As I recently mentioned, Celia sent me a perfect birthday gift last month. I shared with you my first homework under the guidance of Josey Baker, a loaf of his Olive Bread. It was a super simple no-knead recipe. So simple that a 5-year old under the influence of too much candy and a cup of coffee stolen from Mom would be able to make without any problem.  The following weekend I baked a variation of that loaf with sesame seeds in the dough.  But, that time I decided to incorporate one cycle of folding at the end of proofing.  Just that single cycle of folding gave quite a bit more structure to the bread, so consider doing that if you like to experiment with his recipes. And, here it is…


Josey suggests coating the bread in sesame seeds before baking, but I did not do that because I find that many seeds go to waste as they fall off during baking. Also, I prefer the texture of the crust without them. The little seeds you see here and there are just saying hello from inside the dough. Be polite and say hello back to them, ok?

Sesame Loaf2

You can find the recipe, published with permission from Josey Baker, by following this link.




It was time for me to go the whole nine yards putting my sourdough starter to work after a long hiatus in the freezer. What could be better than a very unusual formula using black pepper and chunks of Parmigiano in the dough? I modified it slightly, using Asiago cheese instead, and adding almost twice the amount of cheese called for in his formula.  Part of it shredded, most of it in small chunks.  Take a look at my baby, as it cooled over the rack:

and the crumb…. did you notice the chunks of cheese in all their glory? how about the tiny pepper specks?



This was a pretty spectacular loaf of bread. I had never thought of adding black pepper to bread dough, but it provided a very mysterious taste, not clearly associated with pepper. That flavor intensified in the following days, by the way.  A winner. Definitely a winner. This bread baking adventure got me soooo excited that I baked another loaf next day, can you imagine that?  So, without further ado…



This was a special loaf because I baked it for a colleague from the Department of Biology. She is originally from Germany and often complains that it’s impossible to find great bread in our town. Ok, we do have a Panera, but I imagine she shares the same views we do on their breads. Barely ok.  Nothing to compare with those incredibly delicious, hearty breads from bakeries in Europe.  So, Phil thought we should surprise her by baking a special sourdough loaf as a gift.  Once my Black Pepper Asiago bread turned out so well, I immediately mixed another batch of dough, but kept it simple just to be safe. On a Monday morning, 5am, there I was baking this loaf, which stayed overnight in the fridge after shaping. As I said before, Josey provides all types of alternative schedules to allow you to bake bread.  You can find a slightly modified version of the recipe with a jump here.

I can tell you that nothing beats the smile of a person who is at the receiving end of a loaf of bread, still warm from the oven!  Especially when she had no idea it was coming. A great way to start our week…

I hope you enjoyed this triple bread series. Of course, I should thank Celia once again for her gift that ended up introducing me to Josey Baker’s world.

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Life is good!


ONE YEAR AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

FIVE YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

30 thoughts on “ONE GIFT, THREE BREADS!

    • Tiny gifts are often the best ones, my dear! Just the fact that you went out of your way to give it to me means A TON! It’s too bad that Josey never replied to my requests to publish his recipes, I wish he had returned my messages… but, he is not the first author to be hard to reach. 😉


  1. So nice a gesture for a friend in a strange land – sounds like the response that you received might actually have been worth getting up at so ungodly an hour (though, truth be told, I’ve done crazy things in the name of cooking, too).


    • Well, I am not a person who needs much sleep to start with, by 5am I’m usually wide awake, and trying to not jump off the bed. Having a reason to get up just makes the morning a little more special…


    • Wonderful to see you here, what a nice comment! Well, as I get back my sourdough “mojo”, I might come up with a little more elaborate versions for you, with sunflower seeds etc etc. What bothers me about giving a loaf of bread is that I cannot cut it to make sure the crumb is the way I like it…. it makes me insecure. Oh, well….


  2. I had a laugh at Phil’s request that ‘we’ surprise a colleague with a bread. John does that too but the we part is alway me. 🙂

    I love all your breads, even the one where I waved to the sesame seeds. LOL


  3. Oh. My. What gorgeous loaves with their crackly crusts and open crumb. The black pepper & asiago combo sounds especially tasty; so tempting that I’ve fed my starter tonight to have a go at a bp&a loaf tomorrow.


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