The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

PalwithnoovenP's blog

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hey! I'm back! I just had a HUGE culinary failure 2 months ago and since then I haven't baked or cooked anything until last week. My failure was so huge and heartbreaking that just talking about it makes me sad. I kept myself busy so I could move on but there are always reasons to celebrate so I made these gifts to give to some significant persons to me.

I just took another Chinese proficiency test . If you're familiar with Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK), that's what I took. I passed level 4 that includes 1200 vocabulary; 600 new words and 600 old words from the previous 3 levels. I wasn't paying attention to the date of the exam and only became aware of it 10 days before the actual examination date with zero knowledge of the new vocabulary. The old words; I have no problem because they're already engraved in my brain. I studied by myself  for 7 days and asked for help from my teacher and friend before. Imagine what work out my brain had for a week!

To repay her kindness and make some kind of memory of our friendship I made some hopia for her. The day before the exam instead of reviewing, I spent the whole afternoon to make hopia filled with homemade red bean paste, I know your familiar with these from my old posts. Having a cold also doesn't help! I made ways to keep everything sanitary. Fortunately before dark the hopia were ready and already boxed. That night my headache was so severe I didn't even bother to open my notes and I just said to myself that if I don't pass there is always a next time.

The morning before the exam I tied the boxes with ribbons and tried my best to write a short message in Chinese. I know my writing is not the best but at least I tried. She is from Mainland China so I used simplified characters, that's also the system used in the proficiency test. I don't have much issues in speaking and reading Chinese but writing is another story for me. What are written here are just two ways to say "Thank you very much!" and my Chinese name.

The test was difficult and I did not even finish the writing part. I'm just happy it's all finished in the end. In fact I already conditioned my mind in the beginning that I went there just to give my gift. She was surprised when I presented her my gift.  She said " How did you make it?!" "Come over here I have some pretty mooncakes from a friend!" (Hopia is similar to some styles of mooncake in China. This is a variant of the 酥皮月饼 su pi yue bing Flaky Mooncake.)  All of the conversations are in Mandarin. The other teachers were surprised too! They said it's so delicious on par or even better than the ones they have in China. They even said a man who can cook well can marry a beautiful girl in China! :P They really appreciated it and I'm so happy!

She was so happy so unexpectedly, she gave me a gift too! A mat and a brush to practice Chinese calligraphy. Water is used as an ink and fades as it dries allowing the mat to be used over and over again. What a practical and eco-friendly way to practice calligraphy; writing which is the skill I struggle the most. She showed me how to use and wrote my name on it. Oh my! The writing was so beautiful! Bear with me because I'm still practicing.

Here is my Chinese name that I wrote on it.

After a few moments, it fades.

Here is a comparison.

 Here are some more of my practice characters.

I love you

Thank you in Traditional and Simplified script. Although most of my friends are from the mainland and I use simplified characters to communicate with them, I also study traditional characters myself because those are what are used in our country. I just love them both.

I really love her gift and I will always remember her when I use it. Her colleague maybe because of the deliciousness of the hopia also gave me a gift even though we don't know each other that much; it's a book with a talking pen that will read every passage in the book so you have a pronunciation and audio guide.

My beautiful and kind teacher/friend with me. 

She lives in this ancient beautiful town in Hunan. I want to go there someday. I really have this thing for places with ancient feel; the houses, the stone bridge, the river.

I checked the results of the test and I passed! It was really a miracle thank God! 180 is the passing score for the 300 item test; with only 10 days of review, making hopia instead of having a review before the big day and a cold and headache on the day of the exam, I still managed to score 207! We're just overwhelmed even my parents who really support me in my Chinese studies. I'm planning to take level 5 next time, another hard work because 1,300 new vocabulary will be added! I hope I will pass that too.


Another gift this time for an old friend.

I met with an old friend from my high school days too. It has been 4 years since we last saw each other. We were classmates when we were freshmen in high school but we do not talk much, it's only at the end of the school year where our friendship blossomed. We were one of the "loners" in the class who do not have a "fixed" set of friends and we found console in each other. We would talk on the phone four hours during the summer breaks from night till the wee hours of the morning! I guess it's just because we have the same interests, hobbies and likes. By our sophomore years we were no longer classmates, I was move to class 2 from class 1 of the special curriculum because my grades weren't good enough; well, still good but not enough to make the cut for class 1. It was new world for me because basically half of the class was gone and a new half  from the old class 2 replaced them. We were ranked individually to determine the final classes. Even though that's the case we still continued our friendship even the long telephone talks. Though I had new friends, there was no one that can understand me like her.

We graduated and she was the class valedictorian with an average of 94.XX, I was 77th out of 80 students with a grade of 90.I can't remember; most grades were just separated by decimal numbers. She went to the University of the Philippines to study Industrial Pharmacy; I also passed the university's entrance exam but it's for another campus for a degree in Nutrition. I didn't pursue it because it was too far away and I really want to take something related to hospitality.

4 years later we already had our degrees when she randomly just greeted me on my birthday this year. We chatted a lot (a long chat is the evidence that we really missed each other) and she asked me if I want to meet her because she will come here to our hometown in a few days. I said Yes! Of course! So we set the date, time and venue of our "mini reunion". She asked me to bring anything that I cooked for her. She just wants to taste any of my concoctions because she was curious every time I posted something.

I don't have a lot of ingredients that time and knowing that anyone who tastes my hopia smiles and raves about it, I said I will make hopia for her. She was amazed just as she heard it because she always thought that the little treat is never made but always bought. This hopia is filled with peeled split mung beans, what we call here as yellow mung bean paste. I made the mung bean paste a day before and made the pastry on the day of our reunion to  ensure freshness. These are 4 large pieces and because we both like mixing sweet and savory flavors I made the 2 plain and the other 2 with chopped salted egg.

When we met were so happy, we barely contained ourselves. On our way to the food court she immediately asked about my promise hopia and as soon as we are seated I gave it to her and we both experience a sense of bliss. She devoured a piece (the one with salted egg) immediately and encourage me to turn it into a business  because to her the taste, the appearance, and presentation was perfect.

We talked for 4 hours as she goes through another piece of hopia this time more slowly. We did a lot of catching up and talked about a wide range of topics about the fields we studied. Here are just some samples. First we talked about yeasts like candida and lactobacilli, it was our opening topic because it's related to her microorganism study and my baking. :P Then it went wild as we talked about molds like aspergillus oryzae, a. flavus, a. niger, penicillum species. Then we talked about toxicology related things like aflatoxin B1 G1, ochratoxin, neurotoxin, hemotoxin, and other stuff. Then our high school memories and nostalgia, then anime, then our future plans, then her thesis about bacteriophages, then about languages we study like the derivation of meaning of Chinese characters; I taught her a little French and Mandarin then she taught me some Japanese, we even sang old and foreign language songs before we end our short reunion. Now you know how crazy we are and why we found completeness in each other. Throughout our stay, 4 or 5 groups of people sat next to us and as you can imagine, hearing all those crazy things from us; all of them gave us weird looks but we don't care! That's what make us happy!

Of course, the last thing we did was to take some souvenir photos!

My genius friend Charleen! We understand each other like no other!

Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I originally planned to enter this for BBD #83 for a bread with special flour but I'm pressed for time and did not make it to the deadline so maybe it was really meant for BBD #84. Thanks to Susanne for a great theme of sandwich bread for this month: and to Zorra for coming up with this great monthly challenge: Sandwich bread is my favorite type of bread to make because it is hearty and homey and the standard bread in our house. Discovering so much more techniques, I now strive to improve our favorite house bread.

This bread was mainly inspired by the painting and music here. The painting is so finely crafted with textures and colors as if it was real. The music also really fits the melancholic mood; I almost cried when I listened to it for the first time. The painting reveals different stories depending on the interpreter's mind; I see a longing for true love rather than unrecruited love. When I was in the university, this is my calming music whenever I'm having a review for an exam. Played with rain and thunder effects, it is much more calming and much more real. With the painting and music in my mind, I was able to form a story and a formula for a bread that will fit the setting.

Beautiful Chinese Music - Bamboo Flute

                                                                           Lover’s Bread

Once upon a time in Ancient China, there were lovers both of noble descent who truly love each other. On their rare dates, they would meet at a stone bridge to take a stroll under the romantic moonlight and eat at their favorite place, a special bread. The owner of the place was truly ahead of their time, baked bread in decorative shapes with sticky rice and beans were sold and became a favorite among the people.

During that time as frequent attacks from neighboring states often transpire, all men ages 17 and up are required to partake in a three-year mandatory military service. The man was stationed to guard and protect the northern border. One night on the last year of his service, their camp was savagely attacked by enemies injuring hundreds, luckily they defended the area and defeated the enemy but he was not one of the lucky ones able to return. When the news came to the lady, she was stricken with sorrow and grief and did not know what to do, they were almost getting married. For her loyalty to him and their true love, she vowed to never marry which surprisingly her family agreed to.

One rainy dusk while walking, she saw that same stone bridge where they use to meet during those rare chances and saw two young lovers much like them. She remembered her lover only to realize he is not there anymore and again felt the cold and melancholy so to cheer herself up she decided to go to their favorite place and eat the bread they used to love. At least with that bread she feels he is still with her filling her heart with good memories and bliss.

I could make the story more dramatic, you know adding various classic elements and archetypes for this kind of love stories but this is not a writer's blog so I focused on the bread. :) When I heard the music and saw the art, I just can't take them off of my head, imaging various scenarios in my mind like clothing, architecture and FOOD. I thought of various Asian ingredients and incorporated them into a bread. Rice and beans immediately came to mind as they are classic combinations especially in East Asian cuisine.

I thought of roasted soybean flour because I think it's unique and it is seldom used for other purposes than rice cakes. In Japan, mochi served and/or dusted with kinako just like injeolmi with konggaru in Korea but in China, the same combination of sticky rice and roasted soybean flour is much more dramatic, called San Da Pao (三大炮) meaning three cannon shots, watch it here at 04:22 and find out more here. It must be very entertaining during ancient times, they even found a way to make food a form of entertainment maybe because there were only a few during those times.

A bread containing sticky rice and roasted bean flour made with sourdough BAKED in a tin with a decorative shape is what I thought of a revolutionary bread that fits the period and setting of the painting if it was true. The oval shape of these sandwich breads is my signature so do not steal it! :P 東愛 Dong Ai means Eastern Love and I think it surely fits the theme of this bread.

I couldn't find roasted soybean flour so I made my own adaptation. Mung beans are probably the second or third most popular bean in East Asia and it is widely available here so that's what I used. I soaked it, steamed it and mashed it. The resulting paste was cooked in a pan until dry and powdery then further roasted until brown then finally sifted to remove any big bits. It smells very fragrant and nutty.

Rice is the staple in most of Asia and in our country as well. I have made a bread with rice before so I decided to do it again this time leaning towards more on oriental flavors, meaning no milk or butter. I made a sticky rice roux again but instead of milk or water, I used rice washing for it; it is common practice here to use it in lieu of water for soups for a more delicious result so I brought it here too. If you make rice, you know what I mean, the first wash removes the dirt and dust and you throw that away; the second rinse, that's what you want to keep, clean but with still a lot of starch.

Here is the sticky rice flour mixed with the rice washing and honey. I originally planned to use a saccharified starch sweetener like maltose or rice syrup because I feel it's more authentic but I can't find it so I used honey since I reckoned it is of medical importance in Oriental medicine and it tastes good too compared to just sugar.

Here is the finished sticky rice roux. It will provide a specific chew and moisture retention to the bread.

A day before mixing, I fed Zhou Clementine from her cold sleep and fast and proceeded to make the levain the next day. A fortnight and half without feeding, she grew more than triple in 12 hours. The levain ripened and became more than double in 6 hours. She is smelling very fragrant and sour. This is just her second loaf and I want to understand her more because her first was not that good so I did not include even a bit of instant yeast, This a fairly complex bread for me purely raised with a sourdough starter. I heard enriched breads are not really sourdough friendly especially for a young starter but I still continued.

Here are the ingredients before mixing. Anti-clockwise: Roasted mung bean flour, strong flour, sticky rice roux, levain, and salt.

I kneaded it adjusting the rice washing bit by bit and kneaded until the gluten is developed then I added some oil to soften the crumb. I'm surprised that I was still able to pull a relatively strong windowpane despite the large amount of sticky rice flour. The bulk fermentation took 6 hours at room temperature and then to the refrigerator overnight. I found that Zhou Clementine likes a long warm bulk fermentation to be just shy of doubled. I thought that all of the enrichment was too much for her because the growth is not that obvious as I'm used to when using instant yeast but I still continued and believed.

Here is the dough next day. Nicely doubled and fragrant, no yeasty smell, just sweet sour aroma.

I divided it into 3 and shaped them differently before proofing them in my special tins. I wish I took a photo of them before proofing so you could see the strength of my starter. The bulk fermentation was long but the final proof was fast and Zhou Clementine raised them just fine in 3 hours.

The first one is a two pieced coiled loaf.

The next one is three pieced loaf but instead of rolling them, I twisted each dough  piece like a twist doughnut.

The last one is a braided loaf.

Here they are altogether.

They were baked in my clay pot for 40 minutes, flipping them in the 20 minute mark. I will provide a recipe for to try it but be aware I'm not sure if these are the exact amounts I used but this is what I will use if I have a scale and an oven. Sorry too, I'm terrible at math especially baker's math because I almost do not use it. 


100% - Total Flour - 80% white strong flour 20% sticky rice flour (If you're skeptical, scale it to 10% I believe it will still make a difference then adjust the balance of the flour) (NOTE: 15% of the strong flour is pre-fermented}

70% - Rice washing or water (The water for feeding the starter and making the levain is taken from this amount) (NOTE: 70% of the water is used to make the sticky rice roux, the remaining water or "adjustment water" is used to adjust the dough consistency during the final mixing)

15% - Roasted mung bean flour (Use kinako (roasted soybean flour) if you don't want to go through the trouble of making your own bean flour and you can find it, that's what I originally wanted to use)

1.8% - Sea salt

7% Honey (If using other sweeteners, amounts may need to be varied)

7% Oil (Any neutral flavored oil)


1. The day before making the dough, refresh the starter if necessary and make the levain. Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours until doubled. You can use it immediately or refrigerate it for another 12 hours or use any levain schedule you are used to.

2. Make the sticky rice roux by combining water, honey and sticky rice flour and cook over low heat until thick. Cool. Although similar in principle to a tang zhong, as sticky rice roux will behave very differently. A tang zhong is porridge like but this one will be like mochi when done.

3. Mix the flours and salt then the roux, levain and the remaining water until combined. The roux will be a little difficult to incorporate at first  and the dough will seem dry so you need to adjust the water but do not add too much, the dough will be soft when all are nicely incorporated and extra water will lead to a very slack dough which you do not want. A soft and a little sticky dough is what you want.

4. Knead until medium gluten development then add the oil and knead until incorporated and the dough is able to pass a windowpane.  The windowpane maybe thick because of the gluten lowering sticky rice and will be studded with mung bean grains (if you do not use kinako) because it is not as fine as the flours. I do not know what will the kneading process be like in a mixer because I don't have one so make your own adjustments.

5. Bulk rise ar 82F for 6 hours the refrigerate overnight. Shape into a sandwich loaf the next day and proof at 88F for 3 hours until almost tripled, You know your starter so stick to how your starter raises your bread.

6. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until loaf registers to the right temperature

*NOTE: Maybe I used 250-280g of total flour and it fits an 8X4 (9X4 or 8X5  or 9X5, sorry again, I'm not use to standard pan sizes). loaf pan.

*With your equipment and experience, I'm sure you'll do a  better job than me. I'm curious how they will look if they will be baked in a standard oven.

When I opened the clay pot, a sweet wheaty smell with notes of peanut butter and yogurt wafted in the air. It was also raining the day when I made it just like in the painting.

Crust is thin and soft at the sides and thick and crunchy at the top and bottom and a little charred on some areas.

Crumb is very nice and again very difficult to describe. Soft and fluffy but chewy, light but has dense feel. Unlike super market bread that morphs into a little solid block when squeezed, this one? Squeeze it hard and see it slowly come back to it's shape. The sticky rice gave it a very special texture, soft but chewy and resistant. gives in at first but fights back a little for a satisfying texture like saying to your face: you're eating bread not air but still it's fluffy and familiar.  See? I'm running out of words again, I think you just have to try it to know what I'm talking about.

Crumb when pulled: See the fluffiness and softness!

Crumb when sliced: It's very fine and looks like there is some whole grain in it because of the color. If I don't have a good serrated knife, I would have been in trouble because its texture makes it difficult to slice.

Slice it thick or thin to suit your preference,

The taste is tangy and nutty like there was peanut butter in it. My recent favorite of a thick smear of peanut butter on sourdough bread is answered with this bread, I don't know what's with it but it's so good. It easily approximates a PB&J sandwich even without the PB.

I don't know if this will surprise you but this are mini loaves and they are really small, small enough to fit on the palm of your hand!

I stored it at room temperature for 2 days just to test things out. I don't know if the increased keeping qualities of sourdough is a benefit because we finish the loaf faster because of the added and better flavor.

After 2 days at room temperature, it didn't lose any of its shreddable quality. It was still fluffy and soft!

It also toasts very well. Perfect for breakfast because of the energy from the wheat, rice and honey and the protein from the beans, and also you only need to eat a small amount to feel satisfied so perfect for those on the go that doesn't have much time to eat.

My first choice to eat with this toast is some bananas and honey because it will go well with the nutty flavor but a little bit honey is already fine.

For the complete bean experience, with some sweetened mung bean paste.

Or both mung bean paste and honey if you're packing some serious load of energy.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Today is Father's Day so I prepared meals for my dad. Normally, one will make some burgers for dad or prepare a carnivore feast but you know us, we love sweets and dad do not like to eat much meat anymore so I prepared some sweet and rich treats for him.

I made some fried pies. We really love fried pies especially peach and mango but I prepared a special one this time.

The dough is spiral pastry because I'm running low on butter and I still need a pretty large amount for all other things I'm going to make including the filling for this pie. Crimping the edges is my favorite part of pie making. I think I'm pretty good at it.

These are fried coconut cream pies and these are no ordinary pies. We love coconut sweets so when we harvested some young coconuts I thought of using it in a special dessert. Instead of packaged sweetened flaked coconut, young coconut called buko with soft thin delicate sweet meat is used here and it is what makes these pies special.

The filling is a milk based custard made more special by pandan extract from fresh pandan leaves. Buko pandan is a classic flavor combo in the Philippines; if you don't like it, just use vanilla but please use buko, it;s much better than packaged coconut with superb texture and flavor.

The pastry is flaky, golden, and crispy! It almost doubled and blistered after frying in hot oil. Its slightly salty flavor goes very very well with the sweet and rich custard filling.

Here it is bitten to reveal the filling and all those succulent young coconut strips! Enjoy!


I served the pies in the morning and for lunch, I cooked some pancit. Again! This one has chorizo, braised pork leg and mushrooms, shirmp, and veggies! Very delicious and perfect for lunch.


For the afternoon snack, I made doughnuts. Though made with commercial yeast, the overnight fermentation and quite a bit of butter makes it really flavorful. In the hotel where I had my practicum, doughnuts that were oval were considered "rejects" because of mishandling and unfit for sale and display but I see beauty in them so I purposely made my doughnuts oval. I plan this to be a my signature shape if I will ever open a doughnut shop, so don't steal it! :P I fried them right this time and learnt that a low flame is the secret for a perfect doughnut especially for filled doughnuts where no hole is punched in the center. The inside is done and the outside is golden brown and crispy.

Coffee and doughnuts go so well together and dad also love coffee so I rolled them into one dessert, coffee doughnuts! In the hotel I tasted a fantastic coffee doughnut filled with coffee whipped cream and glazed with a caramel glazed and decorated with pastry cream. It was so delicious but it costs $2.00 for a piece! I want to make something similar  and delicious. For just over $3.00 I made 4 with an extra little one from the scrap dough pieces. The filling is a coffee custard made with instant coffee powder; if I want to be fancy, I will use my own blend of coffee beans, roast them to my preference and infuse my milk with it. Still with it's simplicity, it was better than the hotel's not because of the taste (it's on par) but because of the fresh ingredients; no doughnut pre-mixes, no powdered pastry cream that just needs to be mixed with milk and no powdered glazes!

It goes great with hot chocolate. It was rainy and windy this afternoon and it's really comforting, I chose a simple dusting of icing sugar rather than a glaze since the filling is already sweet. Still, in my case it is a cold chocolate drink made from raw cocoa liquor that is pressed and dried into cakes.


The crust is crispy and light that only a real doughnut can have. Some may argue but in my opinion, baked doughnuts can be good but they can NEVER match a fried doughnut!

This is a "knife and fork" doughnut so I filled them generously with the custard. If you want to eat them on the go, fill them less. The crumb is ethereal! It so soft and fluffy and light and feathery! I think it's because of the kneading, I also think that I have improved in my kneading skills; before I spend more than an hour but now it takes just under 25 minutes for the dough to pass the windowpane. This is the first bread that I sliced using my serrated knife that my dad gave me on my birthday, without it I would be in trouble. It's like magic, it effortlessly sliced the very delicate doughnut without me applying any force, just slicing back and forth like playing a violin. Thank you and Happy Father's day daddy!

Crumb: sliced and bitten!

Thank God for this wonderful day!

Happy Father's Day to my dad and to all fathers out there!

Maligayang Araw ng mga Ama!



PalwithnoovenP's picture

I made banana roti almost a year ago and we loved it! I also noted before that I will try this with mangoes come mango season and it's finally here! Banana roti is a famous  street food in some South East Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand, from the name it's obviously made with bananas but I've seen some made with a different fruit like mango. Mango is my favorite fruit and where I'm from is famous for its mangoes so I'm sure I will love it.

This bread/snack is simple; an unleavened dough is stretched very thinly the cooked on a griddle for a few seconds then the fruit filling is deposited in the center then the sides of the dough are folded neatly like a handkerchief, a few minutes later it is flipped and when browned beautifully cut into small pieces then drizzled with condensed milk. Here is a newer video I found for this snack, jump to 1:52 for the actual cooking process. Both mango and banana were used for this roti.

Mangoes ripen in large quantities so we froze those that we cannot eat. Very juicy and sweet. For the filling, the mangoes were just mixed with eggs.

Here is the mango custard. Mangoes are already juicier than bananas but frozen mangoes are even more watery! I don't know if this will work as filling.

For the actual roti, I want to try a different folding method too like the ones in Malaysia but it's more difficult because the dough need to be stretched thinner and larger and this is just my second time to make this kind of bread so I stuck with the method I used before and tried to improve. I used the same dough but with slight modifications. Here are the dough balls soaking in oil.

I used AP flour (you can see in the white dough color) as uncle Dab suggested and it was more extensible than my dough before made with strong flour. I also made it wetter and softer this time. My technique may have improved too and I'm still using this plate as my work surface. I was able to stretch it thin without any holes.

Look! This is some serious windowpane!

I cooked them just like in the video. The mango filling is very runny and I have to be fast in folding the dough to contain the filling otherwise it will be a mess; mango flavored scrambled eggs instead of smooth mango custard!

It was much better than my banana rotis. More even square shape with good distribution of the filling.

I cut it into 9 pieces using my spatula just like how vendors do it! The mango filling is peeking.

Fully dressed and ready to rock & roll.

Condensed milk, salt and sugar. You know, half of the can of condensed milk ended up in my and dad's hands!

Crispy, soft with a slight chew and a fragrant sweet creamy mango custard filling! So delicious!  The texture is unique, like a crepe but like a tortilla too, only this method could achieve this texture. Even though mango is my favorite fruit, I still prefer this with banana. The mangoes broke down too much and the flavor is somewhat diluted quite the opposite of banana where the flavor and aroma gets concentrated. This dessert is still really good, with the crunch from the sugar and the salt playing very well with all the sweet flavors.

A mango-pineapple drink to accompany the rotis.

I got a little bit crazy too and made some homemade spring roll (popiah 薄餅皮) wrappers. We were craving for some spring rolls but we don't have the wrappers and it's too dark to go to the market so I experimented in making my own whether it will work or not.

Still a bit thick, I need to practice the dabbing technique (Here is a video so you know what I mean) more but again not bad for a first try making only a few pieces. This week is all about thin breads / wheaten products.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

It has gotten cooler here at 81F so I gained some confidence to try puff pastry. I recently saw some very elegant apple turnovers (chausson aux pommes) and I can't get them off my head, I really want to make and taste them and that day finally came.

The recipe uses inverted puff pastry and that made me even want to try it more. I first heard of inverted puff in the anime Yakitate!! Japan; it said that instead of the dough enclosing the butter, it is the butter that encloses the dough! What?! I said to my self. Is that possible? Yes! It is really possible! I was convinced when I saw a recipe in Advanced Bread and Pastry.

The key to it is the beurre manié, the floured butter so you can wrap the butter onto the dough and proceed with the turns without trouble. I gave it 2 sets of double and single turns made alternately. It was trickier to roll because it's the butter that is in contact with my steel pipe.

The recipe also includes the most delicious apple filling I've ever tasted. A famous fast food with an "M" and a "D" made me hate apple pies because of it's overly sweet mushy one-dimensional filling! This one is just the opposite, sweet, tart, and complex with nice apple chunks. The original recipe recommends Golden Delicious for the compote and Granny smith for the chunks. I can't find Golden Delicious here (You guys in the US and Europe are lucky to have a large variety of apple cultivars) so I used the only ones available. 

Since the compote is meant to be sweet and smooth. I used apples that are overly sweet and turns mushy when cooked; I used Red Delicious and Fuji apples for the compote; I steamed them until soft and because I don't have a food processor, I just passed them through a sieve until fine. The compote was cooked on a pan to reduce the water content. The Granny Smith were left in chunks for texture and to also provide tartness, they were sauteed in butter and brown sugar for a caramel flavor. It was heavenly when the compote and apple chunks were mixed.

The puff pastry (I should have dusted the work surface liberally with flour but because I didn't do that, some of them stuck to surface) was cut into 4.5 inch diameter circles. The delicious apple filling was scooped into the centers and closed to form a half moon shape. They are eggwashed twice then scored with a leaf pattern before being baked in my preheated clay pot for 20 minutes. They were flipped after 10 minutes.

Some of them leaked that's why the syrup from the apples burnt on the surface but on some it formed a lovely natural glaze so no need to brush them with some simple syrup.

The firewood that day was not so good so it did not produce the necessary heat for the pastry to puff but it was still the crispest flakiest pastry I've ever eaten. The crust looks pale on some areas but it was very crisp, light and  delicate all over. The leaf pattern was obvious too despite being flipped! I'm so happy!

The dough was also a little salty and goes well with the apple filling. The combination of the salty flaky dough and tart sweet aromatic filling was epic! It was dad's favorite pastry that I've made to date. The photo didn't show the filling well because we're all in a hurry to eat them and a thunderstorm was coming too and we have mangoes to pick before it gets rainy and windy! I ate some with cheese and it goes well with the apple turnovers but more will go for a bit of cream or ice cream. Oh, I have the best accompaniment to these, cheese ice cream! I know, many of you just puked but it is one the most common flavors of ice cream in our country and it's also a characteristic of our cuisine to mix sweet and savory; and honestly it's really good but to each his own. Try it someday, it is really delicious.

I also made a peach cake for my birthday. Choux pastry, custard and some peaches, yum! I'm tired of conventional birthday cakes composed of a sponge or "butter" cake filled with not even buttercream but with an overly sweet greasy shortening based frosting. I really want to bend the realm of birthday cakes so I decided to make my own this year. Last year's cake was unique too, Brazo de Mercedes a meringue roulade filled with a rich lime scented custard.

I also cooked some pancit. It is always marks a special occasion. There was no canned braised pork leg but it was still overflowing with Chinese sausages, shrimps and veggies that's why it was very delicious.

The whole table for the simple birthday meal.

May dad's gift for my birthday. A nice serrated knife so I can cut my breads easily. I've always used a small Chinese cleaver for cutting my bread and it's difficult not to squish and destroy them especially soft breads. Now, I could cut them with ease. Thanks daddy!

Zhou Clementine today. She has gotten stronger, she now quadruples in 12 hours to fill more than half of her home.

I thank God for my birthday and gifts. I am so blessed!

My favorite is the cake because you know, I really have a sweet tooth. Crunchy choux pastry, creamy rich custard and sweet juicy peaches. Amazing! A dusting of icing sugar completes the look. I served it with an iced sweet potato leaf tea, it goes great with it!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I really had luck when I finally raised my own sourdough starter. It was God's gift. Now I can bake my own bread that can't be really copied by anyone else. This is really a major leap in my baking. A bread made with primitive leaven baked with primitive methods back when there are still no ovens, this is some real primitive bread made with love.

I'm really enjoying my accomplishments as a baker and this one especially because I've been dreaming of it for years and now, it's finally here! This post is all about evolution not only as a baker but as a human. I've always felt out of place since I was a child except when I'm with my parents and my closest friends. I can't play any musical instrument, can't play any sport because of severe scoliosis (S-shape 30 degrees upper curve - 40 degrees lower curve), can't do math really well, and can't appreciate "trendy stuff. Now I realized that baking is my true passion and I really shine in it but nobody appreciates it here aside from my parents so when I joined TFL a year ago I felt accepted. There's is almost no better feeling than being accepted; I could almost cry while typing this, but you have no idea how you folks have made me happy. Every time I get a notification that someone commented on a post, I feel euphoric. Posting in TFL is really great, I really saw the evolution of this blog, my breads and my techniques. They really got better over time. Sometimes I read my own posts and I'm surprised how well they are written, it's like reading another person's work. A bonus is I had friends here from different parts of the globe that help me with my passion for languages, also appreciated by only a few people where I live. I really just want to say a sincere and big THANK YOU first to God, then to Floyd, and to you all good TFLers!

I didn't follow any formula. I took a bit from my starter and fed it and left if for 12 hours until double for the first levain build. Sorry if I used any wrong terms, I still have an inadequate sourdough vocabulary.

It's full of holes and clearly more than double.

I took all of it and doubled it with flour and water and left it again for 12 hours until doubled.

Here it is after 12 hours. Growth can be clearly seen, I think it's also more than doubled.

I autolyzed the flour and water at the 10th hour mark so 2 hours of autolyze in total. I used AP flour for a softer bread; ever since I used AP for a lean hearth bread, I fell in love with it. I also didn't add too much water, it's much drier than what I usually do. I am not after big holes now after being enlightened that they are fine but not totally necessary. A well made low hydration dough is better than a mishandled wet dough that depends purely on luck to be fine.

At the 12th hour mark, the levain and salt were incorporated into the dough. You can clearly see the difference in color. I made and feed my starter only with unbleached bread flour. Bread flour is the only variety of flour here that comes unbleached so that's what I used for my starter so there is a higher chance of presence of friendly microbes because they were not killed by the bleaching process and it can't be a potential starter killer.

I did 60 slap and folds to incorporate the starter and salt. The dough became a shaggy mass. After 40 minutes, I then followed it with 3 sets of with 40 minutes in between. By the last fold it was much much smoother and uniform. I can describe it as silky. After 30 minutes from the last fold I, as I am already very tired and sleepy (it was already 2 AM) from all the training I received all day, I shaped it into a boule without pre-shaping and put it seam-side up in a cloth line rice floure bowl for an overnight cold poof. 

Afternoon the next day, I pulled it out from the fridge and saw that it did not expand very much. Could it be my starter is slow or not used to cold temperatures? I let it proof for another hour (I planned to proof it for another hour but it was getting dark and a thunderstorm is coming) then I flipped onto the very hot lid of my clay pot preheated over a blazing wood fire the scored it to bake it gravity-defying style.

After 30 minutes, it was flipped for the top to face the heat source below. I tilted the bread this time the whole time the top was baking so the "sides" will be the one to blister and brown rather than the score mark.

The color looks like there were whole grains in it but there's none! Very even color and there are no burnt spots.The crust was thin and crispy! So nice, the prettiest loaf I made!

Some close-up shots of the crust.

My signature shot!

With this promising beauty, the crumb was not so much. It was dense with some random large holes. I think they were the ones called "the room where the baker sleeps". I suspect underproofing (I really just squeezed this bake in my tight schedule because I really want to try sourdough out of too much excitement) or poor shaping as the cause of this. What do you think? My adjustment for next let them proof at room temperature

Thank God it was not undercooked. Despite the less than optimal crumb, the flavor was wonderful. I ate the whole loaf, it became a part of my breakfasts before going to my training. I need a lot of energy for the training especially for the accent neutralization part. It was so difficult! My teacher said I have a strong "British" accent and I am the only one who has it among the trainees too so I am getting attention I'm not used to. My co-trainees only have traces of our native language in their accents so I am the one who is the most difficult to neutralize. I struggle especially in drills about "t" and "r"; Yes, we roll our "R" in our native language but I am used to non-rhotic English. The American t and r in [otter, wetter, butter,] are giving me a headache; in class I always pronounce them as "Aht-tuh" "Wet-tuh" "But-tuh" so I usually have to repeat them many times until I get them right only to have the same "mistakes" the next day but practice makes perfect and we still have a long way to go in our training so I hope I get them right by the end of it.

The aroma was not yeasty, very different from all the breads I made, instead it has a nice, sweet, nutty aroma. The flavor was sweet with just a slight sour that's very mouth watering and appetite enhancing. I want to be more sour but Zhou Clementine is still very young, fed often and kept at room temperature, I have to wait until she ages in the fridge. The texture was dense but the flavor really made want to eat it slice after slice. I don't know what's with the sourness but it really goes great with peanut butter, lots of it! It's the prefect breakfast and snack for me. A very nice bread for a first SD. I'm so excited to try another SD loaf when I'm not in a hurry. I bet it will be much better. I also can't wait to experiment with add ins. Just wait for it!

It was so much fun! I really felt like I was in the old times; just discovered wild yeast then finding a way to bake the new kind of bread before there was an oven. A real primitive bread! Like in the old times that people grow their own food, here are some photos from our yard. They are not as beautiful as some of your gardens but they are what we grow here.

Mangoes hanging low from the tree.

A young coconut tree planted by my dad.

Three week old tamarind plants.

.Bandera Española. It has a very Spanish sounding name. The Spanish really have a big influence in our language. In 1930's it was still common for everyday speech, in fact we found love letters of my great grandfather for my great grandmother written in Spanish. I wish learning Spanish was passed on up to my generation so we can understand what the love letters say.

Some Lagundi flowers. The leaves are an excellent cough remedy. The butterfly has almost the same colors as teh flowers. So beautiful!

Santan flowers. Yellow santan is blooming very nicely.

Finally, the white santan has bloomed. I never tried nectar from white santan but I'm sure it will be delicious too.

And some orchids! They're really beautiful even if they only bloom once a year!

I hope you enjoyed this one! Thank you very much! Job

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Meet Zhou Clementine, my sourdough starter! 

Exactly a fortnight ago I made "it" and documented my sourdough journey and success. I hope you enjoy it! Come along!

For years, I tried to raise my own starter to no avail. All of my attempts were futile despite my best effort to stick to the recipe as closely as possible. I don't know what was going wrong so after each attempt I go through a long period of reclaiming the broken pieces of myself before trying again.

1st attempt: Rye flour and pineapple juice- molds grew on it. First time to use rye flour too that I specifically bought                         for raising a starter. After the failure, I didn't refrigerate it so I ended up spoiling a very expensive bag of                       rye flour! More frustrations to shatter my already broken heart.

2nd attempt: White flour and pineapple juice- it turned pink.

3rd attempt: Whole wheat flour and pineapple juice- again, molds grew on it.

4th attempt: Whole wheat flour and water- it stank very badly.

From all the notes in my head, they are all always liquid/batter type starter made in the summer. Maybe the temperatures are too warm that's why molds and undesirable microorganisms grew because the environment is more favorable for them.

Lots of recipes for starters too that many suggested but they almost always require whole grains and precise measurements; stuff I don't have and can't do. I really want to have my own starter now since I made a great lean bread; I really want to make it sourdough because it's the only way to make it better. "I can't fail now!" I said to myself. I decided to make a firm starter because all of my "liquid" attempts failed, maybe it's the culprit. This one was mainly inspired by Italian sweet starter and Desem but let me clear, I am not trying to emulate any of them. 

With my last bit of courage I designed a process of my own made with just white flour and water with 3 simple rules to follow.

1. When there is activity, feed.

2. When there is none, wait.

3. If nothing happens in a fortnight, quit!

*The average temperature from the initial mixing of flour and water up to now that she is strong and predictable is 91F.

Sunday May 15, I mixed a small amount of flour until I formed a soft and not sticky dough.

I buried it in flour for protection.

I planned to keep it for 2 days before feeding but there was a big activity the next morning (May 16) and it shocked me! I smelled a nice fruity smell, like a banana.

I don't have time so I planned to feed it in the afternoon. It got bigger!

I fed it. The dough ball was rock hard when taken out. I used a teaspoon from the moist center and fed it with flour and water until a soft sticky dough was formed about the size of a mandarin orange. 

This blue bowl is her feeding bowl up to now.

I've been fooled! It was the gassy bacteria that makes establishing a starter more difficult at work! But there's activity so as in rule no. 1 I fed it. In four hours, cracks were present in the flour, a sure sign of activity!

After another 4 hours, it broke to the surface of the flour. Afraid of an overflow, I fed it again the same as before, now it's smelling like a cross between banana and mango.Then it went quiet for 2 days. After 2 days (May 19) there was some activity again so I fed it again but didn't take any pictures because I was too busy then I did not feed it again for three days.

Here is it after 3 days (May 22) of fasting. A sharp sour smell greeted my nose!

I gathered a tablespoon amount from the crusty exterior and the very gooey center and doubled it with flour and water.

I transferred it to clean jar to see growth more clearly.

I checked it after 36 hours (May 24). It smelled moldy, I almost want to threw it bit I can clearly see it doubled. Upon closer inspection what appears to be a moldy top is just the dry crust that has contact with the air.

I gathered a teaspoon amount form the gooey center and fed it with flour and water until it was the size of a mandarin again and pressed it into the bottom of a clean jar.

I didn't mark it with a rubber band because it's difficult for this shape of a jar but there's no need you can clearly see growth! I transferred it to a smaller jar too because it's more appropriate for this amount of dough.

This is it 6 hours after feeding, it has already doubled!

It tripled in 12 hours and stayed that way up to 24 hours (May 25). At the 25th hour mark, it's starting to go flat.

I continue that feeding schedule and yesterday (May 28) I noticed that her breathing holes were bigger. She is also getting more fragrant and sour each day! Amazing!

Here she is today (May 29) exactly a fortnight old. 24 hours after feeding yesterday, she has tripled and is smelling very sweet, fragrant and sour!

I plan to nourish and feed her for another fortnight before she takes a trip to the fridge. I don't know how it will affect her, I can imagine it's like me from a hot climate going to siberia! I think she's ready to raise some bread. I'll post about it soon. Just smelling the sourness makes my mouth water! 

I can't wait as Zhou Clementine slowly reveals her personality to me as the days go by!


I am also saying a temporary goodbye to posting in TFL. I just landed my first job so it means less time to bake and post but I will always drop by her to check your creations. I'm so nervous and excited and my training will start tomorrow. I never knew I will ever do this but I think I'm going to love it. I'm going to be an English teacher for Koreans for 3 months, short and sweet but who knows if it gets extended. Nobody really appreciates my language skills and interests aside from my parents and good folks here so I'm happy it will be put to good use.

Thanks and see you soon! Job

PalwithnoovenP's picture

First time to join a challenge like this, I'm so excited! The deadline for bread baking day is on June 1, 2016 so if you're interested to join, you still have time to formulate and submit your entries! Just follow the instructions here:

*I don't have an oven and measuring tools so I take a different approach to baking. I hope this one qualifies...

In our country, rice is the staple so it is inevitable that it's the special flour I chose to use; it can be seen from breakfast and lunch to afternoon snack, dinner, and even for midnight snack! That's what I do especially in weekends. It is also used in savory dishes up to desserts turned into hundreds of different rice cakes. We also have different varieties of rice but the two main types are glutinous and non-glutinous rice. Each has different properties so they are used in different proportions in various dishes for different results; that's what I did too.

We love rice so much that we have different names for different forms of rice! In English, they will only be called rice!

Palay- rice plant
Bigas- uncooked rice
Kanin- cooked rice
Bahaw- cold cooked rice
Kaning-Baboy- spoiled rice

This one has many inspirations but in the end is just an answer for a bread with crisp exterior and a soft, light, fluffy interior. This is my most complex bread to date though not as complex as many of the breads someone here makes, you know who you are! I chose ingredients based on the properties each will give to the bread. These are in no way proven by bread baking science, they're just my theories.

Some bread flour for strength and volume, cake flour for lightness, rice flour for crispness and sticky rice flour for a specific chew. I also used two leavening agents; yeast for flavor and fermentation and baking powder to take care of the low and non-gluten flours. A bit of  milk, salt, sugar and butter for some richness and flavor.

To ensure maximum strength, I kneaded the bread flour separately without the other flours. I used water for this dough so no fat to interfere with gluten formation and added a bit of instant yeast; this will also serve as a pre-ferment for more flavor.

I kneaded it well until the gluten is well developed and passed a thin windowpane. This is the first dough.

The sticky rice flour I added is a large amount relative to the bread flour and it does not bind readily with water too. I pre-gelatinized it by cooking it with some milk similar to a tang zhong so it will bind easier with the other ingredients.

How are you going to believe me that it was sticky rice flour? Here is the proof.

Here are the rest of the ingredients. 

Anti-clockwise from the sticky rice roux: rice flour, sugar, cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Here is the second dough. More like a thick batter. I will adjust the liquid next time.

Here is the first dough after fermenting for an hour. It has risen by a lot.

Incorporating the second dough into the first dough is not very easy. I added a little bit more flour to "correct" the consistency. I just added equal quantities bread flour and cake flour. I kneaded it well until one cohesive mass and added the butter at the very end and kneaded again until smooth.

It still managed to pull off some sort of a windowpane despite the abundance of low and non-gluten flours.

The final dough ready for the overnight rise. It's not very smooth like a normal bread dough.

After an overnight rest, the dough is flattened and cut into ovals using my little llanera.

They are the proofed in my larger llaneras for an hour.

I also made a rice glaze for the rolls. Sticky rice and normal rice flour close to 2:1 ratio boiled in some water until slightly thick. I got the inspiration from the cornstarch glaze used in some breads.

After proofing, they are brushed with the rice glaze.

 I scored some because I forgot that scoring makes no difference in my clay pot.

They are baked in my pre-heated clay pot for 20 minutes with steam for the first 10 minutes then turned over for the last 10 minutes. Here are the results.

If you look closely, you can see some cracks in the crust (perhaps the photo doesn't show this). It was delicate and crispy! One got slightly burnt because I didn't rotate the clay pot evenly.

The rice glaze really makes them shiny and extra crispy too!

Some of the scrap dough I re-rolled and cut became monster rolls! So HUGE!

It looks like a scone!

Here is what I am most excited about to share the results, the crumb! The crumb of this bread is very special and very difficult to describe. Soft, fluffy, light, and delicate but with that unique chew. The chew is different compared to breads made with pure bread flour; it was squishy and elastic but gives in then bounces back differently. Like a cloud then like a pillow then like a cloud again! See? I'm running out of words. It has a dense feel to it but it's so light, its easy to pull out from the crispy crust!

I like to munch on the soft insides first and save the crispy crust for last.

I also cooked one English muffin style; on a hot pan, grilled for five minutes on both sides. I cooked it with the glaze on it too because it was unplanned. I made this experiment because I also flipped them in my clay pot, so I just want to see if they will yield the same results with the English muffin method being much easier. No! They're very different! The outside is not as crispy and looks and tastes really similar to a "real" English muffin.

I fork split it too just like real English muffins. I think it's identical to the crumb of those sliced with a knife. It is a drier dough so it doesn't have those famous nooks and crannies but it has a special texture; perfect for sandwiches.

A very nice bread. Very different and special from all the breads I had. I will adjust hydration next time and shape it differently to maximize crust development. The contrast of the light and fluffy crumb and crispy and delicate crust is the highlight of this bread.

A tongue sandwich from the leftover tongue last week. So delicious! I should make tongue into sandwiches more often!

Thank you very much! Job

PalwithnoovenP's picture

My dad is now a septuagenarian! He just turned 70, thank God! We're truly blessed! I've been busy this past two days preparing for and celebrating my dad's birthday.

I inherited many traits from my dad. His nose, his height, his huge veiny hands, his hair that grays early, his love for all things vintage (What 21 year old would love to listen to Elvis Presley, Jo Stafford, Connie Francis, Engelbert Humperdinck; to drive and gaze at vintage cars; to collect old cutlery and kitchenware?), his creativity, his resourcefulness, and his fiery temper! Just joking! He will be very mad if he reads this!!! Again, a joke!

We love to drive. On his birthday last year, I got my student license to learn driving. A year later, only 3 trips on the national highway; my license is already expired but I had a lot of learning. I already know the vehicle well though not as well as dad. He also maintains them well, all of our "cars" are 30+ years and still well conditioned ready to go head on with brand new models. They also have unique parts that allow them to travel on mountain paths and rough terrain.

Our International Harvester Scout 1972. This is where I first learnt to drive.

A jeep that dad himself assembled in 1978. This is my practice vehicle in the highway.

What trait I love most that I inherited from him and I think it really defines me as his son is his behemoth sweet tooth! We really love sweets! I remember when I was a child, we use to share a can of condensed milk for dessert! We also like sweet and rich desserts; other people will often tell that they will have a headache from the sweetness but it's fine for us!

We also love watching James Bond films. Watching it is our bonding aside from driving and making desserts. He loves the classic Bond films so his favorite is Sean Connery in Dr. No. My favorite is the latest Bond, Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. It also happens that it is the film where my favorite Bond girl appeared, Vesper Lynd! I really love how Eva Green played the character there. During his birthday we made a Pierce Brosnan marathon of Bond films.

Because we love sweets and James Bond is British (it's illogical, I know!), I planned to make a classic British sweet dish for his special day, Sticky toffee pudding! I really have a soft spot for British things. I also have a slight British accent when speaking English, just started about a couple of years ago which I must admit is a Harry Potter influence. The "standard" accent here is American but I sound like a drowning cat when trying so when I tried to apply the British pronunciation, I sounded smoother and it has become natural for me now. From watching a lot of British films, I have pretty mixed English vocabulary now but I still can't call fries chips, it will confuse my friends severely.

His best friend's son working in Saudi Arabia just sent us a pack of dates. It is one of our favorite dried fruits! Not sure what is the variety but it's perfect timing for the pudding!

We pitted the dates one by one and divided it among ourselves. Dad quickly packed half of it for him to snack on. Mom and I divided the rest between us. Though I want to eat them immediately, I really saved it for this day! I have to hide it from their prying eyes or my share will be eaten too!

I based this on many recipes online. Some call for mixed spice, coffee, and even malted chocolate drink such as Ovaltine! Ingredients common in all are flour, eggs, butter and sugar. I just noted their amounts and proceeded to work my magic in doing this without measurements. I used dark brown sugar for a lovelier colour and caramel flavor that complements the dates well. I creamed the butter well using just a spoon a bowl until fluffy. I added two eggs one at a time for easier mixing and mixed vigorously until mixture is super aerated. I folded in plain flour very gently at the very end.

The dried dates were softened in boiling water along with a bit of bicarbonate of soda. There's no other leavening agent in it other than that. It will react with the acid present in the brown sugar to produce a light sponge. Just after a few minutes and they're all soft and juicy!

I mixed it into the batter at the very last minute so as not to lose any of the carbon dioxide produced by the chemical reaction.

I deposit the gorgeous batter into greased and floured llaneras. For little cakes, I prefer to grease and flour my tins; not only does it makes the cake pop right out of the tin when unmoulded, I also love the slight crust it yields on the cakes.

I baked it in my pre-heated clay pot for 25 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. I also made a bigger one for lovers, really for my mom and dad to share and it baked for 35 minutes, the last 10 minutes over embers. Because my clay pot doesn't have a flat bottom and I do not have a rack that fits inside the pot, I have to put them on top of another llnaera so all cakes ended up being lopsided. Still pretty and yummy for us! It is already fortunate that there are no spills that burnt.

The cakes rose nice and high in the pot. I can't explain the bubbles that broke through the surface, it always happens when baking cakes in my clay pot. No worries! More poking will be done later! Their look reminds me of a Madeleine with it's signature hump!

Here's how it looks like when unmoulded. I didn't bother to unmould it onto a plate for a better presentation, it is meant to be homey and rustic. The llanera also serves as the bowl where you eat it, less mess and less dishes to clean!

After cooling a bit, you must poke a lot of holes to facilitate absorption of the lovely silky rich toffee sauce (Just simmered cream, brown sugar and butter. I used whole milk for my sauce instead of double cream because I couldn't find it.) that will turn this into sticky toffee pudding. My chopsticks are perfect for this! It's pretty therapeutic!

A bath of toffee sauce and we're sold. Love the sweet comforting flavor. A little bit of cream or custard won't hurt, ice cream too is a nice touch, even some flaky sea salt to offset the sweetness but we like as it is. At least, it's getting cooler, we're eating this comforting cold weather dessert at 81F. We're really feeling the cold for a week now because it's always 93F for two months. It's also starting to rain now.

The sides and bottom of each cake are crispy. The crumb is fine and soft and full of caramel flavor. The dates also come through but not much of a textural interest because I chopped them too finely, perhaps I will leave them whole next time. Dad really loved this because he loves dates, caramel and sweet and rich things! I'm excited to try more British sweets. What's next? Jam roly-poly? Spotted dick? Or Sussex pond pudding?

Here is the Lover's Sticky Toffee Pudding!


A simple pork tongue stew for dinner. My dad and I really like tongue! It's our favorite organ meat / sweetbread.

Some Dayang dayang. It's is dad's favorite among my original creations partly because he plays a huge part in it. He requested me to make some since he already made the coconut sweet. Here is my second time making it. The main change is I used plain flour for these for a softer texture which seemed counter productive. It didn't have the volume and lightness of the first batch because of the lower protein so it was denser and chewier.

I didn't fry it too dark this time so no bitterness, only coconut flavor.

Here is the coconut sweet I was talking about. Dad made this by himself over a wood fire for a good two hours.

Still the same. Lots of cake crumbs for coating. Very delicious!

Happy birthday daddy! I love you! Mahal na mahal kita!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Just when I'm about to give up. God gave me this method to use for baking lean breads without an oven. This is my last attempt for "European style hearth breads" though pretty good, look-wise and taste-wise it still wasn't the same. It had a burnt "muddy" taste with slightly underdone crumb that is tight despite a very wet dough but I'm pretty contented with it. Although I've said that I will try various flavor combos, honestly I haven't made a lean bread again because of fear of the same results. I don't how I've thought of this method, I just remember I woke up from sleep and I thought of it. I said I will try it as soon as I can but it took almost half a year before I did it because I'm fed up with the results I get while pursuing this style of bread. 

A lot has influenced me to come up with this method. My labor intensive double cook method, a failed loaf, the tandoor and this oven are my biggest inspirations. I study the bread baking process of lean hearth breads closely too. In a nutshell, the bottom is cooked by conduction and the top is cooked by convection in that's why the loaf expands, scores open and the crust very crispy. My only problem now in my clay pot is the top crust needs to be cooked by convection and radiation, NOT by conduction which is how I made it in my "best/last" attempt. When those are done, my theory is I will have a bread that's just like a good loaf baked in a wood fired oven, NO soft pale crust with charred hard areas and squished score marks.

First got the idea from a failed rye loaf. It was so sticky that it stuck to the llanera even if it was oiled liberally. Out of my frustration of I just tossed it forcefully to the clay pot and did not care for it anymore. Little did I know that it ended up upside-down and the top of the loaf faced the heat source directly and got a pretty even brown from the hot air and radiant heat. I was so surprised by the gorgeous accident! It has only one pitfall, it can't be unmolded so the pretty bread has to be "destroyed" to be eaten. I said to myself, if I can only replicate this without a mold, it will be BOOM! Then I remember the tandoor, where the bread is stuck to the sides of and face the hot coals directly, maybe I can apply that but I only saw flat breads baked in it successfully. That was shattered when I saw Taiwanese pepper cakes, filled buns are baked in a tandoor like oven with no issues. I had another bit of courage but my clay pot is not built like a tandoor, impossible to stick bread to the sides. Finally, when I saw that oven from Central Asia, everything just came together to work like magic!

The dough is just a straight high hydration (maybe 70%) dough with a bit of instant yeast and salt. I used pure AP flour this time to lessen chewiness because my loaves with all or part bread flour are a bit too chewy for my liking. No autolyse or preferments, I'm concerned more with the technique than the flavor so if it goes wrong, only a little effort and ingredients are wasted.

I gave it 3 sets of folds in 30 minute intervals in its 2 hour bulk rest at room temperature. I have a new technique too, I just fold it in the bowl like what Trevor does in his Champlain sourdough. I pre-shaped it into a boule and let it rest for 20 minutes. I then shaped it into a tight boule and put it into a bowl dusted with rice flour seam-side up for a cold overnight proof. This is my first time to do a retarded proof, I normally retard during bulk then shape and proof the next morning before baking. I might stick to this one from now on for convenience and less stress on baking day.

I pre-heated my pot over a wood fire for 20 minutes until blazing hot. In to the very hot lid, I inverted the dough wetted first with water to ensure sticking. This is contrary to oven baking where you want no sticking when you slide the dough to the stone from the peel!

Using rice flour is like magic, first time  to unmold a fully proofed free form loaf from a bowl without sticking. I then scored it using a razor blade with just a straight cut down the center. With limited practice, I'm not the best person to score this wet dough. I am not even trying to get an ear, I just want the loaf to expand properly.

After scoring, I rushed this to the very hot fire so the yeast can have a feeding frenzy and the trapped gases expand well to cause a great spring even if the dough looks like a flat pancake now.

Here is my method. The lid will act now as the bottom of the pot so the bottom of the loaf will cook from conduction. The very hot clay pot "body" will now act as a lid to trap the heat and steam to cook the top of the loaf. It is somewhat physically demanding because of the temperatures of the things I need to hold, a great deal of care must be made. No need to steam the pot too, the steam generated by the dough is enough. It is like baking a full batch of bread in a WFO, in my clay pot a single loaf is a full batch!

I put the lid on another pot that is meant for direct fire cooking so it won't soot like the bottom of the pot. After 30 minutes, the final spring has stopped and the structure is set, I flipped the whole pot with the bread still sticking to the lid to brown the top of the loaf with the very hot air and intense radiant heat from the bottom of the pot. I planned to go straight to this process at the start of the bake but I thought that the bread is still heavy and dense and will be too fragile to support itself while hanging down and may collapse, fall or tear ending in a huge mess. I haven't taken a photo of the loaf at this point because this scene was too intense, there are so many things going on.

I angle the pot too so the sides will also face direct heat because it is not perfectly flat. The rounded bottom of the Palayok is a great help with this because it's easy to maneuver on top of the wood stove. After another 30 minutes, it was done!

This is what I say gravity defying!

Removing it from the lid is easy because the bottom crust is already dry and there are no raised edges on the lid unlike a tin mold. It was just stuck to a few places particularly on the center. I just used a spatula and it came out smoothly leaving just a few crumbs.


Close-up from different parts of the crust. If you look closely, the score is the one with blisters! It looks more like the crust of this type of breads rather looking closer to the crumb. I guess this is because it is the closest to the heat source, I must tilt the pot earlier next time. It is really a bold bake disguised by the tremendous amount of flour that I did not dust in fear of damaging the structure of the loaf I worked so hard to achieve. It is very crispy and a mess to cut but softened a bit during the night and softened more the next day.


It's pretty open, the most open I've ever achieved but somewhat even. I want a more random distribution of larger holes but when it's this pretty, I have nothing to complain. It is soft and not chewy at all due to the AP. It is moist but not underdone which is the biggest stumbling block to the edibility of my loaves of this kind. I think I got the timing right, an hour or more is fine in the clay pot. You can see the bottom crust is underdeveloped because the lid is thick, I might let the bottom cook for 45 minutes next time rather than 30 minutes.

The flavor is nice and full of character because of the cooking process, just like a good bread baked in a WFO. What more if it's sourdough?! For me, the taste is still a bit flat; the tang of SD works well especially in hearth loaves because of its kind of "bland" flavor that is meant to be eaten with anything and everything. The sourness just makes you want to eat more. I once had a sourdough that I really like but the crumb of my loaf is more open and less dense and the crust has a more complex flavor. I just can't imagine if I made this SD! I will work double time to establish a sourdough starter.

Again I will say this again. I can't believe this loaf came out of my clay pot! It's so beautiful! I know you want to see my clay pot in action and as proof that it can bake great bread, here it is! Ang aking Palayok!

Clay Pot Hearth Bread

So now that my clay pot has a vast repertoire and here is the checklist, here's what I can say:


SOURDOUGH, YEAST WATER, WHOLE GRAINS, WAIT FOR ME Y'ALL! With this technique under my belt, I will conquer you in no time! I am accepting FOR NOW that I cannot make pizza or baguette but we never know what a creative mind can do! Ecstatic on how this one turned out! Thank God for giving me this solution!

Thank you very much! Job


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