The Fresh Loaf

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Very small batches of very simple bread

ssorllih's picture

Very small batches of very simple bread

In December my wife had surgery for a cancer on her tongue. The surgery was successful but has left her with chronic pain in her tongue if she uses it very much. very soft tender breads have been pleasing for her. The result has been experiments with eight ounces of flour and 75% hydration and virtually no kneading. I mix the flour, yeast, water, and salt to blend, cover with a plate, in an hour dump the dough onto a floured table and stretch into a small log which I cut into six pieces and place on a sheet pan. flatten with my hand and brush with melted butter or chicken fat and  let rise for about an hour and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. The result is a soft bread with a tender crumb and crust that goes stale in 36 hours.

I have tried these rolled in flour and dropped into large muffin tins, baked on a heavily oiled sheet pan and my next effort will be to use less oil and a bit more flour on the surface.

Bread is very important in our life.

LindyD's picture

Not only because the surgery was successful, but because she has such a caring husband.

Blessings to you both, and best wishes for her continued recovery.

ssorllih's picture

I will welcome any suggestions for improving this bread. It all started when she bought some store bakery croissants. They are delightfully soft and tender and not too loaded with fat.

Would I gain some tenderness by substituting a little corn starch for the flour as we do for cakes?

AnnaInNC's picture

of scallions along with some good olive or avocado oil would be another softer version and so very very good.

Best wishes to you and your wife,



Janetcook's picture

I am by no means an expert on how to change breads but I do know when I add milk or yogurt to the breads I make they turn out very moist and soft.  Try replacing a bit of the water - maybe 30% of it with some yogurt and see what happens.

Another idea just popped into my head - try adding a bit of mashed banana too.  It will add moisture and soften.

Time will take the pain away in her tongue.  I had a friend who had a similar experience a year or two more pain now for him - other than in his heel - which he broke dirt bike racing :-)

Good Luck with your bread experiments.


Yerffej's picture

Janet's suggestions are good and I would add that you could use some fat in the bread to shorten the gluten strands and make an even softer bread.  Olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil.....those would be my choices and you do not need to add a lot (unless you want to).


ssorllih's picture

The batch I made last night was 8 ounces flour, one teaspoon yeast, half teaspoon salt, tablespoon chicken fat, three ounces milk, two ounces chicken stock, one and a half ounces water.  Had a one hour rise, dumped onto a sheet pan with a tablespoon of melted chicken fat, divided and flattened, one hour rise and 25 minute bake at 350F. This was quite pleasing.

spsq's picture

I use a lot of whole grains, and the most consistent method of softening any dough is the asian-origined tangzhong method.  Google it, or here's a link (not my website, but I've tried his recipe)!

spsq's picture

Incidently, I haven't put the tangzhong in the fridge for hours.  I use it as soon as it's cool.  I've added it to several of my own recipes (though I haven't tried sourdough) and it works every time. 

PaddyL's picture

Buttermilk in bread makes a lovely soft loaf.  My sister has cancer and the sores in her mouth related to chemotherapy; the bread she loves and eats every day is a sourdough made with a buttermilk starter.  I cut the crusts off her toast because she can't eat that part.  Prayers for you and your wife.

Breadandwine's picture

Hi ssorllih

Why not make your wife some pikelets or crumpets. I've just had some fruit pikelets for breakfast and they are wonderfully soft and 'squashy'. You can also make crumpets from the same batter, although, since they need longer cooking, they can develop a bit of a crust:

Or, what about English-type pancakes (that form a thin layer across the bottom of the frying pan)? There's nothing softer, IMO, than these:

(There's no fat, you'll notice, in either of these recipes - or eggs - in fact, they're suitable for vegans.)

Very best wishes to both you and your wife.

Cheers, Paul


ssorllih's picture

Paul Thank you for a gentle push in a new direction. The bread that started this  harked back to a recipe from years ago that used a simple flour water yeast dough very wet and filled with what we call cottage cheese curds. Just mix the dough with the cheese in the water and let it rise for an hour or so, Dump it onto a well floured table and coax it into a single strand about an inch and a half thick. Cut it into chunks about as long as they are wide, roll them  in the flour and drop into a muffin tin. bake 350 F until browned.

clazar123's picture

It sounds like you don't need a definite formula/recipe as much as you need ideas on how to soften a loaf.

  • Use an autolyse,soak or otherwise just let the flour and liquid/water sit for about 15-30 minutes after a brief, light mix (just enough to wet the flour-it looks quite shaggy). This lets the flour really hydrate and get soft in the final crumb. Then add all the other ingredients (salt,etc)
  • Adding any fat (especially something like lard or chicken fat) will really soften the crumb. Calories and fat content are probably not to be avoided right now so use the solid animal fats.
  • Milk ,cream and buttermilk will also soften and sweeten the bread as well as adding some needed protein for healing.
  • Eggs (esp yolks) will soften,add flavor and some needed vit A,iron and protein-all good for healing.
  • Making a water roux will make a really fluffy difference and it is very easy-take a few teaspoons of the flour you are going to use,add 3-5x the same amount of water/liquid and heat gently and stir until it forms a custardy paste. I do it in the microwave in 5-10 sec bursts. Cool and add to the bread dough. It really makes a soft difference.You can make a quantity of this and refrigerate for a day or so,covered.  Just add a small amount (a spoonful per cup/150g of flour)Don't use if it becomes discolored- it is not poisonous just ugly(like gray potatoes after they have been cooked and sat for a while).

2 ideas for soft, high nutrient foods:

Breakfast cups

Diced bread cubes (soft) mixed and soaked with egg and milk/cream and any flavorings you like (onion,garlic,curry,sugar,jam,meats,cheese).Put in greased muffin cups and allow to soak overnight in refrig so bread cubes are totally soft with egg mix. Bake until just done-do not brown or it creates sharp edges.

Green soup-recipe follows. Great soup for healing. If you blenderize it, it looks very unappetizing but I found it was very delicious when I had surgery and needed something that went down easy. I had it both hot and cold. It was like a chilled summer soup and was very refreshing. I hope you have some greens available-great for all the B vitamins and C and minerals. I believe you can use any vegetable that is green that is available-brocolli,cabbage,etc. It will affect the flavor, of course.

Green Soup for Healing

 Makes: 8 to 10 servings

Begin with well-caramelized onions. Bring water to a boil with a little something to add body - here I use Arborio rice. Add in a few large bunches of greens along with vegetable stock and blend. Voila - a soup that perks up your senses and distributes valuable antioxidants to every extremity, without a trip to your pharmacy or health food store.

While the soup is very green and nutrient-dense, the flavor is surprisingly sweet and nutty, with the added brightness of lemon juice added at the last moment. A final drizzle of olive oil makes everything go all lush and velvety.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large yellow onions (about 1 ½ pounds), chopped

1/2 teaspoons salt (divided)

2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water (divided)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

¼ cup Arborio rice (any rice is fine) (I used  well-rinsed quinoa)

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped (about ¾ pound)(Or spinach)

1 bunch curly kale (about ¾ pound), stems removed and chopped

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth


½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( I didn’t use)

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Shaved Gruyere, snipped chives and croutons for garnish (optional)


Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet with a lid.

Add onions and ¼ teaspoon salt. Over medium-high heat, stir onions frequently until they begin to brown. Reduce heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water, and cover. From time to time, remove the lid and give them a good stir. Continue cooking until onions are very soft and a deep golden color - this will take 30 to 45 minutes. Just when you think you are finished, let them go a few minutes longer.

 When your onions are almost done, add garlic and cook until fragrant, a few minutes. Remove from heat.

In a separate large stockpot, add remaining 3 cups water and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Stir in rice (or quinoa) and bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer 15 minutes.

Add greens, stir, return to a simmer and cover. Let greens wilt and settle 10 minutes.

Add onions to stockpot and stir in broth.

Blend soup until very smooth with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches).

Add cayenne, if using.

Add lemon juice to taste just prior to serving.

Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and if desired, croutons, chives and/or cheese. 



ssorllih's picture

I shall study this and consider scaling down. I have been making creamed soups in two cup batches.  Thank you.


mgbetz's picture

Because of a different health condition, I now cannot have whole grains and mineral rich foods, and in addition, has to be  reduced  salt.

My go-to recipe is very similar to yours. Crisp crusts is not a problem, however for moistness I added olive oil  *and* the Bread Improver from The Prepared Pantry. (Approved ingredients for my diet). Light tender loaf, might help your wife.  Use a table top convection oven to bake, about every other day.

Perhaps making more of your trusted recipe, and freezing portions, would help?

If you'd like me to send a generous sample of the Bread Improver, please contact me privately.

Thank you for being such a loving baker/husband!

ssorllih's picture

I have made the basic recipe of flour, 75% water, yeast and 1% salt several times now and the  preference seems to be, no knead, no added fat, baked fresh every other day. The little bit of crusty is pleasing, the crumb is very coarse. I bake several recipes as we need them.

I use also eggs, milk, whey drained from yoghurt, chicken fat, lard, bacon fat, olive oil as indicated for a given recipe.