The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

PalwithnoovenP's blog

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Torta depending on where you are in the Philippines can mean different things. Up to the day when I was just aware of one type, the only torta that I know is a savory dish made with eggplant and eggs that I often eat with ketchup. I do not know any other form of torta when actually, there are. Then, during my college years my dad introduced me to the torta of his childhood which is made from potatoes and eggs (I think there are tortas that are similar to this one in Spain and Latin America) that can be with or without meat depending on your budget :) and it has become a favorite for a cheap and filling dish to go with rice because the only thing that we have to buy are potatoes. Today, I am focusing on the torta of Cebu, a province in the central Islands of the Philippines where the Queen City of the South and Philippines’ oldest city lies – Torta Cebuana.

The best ones are said to come from the town of Argao in Cebu. It is a rich naturally leavened cake baked in fluted molds commonly made during the town’s festival. Torta Cebuana, the name alone strongly implies its Spanish roots. It must have come from Spanish Tarta/Torta which seems to be a cognate of the English Torte and Cebuana means something or someone with origins from Cebu in which this delicious cake comes from. It is a product of ingenuity or necessity from the locals in replicating the Spanish breads and cakes that the Spaniards brought with them that they sorely miss perhaps; many ingredient substitutions brought many delicious breads and cakes of the Philippines to life.

Authentic Torta Cebuana is made using a local toddy wine, egg yolks and lard, aged lard. It is then flavored with anise seeds which is very common in old world treats. Tradition states that the yeast in the wine should be the sole leavener of the cake and should be enriched with lard that is at least a year old rendered during the previous year’s festival then baked in a “wood-fired” oven that uses coconut shells and husks as fuel. The naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in the wine also imparts a special fragrance and flavor to the cake particularly tang and improves the shelf life; the lard also makes it very moist and gives it its unique flavor and aroma along with the touch of smoke that the wood-fired oven imparts. Here is a video of local artisanal Torta production in Argao, Cebu.

I really want to taste this interesting cake but I do not have access to the requisite wine and aged or even just good quality lard so I need to make sound substitutions so I did some research on recipes online. Many recipes for the sake of convenience and modernity call for baking powder and/or baking soda and right-off-the-bat I scrap them since it is not what this cake is all about. Some recipes call for instant yeast which seems to be a decent substitute but one thing that will be missed is the tangy flavor. I tasted the wine once and it has a nice fizziness and tang due to the live yeast and bacteria in it and I suddenly thought of sourdough which may be different in form but will more or less produce a similar flavor profile. It’s my first time to bake a cake without mechanical or chemical leavening in the form of baking powder so I was a bit skeptical if it will succeed. I made a lot of reading about yeasted cakes and then sourdough leavened cakes that I saw here on TFL. With the prerequisite knowledge complete, I proceeded with a plan.

With its characteristics: naturally leavened, with a pleasant tanginess, rich with egg yolks, moist and rich with lard; I made my own interpretation of the cake. Natural leavening and tanginess from sourdough, free-range egg yolks from our own chickens, flavor and aroma from butter and moistness from corn oil are the components of this cake and an addition of baking them in a modern electric oven; I wonder if baking them in my clay pot though not as efficient will make them taste a little bit more old-world. I flavored it with vanilla because I am not that big of a fan of anise, though I think some lime zest will be closer to traditional and local. It hardly resembles the traditional product and with that many modifications, I decided to call this cake Torta Cebuana Moderna; a modern take on this cake but with its essence still there.

The ingredients were very simple: flour,sourdough, egg yolks, sugar, salt, butter and oil. I built my sourdough starter in three stages using egg yolks as a liquid and AP flour with a thick batter consistency. The final build contained the salt, sugar, butter, oil and vanilla. I then let it rise overnight. There were some mishaps on the way such us some stubborn bits of batter that do not want to combine with the other ingredients. I should have started the SD builds with a thinner consistency but I was worried it would slow down when thinned down too quickly especially as it will be used in a high sugar high fat application. I strained it and salvaged what I can. Not wanting to waste anything, I still baked the lumps.

After an overnight rest, not much has happened in the fluid batter but there was clearly some growth in the lumps. I deposited the batters in greased 6-inch fluted molds and let them rise for 3 hours. I made 3 cakes from both batters. Again, it looks like not much has happened in the fluid batter but the lumps is over the rim of the pan.I baked them at 200°
for 5 minutes and lowered the temperature to 180°C and baked for another 15 minutes; 20 minutes total baking time and the results were surprising!

The lumps did not show much growth in the oven and burnt on top while the fluid batter rose nice and tall with a beautiful hump not dissimilar to a Madeleine’s. The lumps almost had no taste but have an overly yeasty aroma and excess tang. The ones from the fluid batter have a slightly yeasty but complex aroma, dense and very rich and moist with the perfect sweetness and tang and a very nice buttery flavor that complements the sourdough. If you look closely, its not that different from the traditional Torta Cebuana in terms of looks, my crumb might just a tad less fine and moister.

If you look at its ingredients, torta is not that different from ensaymada. It’s like ensaymada in batter or cake form. If desired, you can also brush the torta with softened butter and sprinkle with white granulated sugar just like an ensaymada. It also goes well with Filipino hot chocolate. I never knew sourdough would make a great cake like this. It's been a year since I took the Licensure Examination for Teachers and I am fully-fledged teacher now so maybe this is a celebration cake for that. I am really thankful for all the blessings!

Filipino style hot chocolate - made from pure chocolate liquor, with or without sugar
and/or evaporated milk according to your liking. Tortas and ensaymadas go super
well with it.

Speaking of ensaymadas, here are some that I made for my co-teachers. I woke up at 4:00 AM to deliver them as fresh as possible to my co-workers without having to come late to work. They loved every bit of it, saying how artisanal they look and taste and its their first time tasting something like that.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hello TFLers! I've been very busy this early in 2019, I almost have no time to post and check TFL. I'm glad I had a little time to post this. I baked this early this January but I'm only posting it now because, you know, teachers have a lot of paperwork aside from actual classroom teaching.

This bread was inspired by NYC.This is a remake of my Potato Onion Sourdough "Bagel-Crust" Squares but with minor differences; the inspiration came from Knishes which are also very famous in NY. In addition to baking it in an oven, I used sauteed onions instead of dehydrated onions which is how filling for knishes is commonly done.

I also added lots of freshly ground black pepper. Potato, onion, pepper; you know it's going to be delicious. It was so fragrant from the pepper.

Black pepper here as it clumped in one area of the raw bagel. I love how it looks.

I dunked half of them in black sesame seeds on both sides after boiling because I love a bagel with sesame like last time and its look.

I cut some into "squares"  just like last time because I just can't enough of it. :)

The ones without seeds stuck to the parchment paper. What if I want to make plain ones? Anyone who knows how to deal with this? 

The crumb. Potato really makes a huge difference.

Eat with a thick schmear of cream cheese.

My "schmearing skills" are not on point so it was not thick. No problem, dunk every bite in extra cream cheese!

Pardon the messy look of the following pictures. Cream cheese almost everywhere. :)


The crust was crispy and a little delicate that only boiled bagels can have. The crumb was softer than a plain bagel but chewier and tighter than my previous version. If you look at the crumb on my previous post you can see that it was a lot more open and softer, it was also moister probably due to the shape. The flavor was almost the same as I remember, like a good pizza with tang from the sourdough and sweetness from the sauteed onions but I like this one more because of the heat and fragrance of the black pepper. Really really good with the cream cheese!


I also made some wickedly good Chocolate Chip Cookies just like how a famous bakery in New York does it: gigantic and half-baked. It told you, I'm bringing a taste of NYC in our home. I used the best chocolate I can find because it is half the cookie. It's my first time to make cookies and I did not expect they would be that good.

How huge are they? They're as big as or even a touch bigger than my palm.

Look at the melty pockets of chocolate amidst the half baked dough with 3 perfect layers; a crispy craggly outer layer, a chewy middle layer; and a thick soft gooey center. Sorry if it was out of focus. I was in a hurry because I can't wait to eat it. :)

Perfect with a cold glass of milk. Enjoy!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

To start the year, I baked one of the most difficult yet luxurious Filipino breads, Ensaymada! It originated from the Mallorcan Ensaimada but the Filipino ones are very different from its ancestor that someone said they should go by a completely different name. The Ensaimada Mallorquina was more like a croissant, flaky and laminated with lard; the Filipino Ensaymada (Notice the use of a masculine adjective for a feminine noun and different adjective placement?) is brioche like, a soft rich bread. Our ancestors have really made it our own. Notice how the spelling changed to reflect Filipino orthography? Before WWII, when Spanish was still a prevalent lingua franca in the country, it was used to be spelled Ensaimada and made with lard (lard brioche, I can't imagine how good it was.) that clearly reflects its Spanish ancestry.

It is made with flour, milk, egg yolks, yeast, sugar, salt and butter—lots of butter! This is a bit more modern yet still traditional way of making them; remember lard was the traditional fat of choice. They are then coiled like a snail and placed in fluted molds then baked until rich brown. THEN, as if there was not enough butter and sugar already in the dough; it is brushed with more, (lots of) softened butter and sprinkled with sugar and occasionally cheese, aged cheese. I know, it sounds weird to put some cheese on top of butter and sugar but that's how we love it and as you know; Filipinos love the combination of salty-sweet/sweet-savory. Traditionally queso de bola, a local version of aged Edam cheese is the topping of choice but some dress theirs even more: people in the capital city of our province top them with salted egg and ham in addition to the cheese.

It goes well with Tsokolate de Batirol Filipino-style hot chocolate which I forgot to take a picture because we were in the moment of eating this ensaymada. It's the best we've had. We have never tasted anything like it before.

They are usually yeasted but I decided to make a sourdough version and it's my first time making this bread. Two breads immediately came to my mind; panettone and pand'oro, both super rich but naturally-leavened. I had a failed panettone earlier last year so I am challenged and determined to try make a similar bread and succeed. I followed the general outline of panettone recipes and combined it with the steps and ingredients of various Filipino ensaymada recipes. The difference between my ensaymada and panettone is mine is less rich in sugar and butter (the topping compensated for this :D) in the dough but definitely richer in egg yolks.

This one was made with three doughs before the bulk ferment. No additional water of milk, all of the hydration came from a ton of egg yolks. The only water came from the stock starter and the small levain build. My hands got soar the next day due the intensive kneading required but I was extremely pleased when I saw how strong the windowpane was after the last of the butter was completely absorbed! :)

Final proof was quick despite the high amount of sugar, only 4 hours at 24C, imagine how it would have went if it was a hot summer day! The dough was already more than doubled when I put it in the oven. I baked it at 190C for 25 minutes. Oven spring was non-stop for 15 minutes, I was a bit concerned that it might fall over due to it being unable to support its own weight but luckily it did not. The dough expanded 4-5 times in the oven all created by my starter. She is that strong now.

After cooling, I slathered the Ensaymada with a generous amount of softened butter and sprinkled it with white granulated sugar and grated a good amount of cheese right on top of it. I could not find the traditional cheese so this one had some sharp cheddar on it. Enjoy!

They were so tall and light, they collapsed a little bit after cooling. I should have went the panettone route and hanged them upside down to cool. I think they could have been lighter had they not collapsed a bit.

The Ensaymada was very rich yet light which makes it all the more addicting and dangerous. I could detect a slight slight tang but it was masked or actually played well with the rich, buttery, and sweet flavors. The saltiness and savoriness of the cheese balances the sweet flavor of the bread and the topping, and adds another dimension of richness.

The crust was a bit crispy and flaky. The rich brown hue to which it was baked adds to the overall flavor of the bread. The crumb has a rich golden yellow color from all of the free-range egg yolks from our own chickens. The high number of yolks also added a savory note to the bread. Ensaymada is a bread that harmoniously floats in the middle of the sweet-savory continuum; it's up to you to which direction to push it. The crumb is very shreddy, and feather light; I feel like it's the right crumb for a pand'oro or panettone and so I feel more empowered to make them in the future and I think I have a higher chance of success in making them which just a few more modifications. It's really lighter than air!

Unfortunately, my photography skills doesn't seem to capture the lightness of the Ensaymada. I don't know why the rich golden hue didn't show either in the photos. I'm sorry too, if most photos were out of focus. :) They just look better in real life.

Ensaymada Crumb

Happy New Year!!!

Happy Baking in 2019!!!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

As I am on a long holiday vacation now and school starts again just after the New Year, I decided to use this opportunity to make some viennoiseries before the year ends.

I made some sourdough pains au chocolat in my new oven to celebrate 2018 and the New Year. We are just minutes away from 2019 here! I have received so many blessings this year: from passing the board exam, becoming a licensed professional teacher, having a highly rewarding profession in many aspects, to having a new oven; I have so much to thank for and words are not enough to thank the Lord!

My posts are always wordy but I am going to keep this one short and sweet and just let the photos do the talking. :)

I will not roll them as thin during the final roll-out next time so the honeycomb structure will be bigger and more defined.

Doesn't look that far from my clay pot version. Right? :) I just did not put as much chocolate this time.

Clay Pot Pain au Chocolat May 2016

Oven Pain au Chocolat December 2018

I wish all of us a more blessed happier and healthier 2019!

Happy New Year!!!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hello TFLers! Long time no read! I miss all of you and this great community.

It's been a while and I've been very busy with work. I'm already three months in the service and I just harvested the fruits of my labor. You're asking why I'm asking if I should change my name? When I had my first salary, I bought an oven to I don't know how to put it into words but all of you who have done the same back then would know. :)

I bought a 68-Liter one, not too big when testing recipes but big enough when I double or triple a tested recipe. It also has some pretty fancy heat controls with various combinations for rotisserie, top, bottom or convection. I also needed to reset my mind and math because it is in Celsius. It can go to a maximum of 250°C which is 482°F, a little lower than most ovens but I guess, with convection on, it will be almost the same.

I'm new to my oven so I just tried simple baked goods in it. What I want to really try are some pizzas and lean hearth breads but I don't have a pizza stone and if I have one, I don't want to waste a lot of energy in preheating it. I need to find a way to replicate its thermal properties along with steaming the oven. It's difficult but I know you will be there to help me, right?  :)

I was so happy. We were so happy. So what do you think? Should I change my name PalwithNOoven? If I should, what name/s do you suggest? I would like to hear them.

It had a 7 day replacement warranty so immediately the next day after I bought it, I tested it in case of any malfunctions and then baked day after day for the next 7 days after work even if I was super busy. Sorry for a ton of photos, I was just happy and a little overwhelmed of with using my oven because it's the first time that I have seen and experienced this. :)

Here are some of them:

Rotisserie chicken with Filipino flavors (Lime, Lemongrass, Soy sauce)

Garlic Rice and Chicken  Casserole 

I got a little happy with the broil function so it was a tad too dark, but it was not burnt in real life and we love the texture and flavor.

A repeat of the same dish.

Cantonese Siu Yuk (燒肉) (I'm not sure if these are the characters) 
Crispy roasted pork belly flavored with wine and five spices

A soft and fluffy Sourdough Asian-style Milk Bread

Brown Sugar Peanut Biscotti

Mini Banana Breads

Their humps remind me of a Madeleine's.

What do you think? Did you have a favorite? Let me know! I want to know where I am since I am new to "oven" baking.

I did not only harvested financial fruits due to my profession but instead harvested more important fruits in the form of my students. In just three months, I have a accumulated a lot of tales and experiences that will be treasured memories for all of us in the bond. I'm so privileged to have those kids in my life that I get emotional sometimes when I reflect on my career. I want to tell more but I really can't put it into words now, maybe some other time.

Wishing you all good health and happiness! Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

...Ang inyo pong abang lingkod ay isa nang ganap na guro..!

Yours truly is now a fully-fledged teacher.

Yes, that's the good news that I've been wanting to share for so long but just couldn't find the right opportunity; since it is October 5 today which is celebrated annually as World Teachers' Day, I think it is now the perfect time to share it! I was just hired last September and I've been practicing the profession for almost a month. I consider my self truly blessed this year from passing the board exam to getting hired as a public school teacher. It's very difficult to get hired in public schools due to the strict selection process and I was even luckier considering that I have no teaching experience which a huge chunk of the overall criteria.

I am quickly adjusting to the new environment and busy schedule. My students get a reprimand from me almost everyday that I began questioning myself if what I was doing is right but I came to realize that it was an early sign of developing genuine love for my students that I am here to guide and correct them so they can be a step closer to their dreams.

I am teaching 3 subjects currently to 80 Grade 7 students. AP (Araling Panlipunan - Social Studies - Asian History); MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health); and TLE (Technology and Livelihood Education - Handicraft Production - with focus on Embroidery). Who would have thought I'll be handling these especially the last two since I have never considered my self athletic or artistic. :) It was challenging at first but I am slowly getting the hang of it, from actual instruction to classroom management. Classrooms can be chaotic sometimes due to 13 year olds emotional turmoil thrown into a melange of puberty and constructing their personal identity; but l feel I can control them more now compare to my first days which make the delivery of instruction way easier.

I once spoke in Mandarin to attract their attention and it was effective. :) And I see a considerable number of students who are willing to learn it; always asking me to teach them whenever they see me, their eyes glimmer even if it's just a simple word. I am thinking of pioneering a foreign language class to share what I know even how little it is.

Some gifts that I received from some students during our Teachers' Day Celebration. Even without it, their greetings inspire me more!

Although I have no bread or two to share now, I would like to take this opportunity to greet all teachers here in the TFL community a Happy Teachers' Day! Not only those who are teaching in schools but every baker here who teaches every baking aficionado  everything that they know for the improvement of skills and the realization of dreams! I am so thankful to all of you!

Maligayang Araw ng mga Guro!

Happy Teacher's Day!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Something is keeping me busy these days so I have no time to bake and post. I thought I'd share something that I baked during my review days that I still haven't posted.

As you know I love Chinese breads, baked or steamed and the more I love Chinese pastries and all things in between. It's the green onion pancake that is my favorite I must say. Flaky, crispy, chewy with lovely green onion flavor; my cravings get the better of me every time. I really like it that I made yeasted breads before inspired by it here and another one here. By the way, green onion has many names depending on where you live, I've read them as green onions / spring onions / scallions in recipes.

I was craving for it that time and I had a somewhat crazy idea that I really wanted to try so I made these for a win-win situation. A green onion pancake is already very very good but I want to make it better. It's the flakiness that I like best so increasing the layers was the game plan here. My previous breads have sesame along with the green onion but this time I used green onion alone for its flavor to shine.

I called them baraja from Spanish baraja which means a deck of cards because they look like a deck of cards. Baraha in Filipino which obviously came from Spanish means either a deck of cards or just a single card hence I stuck with the Spanish spelling because it specifically means a deck. :)

I made a dough with flour and water and I let it rest for a couple of hours then I made a roux with lard and other meat drippings. If you keep pork fat, chicken fat, duck fat or goose fat at the back of your fridge; this is an application that is worthy of and will greatly benefit from your hard earned delicious rendered fat. All were set so what's only left is the shaping/assembly. I employed a different folding/lamination technique; normally you roll the dough into a thin wide circle, brush it with the roux then sprinkle it with green onions, roll into a jelly roll then coil it into a snail. I cut the dough into 4 portions and this is what I did.

For the simple ones, I filled 2 of the 4 pieces with roux and stuffed a huge amount of green onions in them. I closed them up, rolled them flat and gave each a single and a double turn. If you make croissants, you know what I mean.

I then rolled them flat once again before cooking.

For the complex ones and the ones worthy of the title baraja, I divided each of the remaining pieces into 3 before repeating the procedure above for each piece as you can see in the photo below.

I then stacked the 3 pieces with lard in between each piece before finally rolling it flat. So for the layer count; if you count all the layers in each piece minus the dough-dough interface, you got 13 layers (it means the simple bread above has 13 layers and this is triple of that). With lard in between each piece, you count them as separate layers because it will be a dough-fat continuum so it means 3 layers of 13. So 13 x 3 = 39, a total of 39 layers; a standard deck of cards has 52. Although it's not quite a standard deck of cards, the results are still dramatic and fantastic and can easily be remedied by adding a 4th 13 layer piece.

So the layers were increased but I used another cooking method other than pan frying that makes this a million times better than my regular green onion pancake. I cooked them on a dry frying pan until the surface is cooked and no longer sticks then I transferred them to my preheated clay pot to bake over pebbles to crisp and achieve a rich brown hue. Here are the results.

One of each kind from the first batch after baking.

One of each kind from the second batch. The 39-layered one is on the left.

13 layers.

39-layered green onion baraja.

Both has that nice green onion flavor since I put lots, 250 grams to be exact. It has an intensely savory flavor but somewhat sweet. If you like a bit heat, you can sprinkle some white pepper during the lamination, sesame is also a welcome addition; the flavor combinations are endless and I have some ideas in mind already that I want to try. It is not greasy like a typical green onion pancake, it has a bit of chew and is extra crispy from the clay pot bake. The increased layers changed the texture significantly, its like eating a savory croissant; extremely flaky and crispy with shards falling everywhere. And the smoky flavor and aroma it picked-up from the pebbles and the pot when combined with the green onion's make up for a very old world flavor that is satisfying and comforting that stirs the emotion.

Clear defined layers but not as dramatic as the one below.

Very dramatic layering. It really deserves to be called baraja, I will increase the layers next time to 52 so the name fits it more. When I look at it closely, it does not look just like a deck of cards to me, I think it also looks like a small book with numerous sheets, leaves and pages so I think you can also call this libretto, librito, or librillo. I am so satisfied with this bake and I want to make it again. In fact, I am craving for it right now I type this and look at the photos. Happy baking!

Some photos of orchids from our yard at that time too.

Some orchids past their prime near our mini "taro plantation".

I managed to capture some in their full bloom. Enjoy!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

This is something that I made a few months ago when I wasn't actively posting. I almost forgot it until I saw it again last week so I thought of posting it. These were inspired by Kao Bao Zi, meat filled buns baked in a tandoor oven from a specific region in China.

As Chinese is our theme now, I would like to share a story; I hope I will feel a little better later. I just lost a friend (well not really a friend according to most standards) to the Big C just months after it was diagnosed. The cancer was an aggressive one that affected his blood and a tumor formed between his heart and lungs. I really could not believe it until we visited the family.

I just met him after a Chinese language proficiency exam and there was an instant connection. We were not even close, it's only the love for studying Mandarin (and languages in general) that connects us but I feel sad and still could not believe at what happened. He was the best in Mandarin in our university and he was an inspiration to us. Many of us dream to be even just a quarter as good as him. He knows many languages too; he can speak, read and write Mandarin (both simplified and traditional characters), Japanese (yes, all of Japan's 3 writing systems), Korean, Thai and Indonesian. As you can notice he has a penchant for Asian languages.
I was just a little shocked with one of life's realities of going to the wake of someone who is my contemporary. As usual I did not look at him for the last time as I want that the memories that will remain will be those from the time when he was a alive, enthusiastic and happy. I saw him last March and that's what I want to remember. The funny thing was even in his wake, us who were fans of studying Mandarin can't help but study and talk in Mandarin there. We said that if he was only there, he would be happy to teach and talk to us. We taught each other new vocabulary and learned many things.

Okay, I feel a little better now. Here are the buns.

The dough was made with a 48 hour retarded levain fed with AP, AP flour, water, sugar, salt and oil. The stuffing was made with ground pork, soy sauce, garlic and chili. I used a chili that's pretty spicy so I cannot put many so I did not get the red color that I wanted. I put the pork raw so the buns will be juicy. 

I rolled each one into a thin wide sheet then I spread the pork paste, rolled it into a cylinder and coiled it. I made it this way to evenly distribute the filling in the bun. I first cooked them on a dry pan 1 minute on each side then baked for 10 minutes on each side. One was extra boldly baked but did not taste bitter.

The buns were crispy on the outside and a little chewy that is perfect to hold the juice. The inside was so juicy and the dough-meat interface was nicely gooey but not so much that it makes you puke from soggy bread. The stuffing packs a great bold flavor but something you don't want to eat on a date. The heat kicks your nose, tongue and throat but it does not burn them so badly for you to grab a glass of ice cold water immediately. The only thing to improve here is to put more stuffing. Very delicious!

Look at that chili bit peeping from the dough.

I'll definitely make something similar next time albeit with more stuffing. I think I will also try different flavors in the stuffing. And maybe I will try browning the pork for some extra flavor. A chewier bun will also take this to new heights.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

My first "bagel-crust" squares were a hit; a tad softer and fluffier but with all the loved characteristics of a bagel. We loved them so much that I decided to make them again with a different variation. Ian (isand66) always reminds me of the seeds and other bagel toppings in my past bagel bakes so I made this one with his suggestions in my mind.

I found some dried onions the other day in the supermarket. Norm's onion rolls immediately popped into my mind. Is this the dried onions that are used in them? I really want to know the flavor of dried onions for a long time so I grabbed it immediately and I was able to make a "formula" quickly.

What else goes better with onion other than potato? They're best friends! I bought 250 g of potato (raw weight), scrubbed the skins clean, cut them so they were roughly the same size and cooked them until soft on top of our steaming rice for fuel efficiency. I think it's common for most Asian families take advantage of the steam from cooking rice from a free facial to cooking and reheating food.

I let them cool before I mashed them. They were not as soft as boiled ones so I was not able to mash them as finely with my hands which I kinda like; there were still bits of potato in the finished bread. I soaked the dried onions in hot water for 30 minutes and I saved the soaking water for the dough. They were then seasoned with a bit of salt, sugar, oil and freshly ground black pepper. The dough has bread flour, onion soaking water, salt, sugar, levain, potatoes and 1 tbsp of butter. With the huge amount of potato (almost equal to the flour), I find that it doesn't need fat to be soft, the butter was more for flavor like in mashed potatoes.

I kneaded until gluten was sufficiently developed then I added the onions which added a considerable amount of liquid. I kneaded the dough a bit more just until the extra moisture was absorbed.

Bulk ferment was fast, just over 3 hours. I think potato is also one of the things that my starter loves.

I shaped it into a neat square then to the fridge immediately. I found out next morning that it was way overproofed (my dough was really fast with high activity) so I reshaped it into a square and put it back in the fridge to bake it in the afternoon. Still, it proofed just right despite the short time in the cold; it will be overproofed again if I didn't check it earlier.

I cut it into 4 squares; I did not trim the edges anymore because this is a huge batch of dough so scraps can take precious clay pot space which I did not want.

I boiled them straight from the fridge 1 minute on each side before baking it in the clay pot.

I drained them on a towel and when the surface was just sticky to the touch I rolled one in sesame seeds just to test if they will burn badly in the pot or not. Ian, here are the seeds you've been looking for!

I baked them until golden brown on both sides with live fire all the time. Here they are baking.

Here are the results:

As control, I baked one without boiling just to see if it makes it a difference. Clearly it does as you can see. You already miss the shiny crust that boiling provides. Here are side by side comparisons.

The cut "sides" also did not bake the same. I think that the cuts baked like how "scores" in other breads bake.


Although I call them rolls, they are quite hefty. Each is as big as my palm.

The crust of the non-boiled one was thicker, crunchy in a sense that it was drier and was also messier to cut. The crust of the boiled ones were thinner, crisper but more elastic and stretchier and more delicate; the best thing that we love about a bagel (apparently only me loves their chew that's why I came up with a recipe to emulate their signature crust but has a softer fluffier crumb). No wonder that we prefer the boiled ones. The crumb is hands down my best to date. It was the same for both versions; somewhat open, very very moist and soft with the barest hint of chew. A huge amount of potatoes really creates a special texture. My family says this is my best bread and we will earn some money if I will sell them. The black bits in the crumb are bits of black pepper.

The flavor was bomb! The potatoes, onion, pepper and sourdough worked together to create a taste so sublime. Perfect sweetness and tang. It felt like eating a slice of a good pizza even though there's no trace of tomatoes, cheese or meat in here! The sesame version was even more aromatic. It was my favorite in terms of looks and taste. I will make them all with sesame next time for the added flavor and crunch. If there is one thing that I wish I could have done, it is to increase the pepper; a more peppery bite will surely send this over the edge. It is my family's favorite in terms of texture and flavor. Definitely a keeper!

Crumb from different parts and angles of the rolls.

I was surprised by the open crumb / large bubbles in this one. 

Finally, some random photos. :)

"Bagel-crust squares" is a pretty long name so I am thinking of a new name for them. I am planning to call them "Kulo Rolls" from "kulo" which means "boil" in Filipino but I don't think it will sound very nice to the ears of a Spanish speaker. :) Anyhow, I might stick with that name next time. Thanks!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Yesterday was our Oath-Taking ceremony. It was full of pride and joy. Why wouldn't we be proud and happy when I found out that I was 17th all over the country. I only prayed to pass and out 76,673 who took the licensure exam, only 22,936 passed and out of those 22,936, I am the 17th! To celebrate the occasion, I made this special bread.

It is a panettone-like bread in terms of flavor but I added just a tablespoon of butter. Why? Because I have other plans for this bread. The dough was made with bread flour, all-purpose flour (because I ran out bread flour), eggs, sugar, salt and butter. Kneading was only 20 minutes and it made a strong windowpane perhaps because of the all-purpose flour with less gluten. The dough was rich even with just a bit of butter because aside from the water in the levain, all the liquid came from the eggs. My starter was slow in raising this dough so I left it overnight at room temperature for bulk fermentation. Great decision. After 12 hours it was doubled, nicely risen and fermented.

I don't have candied peel so I added only raisins in the dough but because I want to pack as much raisins as possible; I stretched it into a thin and long rectangle then scattered raisins rolled it from the long end and coiled into a snail to shape it before proofing it in the tin. I did not soak the raisins because I don't want extra moisture and I want the raisins to even dry the dough. Proofing took 4 hours and it is as high as the tin before baking.

Hence, it made a nice dome after baking. The sides were a lovely golden brown with blisters the there was even a little browning on top. I can't believe that I made this lovely bread. It has an air of an "Alfonso Pepe" Panettone.

Look at those blisters.

My plan for this bread is to turn it into a special bread pudding for a special occasion. A more elegant one because it involved the whole bread being turned into a pudding unlike other puddings which use cut-up bread. To make this pudding I let this delicious bread dry (I originally intend to use the word "stale" but decided against it because it was just dried with no stale flavor) in the fridge for 2 days then bathed in a rich custard flavored with orange and vanilla to make a similar flavor profile to my panettone french toast dream that didn't materialize last time. I think this bread and bread pudding is special because you make a bread with the pudding in mind, you make a special bread with a purpose rather than finding a way to save a bread that you unintentionally let stale. I added very little butter because I want the crumb to be sturdier because it will be soaked in custard so it will still have integrity when it is already a pudding. 

I cut the dome off the bread last friday for a neat finish and to facilitate the soaking of the bread; it was a substantial snack on Friday afternoon. Here is the inside of the freshly baked bread. It was not feathery but still light, soft and fluffy. No tang at all with the right sweetness and so aromatic. It was a very good raisin bread.

The dome.

This is the portion that was turned into a pudding.

The fridge did a very good job in drying this bread so it absorbed the custard well. I bake the bread last Friday and the custard on Saturday night because I know we will be euphoric from the Oath-Taking ceremony and might not have the energy to do thing so I prepared things in advance so I can just bake this pudding straight away to celebrate. When we got home yesterday, everything was prepared so I just soaked the bread with the custard. Perfect time-saver because we were already tired from the long travel and we were trying to catch a replay of the Pacquiao-Matthysse fight. :) I'm happy for our senator's win but I'm happier for my parents yesterday.

Here is the bread getting bathed in custard.

After an overnight custard soak.

I baked the bread pudding for 20 minutes over live fire and 20 minutes over ember just to dry the center. I knew it was done because I can smell it from upstairs, so aromatic! I was greeted by this beauty when I opened the clay pot. It looks very silky! I can imagine a crunchy caramel top would so well with it.

It looks like a perfect candidate to be "bruleed". If I had a torch, I would brulee it! 

The bread definitely became plumper and heavier and the lines became harder and straighter. I love how it looks!

I love how the sides are crispy and the inside is so silky and custardy! Perfect contrast! And the crumb maintained its structure that I have an idea how the fresh bread looked from the inside. My orange-vanilla custard trick worked too, it feels like I am eating a panettone bread pudding with plump and juicy raisins. It's like turning a whole panettone into French toast. The pudding was already very rich so it needs no additional custard or whipped cream or syrups; it perfect as it is. The texture was different from a normal bread pudding. It feels like eating a very moist and silky slice of bread. It's hard to explain. It's just so good, perfect for the occasion!

My dad was so excited to taste it so he cut it immediately into perfectly neat slices.

A truly memorable treat for a memorable occasion!


Some pictures from the Oath-Taking Ceremony.

I wore a traditional formal wear reserved for the most formal of occasions.

Any formal wear would do but I decided to wear my best Barong Tagalog because our Code of Ethics states that each teacher is a trustee of the cultural and educational heritage of the nation and is under obligation to transmit such heritage as well as to elevate national morality, promote national pride, cultivate love of country, instill allegiance to the constitution and all duly constituted authorities, and promote obedience to the laws of the state.

WIth my very proud, happy and thankful parents.



With the pin signifying that I am already a fully-fledged Licensed Professional Teacher.

It was a once in a lifetime experience. I felt goosebumps especially when we spoke our oath and I almost stuttered with some of the words. All of the sleepless nights, time, money, effort of mine and my parents did not go to waste. I managed to hold back my tears especially during the singing of the Hymn of Professionals with lyrics like this. 

Propesyonalismo at integridad
Professionalism and integrity
Responsibilidad sa bayang nililiyag
(Our) Resposibility to (our) beloved nation
Kahusaya't kaalaman
Excellence and Knowledge
Taglay naming mga propesyonal
Us professionals have

I think I almost cried because I felt each word, the gravity of the duties that are now on our shoulders and the challenges that await us and that even in my lowly condition in life, I am now considered a professional.

With all the pride and joy comes this tremendous duty and responsibility. This is not the end, this is just the beginning of real life journey and I can't wait to practice it to touch and mold young lives. The achievements of mine are now finished, it is about my students now. It is now a lifelong goal to be the best teacher that I can be for my students. Thank God for everything! Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for letting me into your life!


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