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After recent successes with natural yeast (it turns out that even I, a repeat offender of saccharomycicide - 2008, 2012, can be remediated!), I decided to try Tartine Bread again. But with Jane Mason’s starter.

Taking a deep breath to re-read Robertson’s 26 page recipe (and you thought I was verbose!), I followed (mostly) his instructions to the letter again… and muttered variations of the same words I wrote in 2012:

Why on earth would editors allow the first basic recipe (a recipe that is used throughout the book for the other bread recipes) to be a meandering 26 pages of prose?
-me, 1st Attempt at Tartine Bread: Looks good, doesn’t it?

Except I’m not very good at listening for the timer bell. The first resting period after mixing the pre-dough (before adding the salt) was closer to an hour than the recommended 40 minutes. Or was it an hour and a half?

Also this time around, there is something I don’t remember happening at all. When folding and turning the dough, it began to feel as if it had been oiled! The dough felt beautifully smooth and silky. It was remarkable.

Shaping was easy. But I’m afraid I skipped the bench rest – I really can’t be expected to remember all of those 26 pages….

So shoot me. If the bread hadn’t turned out so well, I swore that next time, I’d include the bench rest. But, really, I cannot imagine how this loaf could turn out any better!

What a difference from those earlier disasters!

There are so many things about this bread to be thrilled about! The oven spring. The shiny holes in the crumb. But most of all, the complete lack of sour flavour. At last!


(Please see blog from OUR kitchen for more photos and my take on Robertson's recipe for his Basic Country Bread:


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Do you get tired of kneading? Sometimes, I do. Especially if I find myself with nothing interesting to think about. Because, let’s face it. Kneading is somewhat repetitive. It’s hand-wringingly repetitive.

Others clearly have the same feeling. Some people resort to using machines to knead. But I’m not wild about using machines. They take up so much room and they’re so loud. And they aren’t easy to clean – I’m always worried about cutting myself….

Other people, like Ken Forkish (Ken’s Artisan) and Chad Robertson (Tartine Bread), forgo kneading entirely and hand-mix and fold their bread doughs in a container. I tried this method, and it does work. Forkish's pincer method is especially satisfying.

But the sides of the bowl aren’t clean.... That just goes against my sensibilities. ie: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Especially if the dog was old when it learned the first trick.

When I first started making bread seriously, I read Julia Child’s instruction to wash out the mixing bowl before putting the kneaded dough into it to rise. I just can’t stop doing this. And it’s not just about obedience. It’s practicality. When the bowl is clean, the risen dough just plops out; note that I NEVER oil the bowl. That’s right. Never.

Not to mention that Richard Bertinet’s turning and slapping kneading method is just too wonderful.

After reading Chad Robertson's "Tartine Bread", Ken Forkish's "Flour Water Salt Yeast" and watching Richard Bertinet's Gourmet Magazine video showing how to hand mix and knead brioche, I have revised the way that I hand-knead bread. I still knead, using a dough scraper, but there is something really thrilling about plunging both hands into the dough.

When hand kneading slack dough, I alternate between using Richard Bertinet's "lift, flip over, slap down" method and my own "hand wringing" method. Both methods are easy and both work very well. I use a dough scraper every so often to clean the board.

Here is the video we made (Nope, still no sound on our recording equipment - too bad too - I love the sound of the dough slapping down. It isn't particularly loud. There is just a nice satisfying *Plop* as the dough hits the board.): YouTube: hand kneading slack dough

So. Are you ready to throw away your big heavy electric mixer yet?


Harvest Bread
Ken Forkish's Harvest Bread, from a recipe in Flour Water Salt Yeast

(This is partial mirror of a post on blog from OUR kitchen. The full post can be seen at )

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It was all because of a holiday we took not long after we were married some years ago in the last century....

This is the first bread recipe that I ever made. It is from the fabulous restaurant "Clark's by the Bay" (now sadly closed) near Kingston, Ontario and is the bread that caused my bread making craze that has now lasted for more than 20 years. 

I have the honour of hosting of September 2012′s Bread Baking Babes’ task and thought it might be fun for the other BBBs to make it too. I hope that you too would like to join us this month by making Clark’s sublime bread! Make it into loaves or rolls, whichever pleases you more. (Remember to adjust the baking time, if you are making rolls.)

I hope you all like this bread as much as we do!

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:



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There really is a difference. And right now we’re loving fougasse. So much that we have entirely rejected the idea of making focaccia.

When I first read about fougasse, I thought it must be virtually the same as focaccia. I dismissed making fougasse because I’d made focaccia. They were the same, after all.... 

Our fougasse craze started after reading about Chad Robertson’s fougasse in “Tartine Bread”. (It’s a GREAT book!!) But because of still being certain – what with my terrific retention skills when reading – that fougasse was simply French focaccia, I used the ingredients for our focaccia recipe along with Robertson’s shaping and baking method to make our first fougasse.

Amazingly, not only is the fougasse quite different from focaccia (even using the same dough), but both of us have decreed that fougasse is superior to focaccia. At least that’s what we think right now.

Because fougasse is baked on a stone instead of on an oiled pan, there are more crispy bits. Not too crispy though… it’s juuuuust right! Of course, it can be cut with a knife but we think that fougasse tastes better torn apart.

After the first couple of times making fougasse, I noticed that in his book, Chad Robertson suggests using baguette dough for making fougasse. ie: no oil in the dough itself.

So we tried that too. And it was good. Really good.

We’re not sure if it was better than fougasse made with focaccia dough. Just different. It’s the shaping, slashing and baking that will produce the characteristic (I think) fougasse texture and flavour.

Yes. We love fougasse so much that we can’t stop making it! I’m thinking that once you start making it, you won’t be able to stop either.

I am very pleased to be the host of October 2011's Bread Baking Babes’ task. Here is what I wrote to the BBBabes:

So far I’ve made fougasse using focaccia dough or baguette dough; plain with oil drizzled on before; plain with no oil drizzled on until just after baking; with poppy seeds added to the dough; with black olives; plain drizzled afterwards with oil infused mushrooms.

All were a little different but all were equally delicious. Of course, I’m hoping that you too neeeeeeed to make fougasse and will now bake along with us.

To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: bake fougasse in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turned out AND hear what you think about it) before the 29 October 2011.

Please read here (this is a link) for details on how to participate.


(This is a partial mirror of a post about fougasse on blog from OUR kitchen)

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This is mostly for amusement's sake.

Every so often, I want to make a recipe that calls for fresh yeast and I don't have fresh yeast. Of course, I have nothing against using fresh yeast. It's just not that easily found around here. Instead, I use the active dry yeast we always have on hand. (Why do I always choose active dry yeast? Because that’s what my mother always uses.)

In the past and quite recently, I have gone through various books and the internet looking for this conversion information. Here are some of the various formulae I have come across in my travels:

for every cup of flour in the recipe, use either of

    3 grams compressed fresh yeast
    2 grams active dry yeast
    1 gram instant active dry yeast

-Maggie Glezer, "Artisan Baking Across America"


Substitute twice as much (by weight) fresh yeast for the amount of dry yeast called for in the recipe.

-Daniel Leader, "Local Breads"


1 g fresh = 0.5 g active dry = 0.4 g instant

-Susan (Wild Yeast),


2+1/2 tsp (one package) active dry yeast = 18 gm cake fresh yeast

-Carol Field, "The Italian Baker"


A .6-oz [17gm] cube of cake yeast is roughly equivalent to 1½ to 2 tsp. instant yeast or 2 to 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast.

-Sydny Carter, Yeast: The Basics,


One .6 ounce [17 grams] cake is equivalent to 1 envelope [.25 ounce/7 grams] of dry yeast.

-Fleischmann's Yeast FAQ,


yeast, compressed . . . . 1 cake, 3/5 oz . . . . 1 package active dry yeast

-Irma S. Rombauer, Know your ingredients, Joy of Cooking


1 packed tablespoon of fresh or cake yeast=21 grams which=2-1/2 [8gm] teaspoons active dry (so for 100 grams fresh yeast use 1/4 cup + 1/2 teaspoon or 40 grams active dry)

-Rose Levy Beranbaum,


If you are substituting active dry yeast for instant yeast in a recipe, [...] add about 20 percent more yeast to the recipe than what is called for. [...] If you encounter a recipe that uses fresh yeast, divide the weight by 3 to calculate the proper amount of instant yeast to use.

-Yeast FAQ,


Some years ago, with mixed up logic, I managed to work out the following formula. Remarkably, the bread I made rose beautifully.

2½ tsp (8gm) active dry yeast = 50gm fresh yeast

-me, my house

Depending on whose formula I use, to replace 50gm fresh yeast, I should use anywhere from 8 to 32.5 gm active dry yeast. (I think I have the arithmetic right with the various formulae: 32.5gm, 25gm, 22.5gm, 20gm, 17.5-20gm, 17gm, 8.3 OR 8gm active dry in place of 50 gm fresh yeast)

So. After all these contortions? I've decided that I'll use the higher amount of active dry to replace fresh yeast if there's lots of sugar in the recipe, but the lower amount if there's little sugar in the recipe.


Here is a nifty javascript that one of my sisters created after hearing about this:

edit: Ooops!!! I hit "save" by mistake. I MEANT to hit "preview". I think I've finished fixing things now. Have fun with the conversion chart!


Also may be of interest:

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This wonderful bread made with sugar pears, unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat and rye flours, is based on Sandra Avital's (Le Pétrin) recipe for "Pain Rustique aux Poires".

pear bread - July 2010
pear bread - July 2010pear bread - July 2010

This makes GREAT toast.

More detailed description and recipe here: Pear Bread (


(Yes, I made this by hand. Yes, the dough is exceedingly sloppy....)

Sandra Avital's (Le Pétrin) recipe is here: Pain Rustique aux Poires ( - recette en français

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Royal Crown's Tortano

This spectacular bread is made with bread and a little wholewheat flours, potato and a little honey.  If you haven't made it yet, you've got to try it. It's fabulous!

- Elizabeth

my take on the recipe: Tortano, based on Royal Crown's Tortano in 'Artisan Baking Across America' by Maggie Glezer

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Twisted Bread Rings

The first time that I made these twisted bread rings, we were sorry they were so large. It made it difficult to cook them on the barbecue because two trays were required. So this time, I made smaller rings and fit them all onto one tray.

I love these making these rings. They’re SO easy to shape!

I used sesame seeds for half the rings and kalonji (nigella seeds) for the other half. And we love the smaller rings!! But we can’t decide which seed covering we like better. What do you think? Here’s the recipe:


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We were reading Nigel Slater's "Eating for England",

You are faced with a plate of scones, a pat of butter, a dish of jam and a pot of clotted cream. [...] You have either butter or cream, never both. At least not when everyone is looking. It is generally accepted that the jam goes on first, followed by a teaspoonful of cream. Others insist it is the other way round.

-Nigel Slater, "Eating for England"

And we suddenly neeeeeeded to have scones. Luckily for us, not everyone was looking: we had all three condiments on our scones. Butter first, next cream - maybe more than a tablespoon, THEN jam. Mmmmmm!!! Scones with butter, "cream" (made with yoghurt and goat's cheese) and black currant jam. What could be finer?

scones © ejm June 2010

The scones want to split in half; the crumb is very tender. The hint of nutmeg and addition of currants differentiates scones from our baking powder biscuits.

Recipes here:

  • scones
  • "cream", a reasonable facsimile for clotted cream made with yoghurt and goat's cheese



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These rings (based on the recipe for 'Greek Sesame Galettes (Κουλούρια)' in "Mediterranean Street Food" by Anissa Helou) were baked in the barbecue.

Sesame Twisted Rings - May 2010


It was hot in the kitchen. It was noon. But I mixed the dough anyway. And because it was so ridiculously hot , it was ready to be baked by dinnertime. We baked the rings in the barbecue.

We had the rings with grilled pork, beet tops, green beans and oven-roasted potatoes last night. And this morning, we had them for breakfast with Monforte "Don's Blue" ash chèvre and really good coffee. I can’t decide which way was more delicious.

Many thanks to Anissa Helou for this wonderful recipe. (I have just one small quibble: what is it with recipes that do not include water in the list of ingredients?! I hate having to read the instructions to find out how much water to use.)


(further details and my take on Helou's recipe: Sesame Twisted Rings)


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