The Fresh Loaf

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Janetcook's blog

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My latest baking obsession challenge has been with what I label as the dense Northern European type of loaves.  The kind of loaves that are tall, moist and that last for ages without drying out.  I do not mean to offend any Northern Europeans by labeling all of their breads as this type of loaf but I know not how else to describe, in words, how they differ from the other types of breads that I bake.  All the formulas I have thus run across are from Russia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway,  and Denmark though I know there are many other similar formulas from other countries as well.  

That being said….I have baked these loaves on and off for several years now.  I got my feet wet when I was enticed by ananda's Borodinsky breads.  When I would bake them people loved them but they were not a regular on my 'to bake' list because I simply did not feel confident in the results I was getting with specific hydration levels, baking times and baking temps.  Last Fall I got pulled into hanseata's challenge of creating a whole grain loaf which did turn out very nicely but I still did not feel confident with the issues I have expressed above.

This year I decided to embark upon solving those 'problems' and thus began my baking frenzy.  I found the formula I wanted to replicate in Maggie Glezer's  'Artisan Baking' and I combined it with a fermentation time line and method I found in Hanne Resgaard's book 'Home Baked'.  




This is the result of which I am well pleased.  I found the baking times and temps. I am now comfortable with when using my Cadco countertop oven (Convection) which are;

Pre heat 425°

Load covered loaves and reduce heat to 350°

Bake covered for 90 minutes.

Uncover and bake 15 minutes at 350° followed by 15 more minutes at 325°

Another issue I was faced with was that of really hard and dark crusts despite baking temps.  Luckily it was solved when another baker told me he uses canola oil on his pans when baking these types of breads rather than butter.  Made all the difference in the world.

I know I will have to adjust times etc. when I bake in my kitchen Electrolux wall oven but, at least for now, I feel much more confident when I sit down to formulate one of these kinds of breads for a future bake.

A long time in the works but well worth all the effort as they are breads that people around here love to eat.




Janetcook's picture

A few weeks back yozzause/Derek mentioned a 'local' cookbook, BOURKE STREET BAKERY, in his blog and it caught my attention.  I wasn't able to obtain a copy of the book from my local library so, to satisfy my curiosity, I plunged in and actually purchased a copy sight unseen. Luckily the risk was well worth it.  A real beauty in appearance and all that it contains within its covers.  No corners cut in publishing this tome. 

This past week I set about baking several of the loaves contained within its pages.  The following loaf intrigued me because it contained 2 leavens - one a rye sour and the other a whole wheat leaven.  Something I have done in the past inspired by a loaf presented here by PiPs several years ago.  It also captured my attention because it contained figs which seem to be my fruit of the week this week due to a post by Marcus in which he combined figs with walnuts.

A simple loaf.  Simple ingredients and a marvelous outcome.

   Rye and Wheat





                       The Dough


                            The Brotform     


   The Result


                                     And A Mini Loaf Too


No crumb shots.  All bagged up and passed on to friends.

No formula on this one….It is in the book.

Thanks Derek for mentioning this excellent book in your blog!


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When a friend showed up at my front door with a freshly picked pumpkin in her arms I didn't have to think much as to how it would be 'put to use'.  Recently I had found a recipe for a spiced pumpkin loaf on a food blogger's site (Annie's Eats) that had caught my attention.  While the original recipe didn't include cardamom, I somehow decided to include it in my ingredient list. I am glad I did.  I also used WY to leaven the loaves rather than IY…..I just can't resist tweaking recipes :*)



FORMULA:      (Based on the one above from Annie's Eats which was based off of KA Pumpkin Yeast Bread…..which I tweaked for use with WY and whole grains….)

FLOUR  100%   (15% of the flour was used in the leaven - pre-fermented.)

WATER   28%    (12% of the water was yeast water which I use in my leavens to keep them on the sweeter side,)

SALT       1.5%

IY            0.15%


HONEY    14%

EGG         13%

OIL            5%




CLOVES         pinch

MACE              pinch

NUTMEG         pinch

GINGER          pinch

(Adjust spice pinches to your preference.)



It didn't take long for the pumpkin to be transformed into several colorful and fragrant loaves.  


     Freshly ground flour


                     some egg yolks   



a bit of spice   


                                  sweetened with honey  


all combined to make the final loaves.


No crumb shot since the breads will be heading to new homes soon while the formula will stay behind to be added to one of my Bread Binders so that I can bake this bread again and again and again.

                                                      Happy Fall and Happy Harvest to you all.




Janetcook's picture

Lately, when I give someone a loaf of bread, they hand me a bag of freshly picked apples in exchange.  Not one for standing over a hot stove making applesauce I have been transforming and preparing them for their next destination by baking them into my breads.

Previously my usual Fall apple loaf has been The Scent of Apples  left here long before I found this site.  This year I wanted to try something different.  It didn't take me long to find THIS recipe on King Arthur's site. With a few tweaks in the method to accommodate my propensity to bake with WY and freshly ground whole grains I was pleased enough with the results to give this formula a place of it's own in my Fall line up of breads to be baked again and again and again…..



                                         FIrst the apples.  Picked fresh from neighbor's gardens. 


                           Eggs to make the challah dough.




                                                    The freshly milled wheat.



                                                                          Just before it gets messy.



The mess.


Which, as you can see in my first photo, turned out very nicely in the end.

No crumb shots.  Loaves given to my local fire station - the guys who are there 24/7 taking care of us all around here.

Thank you King Arthur for the inspiration.





Janetcook's picture


When I began baking a couple of years ago I soon found out that my family all loved freshly baked bread.  It was a rewarding feeling to be able to bake something fresh and wholesome for them.

Within a short period of time I discovered that each had a preference for a particular type of bread.  In other words, one loaf did not fit all.  My journey began to find the ONE loaf that would satisfy them all.

It has been about 3 years and I have finally found that loaf.


The first book I fell in love with when my baking odyssey began was Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. I mentioned that I was baking to a friend and she knew I baked with whole wheat that I ground myself so she sent me a book titled Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand written by Beatrice Ojakangas.  I was excited to expand my baking repertoire but I soon found out that Beatrice's book did not use 100% whole grains and that the book was written with volume measurements rather than by metric weights…..

Somewhere between WGB and her book I had learned all about baking math. but was not skilled as yet at converting recipes to metrics.  The book sat on a shelf while I baked through WGB.  


While baking my way through WGB I found TFL and suddenly my baking world expanded by ten fold.  In no time at all I learned how to convert just about any formula I happened across.  I also learned how to convert from using IY to SD.  Beatrice's book was retrieved and I began trying her recipes.  (They are great.)


Things began to change after I read about Syd's Asian Style Pan de Mie about a year or so ago.  In following his formula I found out about using a roux in a loaf to soften the texture.  I began experimenting and found the texture that worked for my son and daughter but the method was still a bit drawn out for a regular loaf and flavor wasn't there yet…


Somehow I hitched the roux up with Beatrice's Honey Whole Wheat and I hit upon a loaf that my son said was his favorite….My daughter was home for Christmas break and she concurred  with him.  Husband vote was not far behind.  Texture and flavor pleasing to them all and it is a loaf the I like to bake.



Flour  100%

Milk      62%

YW       10%

Salt      2.3%

Butter   5.4%

Honey   10%

Egg       10%

ND Malt   1%

IY            .2%


Milk          18%

Butter      5.4%

Honey      1.2%

Malt             1%

Flour         13%

Leaven contains 15% prefermented flour and 10% YW.

  • Build leaven using YW in the morning and feed again 4 hours later when it has ripened.
  • Make roux in the morning.  Boil milk with butter and honey added.  Add flour and malt. Stir until mixed and firm.  Cover and let it cool until ready to use.
  • In the evening combine flour, egg, honey, milk and leaven in mixing bowl.  Mix into a shaggy mass.  Let it rest for 1 hour for the gluten to begin to develop.
  • Add remaining ingredients in stages while mixing.  
  • Knead until a strong windowpane develops.
  • Place dough in bowl and let it sit at room temp. for 1 hour.
  • Place in refrig. for overnight bulk fermentation.
  • In the morning, remove dough from the refrig and allow it to come to room temp. and to finish expanding.
  • Shape into a loaf and place in pan.
  • Bake at 350° for about 30-40 minutes when internal temp reaches 200°

I do steam my sandwich loaves too but some bakers do not find that necessary with loaves containing enrichments.  

So there you have it.  Three years of work in the making and I know that as soon as I post this here….something or someone will change…

…..and the challenge of trying to bake the 'perfect' loaf for all will continue to confound me….

                                                                 HAPPY BAKING




Janetcook's picture



I couldn't resist posting today's bake for a couple of reasons.  The first being that this formula has won lots of praise from those for whom I currently bake.  The second reason stems from the fact that it is a result of good old tweaking.  It was inspired by a recent post of hanseata's.  

I generally follow a new formula pretty closely when I first bake it but, depending on how the loaf turns out, subsequent bakes find me tweaking away a bit here and a bit there.  I have always found Karin's breads to be excellent and her Pumpkin Whey Bread was no exception but this loaf has ended up with its own section in one of my bread binders- right next to its original format.

At the same time of Karin's post several other people blogged about breads using similar ingredients and so those found their way into my new formula along with ideas out of my Flavor Bible.

The end result being a bread containing:


sweet potatoes

maple syrup


toasted pecans


No crumb shot since this loaf and the others all were given to other households.  Reports were of a nice soft moist crumb full of flavor.

Before finding TFL I never would have tried altering a recipe to such a degree.  Now I never know if a formula will stay in its original form in my records or if it will lead me to something totally unexpected.  This loaf was one of the latter and the adventure was quite fun.



Janetcook's picture

Last week we were plunged into cooler temperatures here when we got hit hard by heavy rain and hail for an entire week.  (This is unusual for Colorado so those of you who live in wet climates no snickers please….)  Lots of flooding resulted which caused a lot of devastation around us.  Luckily we live in an area that was spared too much damage.  My summer garden got flattened and my trees experienced major leaf loss.   A huge pile of hail blocked my front door but that was soon removed by my neighbor's son who came over wearing a pair of shorts (The temp. had been in the 90°F just prior to the storm hitting.) wielding a snow shovel.  The inside of our house stayed nice and dry.  My sump pump has never worked so hard in it's life.  It was pumping every 15 minutes around the clock all week…

Anyway, the cooler temperatures triggered a change in my baking.  Suddenly I had the urge to add oatmeal and maple syrup to my doughs….Fall goodies conjuring up childhood memories of eating a warm bowl of oatmeal before heading off to school in the rain. ( I grew up in San Francisco so my memories are full of foggy rainy days….)

A couple of years ago discovered a wonderful formula for a loaf containing both of these ingredients on MC's site FARINE.  The oats are cooked/baked in a way that they turn into a maple granola of sorts that imparts maple flavor throughout the moist soft crumb.  The best of two worlds.  

The loaf I kept for us was gone within 2 days.  The other was given to a friend who is trying to make it last as long as he can. ( He has fond memories of maple syrup having grown up in maple syrup country….) I love baking this bread;  just a wonderful dough to work with at all stages of the mix so I have lined it up for several more bakes before my holiday bread baking season begins.


Happy Baking



Janetcook's picture

Back again with a loaf I can't resist writing about because of the aromas the ingredients filled my house with while it was being prepared.

The corn meal used in this loaf was cooked in the morning along with part of the water, all of the molasses and all of the coconut oil.  It was left to sit out and cool all day.  The fragrance from the pot was intoxicating.

The results were a loaf with a beautiful dark golden crust and a very soft crumb.  





   Coconut oil was solid at the onset but soon turned to liquid when added the the corn meal 'porridge'.


The molasses added a sweetness, color and bouquet which turned the whole pot into something that someone might label 'ambrosia'.  This surprised me because I am not a big fan of molasses...or at least haven't been but now I must re-think my former bias.





The original recipe was from Laurel Robertson's 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book'.

I took great liberties by converting it to using a WY leaven and retarding the dough overnight.

The book describes this dough as being a tough one to knead when the cooked corn meal is added.  She kneads by hand.  I don't  so the mixing presented no problems and was added after the gluten was pretty well developed.


Flour           100%

Corn             20%   (Coarsely ground)

Water          105%   (5% of the water is yeast water and is used in the leaven)

Salt               2.8% 

IY                   .1%

Coconut Oil   10%

Molasses      13%


15% of the flour is used in the leaven.   38% of the water is used in the corn meal 'porridge'.

Oven   Pre-heat 425°.  Lower to 350° when bread is loaded.  Bake until internal temp. reaches 200°.  (Lower to 325° if crust gets too dark.)

This is a loaf I will be baking again and again.


Janetcook's picture

Sometimes there is a loaf that I just love baking.  This is such a loaf and I think it is due to the fact that it is a simple dough that has a luxurious feel to it - especially after it has fermented all night in the refrigerator.  It also has a wonderful aroma created by the lemon zest and the poppy seeds add a delightful texture and, I think, simply look spunky.

The original recipe if from Daniel Leader's book Bread Alone.  I found it after reading about one of the challenges posted here where the '3grandmas' were baking his lemon cake. All raved about its results. I prefer baking breads to cakes so this is what I ended up with.

I adapted his recipe to my sourdough starter, my use of whole grains and use of an overnight bulk ferment.

TOTAL FLOUR                                   860g

TOTAL WATER                                  677g                    79%

TOTAL PREFERMENTED FLOUR   129g                   15%

LEAVEN                                              219g                   26%



Hard White WW Flour                      731g                     85%

Water                                                  587g                    68%

Salt                                                        21g                    2.4%

Honey                                                   28g                    3.2%

Lemon Zest                                            8g                        1%

Poppy Seeds                                         21g                     2.4%



• Build leaven during the day.  I do 2 builds total each about 3 hours apart.

• Mix leaven, water and 3/4ths of the flour into a shaggy mass and let it sit for about an hour to allow the flour to hydrate and the gluten to develop a bit.

• Add remainder of the flour, honey, salt and the zest and knead on low until medium gluten devel. is reached. 

• Add poppy seeds.

• Knead until seeds are distributed evenly.

• Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow it to sit at room temp. until it has expanded by about 25%

• Place in refrig. for the night.

• Allow dough to warm up for about 2 hours  the next morning.

• Shape and proof.

• Bake  (I have convection with steam so I pre-heat to 425°.  When bread is loaded I turn off the oven, steam and let it expand without heat for 10 minutes.  The remainder of the bake is then at 325° until internal temp. reaches approx 200°.)






The roll is lighter in color simply because the rolls were baked with the boules but, obviously,  they baked much more quickly.  They have a softer texture which my husband prefers while the boules have a crustier crust.

Our house now smells heavenly.


Sorry, no crumb shots.  Boules are for friends that I bake for.  Husband gets a couple of rolls.  They don't present much of a crumb shot......I can tell you the crumb is soft though.  Lemon conditions the grains and makes for a very soft crumb.

I will give you all a snow shot instead since we got 12" of much needed snow today.




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Sometimes I love to do something different when shaping a loaf of bread.  All 3 of my children took Irish Step dancing lessons for quite some time so I am partial to most things Celtic.  When I saw instructions for shaping dough into a Celtic knot I knew I had to give it a go.

Here are the results.  The dough I used was a formula posted by txfarmer.   It is a 100% ww sd dough with bulgar wheat added.  It is a recipe that she got out of Laurel Robertson's Bread Book which she then converted to a loaf using a wy starter rather than using IY.  It is a great loaf!  Thanks txfarmer.









                                                                                            All knotted up and ready for delivery.



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