moist, slightly chewy crumb. I am pleased.

Columbia CrumbColumbia Crumb 


Dough for Challah (Rose Levy Beranbaum's New Traditional Challah) just went into the fridge for finishing tomorrow. First time for that one too. If I like it, I'll make it again for break-fast on Saturday evening, along with the cool Challah rolls that mariana showed us. If I don't like it, I have my own "old" Challah recipe as a backup. This will be a busy baking weekend!



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Today, besides Challah I produced two loaves of Reinhart's multi-grain Struan from his new book. For the "grains" part I used about 1/3 cooked brown rice, and the reset rolled oats. For the liquid is used yoghurt.

Reinhart's WGB multi-grain StruanReinhart's WGB multi-grain Struan 


Took quite a while longer to bake than I thought it would, but tastes great. I did score a little too deep, and combined with oven spring, made the loaves spill over the side of the loaf pan just a little. Taste, luckily is not affected!

 Multi-grain Struan crumbReinhart WGB: Multi-grain Struan crumb

It looks like the left side is not cooked, but it was. This was a side effect of my camera using a large lens opening, and thus having a very shallow depth of field. 




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