The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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I saw a recipe for Bath Buns--a traditional sweet, glazed bun from Bath, England--in Richard Bertinet's "Crust." The buns looked rather like the baked char siu bao of dim sum, so I thought I'd tart up the traditional dim sum dish with a higher-end bun. 

The result was eerily reminiscent of the dim sum dish--I'm now thinking that the dim sum dish is likely a descendant of the Bath Bun (by way of the British in Hong Kong). Any food historians out there? According to Google, I'm the first to advance this poorly supported theory. Anyhow, onto the baking...


The results:




Bath Bun recipe adapted from Bertinet's "Crust" (I only had soy milk on hand, and no fresh yeast, so I fiddled a bit)



125g bread flour

125g water

2 g active dry yeast



4g active dry yeast

375g bread flour

113g butter (1 stick0

75g sugar

150g unsweetened soy milk

2 eggs

7g salt



150 g soy milk

75 g sugar


Night before:

1. Mix preferment together. Let rest for 90 minutes.

2. Mix preferment + dough list. Knead until smooth (it's soft and sticky, I used this technique.) Fold/tuck dough, rest in greased bowl for 1 hour.

3. Make filling (below). 

4. Press out dough, tuck into ball. Place in greased bowl, Cover. Refrigerate


Morning of:

1. Divide dough into 12 parts (approx 75 g). 

2. Press out dough on lightly floured surface. Put 1 heaping teaspoon in center. 

3. Place in palm of hand. Pinch together into ball (4 pinches should do the trick: 1. Pinch top to bottom. 2. Pinch left to right. 3. Pinch top left to bottom right. 4. pinch top right to bottom left.)

4. Place seam-side down onto parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Cover, proof till doubled in size (2 hours).

6. Preheat oven to 375.

7. Make glaze: dissolve sugar in soy milk on stove top.

8. Glaze buns. Put in oven for around 20 minutes, till they look scrumptious.

9. Glaze buns again while warm. I'm generous with the glaze--the bun should be sticky.


The filling:

1/2 lb boneless pork country-style rib

3 tb hoisin sauce

1 tb ketchup

2 tb water

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon five spice powder


1. Slice pork into 1/2 inch strips.

2. Marinade in 1/2 of the marinade for an hour.

3. Roast for 15 minutes at 350, glaze with remaining marinade, and finish for 5 minutes under broiler.

4. Cool in fridge overnight.

sourdoughboy's picture

I'm lucky enough to work with foodies whom I like to share bread with. So in between more ambitious weekend bakes, I'm trying to find a way to bake a nice loaf in the hour or so I have in the morning, to take to work. I found some inspiration on TFL here and here, with the old no-knead influencing my thought-process.

Tried two tactics: a slow overnight proof and an AB-in-5-ish method.


Sourdough with Rye Experiment One: The Auto-Loaf

Slow proof/cold start/auto-oven for bread when I wake up


From Wild Yeast Recipe for Norwich Sourdough, I'm targeting a final dough with: 540 g white flour and 60 g rye flour @ 65% hydration + 11g salt



80 g 100% starter

500 g KA bread flour

60 g Hodgson rye

368 g water (600*.68=408; subtract 40g water from starter)


1. Mix all together. Autolyse for 30. (7:30pm)

2. Add salt, work until gluten is moderately developed (I was feeling super lazy and used a handheld mixer).

3. Fold at 50, 100 minutes.

4. Form into boule. 

5. Put in ceramic pot. Brush with oil to prevent drying out. (10pm)

6. Set automatic oven to 450 for 1 hour, starting at 6am. Pray.

7. Wake up at 7am, take out of oven. Take to the office. Share. Eat.

Result: Funky dinosaur egg-like exterior. Shocked that the timing worked out to a tee. I really liked this loaf. It's an odd looking duck, but it's hearty, with a tight crumb, thin but solid crust, and great flavor. Very good soup companion. And convenient for me. Will be doing it again, with a variation or two.

Experiment 2: AB in 5 Sourdough style rye... deferred

AB in 5 should not be blamed for this disaster. I saw that AB in 5 runs at about 83% hydration, so I simply went for an 83% hydrated dough, but substituted my sourdough starter for the yeast. There was plenty of fermentation but...


500g KA AP

100g Hodgson Rye

480g water

200g 100% white sourdough starter

1 tb coarse salt


1. Stir everything together.

2. Let rise/fall at room temp for four hours. Refrigerate.

3. Next morning, I took a peak and found it was completely unshapeable. 

4. So I added another 100g or so of KA AP, kneaded until the dough semi-workable. Formed into boule, put in oiled bowl to proof in refrigerator.


5. Next morning, was ready to pop in oven Ab in 5 style. But it hadn't proofed at all. So I heated a cup of water in the microwave, and then stuck the bowl in there, to proof for about an hour.

6. Preheated oven to 450, with cast iron pizza pan.

7. Slid boule in, splashed cup of water on oven floor. Baked for about 30 minutes.


8. Late to work.


The result: more spread than poof, as could be expected. My co-workers really enjoyed eating it. The crust was, as they say on Top Chef, very toothsome. With the funky proof et al., the crumb is predictably uneven. I was happy that i was able to salvage the failed experiment.

Look forward to making more Auto-Loafs next week! Maybe with a little less total flour (too much for the ceramic pot I have), AP instead of bread, and kneading the AP before adding the rye.




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I wanted to have fresh homemade sourdough hamburger buns for a big cook-out last Friday. Problem: the cook-out was at 7pm on a work night, and I'd only get home around 5:45. Timing and fridge space were issues. I wouldn't have time to shape buns and let them rise after work, and don't have room for sheet pans in my fridge (I live with 4 other people). This is what I came up with...


Petite Sourdough Hamburger Buns (makes approx. 20 3'' buns) (adapted from this recipe)




Night before:

1. Mix together bread flour, starter, water. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Beat together milk, eggs, salt, sugar. Combine with flour. Let sit for 15 minutes.

3. Lift/fold dough. Repeat twice more at 15'' intervals.

4. Cover, let dough rise overnight.

UPDATE: Brewboy makes a good point re: the potential riskiness of letting a dough with egg in it stay at room temp overnight. 

Morning of:

1. Divide dough, shape (20 or so) buns.

2. Place in cake pans lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap.

3. Stack cake pans in fridge with cardboard in between to prevent squishing.


Go to work!


Evening of:

1. Remove from fridge, let rise in 100F oven for 30''.

2. Brush buns with egg wash.

3. Crank up the heat to 350, bake for 35 minutes. (Note: no preheating, thus the extended baking time)


The results:

Soft, chewy, tangy hamburger buns! I was happy, as were the guests. I was worried they'd be too small but they were the perfect size for 1/2lb (before cooking) patties made from fatty (70/30) ground beef. One thing I would change was the topping I made for the burger--it was a sweet/sour onion caramelized with bacon fat. The burgers would have been better with a straight sweet caramelized onion, since the bun provided ample tanginess.

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Prehistory: waaaay back in 2007, I was obsessed with making Neapolitan pizza at home--self-clean cycle, quarry tiles, Jeff Varasano. That's where I first learned about autolysing and slow fermentation. And it explains my unhealthy preoccupation with getting the wide open crumb. During this time I also made some nice lemon rolls (from a sticky bun recipe, minus the cinnamon, minus sticky topping, lemon zest in place of cinnamon:

Pizza crumb

After baking at least one pizza a day for 40 days, I was baked out.

Fast forward to 2010. Somewhere between having delicious bread while on vacation this August in Los Angeles (homemade by my friend Daisy, and also from Breadbar (alpine loaf!!!)), baking a few disappointing loaves for an office event, discovering The Fresh Loaf, watching this video of Richard Bertinet masterfully kneading super-sticky dough, and dating a woman who loves bread, I caught the baking bug...

Day 1: Stock up on King Arthur flour (bread and AP). Order sourdough starter from Breadtopia...

Day 2: Feed starter...

Day 3: Wait...

Day 4: Baking test day! Sourdough baguette I and Brioche I

For the baguette, I roughly follow the method outlined in this post by dmsnyder, along with the baguette shaping technique shown here. Since I'm now obsessed with Bertinet's slap-fold technique, I knead more than is called for in the recipe. I'm very pleased with the resulting mini-baguette: it's got a nice sourdough tang (thanks Breadtopia!), chewy moist open crumb, and a crunchy crust:


I'm simultaneously working on a test brioche--have plans to make the real brioche the next day to impress gf--using this recipe (but kneading by hand, a la Bertinet). Delish! I eat one slice, feed the rest to my housemates.

Day 5: The brioche loaf that counts + baguette take 2

Though Brioche I was very tasty, I decide that I'd like a little airier texture. So I let the loaf proof for an extra 30 minutes or so, till it's really truly doubled in bulk, though being semi-careful not to let it overproof (not that I really know how to prevent that). I may be imagining things, but I think Brioche II is slightly airier, as I was hoping for. Gf is very pleased.

I also do a second baguette, taking more care in the shaping this time. Happily, I get an even more open crumb this time around:

Day 6: Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day arrives in mail. I have designs on making babka (for gf), sourdough hamburger buns (for house bbq) and an assortment of breads for my best friend's foodie mom... (and, now that I take a closer look at these pics, fixing the white balance on my camera!)



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