The Fresh Loaf

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PalwithnoovenP's blog

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Ian's techniques with my antics.

It's been ages since I last tried potato in bread. But since Ian always puts it into his bread, I was inspired to make a potato bread this time. I boiled it until very tender then mashed it including the skin like what he does. Saves trouble from peeling and has added benefits too.

I found some cheap cream cheese the other day so I immediately grabbed it. I have also been wanting to try cream cheese in bread (because Ian raves about the texture and moistness it gives to breads) for a long time but I can't because it is so expensive here. The flavor has has zero difference with the expensive brand that I know! I think l see a repeat with my breads and more cheesecakes down the road.

This is again an uncharted territory for me so a lot of mishaps for this bread but it still turned out very good. First, I forgot to take into account the water of the potato and the cream cheese. It was like kneading soup, I had to rescue it with the addition of a lot of flour throwing my "mental ratios" way way off. By the end, I managed to come up with a dough and kneaded it until some sort of a windowpane.

After a one hour ferment, I found the dough lacking strength and spreading too much so I gave it a stretch and fold; the improvement in strength was very obvious. I gave it another 2 sets of S&F's, one hour apart. Bulk fermentation took 4 hours at 34°C. What started as soup ended up as a very strong and silky dough. My starter was also pretty strong, the dough doubles after each S&F.

I divided them into 4 and shaped them into boules. Because of so much activity of the dough, I refrigerated it immediately otherwise it will overproof. I think I am gaining experience of how to read the dough. The next day I cooked them using the "guo kui" method.

Then there's another problem; because of the added flour, I ended up with more dough that my pot can handle. The dough was proofed right but were very bubbly, delicate, and sticky. At the skillet, they expanded unexpectedly huge and almost stuck to each other, very difficult to deal with. Now I know why guo kui has a very low hydration. I made a decision to bake only 3 of them and keep the last one that is on the brink of overproofing in the freezer. They continued expanding in the clay pot and stuck to each other and the pebbles, I had to pry them from things they touch that's why they have this mangled appearance but I find them beautifully rustic. Baking time took 30 minutes for each batch. The last one I baked was not affected negatively and we think it is the prettiest.

Flavor is wonderfully tangy with a buttery cream cheese and potato aroma. It was quite neutral for sweet or savory combos. We ate it with peanut butter and I think it is a nice base dough for filled buns. It was a combination of a crispy caramelized crust and a very soft moist crumb. Heavenly! It is our favorite bread to date. My past enriched breads were soft but this one is just on a whole other level of softness and moistness. I don't know if it was the potato or cream cheese or both who was/were responsible for that. Ian was so right about the texture! Thanks to all bakers who experimented with cream cheese in dough but biggest thanks to Ian for always bringing it to light!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I've been very busy with university life recently but I'm glad I was able to squeeze in this bake, it relieved all of the stress that I've been experiencing for the past few weeks.

Most think that the Chinese eat rice but it's only true in the south. In the north, wheat is the staple and people consume in the form of noodles and bread with steamed buns as the most common bread. Sourdough is also the traditional levening but from what I've read, sour bread do not fit Chinese tastes so an alkali is added to the dough to neutralize the acid and provide extra leavening. In Guandong which is in the south the popular dim sum steamed bun is sweet, soft and fluffy, very different from the northern mantou which is almost always unsweetened, dense with a very toothsome texture because it functions as a staple food just like European rustic breads. Chinese "baked" breads have fascinated me unlike in Europe where most if not all baking are made in a wood-fired oven, Chinese breads utilize a vast array of "primitive" (most folks today consider it that way) baking technology (a lot of makeshift equipment) that I find inventive and ingenious.

Guo Kui is an umbrella of various breads popular in the north and the Chinese Northwest; different breads in terms of look, size and cooking method but under one name. Most of my Chinese friends are northerners specifically from Xi'an in Shaanxi province and they recognize and have fond memories of this bread. I made an approximation of this bread from their description (which is of course an awesome language practice opportunity) and some internet research. It is dense and chewy, crusty and crispy, with a charred spotted appearance sometimes with a decorative imprint. It is like that because it is commonly paired with juicy fillings otherwise it will disintegrate. The most striking change I made is using sourdough which not that popular anymore in China.

I fermented the dough for 5 hours then divided them into 4 rounds then a 1 hour proof at room temperature then into the fridge overnight. The next day, I flattened them a bit then made several cuts on their sides using a cleaver then pressed them with my "decorative" stamp. I cooked them on a skillet 1 minute on each side then they went into my preheated claypot on top of the pebbles then baked for a further 10 minutes, 5 minutes on each side.

They were very fragrant from the clay pot, having a wheaty tangy smell with a wonderful smoky aroma. Flavor is wheaty, sweet with a nice tang. It dense but soft and just a little chewy, the crust was delightfully crisp and caramelized. Man, those pebbles give my breads a distinct flavor and aroma that you can't find anywhere else! I was boiling them yesterday to remove any gunk that may have accumulated over time and after boiling they smelt smoky and reminiscent of pineapples and raisins. Those are what they give to my breads and even hours after baking breads, they still smell like that and just greet my nose with an appetizing aroma. I think this is my new favorite method for baking rustic breads now; minimal burnt spots. I was also happy that the imprint showed through the bake. We really liked the bread just the way it is and I think it is perfect for heavy fillings. I'm excited to tweak it further like making it more sour or experimenting with different sweet and savory fillings.


What is better to pair with this delicious bread? Homemade egg noodles! With fried sauce! I made them today as well before baking the bread. I really feel like I am in Northern China. I was already a bit emotional and overwhelmed while eating them that I forgot take a picture of them together. :) The noodles were soft and delicate and the sauce packs a punch even though there is no meat in there. A perfect match with the guo kui for a filling meal.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Sourdough: sweet or sour, I like it but each have its own place where it shines and complements whatever it was paired with. A pairing that is greater than the sum of its parts; the bread and its pair become exponentially more delicious that if one was to eat each one separately and alone. I was focused for a long time in baking mild sourdoughs because my parents do not like sour breads and I haven't met anyone with a greater or at least the same "Sour Threshold" as mine. My sourest loaf for them is still mild for me and for my favorite combination a super sour bread is the order for the best experience.

Recently, I was inspired by Lechem with a post on A lesson in bringing out the tang but I took it to the extreme with my wild style. There are a lot of techniques for getting a more sour bread like manipulating time and temperature and altering the flour and liquid makeup of the bread including Uncle Dab's bran levain and bran water as liquid in the levain originally done and explored by Doc.Dough but finding whole grains in my area is still a hit and miss for me so all of the tang of this bread was coaxed from all white flour. I decided to preferment a greater quantity of flour as said by Hamelman and ferment it cold and slow. 

I also took a page from Abel's book; that is the super levain which is super enlightening since that prefermented flour considered an insane amount by conventional knowledge appears to have no ill effects on the dough. I bake with a lot of uncommon ingredients especially for those who grew up in the bread baking world but sometimes my purist side as a baker comes through occasionally wanting to make bread using only flour, water, yeast and salt. I don't want this bread to be one dimensional sour but have a complex taste with the tang taking center stage. I also want the tang profile to be 2/5 acetic acid and 3/5 lactic acid or a 40/60 acetic-lactic acid ratio. Here's what I did based on different sources and my own experiences.

My starter has been retarded for 3 months already but no matter how long it stays there; once I feed it, it loses its tang. My tangiest loaf used a levain built in 2 stages 12 hours each; tangy for sure but I want a bit more so from that I modified the process a bit. 66% of the flour was prefermented in 3 builds with each build almost doubling the amount of flour and the final build retarded in the fridge for 3 full days, I mean 72 hours. In my case, instead of doing a single "big build" with the same amount of prefermented flour that will make my starter lose more of its potential tang, I think the secret is to let the final acid build-up get to the maximum in each build for getting that sour flavor to the maximum too.

Here is the levain after 3 days in the fridge. I used bread flour from the very beginning since it is better for long and in this case very long fermentation. It was very firm before fermentation but its now sticky with a wonderful whole structure. The smell was very sour enough to trigger a sensation at the back of my mouth. I used it directly from the fridge since things come to room temperature here quite fast. 

Given the sticky nature of the huge amount of prefermented flour and some gluten degrading, I used very little water for the final dough just enough to let it come together as a dough with the additional bread flour. I made a 30 minute autolyse at room temperature before adding the salt. I decided to go the dabrownman and alfanso route and gave the dough 300 slap and folds (with one hand since the dough is small enough) then 3 sets of stretch and folds 20 minutes apart. In fear of overfermentation, I refrigerated the dough after the second stretch and fold (after 40 minutes at room temp.) the complete the final one when dough is cold.

I gave it a preshape at night then into the fridge again until the following morning for the final shaping and proofing.

I shaped it directly from the fridge and to keep it from spreading because I was afraid of the vigorous microbial and enzymatic activities, I proofed it in a container taller than it is wide. Because of being overly careful about the fermentation time I made a huge mistake!

When I pressed it after 2 hours at room temp. I felt it was very soft and giving in without much resistance. I immediately fired up the clay pot and when it was ready and I turned the dough onto a banana leaf, boy it was way underproofed! It quickly springs back when pressed, not wanting to waste the fire, I slashed the dough and proceeded to bake it anyway.

The smell was very sour and vinegary before baking. Never have I encountered such thing with all of my sourdoughs. I baked it for a long time so long that I cannot remember. I also used embers for the most part because the pebbles packs a lot of heat.

Crust evenly browned with a few very boldly baked spots and full of blisters.

Crumb definitely underproofed to me but not underfermented. :)

My conlusions:

1. This bread can take slightly more water for an even softer crumb and better handling qualities.

2.  I can afford a little more fermentation time both during bulk and the final proof with no ill effects. I was surprised how strong the dough felt given the activities in the dough.

3. I can still up the prefermented flour.

In case you want to try this method. Here is a timeline of what I did:

66% of the flour was prefermented. Divide this amount into 12. (I am not very good in math so I will not write in simplest form to avoid confusion). You can do this at any hydration (this is closer to 62-65%) you wish and make your own adjustments especially with the timings.

23:45 W- Refreshment Build- Inoculate 1/12 of the flour with a teaspoon of stock starter. Knead with enough water to achieve a firm consistency.
11:45 Th- Intermediate Build- All of the refreshment build plus 3/12 of the flour and enough water to yield a firm dough.
23:45 Th- Souring Build- All of the intermediate build plus the remaining (8/12) flour and enough water to make a firm dough.
08:00 F- Retard the final build for 72 hours.
08:00 M- Add the remaining (34% of total) flour and remaining water. Autolyse for 30 minutes.
08:30 M-  Add the salt (perhaps it can take as high as 2.5%) and mix it in. Give 300 slap and folds.
09:00 M- Stretch and fold at 20 minute intervals.
09:40 M- Refrigerate final dough.
10:00 M- Give final stretch and fold and refrigerate again.
20:00 M- Preshape and refrigerate again.
10:00 T- Final shaping and proof for 2 hours in a cloth lined container dusted with cornstarch.
12:00 T- Turn onto a banana leaf, bake then cool completely before slicing.

Crust was crunchy but became a bit chewy after cooling. Crumb was soft like it was made with AP even though made with BF and was underfproofed. Very fragrant of banana leaves with a deeply caramelized aroma and notes of vinegar. Taste was complex, wheaty but with no perceived sweetness. The tang really came through; very very tangy with the desired tang profile of 40/60 acetic-lactic taste. It brushes the lower limits of mouth puckering when eaten alone. This is a bread that is not for everyone but only for sour bread lovers but this bread was also not meant to be eaten alone; it was made to highlight the taste of specific food items: peanut butter for me. I was so glad with how this one turned out. Had this bread been proofed right, the results would be even more outstanding. It's nice to know that I can manipulate the flavors of sourdough. I'm curious on how this one would taste with whole grains in it and what modifiers shall I add to the name of this bread because it will be even tangier.

My parents who do not like sour breads (in fact, they did not like this when they first tasted this but..) agreed with the peanut butter magic! The sourness of the bread complements the sweetness and slight saltiness of the peanut butter (Our first time also to try crunchy peanut butter. Where was this gem for many years?! Even better than the smooth one.) extremely well elevating the taste of each other to whole new levels for a sublime experience.

Toasted with a thick schmear of peanut butter.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Due to long class hours, my lunch of rice and a viand cannot sustain me until dinner or until I get home. Halfway through the class after lunch, I am already starting to feel drained and lethargic and starting lose focus. Since bagels are a recent favorite and I know how satisfying and filling they are, I baked some to serve as an afternoon snack to fuel me and give some badly needed energy. :)

I used the same bagel dough as my New Year's Eve bagels (bread flour, water, starter, salt, sugar, honey) with only one change: I increased the sugar to more than double because I like the taste better and for more fuel.

Bulk rise took 4 hours at 27°C. I shortened it to 4 hours as opposed 6 hours because the dough became too extensible and very sticky to handle the last time. I know now that my starter is not a real fan of raising high-sugar doughs. The rise was slow and the dough barely doubled, it only grew to about 1.5x its size.

I cut the dough into 3 ropes instead of 6 for bigger more satisfying bagels and for the convenience of only having to bake a single batch of delicious bagels. I prefer to shape them by looping the ropes around my hand and rolling hard on the work surface rather than poking a hole into a ball of dough then widening it; I like the rustic look it gives the bagels and is also faster to execute. They underwent a 1 hour proof then into the fridge overnight.

I boiled them the next day for 1 minute on each side but they took an extra minute to come to the surface so a total of 3 minutes of boiling time. They are almost the same size as the pot in which I'm boiling them.

Onto a kitchen towel they went to remove excess moisture and here is how they look.

They were baked in my clay pot over heated pebbles for 15 minutes, then flipped and baked for another 15 minutes. Because of their size, 30 minutes total baking time with live fire all the time. I love the pebbles, they provide even high heat to minimize burning. A single burnt spot is almost inevitable but it's a humongous leap of improvement from my previous bakes if you have seen them before. In case you wanna see, here is how they look before flipping.

I cooled them for an hour before slicing and freezing. I take one before I go to my class and toast it and slather it with anything for my snack.

Ready for school. I put some cheese in it this time. You can see my lunch of rice and siu mai that day too. Honestly I still felt a little hungry that day but not as hungry as I used to be, thanks to the bagel!

The crust was very crispy and crumb was very chewy but soft. The aroma was very sweet and fragrant and very appetizing. Sweet and wheaty with almost no tang. Delicious on its own or with spreads.

They were really big, this was the smallest of the three. Look how massive it is!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

My first bake of 2018. I'm glad I squeezed in a bake despite my busy schedule. I find it more therapeutic than ever! :) Last time, I baked bagels and I really loved them because they were so satisfying to eat. Due to the boiling process it gets before being baked, they really have a unique texture. I thought it will be similar to laugenbrot with a thick chewy crust but I was wrong. Its thin and crispy crust is also our favorite to date but my parents find the crumb too chewy for them so I thought of why not soften the crumb a little bit and maintain that unique crust.

I originally planned to use my bagel dough and just add a little butter and a little more water to soften the crumb a little but I made some more improvisations along the way. I had 2 leftover egg yolks from another recipe so I added that to the dough so I won't have to store it anymore. :) I added more sugar because our favorite yeasted sandwich loaf is a bit sweet and because the egg yolks are added fat and richness I halved the amount of butter I scooped for the dough.

A high sugar dough seems to be an uncharted territory for Zhou Clementine, my starter. She was a bit slow in raising the dough. Bulk fermentation took 4 hours but the dough only grew to 1.5 times instead of doubling. I folded the dough into a neat rectangle and put it into a sort of rectangular container then into the fridge after a further 2 hours at room temperature. The dough did not grew much in the fridge as shown in the picture.

German square brotchen have always fascinated me through the years, I find their shape simply adorable. :) I love square-shaped breads including donut plant's square jelly donut in NYC although I still haven't had the chance to try it. I have only done a square fried bread but never a square "baked" bread so that's what I did here. Since it is not shaped, proofing times might be different so I followed Karin's (Hanseata) schedule here for similar rolls.

The dough was simply tipped onto a cutting board; edges trimmed; and cut into 4 pieces. I braided the trimmed edges as to not waste anything and fashioned it into a roll. I proofed them for an hour because they came straight form the fridge.

Here they are after proofing. The photo does not show much of a difference but if you look closely you can see shallower and softer lines as opposed to deep defined hard line before proofing, they also have increased a bit in height.

I think they do not need any proofing at all. They are already so soft and stretchy and bit sticky by the end and I mangled them a bit during the boiling process. Next time I will boil them right away after cutting and they will have a much better shape and spring. They look a bit small but they doubled during boiling and doubled again during baking so they increased in size by a total of 4 times.

I think that pre-gelatinizing crust during the boiling process that is the key to the bagel crust that we really love so I also boiled these rolls 1 minute on each side to achieve the same results. The wetter enriched dough did not disintegrate in the water as opposed to common knowledge explaining why bagel dough is supposed to be dry. I think its drier dough is for the chewy texture. They look a bit sad and ugly after boiling but they were transformed by the dry heat of the clay pot.

They were baked over heated pebbles in the clay pot for 10 minutes then flipped and baked again for another 10 minutes; 20 minutes in total with live fire.

Only one got a bit burnt but I do not know why all look like they have burnt spots but they were just very boldly bake areas and do not look black in real life.

They were very fragrant coming out of the pot with a tangy smell and a touch of smoke and an extra buttery aroma. The crust was very crispy with a delicate feel to it and the crumb was soft with a very slight chew. The taste was complex; buttery, slightly sugary sweet with the barest hint of tang. Very good on its own or with fillings, so far we only had cheese in the house so that's what we used. Out of excitement we cut them while still hot so the crumb was still a bit wet and has not set-up completely. My parents really loved them because they don't have to fight them with their jaws but still has that lovely crisp crust like the last time.

Finally, I am loving the new way to upload pictures here on TFL. It's so much easier! Again, thanks Floyd!

Some more random photos of the rolls including the braided one. :) Now that I know that boiling is the secret for the crust that we like, I will now manipulate the crumb to make it lighter of heavier depending on our preference. I'm excited for future experiments for "boiled" rolls! I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you and Happy Baking!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hello TFLers! I hope you're on to a  great start for 2018. Some photos failed to upload in my previous post, as promised here they are.

Bagels from another angle.


Another crumb shot with schmear.

I love cheese pimiento (that's how we call pimento cheese) so I schmeared some. This particular spread was made with Edam, a bit of mayo and home-roasted bell peppers. I think pimento cream cheese will be good on these and will be my favorite.

Turned into a sandwich. I love to eat it this way instead of a half at a time because you maximize it's toothsome texture. So satisfying! Why have I only made them now, years after a failed first attempt; they're deliciousness was just a recent discovery for me. Perhaps bagels are the bread of this year for me. I'm so excited to try different flavor combinations!


Ready for New Year's Eve Dinner.

I paired them with these:

A simple tuna pasta with white sauce.

And our infamous sweet spaghetti. I did not put cut-up hotdogs this time because I could not find them but our spaghetti always has them. :)

The bagels go well with both and makes the meal much more filling. I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy baking and Happy New Year everyone!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

One of my last successes in 2017. I've realized that bagels are the easiest breads to make. I have used bread flour because I cannot find high gluten flour but I think the chew was perfect as is, any more and it will be too hard to eat. These bagels have a crisp crust and that distinct pull while biting or tearing a bit from it. They were soft but really chewy, my jaws were nangawit (Sorry, I do not know any exact translation, it's the feeling of muscles shortening themselves and holding it when they got overworked; cramping I guess but not as severe as that), they really got a workout after I ate two. The aroma was sweet and wheaty. The taste too was sweet and wheaty with the mildest tang. Very very good! I could eat them plain. Perhaps the only change that I will do next time was to make them bigger, I will just divide them into three rather than six, I think they will be perfect that way.

I can't upload the crumb shot and the schmear. I'll try to post them in the future. Sorry for the redundant photos, I'm just happy with this achievement. Enjoy!

Proofed bagels overnight.

After boiling ready to be baked.

Baked and Hanged with a cloth. I feel like I was selling them.

Happy Baking!

Happy New Year!

PalwithnoovenP's picture






Hello TFLers! As promised in this post, I am posting the fruit of the long culinary journey I embarked months ago which is a success! But this is in no way related to bread so I hope it does not get deleted! :)

I know many folks here are not only bread bakers; they also have many other talents/passion. Some are wine makers or beer brewers and others, occasional cheese makers. I have seen many people do those crafts at home with success but I SELDOM see someone make their OWN SOY SAUCE. I was always intrigued with the how this favorite condiment of ours is made and the idea of making my own. Now I am a "soy sauce brewer" too. Not really sure if this is technically soy sauce but more on that later.

After lots of researches, I finally knew how to make. Cook some soy beans, let them mold, dry under the sun, ferment in brine, strain and age. You read that right, let it MOLD! Soy sauce is a product of fermentation by a mold which is usually perceived as harmful organisms by those unaccustomed to it; but may delicious food items are created with the help of molds; some cheeses have molds too: more molds, more delicious! So no problem! Soy sauce brewing has also became a highly industrialized process now; made in sterile environments using pure cultures such as aspergillus oryzae so it's even safer.

Since it is impossible for me to find a pure culture and make it in a precisely controlled environment, I went the traditional route which seems even cooler! Imagine making something many think can only come from the store using simple technology and ancient know-how. 

In traditional soy sauce brewing, the native microbes from the environment are what is only used; to whoever the environment is favorable takes hold and flourishes.

Also, I do not have ready access to soybeans so I thought of using other beans and making the undergo the same process and see if it will taste like soy sauce. I even entertained the idea for a baby thesis during high school back in 2008. I decided to use mung beans because it's cheap and readily available. Not really sure if it will succeed (although now there are many "non-soy soy sauces" with each "plant" giving a unique flavor), I still pushed through despite the long time the experiment needs which will be wasted if it fails. You know when you're doing something for the first time, you get excited and impatient. :D

There are many ways to prepare soy sauce which differs by country (China, Japan, Korea), by region, with how the beans are treated (whole or mashed), the source of the microbes (leaves, straw); like I said MANY! All of the steps I did has science behind it backed up by lots of research, it will be just too long if I will explain them one by one.

This is what I did:

1. I soaked mung beans overnight and steamed them for 1 hour. While hot, I spread them on a bamboo tray lined with banana leaves.

2. I covered the beans with another layer of banana leaves and wrapped the whole thing in a thick blanket to keep moisture and heat inside, then I put it on our roof under the sun for the whole day to incubate the beans. The roof is the perfect place because it is extra hot (warm) and far from the animals below.

I took it inside our house when it got dark. Oh! There is already an offensive smell. I continued to that for 6 days; by day 3 or 4, it started generating its own heat. The smell also gets stronger each day, someone doesn't need to be a bloodhound to track where it is hidden by day 3. Here are the beans after 6 days.


Various wild molds of various colors have colonized the beans. The beans are now also cemented by mold mycelia. What exact mold species they are I don't know. They could be aspergillus species because it's pretty hot and humid where I live. Some of them do not look so scary like the white one but a few others look like they could kill.  Green, yellow green, black, gray and various shades in between. Let us look at them up close.

Dark green mold. First time to see this kind of mold. Color is like the green crayon I used to have during kindergarten.

Black mold. Could be aspergillus niger.

Yellow green mold. Could be the aflatoxin (a potent carcinogen) producer aspergillus flavus. Actually, this is the mold that bothered me the most if I will pursue this project.

A gray mold. Could be the same mold as the black one but it's really lighter in real life. It's my first time to see this mold also.

This picture is out of focus, maybe the next picture offers a better view. It is the one surrounded by the dark green molds.

These white molds are the most normal and beautiful looking ones. They are also the ones who bound the beans most tightly. The beans just look like tempeh. They might be different molds that have not just reached the sporulation stage to reveal their differently colored spores.

3. I broke up the clumps of beans (they're pretty hot) and washed them with water to remove spores which can be bitter and excess mycelia. I was bathed by a cloud of spores during this process, I just did my best not to inhale them and just took a bath afterwards. I should have wore a mask together with gloves, thoughts of getting aspergillosis or fungus balls in the lungs ran through my mind for more than a week. :)

4. I returned them to the bamboo tray to sun dry for an entire day. Here is what they look like after sun drying. 

THE SMELL! OOOOOH! I transferred them to a clean glass jar right on the roof where the sun-dried. Clay jars are the traditional fermenting vessels and I would love to use that but the one we have in the house is an antique one traditionally used for vinegar that I don't want to damage that's why I just used a large glass jar. I hope the neighbors did not thought what is this crazy guy doing picking up beans on their rooftop and covering his nose with layers of towels. :P

5. I poured 25% brine over the beans and covered the jar with a net; holes large enough to allow sunlight in but small enough to keep flies and insects out. 

Trying to make the most out of the remaining sunlight for that day.

Soy sauce needs to ferment under the sun for at least 2 months to develop flavor. During this time, lots of biochemical processes which will take us to a science class if I will try to discuss take place most notably the breakdown of proteins; some folks here like biochemists, chemists, can enlighten us further.Care must be made not let it get rained, otherwise it's spoiled. It must also be stirred regularly. I forgot to stir it for a week and I got this:

Looks lovely or disgusting depending on who you are. I think, it looks like corals or a soft surface where you can jump before it swallows you. :P

During rainy days, it stays on my study table.

On sunny days, I bring it outside.

6. I fermented it for 4 months and slowly, the greenish liquid turned into a brownish amber colored liquid. It smelled really stinky but with notes of pineapple during the first 2 months so there were esters forming I suppose. After 4 months, I strained it and boiled the liquid for 20 minutes before bottling. The solids left were the miso that I kept in the same jar but insects found their way there so I had to throw it out.

Here is the finished soy sauce standing next to a bottle of commercial soy sauce. It considerably lighter due to lack of caramel color, also it is more opaque and not as refined.

At the time of bottling, it smells nothing like commercial soy sauce. Now, already aged for 4 months since bottling; it is really like soy sauce! The aroma is 80% soy sauce with 20% fish sauce notes despite being entirely of plant origin, along with a nutty note not present in commercial soy sauce. The taste is complex (possibly from the different microorganisms not limited to molds but also including yeasts and bacteria), a mix of soy and fish sauces with a pleasant nuttiness, just a tad too salty because of an imbalanced bean to brine ratio. I could have use more beans or a 20% brine, perhaps the first option is better. Other than that, very very good and I am really happy about it.

I picture this adventure using this analogy:

Commercial soy sauce is to homemade soy sauce as yeast bread is to sourdough.

I hope you enjoyed this brave or foolish journey of mine into home soy sauce brewing. Thank you and...

Happy Brewing/Baking!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hello TFLers! I missed you all along with baking and posting here. I realized that teaching is also one of my passions and I want to teach formally so I decided to study again. Yes, I am studying now to have units in education to be able to take the licensure exam and hopefully pass it so I can teach in a local high school. What's better than having a "job" where you can combine two or more of your passions; I might just teach cooking or even baking.

Just a short post, I'm in the middle of test construction and I just really want to hear from you again.

These were baked in July for a friend. She is the one who informed me about the registration for those who want to continue studying to pursue education. We took the entrance exam and we fortunately passed. She celebrated her birthday last July so as a sign of gratitude and to celebrate her birthday and our friendship; I baked these cakes for her.

Pineapple cakes are one of the most popular Taiwanese pastries; it is almost imperative to bring a box back home if you've been to Taiwan. Though called cakes, they are more akin to a tart or a cookie. What they are is a tangy pineapple filling wrapped in a crumbly shortbread-like crust. Their baking process is also unique; although baked in the oven, each cake is flipped halfway through the bake which I think is perfect to replicate in my clay pot to get even browning and crispness.

May to July is the best time here for pineapples. They're firm and crispy, juicy and sweet and tangy. We luckily found some freshly harvested excellent quality ones in a roadside stall near our house. We immediately bought nine! They come around at $2.00 for three pieces, so cheap! What's not to love?

What better way to make the pineapple filling than with 100% fresh pineapple. Canned pineapple will also work if pineapple is not in season but as I said I have the best thing in my hands. I want a filling with some texture so I approximated the size of canned crushed pineapple instead of blending it into a complete smooth puree like some recipes do. I went old school here, instead of chopping into segments and dicing it; I held the pineapple by its "stem" and made vertical cuts around, then a series of perpendicular cuts then finally, shaved the cuts with a downward slicing motion; what you will be left with is the core.It's much easier and faster but this is a messy job because the pineapples were so juicy! You have to put a container underneath your hands to catch every bit of flesh and juice. 

This is the core of the pineapple. A very nice crispy and fibrous snack to munch on. Doesn't it look like a Popsicle or an Ice lolly?

Et voilà ! Home-crushed pineapple! To make the filling, I sweetened it to my liking and added a few squeezes of lime juice. This was slowly reduced until very thick  and firm that it can hold its shape.

The dough is like a shortbread. The only difference is the addition of the egg and milk powder perhaps for more liquid to accommodate an added dry ingredient. Believe me, the dough smells like ice cream! I think it's a little too crumbly and dry due to lack of accurate measurements.

Here is the cooled pineapple jam/filling divided into six balls. It looks very different from the fresh pineapple. It has a very intense pineapple flavour; 2/3 of each ball would have been a better ratio for the cakes to taste perfect.

The dough was divided into six balls as well and each was filled with one pineapple ball. it was a little difficult to seal because the dough kept cracking because it's a little dry but I still managed to seal them. They were the pressed into my mini llaneras just like real pineapple cakes getting pressed into their square molds. The pineapple filling was so dark, you can see it through the dough.


They were baked in my clay pot for 15 minutes, flipped then baked again for 10 minutes with live fire for the whole baking time. Due to the uneven heat of the pot some of them were pale but the golden brown ones have the prefect hue. If you are wondering why there are only five of them in the "baked" photo, that is because there is a swift pair of hands that grabbed one immediately after they came out of the pot.

The rich, crisp, crumbly, buttery, milky shortbread was complemented really well by the equally rich but bright, sweet and tangy fragrant pineapple filling. A really delicious special treat fit for a special person in my life. I wrapped three of them beautifully; each in parchment paper along with a ribbon and a note for my friend. No photos because I did that right before going to school. She really loved them and it's a special feeling when you cheer someone up through your little efforts. Food really touches lives and it's great too that we both love to eat.

See you all next time. I still need to finish my test! :)

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hi! Today is my birthday and I usually cook even simple meals to celebrate occasions like this but my mom underwent a D&C just a few days ago and was advised to rest for a fortnight to a month so I am the one who is manning the household now; I am doing all of my mom's chores in addition to my own so no time to bake or cook or even check your posts here this time. We just bought some stuff that I like from our favorite restaurant and stall. Pancit (of course, no birthday is complete without this), siopao (steamed buns' one with a roasted pork filling and the other a meatball one) and lechon manok (rotisserie chicken done the old-fashioned way over coals served with liver sauce), a buko salad ice cream (young coconut ice cream with sweetened sugar palm fruits/ice-apples and pineapple bits which I like to eat with some cheese; I know. Weird!), and naturally ripened huge fragrant sweet juicy mangoes harvested from our own yard to boot.

Anyhow, I just want to say I am embarking on a long culinary journey and I just can't spill the beans yet! If it fails, I won't talk about it but if it succeeds, I will post it here with link to this post! :) Maybe you will try to guess, but I won't confirm anything!

Here are some things that I think some of you may like. Last few months, while I've been dieting with nothing to do other than exercise, I became a crazy DIY freak! I experimented to make my own food stuffs that are just commonly bought because they are a little difficult to make.

A jerky style dried fish with sugar and seasoned with spices. March to May is a good time to dry because there is no rain; the wind is cold and dry (this is only true in March); and the sun shines bright and long. The texture is like tuna or even meat with very good flavor, great with rice or even bread. The only catch is this very delicious fish is full of bones! Little children are advised not to eat this because of the hazard. I hanged a boneless one yesterday but it didn't hang very well because there are no bones to support the structure of the fish, I had to put skewers multiple times to at least give some structure but some parts of the meat fell off. If I will make a boneless one again or even just a huge quantity, I think I will need to have a special perforated screen so no hanging involved and much easier for a larger production. 

Here it is hanging in the sun and wind.

My boneless one, see the difference?

Some salted mackerel. Just salt and fish, this is the kind that you eat with porridge and used to make salted fish fried rice. It is dried and fermented at the same time so it has a little pungent smell but it should smell like the sea at the same time. I experimented and took the head of one to see which is better, I should have kept the head, lots of tasty meat there. Store bought ones are one-dimensional salty, you can't taste anything but salt probably to keep indefinitely and/or to mask the bad quality of the fish. My homemade one is salty but just right, very rich and full of umami; you can really taste the savoriness and freshness of the fish. This is best for breakfast fried crispy. served with chili vinegar over some garlic rice.

Again, hanging in the sun and wind.

A slice of Lap Yuk, Cantonese air dried meat flavored with Chinese spices; also called Chinese bacon. Traditionally. pork belly is used but I used shoulder to make it less fatty but I will admit the fat is the best part! :P I will go traditional next time and use belly.

And probably the most infamous of the bunch. :P Homemade fermented krill/shrimp paste! Just krill with some salt fermented for a few days. It is one of the most scandalous smells in the kitchen; literally your neighbor knows you cooking this when it hits the hot pan to be sauteed with garlic and chilies and sugar to suit your taste. I like it sweet and spicy and I could finish a bowl of rice with just a spoonful of this. It really packs a punch!



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