Karen from Karen’s Kitchen Stories is a source of endless inspiration for me. Particularly on anything related to bread, she finds the most unusual, exotic, unique recipes, and then bakes them like it’s no big deal at all.  Just to give you a recent example, look at this incredible concoction for which she used 12-ounce empty soda cans wrapped with foil as a baking “pan.”  Amazing, isn’t it? Today I share with you my adventure with her Olive Oil Brioche. I made only half the recipe and still had a ton of dough to play with. Enough for a large loaf and 6 buns. For reasons that will be discussed in the comments, if you make it, be ready to have one loaf and 8 buns. The amount for the loaf pan was a tad too much.

(slightly modified from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

for the poolish:
100 grams all purpose flour
100 grams water
1.5 grams instant yeast

Mix the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator over night.

for the levain (Sourdough)
1 tablespoon starter
110 grams all purpose flour
110 grams water

Mix the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight at room temperature until bubbly.

for the final dough: 
200 grams poolish
150 grams levain
500 grams bread flour
12 grams salt
7.5 grams instant yeast
250 grams eggs
120 grams milk
80 grams honey
Zest of one Meyer lemon (optional)
25 grams water
220 grams extra virgin olive oil
For the egg wash: 1 egg plus one tablespoon milk

In a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, yeast, eggs, milk, levain, poolish, honey, lemon zest, and water and mix on low for about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Mix the dough with the spiral hook on medium to high speed for 8 minutes.
With the mixer running on medium,  add the oil slowly, pausing so that the oil is absorbed. I did it in three additions. Incorporation of the oil will take time, so exercise patience.  Add a sprinkle of bread flour to speed incorporation if you so desire, but do it only in the second and third addition. The dough should end up very smooth and not tear when  you stretch it.

Allow the dough to bulk ferment (in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap) for 2 hours at 70 degrees F. Do three stretch and folds during the first 90 minutes, one every thirty minutes.  When the dough is ready, remove three pieces of about 250g each and braid them. Place in a slightly oiled 9 x 5 loaf pan for final proofing. Divide the rest of the dough in 8 portions, shape as buns, and proof.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  After the bread has been proofing for 1 and a half to 2 hours (until doubled), brush with egg wash and bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature is 200 F. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on the buns if you so desire.

Un-mold the large loaf and cool on a wire rack together with the buns.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I will not lie to you, this is a project. The bread requires a sourdough starter, a poolish (fermented flour using small amount of commercial yeast and prepared the day before), and commercial yeast in the final dough. But it is a total pleasure to work with, rises like a rocket and the texture and taste? You will not miss the butter, that’s for sure. As Karen said, it keeps a lot better than the traditional version. And freezes beautifully too.

When you start adding the olive oil, you will be sure the whole thing is ruined, and might have a few rude thoughts directed at me. It seems impossible for the dough to come together. Have bread faith. And here is a little tip that might help: as you add the olive oil and the mixer is going and going, with a puddle of oil all around and looking hopeless, add just a sprinkle of bread flour on top. It will help things get in shape faster. But just a sprinkle, I say 1 tablespoon or so. If you add the olive oil in three additions, do that in the final two, when the dough will have more trouble incorporating it.

For a 9 x 5 loaf pan, I advise you to make three strands with about 250g of dough in each. Then divide the rest in 8 buns. When you do that, you will be able to let the shaped loaf proof for closer to 2 hours and it will not rip a bit like mine did. I had no choice but to bake after 1 hour and 10 minutes, the dough wanted to leave the pan and explore the kitchen. No bueno. That’s because I used 300g per strand, a bit too much. Don’t be put off by the complexity of this recipe, once you have the starter and the poolish prepared the day before, it is just a matter of weighing all other ingredients and having some fun.

Karen, thank you for the inspiration, I know I tell you this all the time but it’s so true… Your blog is a pleasure to follow!

ONE YEAR AGO: Coconut and Lime Macarons

TWO YEAR AGO: Flank Steak Carnitas

THREE YEARS AGO: Sesame and Poppy Seed Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken from Southern at Heart

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lamb Shanks en Papillote with Cauliflower-Celeriac Purée

SIX YEARS AGO: Chestnut Brownies and a Blog Award!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quinoa with Cider-Glazed Carrots

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

NINE YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

TEN YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands


As I mentioned before, I get a lot of inspiration for bread baking over at The Fresh Loaf Forum.  Browsing through their huge collection of recipes, one made me quite nostalgic, thinking about our good times living in France.  I absolutely had to make it: a “boule” loaded with herbes de Provence!  It cannot possibly get much better than that.   The recipe comes from Floyd, The Fresh Loaf’s host and a very accomplished bread baker. He got his inspiration from a recipe found in  Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads.  My copy, by the way, sits patiently at home, waiting for our return…   😉

I cut the recipe in half to make it easier to bake in my small Breville electric oven, but I’m posting the regular version, which will produce a larger loaf.  The dough requires an overnight poolish, but is very simple and straightforward to make.    Don’t be alarmed by the amount of herbs, they perfume the bread with just enough intensity to make you fall in love with it more and more at each bite.

(adapted from Floyd’s recipe)

for the poolish (made 8 to 18 hours before the final dough):
1 cup bread  flour
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

for the dough:
All the poolish made the day before
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup Herbes de Provence
1 + 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier (I substituted orange juice)
1/4-1/2 cup water

The night before baking, make the poolish by mixing together 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of yeast to make a batter. Cover the container with plastic wrap and set aside for 8 to 18 hours until you are ready to make the final dough.

To make the dough, combine the remaining flour with the remaining yeast, salt, and herbs. Add the poolish, the liqueur, and 1/4 cup of the additional water. Mix the ingredients, and, if necessary, add more water or flour until the proper consistency is reached .

Mix by gentle kneading, and leave it undisturbed for 20  minutes in a lightly greased bowl.   Do three more cycles of gentle kneading (or folding)  every 30 minutes.  At the end of the last kneading (a little less than 2 hs of bulk fermentation),  let the dough rise undisturbed  for a full hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball or long loaf. Cover the loaf with a damp towel and allow it to rise again until doubled in size, which takes between 60 and 90 more minutes.

While the loaf is in its final rise, preheat the oven to 450F, with a baking stone inside, if you will be using it.   Just prior to placing the loaf in the oven, score the top of it with a sharp knife or razor blade.

Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 450, then rotate it 180 degrees and reduce the oven temperature to 375 and baked it another 25 minutes. The internal temperature of the loaf should be around 200F.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least a half an hour before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Of all the spices present in herbes de Provence, lavender is the one that I detect first and foremost.  I once visited that part of France at the time when the lavender fields were in full bloom, and the smell everywhere is simply unforgettable.   I thought the amount of herbs in the dough could be a bit excessive, but reading Floyd’s remarks about it gave me the reassurance to make it exactly as he did.  The aroma of the herbs is evident from the moment you mix the dough, but once the bread is midway through baking, you cannot wait to try the first slice.

The crumb is light and airy, and the bread is quite unique for its delicate herbal tones.  I have a special sandwich in mind for this bread,  but that is a story to be told another time…   😉

I am sending this to Yeastspotting….

ONE YEAR AGO:  Golspie Loaf

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Make this bread!  Even if you’re yeast-0-phobic,  even if you think you can’t  bake a bread to save your own life, …PLEASE  make this bread.  I’ll hold your hand throughout, and toast your success at the end!

(from Hamelman’s Bread)

For the poolish
1 lb bread flour (3 + 5/8 cup)
1 lb water (2 cups)
1/4  tsp instant dry yeast

For the dough:
all the poolish made the previous day (about 2 lb)
6.1 oz water (3/4 cup)
1 lb bread flour (3 + 5/8 cup)
0.6 oz salt (1 Tbs)
0.17 oz yeast (1 + 1/2 tsp)

Make the poolish the day before: add water to a bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top, add the flour and mix until smooth with a large spoon.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours (ideal temperature: 70 F).

This is what the poolish will look like the next day….

Prepare the dough:  add the flour, water and fermented poolish to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid-type mixer.   Don’t add the yeast or the salt yet.  Mix on first speed (or by hand) until it all comes together in a shaggy-looking mass.  Cover the bowl and let this mixture rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the salt and the yeast over the dough, turn the mixer to the second speed and mix for 2 minutes.  Ideally, the temperature of the dough should reach about 76 F.  If kneading by hand, then work the dough until it’s smooth, about 6 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let it rest for 25 minutes.  Give a quick couple of folds to the dough (as shown here), let it rest 25 more minutes.   Fold the dough a couple of times again, and let it rest 20-25 minutes more, undisturbed.

Gently divide the dough into two pieces, trying not to deflate it too much, and place them over lightly floured kitchen towels. Cover,  and let them stay for 20 to 25 minutes at room temperature, for a final quick proofing.  No need to shape the loaves in any particular way.

Invert the dough over parchment paper, so that the floured side is now up.  Slash the bread quickly with a single stroke of a razor blade or sharp knife.

Bake the loaves in a 460F oven, with steam (add ice cubes to a baking pan placed at the bottom of the oven, or use any method of your choice to add steam in the initial baking time).  The bread will be ready in about 35 minutes.   Let them cool completely on a rack before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  My expectations were not too high for this bread when I first made it:  no wild yeast, no involved kneading and shaping.  When the loaves were ready to go into the oven, they seemed too flat, with a tendency to spread.   However,  they had  nice oven bounce, and the simple slash perfectly coached them into the final shape.   Each loaf was light as a feather, with a nice crumb and subtle sour flavor, thanks to the poolish.

Even though this recipe comes from Hamelmn’s book,  I did not make it as part of the Mellow Baker’s Challenge.  I had to take  a step back and turn into an avid observer of the group instead of a participant.  But make sure you jump over there to see what they are baking,  some great breads for the month of August, including baguettes…  😉

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yestspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: A Souffle to Remember…  Julia Child

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These days the the wonderful aroma of bread is wafting through the Bewitching Kitchen  …   For those who don’t know about “The BBA Challenge“, a few months ago Nicole, of  “Pinch My Salt“, decided to bake every  bread from Peter Reinhart’s   book  “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice“, and sent out a virtual invitation to anyone interested in joining her.    It involves forty-three breads in all,  made in the order that they appear in the book.  Over two hundred people accepted the challenge, including me.  It’s been a ton of fun so far, with ups and downs, successes and failures.

Here we are, at recipe number 26: Poolish Baguettes


Poolish is a soft mixture of flour, water and yeast that ferments overnight (or longer) and then gets incorporated into a bread dough.  In this recipe, the dough contains both white and whole wheat flour, but the whole wheat is first sifted to remove some of the bran.  It’s an interesting method, and here’s all the bran left behind after sifting a few ounces of flour:


Reinhart’s recipe calls for kneading the dough.  I prefer folding instead of kneading, so that’s what I did: 3 folding cycles during the initial 2 hours of fermentation.  After cutting the dough into three pieces, I shaped each one as a baguette.  After two more hours rising, the baguettes were slashed with sharp razor blade, and placed in the oven.

Notice how bubbly the dough was…

compositeEven though  my slashing skills still need improvement, this time my shaping wasn’t too bad.   There are many online videos showing how to shape a baguette;  maybe one day if I get really good at it… I’ll post my own  😉

In the meantime, you can watch a particularly instructive video here….

These baguettes were delicious!   I’d probably reduce the proportion of whole wheat in the dough, but this recipe is already a winner for me and my husband.