The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
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Rosalie's picture

Why do you bake? What kind of baker are you?

July 30, 2009 - 11:38am -- Rosalie

In the world of knitting (and elsewhere) there's discussion about being a process knitter or one who knits for results.  Paul's lament about running out of freezer space because he wasn't eating fast enough made me wonder about bread bakers.  What kind are you?

I enjoy knitting, but mostly I like the results.  Although how many lace shawls does a jeans-and-sweatshirt girl need?

Yundah's picture

no gluten no dairy no yeast

July 30, 2009 - 11:36am -- Yundah

A friend of mine has been put on a very restricted diet, no gluten, no dairy, no yeast.  I would be in tears but she is bravely seeking solutions.  Can any one recommend websites, recipe books, suppliers, anywhere we can get her going with bread in one form or another?  I appreciate your help. 

jleung's picture

Baked red bean buns

and this is how I like my red beans :)

Molecular biologists love genes, and how different gene products interact with each together to generate many of the complex biological processes that keep our body in one piece (or in the case of disease, how all of this falls apart). Why does someone behave in a particular way? It's because of his or her genetic makeup, some say. Others say there is an equal influence from the environment, or what the individual is exposed to.

I'd like to argue that this is particularly true with first impressions. As a young child in Hong Kong, there were certain smells and sights and sounds that flooded my senses: the freshly steamed rice noodles drizzled with soy sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce and lightly toasted sesame seeds wrapped in paper from the street vendors, the dazzling array of colours from the fruit and vegetable stalls, the constant buzzing and honking from people riding bicycles, buses or taxis, and of course, the aroma of just-baked buns and loaves, wafting from the bakeries.

I'm going to paint in broad strokes and say that Hong Kong bakery-style buns are, in general, very different from those that you can find in European bakeries. True, both place an emphasis on texture and flavour and shaping, but with Hong Kong style buns you're looking for more pillowy-soft crust and crumb, often flavoured with additional ingredients like coconut or sweetened pastes or cubed ham and shaped into individual serving buns.

While I have been on a preferment/sourdough, blistering crust, multigrain kick lately, Shiao-Ping's recent TFL post on Chinese Po-Lo Buns (Pineapple Buns, or 菠蘿飽) evoked memories of these buns that I love so dearly. Some impressions just die hard.

These baked red bean buns (焗豆沙飽) are for those who love Hong Kong bakery-style breads, and for those who sometimes complain that my loaves of bread are "too crackly and crusty." ("How come they don't taste softer, like cake?")

Baked Red Bean Buns

- basic sweet dough, like this one, this one or this one
- lightly sweetened red bean paste (I used canned, ready-to-use paste but you can certainly make your own)
- egg wash: 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- sesame seeds, optional

After bulk fermentation of the dough, I divided it into eight portions of ~45g each, and shaped them based on a great photo tutorial posted by hidehide here.

Final proof: ~30-40 min.

Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 17-20 min. until golden brown.


Full post here.

hamptonbaker's picture


Recently, I purchased plastic bannetons for producing boules. I have tried to spray and then flour them and just flour them. Currently, I am using them to make Pain au levain, using Calvel's formula out of the Taste of Bread. Anyway this dough seems very sticky, I like the bread and don't want to change my method of a secondary fermentation time of three hours; However, I can't get the dough to fall out of the basket. It absorbs all the flour and won't fall out without destroying the shape, is there a trick to this? I really don't want cornmeal on the top of my bread so what to do?

Shiao-Ping's picture

Lang Lang was on the radio this morning (his piano, not his presence).  The English lady, Emma Ayres, hosts a fine, fine classic FM radio show, Teas on Toast, on ABC Radio.  She played Lang Lang's Haydn sonata in Carnegie Hall, 2003.   Lang Lang, 27, is the pride of modern day Mainland Chinese.   His reputation spread so rapidly that a Chinese-language biography appeared before his 17th birthday.  I have no business joining the band wagon in praising him.   But I can feel his sensibility through his fingers (the fastest fingers in the whole of China, his fans will have you believe).   

He comes from Sheng-Yang in the far north of China.  Whenever I think of northern China, I think of the noodles they have and the hot steam buns they have.   They always say that the north has wheat and the men grow tall up there (and ride horses!); and the south has rice.   My father comes from the border line between the north and the south in Mainland China, so we ate both noodles and rice at home when I was growing up.   My father's favourite Sunday lunch was noodles with the best quality soy sauce one could find.   Can you imagine fresh pasta with the best quality olive oil you can find; it is like that.   Plain, with nothing else on, the flavour of flour comes "shining through" (to borrow James MacGuire's words) in freshly boiled noodles.  

We kids didn't appreciate that.   

So, on the way driving home from dropping the kids to school this morning, I thought to myself - Lang Lang, I am going to do a steam bun today, my version.   You watch.   




  1. Roll the dough (formula below) out to about 1/2 to 1 cm thickness.  Sprinkle some olive oil and salt on top (a couple of drops of sesame oil would be GRAND), spreading it evenly, and

  2. Sprinkle the chopped shallots. 

  3. Fold 1/3 of the dough to the center, then the other 1/3 to the center like folding a letter (the dough now has 3 layers).  Slice the dough one inch width apart.  

  4. Place two pieces on top of each other (ie, six layers in total).

  5. With the help of two chopsticks, press the dough down to the bottom to make indentations.  

  6. Slide the chopsticks underneath the dough, lift the dough up, then twist the dough    

I made some smaller ones with just three layers too:  



My formula: this is just any white bread dough; it should pass windowpane test;  let it rest for 3o minutes up to an hour before rolling it out as above.  

  • 300 g white flour

  • 168 g water

  • 24 g olive oil

  • 10 g sugar

  • 6 g salt

  • 3 g instant dry yeast (the reason for this is because this is meant to be a quick rising dough)

  • a big bunch of shallots, chopped up

  • some olive oil (and sesame oil if you wish)

  • some more salt  


                                                               dough resting after shaping  

Let this rest for 3o minutes up to an hour again.   Bring a big pot of water to boil; THEN, place the steamer on top of the boiling water.  The dough will expand rapidly in steaming temperature.  After 5 minutes, turn the heat down to medium.  Boil another 7 minutes.  Total steaming time 12 minutes.   And there we have it:  



                                                       Chinese Shallots Steam Buns  


I can imagine diners in a northern Chinese tea parlour very happily ordering these shallots steam buns for their Sunday brunch, followed by a pot of tea over some gossip.   




p.s.  Lang, the first word of his full name, is his family name, which is not a common one among Chinese.  Lang, the second word of his name, is a completely different Chinese character which pronounces the same as the first character.   His name reads very poetic to a Chinese literary mind.  Many Mainland Chinese names today still retain that poetic-ness about them, whereas the names of Chinese from other parts of the world, especially, those from Taiwan, are as ... oh what should I say...; girls' names denoting beauty, virtue, chastity, etc, and boys' names effecting courage, loyalty, righteousness, and the like, are very common; and for both girls and boys, wealth and fortunes are a forever welcome theme for names.          

Paddyscake's picture

411..information please? New Orleans..

July 29, 2009 - 7:49pm -- Paddyscake

I need to draw from all the expertise in the group. We are getting ready for our annual rafting trip on the Deschutes River. Each year we have a theme for the weekend, this year it's Mardi Gras. All of us contribute portions to our meals, and of course..part of mine is the bread. Menu challenge : Muffaletta.

balabusta's picture

Scoring Issues

July 29, 2009 - 7:47pm -- balabusta

I always seem to have difficulty scoring my baguette dough.  I believe the dough is well hydrated, not over-kneaded, and it is properly proofed. There is no "skin" on the dough.  I use a new, sharp razor blade, but the blade gets "stuck" in the dough when I try to score it at a slight or perpendicular angle - the blade does NOT slice through the dough.  Baked, the baguette is gorgeous and the crumb, wonderful. 

Any suggestions how I can score my dough without a tug of war?



balabusta's picture

Steam Time

July 29, 2009 - 7:43pm -- balabusta

How long should dough be steamed in the oven?  In his book, BREAD, Jeffrey Hammelman states, "From 4-6 seconds of steam is ample." (p. 100) in 460 degree oven.  In stark contrast, in BREAD BAKING, Daniel DiMuzio states, "The quality of the crust in hearth loaves in enhanced by exposing the loaves to steam for the first 5 - 10 minutes of baking." (p. 130)

That's a huge difference.  Any reasons for this disparity?



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