Joanna from Zeb Bakes is a constant source of inspiration. She always comes up with the most amazing breads, just because she got up one day in the mood to play with an idea, or try to mimic something from a fancy bakery.  Not too long ago she shared with her readers a gorgeous bread with a crown, looking like a Roman Emperor, perhaps Julius Caesar on his golden days.  According to Joanna, the Emperor had indulged a tad too much on vino the evening before, so his crown was tilted to one side.  Granted, we’ve all had our days of overindulging, so let’s not be too critical.  Here is my attempt at crowning a sourdough:
(adapted from Joanna, at Zeb Bakes)

Mix together:
25 g of active sourdough starter
100 g  bread flour
125 g water

Leave for 12-16 hours in a cold kitchen;  6-10 hours in a warm one.

The following day, make the dough:
225 g of the above mixture
200 g water
175 g bread flour
150 g regular bread flour
75 g dark rye flour
1/2 tablespoon of dark malt dissolved in water
3 g dry yeast
10 g sea salt

Mix all ingredients together, except the salt.  Leave the mass of dough to rest for 20 minutes, sprinkle salt on top and knead it in for a couple of minutes until smooth. You can use a KitchenAid in low-speed if you like.

Ferment the dough for 3 hours, with two folds (at 60 and 120 minutes). Leave the dough rise undisturbed for the last hour.   Weigh the dough and separate a small amount roughly 10% of its weight for the braid.  Divide that portion in three, make long strands with it, and form a braid.   Place the braid at the bottom of a well floured banetton, form the remaining of the dough as a ball, and place it, seam side down over the braid.

Ferment the shaped dough for 2 hours, invert it on a piece of parchment paper, and bake in a 450 F oven with initial steam for 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 420 F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.  Cool completely on a rack.


to print the recipe, click  here


I loved making this bread!  When Joanna posted her article, she got a comment from the baker who originally designed this recipe, and he advised her to use less dough (5 to 8% from the total weight) to make the braids.  I used 10% because it already seemed like a very small amount, but I ran into some difficulties. I should have rolled my strands a little longer, and glued them better to the rest of the dough.  Still, it is a nice touch to embellish a sourdough boule. I will not lie to you, though.  My  Emperor was also vino-happy the previous night, as these (more revealing) shots will demonstrate. 😉


This was a nice loaf of bread, with the delicious flavor of rye, and a golden brown crust, boosted by the inclusion of malt. I baked it inside a large roasting pan with a lid, after a nice comment left by Donna on my sourdough mini-rolls post. It worked extremely well, thanks for the great tip, Donna!  I did not add any extra water inside the pan. I just poured some inside the lid, emptied it leaving a little water clinging to the surface, and inverted it quickly to close the roaster.  At the end of 20 minutes I opened the roasting pan and continued baking uncovered.


Joanna, thanks for another great recipe!  This one goes straight to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2011

TWO YEARS AGO: Festivus Dinner Rolls

THREE YEARS AGO: 100% Sourdough Rye


I normally schedule my posts to go live a few days in advance. Tonight at midnight a post on sourdough bread would go live.  It will not.  A dear friend of mine, a blogger who loves to bake bread as much as I do, lost a grandson, a 6-year-old little boy,  in the devastating tragedy of Newtown. No bread post today. Instead, a post to  send her the warmest virtual hug I can possibly offer. Life is unbearably cruel sometimes.  And gun control a step our society should stop running away from. Once and for all.

Edited to add:  a fund has been created to help the families affected by this tragedy. Click here if you want to contribute.

Donations to help the family of my friend’s grandson, Noah, can be made by clicking here. In this link you can also read more about beautiful Noah, the youngest victim of this tragedy.

(Comments are shutdown for this post).


The Gods of the Random Numbers have spoken.  Loud and clear!


  Fifty eight entries, and the winner is NUMBER 4!  (which happens to be my favorite number, but I swear I did not mess up with the Gods of the Numbers).

Michael, please send me an email at sallybr2008 at gmail.com  so I can mail your gift!

Thank you for everyone who participated,  I hope to reach another milestone soon!  



baked111Do you think it would be too hard to enjoy calzones made from scratch right in the middle of the week?  Trust me, it is doable with just a little bit of advance prep.  First, the day before (or early in the morning), make your favorite pizza dough.  Place it in the fridge.  Also the day before, prepare the fillings, and reserve in the fridge, right next to the dough.  When you arrive home from work,  take the dough off the fridge and let it warm a little as you heat the oven.   Roll the dough out, add the filling, close the calzone, and bake!

(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe for pizza dough (click here for my favorite)
3 chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 box (10 oz)  frozen spinach, defrosted, squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water)
homemade tomato sauce to serve alongside (optional)

Prepare the dough the day before or early in the morning.  Place it in the fridge until dinner time.   Make the filling:  heat the olive oil, and add the chorizo sausage, crumbling it into pieces. Saute the sausage until it starts to get browned, drain the diced tomatoes, and add to the sausage.   Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Let it cool, and place in the fridge.

Remove the dough from the fridge, cut it in four pieces, and turn the oven at 400 F.  Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach, add it to ricotta cheese, season with salt and pepper, add the egg and mix.

Roll out each ball of dough to a 7-inch diameter round.  Add a little bit of sausage mixture, the ricotta/spinach, and grated mozzarella.   Fold the dough over,  pinch the edges to seal, brush the surface with egg wash. Cut three slits with a sharp knife, place it in the oven.  Bake for  25 minutes until golden brown.   Serve with tomato sauce and a salad, and you are all set!


to print the recipe, click here


These will turn any dinner into something special and festive, and they are sooo easy to make!  I used a very spicy chorizo, but the ricotta mellowed it down quite a bit. Sometimes I do not add any egg to the ricotta, but in this version I did, to make sure the filling would have a bit more body. If the filling is too liquid, the bottom of the calzone might get soggy.  Of course, this is a perfect recipe to improvise, coming up with different ingredients: sautéed mushrooms, black olives, a little Gorgonzola cheese, artichoke hearts, anything goes!

doublet111I like my calzones either plain, or with a little bit of tomato sauce, but others are known to go for the kill… 😉

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

TWO YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

THREE YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye


“Don’t worry, Buck, she’ll get over it.  Remember when I tried to run in the house with that big dead rat in my mouth?  … The  hysterical screaming,     …the door banging in my face?  We had to stay outside forever, until Dad came home and calmed her down.  Unfortunately, he got my rat away from me, but at least Mom stopped acting silly.”

derolicts2 “Anyway, I told you that dropping the dead possum next to the grill when she was cooking the steak was not a good move. You should have listened to me, but now it’s too late.  OK, she could have cooked it, but apparently she doesn’t like possum.   “Now, we’ll be here for a while, I’m afraid.”

“I guess it doesn’t  matter that the damn possum was playin’ possum and then walked away …”

Never a dull moment, folks.  Never a dull moment.  And I wonder why my hair gets a little more gray each day. 😉