The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


justkeepswimming's picture

Edit: Formatting fixed. That's better!!

It's funny how these things come up. I had purchased a Zojirushi Virtuoso about a year and a half ago and have struggled to get a reasonably decent loaf of bread out of it. My most consistent problems are drastic over proofing (to the point of complete collapse of the loaf), and a pale crust. Even with cutting yeast amounts in half and trying an assortment of recipes, results were never all that great. Edible, just far short of what I had hoped for. I had reached the point of relegating it to the basement vs just getting rid of it entirely. Nobody has counter space for appliances that aren't doing anything, me included.

As I was wondering what to do with it, a discussion about a particular brand of bread machine popped up recently here.  Comments included suggestions about ways to improve the crust color as well as bake in the machine using a regular loaf pan. Several people (yipee and jo_en here) report improvement by putting a layer of aluminum foil between the glass viewing window and the interior of the machine, to reduce heat loss and improve reflectivity. Jo_en' trivet suggestion here was also helpful. I figured I didn't have much to lose at this point and went ahead with their suggestions. 

Putting the foil inside the lid was indeed easy. The Virtuoso has 5 screws: 4 Philips head and 1 torx screw, which required that specialty screwdriver. Hubby had one just the right size at the ready in his shop room - yeah!  And we had a trivet that was just the right size. It had come with an air fryer, but I had never used it. I figured if it was recommended for air fryer temps, it would be fine inside the Zo.

I haven't baked a yeasted loaf in nearly forever. My starter had been slumbering in the frig for the past week and I was itching to try out the suggestions. Rather than feed my starter and wait, I pulled up an old yeast based recipe for something similar to our usual SD sandwich bread:

375 gm fresh milled hard red spring wheat

125 gm King Arthur bread flour

350 gm water

2 tsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp safflower oil

9 gm salt

6 gm Instant Yeast

All mixed/kneaded in the Zo for 15 min, then the dough was put in a Cambro for bulk inside the Zo on the trivet. (Not sure I would do that again, it occurred to me if the dough overflows the container for some reason that would be quite a mess to clean up.) It felt nicely strong, not too elastic and not too extensible.... Just right. Dough Temp at the start of bulk: 86f. House temp 74f. The Zo was unplugged to avoid any troubles.

Fortunately, I checked the dough after 45 minutes - it had already doubled in size. I forgot that I usually use less of the SAF yeast than most recipes call for, because it tends to do this. Rationale: In part the yeast loves the freshly milled flour and really takes off fast with it, and in part because we live at 6,000 ft, and proofing can get away from me sometimes. The dough was shaped and put into a Pullman pan (9x4x4) with a parchment sling and covered for final proof inside the Zo, on top of the trivet. 

After only 30 minutes, the dough was roughly ½ in above the rim of the pan. I wasn't entirely certain how long I should bake for, so I set up a manual course to just bake for 90 minutes. (Side note for Zo users: the Virtuoso doesn't let you adjust the crust color in the manual programs, you can only do that in several of their pre-set programs... not all of the pre-set ones, just "some".) The dough got a quick brush with a mixture of 1 tsp milk and 1 tsp milk powder, and I pushed "start".

After 1 hour, I barely lifted the lid to give it a quick check.... The crust was a nice golden brown, and it smelled like it was either done or nearly so. Internal loaf temp was 197f (the best I can get here in the oven is 199f). The probe was not dry and not gummy at all.... 5 more minutes bake, then I took it out to cool. 

Result: Not too bad! The crumb shot is ~ 18 hours later. I think it is just a little bit over proofed. The top started to droop a bit during cooling, the crumb is fairly crumbly when cut, and the knife has a slight gummy residue which might either be from over proofing vs could have used a couple more minutes of bake time. Still - this is a bit improvement over anything I have made in it so far. The bread tastes fine, though a bit bland compared to our usual (not very tangy but more flavorful) sourdough version. 

My initial goal when I got the Zo was to have an alternative way to make bread during hot weather or when I don't have time to make sourdough for some reason (rare). It definitely worked well as far as not heating up the house was concerned. It might also be useful for times when the oven is being used for something else. I'll give it a try with a SD loaf and see how that works out and play with one or 2 other pans I often use. 


Foil inside window, bulk starting inside the Zo. (I won't do that again, the potential for a serious mess is real.) 


After 30 min final proof: 


Initial post-bake shot, just starting to cool: 


Next day: real life crust color is much better than the photo suggests. It’s the same as the initial post-bake pic: 


Crumb shot: 

JonJ's picture

There is a post from the long distant past (2017) on this site, by Wendy (Lazy Loafer) describing one of her bread tasting open house experiments where different sourdough loaves were made each with a different flour making up 25% of the flour. It was a lovely, interesting read, and a lovely interesting experiment too, especially since the flours used were quite varied and there were some non-wheat variants including amaranth, and one made with whole corn flour, which ended up being the clear winner in terms of tasting.

Quite inspiring and hence this loaf!

In the past I have made loaves with maize meal, but always made a porridge/scald first with the maize meal. Which I suppose is the 'correct' way, but also wasn't hassle free in that the porridge tended to lump and was difficult to incorporate in the final dough.

This bread was much simpler to make, simply by incorporating the maize meal as a dry ingredient with the other flours. The dough was gritty when mixing, and it didn't slump even though the hydration was a little higher than Wendy's. The grittiness didn't really come through to the crumb of the final loaf, although you could feel a slight grit in the crust.

In terms of the experience of eating the bread it was similar to eating a maize meal porridge (or as we call it here, mielie pap or uphuthu). Very filling (satiating), fairly bland to the taste, made lovely toast, and overall 'substantial' is a word I'd use to describe.

The maize meal used is a South African maize meal, which in these parts is always made with white maize and I'd say is 'medium' ground - not as coarse as the polenta that I have access to which is made with yellow maize, and certainly not as fine as corn starch! So, I guess you'd have a completely different experience if you used a yellow maize meal.
CalBeachBaker's picture

Today's bake: East Berlin Malt Rye -  Malfabrot (Germany)

Source: The Rye Baker by Stanley Ginsberg

Notes: None

Substitutions:  None

Discussion:   Another nice rye bread from 'The Rye Baker'. This is a relatively easy bread to make  with only a sponge and main dough. It has a nice sour taste and Stanley describes it best as a 'tender close crumbed bread. The malt is incredibly sweet with strong chocolate, caramel, and coffee notes from the roasting.' I sampled a slice after cooling and then the next morning and the flavors definitely intensify with an overnight aging.

Make again? - Yes.

Changes/Recommendations:  Less flour in the bannetons and scale the formula for larger boules.

*** The Images can be made to full size by placing your cursor on the image and right clicking, and then, open image in a new tab.






PalwithnoovenP's picture

June 28 is Double Pi(e) Day!

2π = 2(3.14) = 6.28   :) 

I don't know if these can be technically considered as pies but they have a crust, they have a filling; they can pass as pies to me. Here they are:

Mango Gâteau Basque. I put a twist on the French classic by using our local mangoes that are in season right now. I used not so ripe mangoes to offer a tart balance to the rich custard like what cherries do in the original. The contrast between the crumbly crust and the creamy filling with the fragrant mango punch is just delightful!


Ham and Potato Phyllo Pie. I need to use the excess phyllo that I had when I made baklava a few days ago so I came up with this pie inspired by a breakfast frittata. Ham, potatoes, caramelized onions, lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and eggs encased in crunchy, shattering, buttery phyllo. A nice complete meal that can be eaten on the go.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy baking and Happy Double Pie Day!


Benito's picture

I decided to bake a second loaf today on a whim to bring with us on our visit to my inlaws.  I didn’t plan ahead so an instant dry yeast leavened loaf was the only thing to do.  I had a bottle of pesto in my cupboard that has been staring at me every time I opened the cupboard so decided to do this laminated bread which I gave a fancy name even though it isn’t all that fancy to make, although it looks it.


3¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (422 grams)

all-purpose flour, divided

1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar

1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) instant yeast

6 g salt

1 cup (240 grams) whole milk 

¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs (100 grams


Pesto - I used store bought, 212 mL.



  1. In a small pot add milk and butter.  Using medium heat, warm the milk to melt the butter.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted add the milk/butter mixture.  Once cool to warm room temperature, add eggs, salt, sugar and IDY.  Add flour and mix until there is no dry flour.  Fermentolyse for 5-10 mins.
  3. Knead using the standmixer until there is good gluten development.  Using my Ankarsrum Assistent this took about 4 mins.
  4. Transfer the dough to a damp countertop and do a letter fold, then tighten the dough into a tight ball.  Place the dough into a bowl and allow the dough to double, about 40-60 mins.
  5. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Punch down the dough.  Release the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured countertop.  Divid the dough into four approximately equal pieces.  Snape each quarter into a tight boule.  Cover and rest for 10-15 mins.
  7. Roll 1 boule into an 11” circle.  Transfer to the parchment paper lined cookie tray.  Spoon then brush about ⅓ of the pesto onto the dough circle leaving a ½” border.
  8. Repeat #7 for two more boules of dough stacking each on top of the previously pesto covered circle before adding and spreading the pesto.
  9. Roll the final boule again into an 11” circle and stack this on top as well.
  10. Preheat oven to 375°F bake.
  11. Place a 1.5” round cutter in the center of the dough circle pressing lightly to leave an impression but not cutting through the dough.
  12. Using a long knife or pizza cutter make 16 equally spaced cuts from the outside edge to the center circular impression.
  13. Twist each piece of dough in alternating directions 3 to 4 times.  Pinch adjacent pairs of twisted dough together at the ends to form points.
  14. Cover and allow to double in size about 30 to 45 mins.
  15. Just before baking, brush with egg and milk wash.  Optionally sprinkle sesame seeds in the center circle.
  16. Bake for on baking steel lowest rack.  18 mins until golden brown.   After  18 mins moved up to the middle rack to completely bake and become golden brown.
  17. Allow to cool, enjoy.

My index of bakes.


Benito's picture

We are heading to my in-laws house this long weekend for a visit.  I wanted to bring bread because when we had our vacation from our vacation in Florida with them this past winter I didn’t have time to bake bread for them.  I still had some mashed purple sweet potato in the freezer from my stash last year so decided that this might be a good use of 100 g of it.  The only change from this bread from my previous bake is the addition of smoked paprika.  I was going to add cinnamon but wanted the bread to be more savory than sweet.  I love adding smoked paprika to sweet potatoes when I roast them so I figured this would work well.

For one 9x4x4” Pullman pan loaf.


Purple Sweet Potato Filling

100 g mashed sweet potato

12 g granulated sugar

1 tsp (1 g) smoked paprika

12 g flour

Mix together and set aside.


Egg/milk wash: 1 yolk and 1 tbsp milk, beaten




Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76-78ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.


In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and whole wheat flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.  You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.


If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flours.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane.  You should be able to pull a good windowpane.


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 4 hours at 82ºF.  There should be some rise visible at this stage.


Butter a large baking pan.  Punch the dough down and then divide into 2 equal portions.  Form each into tight boules.  Stretch and then roll each piece of dough into a large rectangle, approximately equal sizes.  Spread the prepared purple sweet potato filling evenly over one of of the rectangles of dough leaving about 1cm at the edge of dough without mashed potato.  Place the other rectangle of dough onto the other sandwiching the sweet potato between them.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out a bit more aiming for more than 12” in length and just under 9” in width.  


Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut the dough into evenly wide strips about 1.5-2 cm wide along the length of the dough but leaving about 2-4 cm of dough uncut at the end furthest away from you.  When all the strips are cut, twist the strips in alternating directions, clockwise and then counter clockwise.  Once all the strips are twisted, roll the whole thing into a log starting furthest away from you getting a nice tight roll at the start.  Transfer the dough into your prepared pullman pan with the seam side down.


Place in the buttered baking pan seem side down.  Cover them and allow them to fully proof until the top of the dough reaches within 1 cm of the rim of the pan.


When there is about 30 mins left of proofing time, prepare your egg and milk wash and then brush the top of the loaf.


About 30 mins prior to end of final proof preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Immediately prior to baking brush the dough again with the egg and milk mixture.


Bake the bread for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190F. Cover if your loaf gets brown early in the baking process.


Remove the bread from the pan and return to the oven baking directly on the rack if the sides of the loaf aren’t yet crisp baking for another 5-10 mins.  Cool on a rack, enjoy.

I hope I remember to get photos of the crumb tomorrow.

My index of bakes.

Benito's picture

I wanted to bake something today that wasn’t too involved and didn’t plan for a bread.  I looked through my recipes that I have saved on my iPad and decided to make this zucchini cake.  The zucchini isn’t something that you’ll taste, but it adds fibre and liquid to the batter since you do not dry it out after grating it.  I love chocolate so the chocolate chips interested me.  finally, I still had some cream cheese in the fridge from my last cake that called for it so it was easy to decide on this cake.

The cake is lovely and moist with hints of cinnamon and flavourful chocolate chips.  The icing might be the star.  I sometimes find cream cheese frosting overbearing, but this frosting is delightful.  The addition of whipping cream to it makes it much lighter yet it still has that cream cheese tang.  The part that took the longest was waiting for the cake to cool to frost it.  This cake is a great way to use up from excess zucchini from your garden or the store.


2¼ cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt 

3/4 teaspoon (3.75 grams) baking soda teaspoon (1 gram) 

1/2 ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 grams) baking powder

1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar (I used only 1 cup)

1/2 cup (112 grams) neutral oil

1/4 cup (55 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar 

2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature 

1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract 

2 cups (319 grams) shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 2 large zucchini)

3/4 cup (128 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray with flour. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, oil, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well combined; whisk in zucchini. Gradually stir in flour mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate until mixture is well combined. Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap pan on a kitchen towel-lined counter a few times to spread batter.
  4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Spread Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting onto cooled cake. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.



Makes 2 cups

113 grams cream cheese, softened 

1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners' sugar 

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla extract 

1 cup (240 grams) cold heavy whipping cream

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beating until combined; scrape bottom and sides of bowl and whisk. With mixer on medium-high speed, slowly add cold cream, beating until stiff peaks form, stopping to scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Use immediately.

My index of bakes.

dolfs's picture

I've recently picked up baking again, in particular sourdough. My baking mostly occurs at sea level in CA, but I am spending part of summer at our house near West Yellowstone at 6,800 ft.

I brought my starter with me and did my first bake here. I anticipated altitude-related problems, but it turned out fine (I made a few adjustments).

The formula was:Modified Tartine formula

The "white" flour was Wheat Montana All Purpose (13.3% protein, so more like bread flour), and the whole wheat flour for the levain was KA Whole Wheat, and for the final dough, it was Central Milling T80 flour.


  • Mix flour and water, autolyse for 1 hr
  • Mix-in starter
  • Mix-in remaining water and salt, dough temp about 74F
  • 3-4 minutes of rubaud mixing
  • 3 minutes of slap and fold mixing
  • 4 times: wait 40 minutes, stretch and fold (with the last two being coil folds)
  • Finish bulk ferment at 40% rise (75F)
  • Pre-shape
  • 30 minute bench rest
  • Shape batard, place in banneton
  • Cold retard 12+ hours
  • Open bake on stone with tray with ice cubes underneath, 450F 25 minutes
  • Bake another 25 at 430F
  • Switch oven off, let cool in oven for approx 30 minutes
  • Cool on rack completely

I like the resulting crumb and taste. Not overly sour, crumb nice and open, but no enormous holes.

justkeepswimming's picture

It has been a while since I did anything creative with my bread making. If there is such a thing as a "comfortable rut", our usual 75-100% whole grain sourdough sandwich bread has been just that. With the pending visit of a family member, I was inspired to dust off the clay baker and do something more creative for her. My scoring skills are rusty could use some work (they were never all that great really), but otherwise it looks pretty good so far. It's cooling at the moment; I'll edit and add a crumb shot later as time allows.

Total flour 550 gm (KA bread flour 138 gm, Central Milling High Protein bread flour 137 gm, Sprouted Spelt 100 gm, Hard Red Spring (freshly milled) 175 gm)

 Levain 120 gm

 Water 375 gm  

Salt 10 gm 

Safflower oil 1 Tbsp (we prefer a little softer crust and crumb) 

Water and levain combined, then flour added. Mixed by hand until no obvious dry flour, then covered and rested ~ 20 min.  

Salt and oil incorporated by hand a bit, then kneaded in my compact Bosch for 10 minutes. Dough temp 80f at the start of bulk.  

Bulk x 4 hours (~ 50 % rise) with a couple of S&F in the first hour. Then pre-shaped > 15 min rest > shaped > into an oblong banneton, covered and into the fridge overnight.  

Baked today (after 20 hours of cold retard) in an oblong clay baker at 500f x 20 min (lid on) then 450f (lid off). It's cooling at the moment.  

I had been having difficulty getting a reasonable crumb since moving here. The 6000 ft altitude combined with my preference for a high percent of fresh milled flour haven't been a winning combination, and  I don't like the idea of adding VWG. Using just a bit of the Central Milling high protein bread flour seems to have fixed the problem so far, though the final proof is pending. I'll add a crumb shot later.  

I will probably not bake this very often over the summer months, but might repeat it once cooler fall weather returns. 



justkeepswimming's picture

This video popped up on my computer several weeks ago and it looked intriguing to play with. It definitely isn't going to win any awards for appearance or presentation.  

I tweaked the flour a bit (she uses 100% AP) and added a few seeds. I didn't take time to weigh some of the ingredients, this loaf was "flying by the seat of my pants" in some respects, lol.  

Flour 280 gm  (48 gm AP, 48 gm KA bread flour, 185 gm sprouted spelt)

Instant Yeast - 1 tsp 

Salt - 1 tsp

Sugar 1 – tsp

Hulled hemp seeds - 1 rounded Tbsp 

Sunflower seeds - ~ 2 Tbsp 

Lukewarm water 250 gm 

Olive oil (or any really) for the pan. (Video says 1 Tbsp but that was a bit much for my pan.) 

Side note... my frying pan is a Ninja Foodi Neverstick 10.25 in frying pan. Finding a lid that would fit was a bit of a challenge, but thankfully Amazon came through. The lid needs to be domed just a little, and the multi-pan lid we have dips down into the pan enough for the bread to stick to the lid when cooking. 


 1) Mix the dry ingredients and inclusions. 

 2) Add water and mix until no dry flour remains. (After the initial hand mix, I let things rest for about 15 minutes then gave it a few S&F for good measure. Probably not needed, but I do take pleasure in handling the dough just a bit....)

 3) Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour.

 4) Grease the (room temp) frying pan with olive oil. 

 5) Degas dough by rolling the dough with a spatula.

 6) Sprinkle with flour and roll a few more times.

 7) Put the dough in the (room temp) frying pan.

 8) Cover and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

 9) Cover and cook over low heat (20-25 min). A little bit of moisture condensed and dripped onto the top of the bread, but it didn't seem to do any harm. 

10) Turn over and cook for another 15 minutes without the lid. I checked at the 10 minute mark and there were areas that were still a little "doughy". Your time may vary... 

This was mostly cooled and ready to eat about 45 min after cooking. 

I've made it several times now. It was quick and easy, with very little handling. Bonus, it didn't heat up the kitchen. It might be fun for making with kids, camping (RV or other), or a variety of other uses. My 95 y.o. mother-in-law (who made her first loaf of bread ever about 2 years ago) thought she would like to make this. It definitely came in handy after being gone for a couple weeks. After only a couple of hours after getting home, we had fresh bread ready to eat... another plus while my starter was getting back up to speed. I suspect it will come in handy again at some point.  

"Bottom", just after flipping. Continued to cook 15 min on low, lid off.

Crumb shot, about 1 hour after cooling.






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