I admit, I caved into the recent trend of shaping bread as a pumpkin. Thanksgiving is right at the corner, and this bread would be perfect to celebrate the occasion. You can use any bread dough you like, but to keep with the seasonal atmosphere, some canned pumpkin puree found its way into my recipe. I kept hydration a bit lower, as I did not want the bread to expand too much. It was a wild experiment (got it? wild yeast involved), and I am a bit surprised that it worked so well on my first attempt. Beginner’s luck?

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by photos everywhere)

400 g bread flour
100 g spelt flour
300 g water
120 g canned pumpkin puree
120 g active sourdough starter
12 g  fine sea salt 

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, no need to make it very smooth at this point. Just form a shaggy mixture and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Ferment the dough for 4 hours at room temperature, folding a few times during this period. I did 4 cycles of folding, at about 45 min intervals, allowing the dough to rest untouched after the 4th folding cycle. Shape it as a ball, place in a well-floured banetton and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Next day, place pieces of kitchen twine as shown in the composed picture over parchment paper. Grease the kitchen twine slightly so it won’t glue to the bread. Place the bread on top, seam side down, and cover it slightly with flour, rubbing it with your hands to form a nice coating. Tie the twine around it to form the wedges of a pumpkin. If desired, add a pattern with a very sharp razor blade, held in your fingers (be careful).

Immediately place the shaped bread in a Dutch oven, cover it, and place into a 450 F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Let it cool completely, remove the twine, and slice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This bread was a complete impulse bake. I need to tell you a little secret, though. I was contacted by our newspaper in town to be part of their Monday feature called “Our Neighbors.”  They feature someone in town that does something cool, or special, or fun. And for some reason they thought that a scientist who works with bacteria at KSU during the day and blogs on the side, could be featured. They stopped at home to take pictures and I quickly assembled this dough, having refreshed my Star starter in the morning. You know, the ultra-active starter I got from my friend Elaine. They took a ton of pictures of me kneading the dough, I was hoping they would include one in the article, but they picked a different one, in which my pumpkin bread dough is already covered for its final fermentation.

If you like to read the article, click here. If the link is blocked where you live, click page 1 and page 2 for PDF versions.

But back to bread. This was so easy to shape, main thing is to make sure the strings stay put where you want them as you move the bread to the Dutch oven. Since I use a cold pot, it’s easier to go back inside and tweak the twine (I was really hoping to use this phrase). The pumpkin flavor is not evident, you won’t say it’s pumpkin, but it gives the sourdough a softer texture (crumb included) and a sweeter taste, a lot of the sourdough character will be toned down. We really liked it.

I hope you give this bread a try. Evidently, no need to use a sourdough, any formula will work, just adapt the fermentation time and go for it. You can also use roasted pumpkin made from scratch. Honestly, I don’t know how that will compare with canned pumpkin in terms of hydration. I prefer to use canned because it’s pretty reproducible, but I am sure the bread tolerates a certain range of hydration values without too many issues. Worth experimenting with. It’s just a little flour, water, and yeast, after all…

ONE YEAR AGO: First Monday Favorite

TWO YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015

FOUR YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

SIX YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp


I am a bit of a loner as far as blogging is concerned, rarely taking part of group events. But World Bread Day is special, and whenever I have a chance, I like to join the party started in 2006 by Zorra.  This year (my third time participating) I share a sourdough loaf made with my friend Elaine’s starter, Star. It flew all the way from England and now lives quite comfortably in its new home in our kitchen in Kansas. A well-traveled starter! A few details made this bake quite special for me. Read on…

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter (at 100% hydration)
375 g water, room temperature
400 g bread flour
100 g whole-wheat flour
10 g salt

Mix all ingredients for the bread in a large bowl, making a shaggy mass. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Mix gently folding the dough a few times until smooth.

Allow it to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough 3 times during the four hours, no need to be precise about the spacing of folding cycles. Just make sure you fold it a few times.  At the end of four hours, shape it either as a round ball or a batard.

Transfer to a well floured banneton, seam-side up, and place in the fridge overnight, 8 to 12 hours, longer if needed.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450 F. Invert the shaped loaf, still cold from the fridge over parchment paper. Dust the surface with a little flour (I added just a touch of cocoa powder to make it darker, but it’s not necessary).  Score with a brand new razor blade.

Place in a cold Dutch oven, cover, and stick in the hot oven for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 15 more minutes with the lid off.  Allow it to cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: With this bake, I finally felt I managed to shape a batard reasonably well. Most of my attempts in the past were epic failures. I also had never tried a more artistic scoring on a batard-shaped loaf. The central slashing perhaps a tad too enthusiastic, so the dough exploded more than expected.

First special thing about this bake: no discard of starter whatsoever. I followed Elaine’s method, and I must say it’s pretty amazing how well it works. I had about 60 g of starter in the fridge, sleeping in there for a full week. The morning of the bake, I took it straight from the fridge and added 40 g water + 40 g flour to it. Let it come to life at room temperature, by mid-afternoon it was bubble party in the container. So I just removed 50g needed for the bake and placed the rest back in the fridge.  I’ve used this approach three weeks in a row, without refreshing the starter for two or three days and discarding most of it every time. The oven spring is impressive, and the bread does not taste more sour than usual. If you are concerned with waste this method is for you.  Give it a go. I haven’t tried to keep the starter longer than 1 week in the fridge before using it, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with it.

Second special thing about the bake: shaped dough was placed in a COLD baking container. I cannot tell you how much I love this! I am so tired of juggling the super hot pot and lid, often burning my arm in the process. No more. When the oven is hot, you place the cold pot with the shaped bread inside, no need to add a bit of water for steam, nothing. It simply works, even with bread straight from the fridge. Excellent oven spring, as I mentioned before, and excellent crust texture.  Elaine has been playing with cold pot, cold dough, in a cold oven that she turns on when she places the pot inside it. I doubt it would work for me, as my oven heats very slowly, but she’s been baking amazing loaves using this method. Stop by her site to learn more about her experiments.

I hope you have a chance to celebrate World’s Bread Day, either bay baking or enjoying a great loaf of bread. Zorra, thank your for organizing the event, I look forward to seeing the contributions coming from all over the world…

Grab a pin!

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

TWO YEARS AGO: Spicy Cotija and Black Olive Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

FIVE YEARS AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

SIX YEARS AGO: October 16: World Bread Day

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The US Listeria Outbreak 2011

EIGHT YEARS AGO: 36 Hour Sourdough Baguettes

NINE YEARS AGO: October 16 is World Bread Day


Kit Harington? You’d think? Well, that did not happen (Sally fans herself). But another superstar from England did arrive, albeit inside an envelope. Star, the sourdough starter produced by my dear friend Elaine, from foodbodsourdough.  I wasted no time. Opened the package, refreshed my new baby, made my first loaf a couple of days later. The starter is really powerful, I love it.  For my first adventure with Star, I chose a turmeric-scented loaf, full of black sesame seeds.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

200 g sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
325 g water at room temperature
450 g bread flour
50 g dark rye flour
9 g salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
30 g black sesame seeds

Dissolve the sourdough well in the 325 g water. Add the flours, salt and turmeric, mix until a shaggy dough forms. Leave 10 minutes undisturbed.  Add the sesame seeds and mix well by kneading/folding.

Leave to ferment for 4 hours with folding at 40 minutes, 1 hour and 20 minutes, 2 hours, and 3 hours. At the end of four hours, shape as a round loaf, and place in a banetton, seam side up. Transfer to the fridge and leave it overnight (about 12 hours).

Remove the shaped dough from the fridge as you heat the oven to 450 F.

Invert the dough on parchment paper, slash and bake with initial steam (I use a covered Dutch oven for 30 minutes, then remove the lid).  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to 425 F.

Cool completely on a rack before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Elaine’s Star Sourdough starter comes in a very nice package containing the dried up sourdough in small pieces, and a beautiful card explaining how to deal with it. A little water, a little flour, and you are done for that day.  The composition photo above shows in the bottom right the starter just a few hours after the first refreshment, and on the bottom left what I found on the morning of the day I made the bread. Star maybe missed his Mom and wanted to leave me?  It definitely seemed like it!

I used my regular method of folding the dough. As for slashing, the sesame seeds definitely prevent too much artistic input, as they make slashing a bit trickier, so I opted for a more random approach. The bread had tremendous oven spring, and when it was cooling, it sang “The Song of My People”, as great bread always do. I love it when it happens.

Phil went crazy for this bread, thought that the crust in particular was perfect. It turned out thinner than most sourdoughs I usually bake (no idea why), and the taste was spectacular. The turmeric flavor is quite subtle. Saffron would be equally nice too, I just did not think about it in advance to soak a little water with saffron threads and have it ready.  I prepared the dough on a Friday, end of the day, and the bread was in the oven by 6am next day. Nothing beats the smell of fresh bread to start a weekend.

Elaine, I wish you all the luck with your new adventure! For those who live in the UK, Elaine is offering sourdough baking classes in her home in Milton Keynes, north of London. She offers basic and advanced classes, so anyone will find a reason to join. She is a natural teacher, and passionate about sourdough baking. If I lived closer I would take her advanced class for sure.

Here is the address of her new website and Facebook group (closed group, she loves to get new members). In her site you can find all the information for her classes and how to order Star (she ships worldwide).

ONE YEAR AGO: Hommage to the Sun


No, my blog is not turning into a hairdressing site. Not that I don’t appreciate a well-made chignon, but I’ve never had the skill to do anything remotely fancy to my hair. Now, if we’re talking flour and yeast, I’m game.

(adapted from Craftsy.com)

makes one loaf

270 g bread flour
30 g spelt flour
195 g water at room temperature
1.5 g instant yeast
6 g fine sea salt

Mix all the ingredients on low-speed in a mixer fitted with a dough hook for 4 minutes. Make sure no big clumps of flour are sticking on the sides, scrape the bowl if needed. 

Increase speed to medium and mix for about 6 more minutes. Dough should be very smooth and elastic at this point.  Take the dough from the mixer and place in a bowl lightly sprayed with oil.  Leave the dough at ambient temperature for 20 minutes, then refrigerate the dough overnight.  After two hours, punch the dough slightly down, cover it and let it stay in the fridge until next morning.

Remove the dough and allow it to sit at ambient temperature for 20 minutes. 

Shape as desired. If doing the chignon, right after shaping coat the surface with flour, then allow it to proof for 90 minutes, covered with a cloth.

 Bake at 470 F (245 C) in an oven with initial steam for 35 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. 

Cool on a rack.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This bread shaping was part of the Craftsy class taught by Mr. Ciril Hitz , which I recommended in the past. His instructions are very clear and easy to follow, so don’t hesitate to get the lesson online for all the details and advice.  The only tricky part of this shaping is rolling the little ropes without breaking their connection to the main dough. The dough has a natural tendency to resist shaping, so work slowly, do a little stretching one rope at a time, going around the bread. Once they get long enough to roll as a chignon, you are good to go.  Immediately dust the whole shaped bread with flour, so that as the dough rises for the final 90 minutes, it exposes regions without the flour coating. That will ensure a nice double tone to the baked bread.

When I made this bread, I made the full batch as included in Craftsy class. Then I realized that Ciril shaped two loaves instead of one. So I divided the dough in two and did a simpler shaping with the second half. The recipe I included here, is for ONE chignon only.

Whenever I make one of the breads from Ciril’s class, I tell myself to try a higher hydration formula next time. And of course, I keep forgetting to do so. This recipe is at 65% hydration, I would like to go to 68-70% and see what effect it does on shaping and crumb. Note to self: try that. For real, not just in your imagination… (sigh).

ONE YEAR AGO: Rack of Lamb Sous-Vide with Couscous Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

THREE YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip over Cucumber Slices

FOUR YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

SIX YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey

Shrimp Moqueca














One day a handsome croissant was minding his own business when he spotted this gorgeous brioche in a French boulangerie. It was love at first sight. Marriage was a natural move, and being a very adventurous couple, they chose Japan for their honeymoon. Their first baby was named Fujisan Bread. Little Fujisan turned out as a real showstopper. Layers and layers of buttery sweetness, perfect mixture of Mr. Croissant and Ms. Brioche. Depending on how you shape it, it will indeed remind you of Mount Fuji…

(from BakeStreet)

400 g strong/bread flour
100 g cake flour
220-250 g water (you will use 220 to begin with, hold the rest)
75 g sugar
50 g tangzhong (recipe below)
1 egg
20 g milk powder
30 g condensed milk
40 g unsalted butter at room temperature
5 g dry yeast
7 g salt
250 g cold unsalted butter (to laminate)

for tangzhong (water roux):
9 g plain flour
44 g water

Make tangzhong. In a small saucepan pour the water together with the flour, place on low heat and stir with the help of a whisk. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and pour into an airtight container. Cover and let cool completely. Once the tangzhong is completely cold, make the dough. Tangzhong is a Japanese method of adding cooked flour to bread dough. It provides a creamy texture and allows the bread to stay fresh longer.

Set aside a tablespoon of water to dissolve the yeast. In the bowl of the stand sift both types of flour, along with 220 g of water, egg , milk powder, prepared (cold) tangzhong, condensed milk, sugar and salt. Knead with the dough hook at low-speed until the dough is well-developed, about 15 minutes.

Add half of the butter and knead again until completely integrated. Add the remaining butter and the yeast dissolved in the tablespoon of water, and again knead until fully incorporated.  At this point, if you think the dough can absorb more water, add a bit more up to a maximum of 30g. My dough was good without it. The dough should feel very soft but slightly sticky to the touch.

Remove the dough from the bowl, make a ball and place it in an airtight container, previously greased, until it grows by one-third of the volume, about 2 hours.  Retard it in the fridge overnight.

Make the butter sheet.
Prepare a sheet of parchment and draw a square of 9 inches in the center. Flip the parchment around so that the drawing is at the bottom. Place the butter cut in flat pieces in the center of the square as shown in the composite photo. Add a sheet of parchment on top, and beat the butter with a rolling-pin. Your goal is to stretch it a little, but don’t worry yet about filling the space of the square. As the butter stretches a bit, fold the parchment sheets together using the dimensions of the square you drew. Now roll the butter with the rolling-pin until it covers that exact area, as uniformly in thickness as possible.  Freeze if while you roll the dough out.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it over a lightly floured surface to a rectangle of 18 by a little over 9 inches (you want to enclose the dough in it, so make it a bit wider than 9 inches. Remove the butter from the freezer. If it is too hard, wait a few minutes until it is a bit flexible (if you roll it around the edge of your table, it should not break, but bend nicely).

Place the butter in the center of the dough, so that the width of the butter and the width of the dough is about the same, with just a bit of dough hanging at the edge. Fold the ends of the dough on the butter, bringing them to meet in the center (you should have about 4.5 inches on each side of the butter block. Pinch the dough to enclose the butter, in the center and all around the upper and lower edges. Roll the dough again to 18 by a little over 9 inches.  Fold in thirds, like an envelope, with the long edge facing you. This is the first fold. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Roll the dough again to 18 by 9 inches. Use flour on the surface, but not too much. Move the dough around to make sure it does not stick.

Do two more folds exactly the same way, refrigerating after each one.  After the third and last fold, refrigerate the dough for 30 to 40 minutes, then roll out to a rectangle of 14 by 8 inches. Use a pizza roller to cut the edges so that you expose the lamination, and correct any problems with the dimensions.

To make the smaller rolls, cut strips that are about 1.2 inches thick, then use two strips to make a braid. As you form the braid, keep the laminated part facing always up (see the photo).  Roll the braid keeping the ends underneath, and place inside any baking container that will fit them snuggly. I used 4 inch springform pans lined with parchment.

To make the loaves, roll the dough tightly, jelly-roll style, then cut slices. Add them to any container that will seem a bit tight to hold them. This will force the dough to expand up during baking, giving the bread its characteristic look.

Let the shaped breads proof for 3 hours at room temperature, then bake in 400 F oven for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375 F, and bake for 20 more minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the baking pans, and cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Laminated dough can be a bit scary to tackle, but as long as you pay attention to a few details, all should go reasonably smoothly. First, keep in mind the dimensions. I find it helpful to keep a big wooden ruler laying right on the surface I’m working on, so that even before I take precise measurements, I can judge if I am almost there. Second, make sure to lock the butter inside the dough by checking that every single bit of the two layers of dough are properly sealed. Third, do not rush any part of the process. Allow the dough to cool down after each folding cycle, that is what ultimately will give you the nice layers you are hoping for. Melted butter will work against you. And speaking of butter, I highly recommend the trick of rolling it inside the folded package of parchment. Make the fold tight, and you will end up with a perfect square of butter, with uniform thickness. You can make a rectangle if it fits your method of lamination better. 

You can shape the dough in many ways, I tried two different methods. In the first, the braided dough is rolled and lodged inside a round baking dish. When you form the braid, make sure the laminated side of the dough is kept exposed. Obviously, as you roll it in a coiled structure, some of it will be hidden, but try to allow some bits out there on the surface of the shaped bread.

The Mount-Fuji-shape was my favorite, by far. Since the lamination is fully exposed, the dough explodes up in a very impressive way. Such a pleasure to see it in the oven. Yeah, I was kneeling in front of it for a while, which left the pups quite amused.

This amount of dough made enough for four breads. It could be fun to bake the full amount in a single, large round pan, perhaps shaped in four separate regions, each exploding up according to their mood…  So many possibilities!

As far as taste, this is really a very rich croissant-type bread, the high sugar content (given by the condensed milk and sugar) makes it reach a golden brown tone quite quickly. Be prepared to reduce the temperature of the oven and/or protect the surface with a bit of foil, if needed.

The crumb is moist and flavorful enough for Fujisan to be enjoyed without any adornments, but a nice smear of your favorite jam could be a winning combination.

This bread is a perfect project for a weekend. I think that the final proofing (of the shaped loaves) could conceivably be retarded in the fridge overnight, so that you could have Fujisan for a special breakfast or brunch. I have not tried that, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with.

ONE YEAR AGO: Air-Fried Tomatoes with Hazelnut Pesto and Halloumi Cheese

TWO YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

SIX YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

NINE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes


























Instead of posting a new recipe today, I am sharing with you my five best breads. According to my taste, that is, not the most popular in the blog. I thought it would be a fun thing to do, as with almost nine years of blogging under my belt, there’s a lot to choose from.  So here we go…



May 2012
(full link here)



November 2017
(full link here)



January 2018
(full link here)



October 2009
(full link here)



April 2012
(full link here)


I hope you enjoyed this selection…

Stay tuned for more in the near future, as I go through other types of “favorites.”

A special thank you for Gary, Patissièr Extraordinaire, for suggesting this type of post. 

ONE YEAR AGO: Parsnip, Coconut, and Lemongrass Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

THREE YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

SIX YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies


This bread is made with a very simple dough. No wild yeast, no extensive cycles of kneading, just your trusty commercial yeast, a few minutes in the Kitchen Aid, and a nice sleep in the fridge. It’s all about the shaping, that results in a flower-shaped bread. Think daisy. But both times I’ve baked it, the oven-spring was so spectacular that I thought I had made a brioche instead.

(adapted from Craftsy online class by Ciril Hitz)

430 g bread flour
50 g spelt flour
320 g water
2.5 g instant yeast
10 g salt

Mix all the ingredients on low-speed in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start at low-speed for a couple of minutes, increase to medium-speed and mix for 6 minutes more.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Place the bowl in the fridge overnight, but after two hours, punch the dough down, and cover again.

Next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove a small portion of about 35 g of dough and roll as a ball.  Shape the rest of the dough as a large ball.

Use a wooden dowel to press down the sections of a daisy flower. Add the small ball to the center.  Sprinkle a nice coating of flour, and let the dough proof for 60 to 90 minutes.

Bake at 470 F  in an oven with initial steam for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is another nice shaping I learned taking the online class offered by Craftsy with Ciril Hitz (link under the recipe title, in case you missed it). I still have one more bread from that class to tackle, but that one is a bit more involved. The Daisy shaping is simple and fun. However, his bread was happy to be a flower, had no hidden intentions of imitating a brioche. He told me that perhaps a longer proofing after shaping would take care of that. I haven’t re-visited the issue. There are so many breads out there waiting for me…. But if you try it, keep that in mind.

I love Ciril’s class, he has a very serene personality, which goes well with bread baking. Come to think of it, it’s a bit of a stretch to apply serene to my own self, but that might explain why you don’t see me making videos of what happens as I bake. If you are over the fence about getting Craftsy classes, give them a try.  I think they are fantastic. Just make sure you read the reviews about each one. Also, they often have specials with huge discounts. I wait for those before  indulging.

The crumb is on the tight side, as expected for a lower hydration dough. It is a delicate balance to achieve when you want to focus on shaping. Higher hydration bread gives you a lighter texture, but it will be tricky to make them hold the shape.  I think both kinds of bread have their spot in the kitchen. And, between you and me, a tighter crumb is perfect to grab the last bit of a lusciously flowing egg yolk…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pork Tenderloin, Braciole Style

TWO YEARS AGO: Raspberry Buckle

THREE YEARS AGO: Seafood Gratin for a Special Dinner

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012


EIGHT YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin