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txfarmer

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A couple of years ago, after having posted quite a few blogs on thefreshloaf, I got a private message from a TFL member I never conversed with. His name was Eric, and he wanted to teach me how to improve my photography. Now, this message could've come off as insulting or arrogant, but not when it's from Eric. Eric's sense of generosity, enthusiasm, sincerity, and kindness shines through across virtual world to reach me, who in fact desperately needed exactly that: photograpy 101. (Do you know he actually did teach photography lessons on the side? Multi-talented that man was...)

From there on, he was a kind friend yet a strict teacher. He never shied away from telling me exactly what I was doing wrong, however, he also was always patient, kind, and encouraging. I know I can show him what I have done and hear  his honest opinion without sugar-coating. Without his lessons, I couldn't have had improved so quickly.

Truefully, he taught much more than what I could digest at the time. He knew that, yet he was never frustrated with me. He just smiled whenever a light bulb came on and I emailed him with all CAP letters yelling: NOW I KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT BY ...

Recently he has posted less, but we still exchange emails from time to time. Even though we've never met in person, but I feel he's one of my most repsected teachers and friends. Then the news came and I was in shock and disbelief. 

So, Eric, this one is for you. It's now my favorite too. RIP.

A few notes: Eric's original recipe is here. I have no First Clear Flour on hand, so I used a blend of WW and bread flour. 

 

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It's been a great summer, brilliantly sunny and dry, however before I knew it, Seattle has gone back to its cloudy, rainy, chilly ways. Time for a hearty loaf of heavy rye bread! I used this recipe seen on yeastspotting, http://berndsbakery.blogspot.ch/2012/10/walliser-roggenbrot-valais-rye-bread.html . I stuck close to the original ratio but halved the amount, and used pecan instead of walnuts.

Truely hearty and delicious. For some reason, it's not as sour as I expected.

One (of many) things I like about high ratio rye breads is how quickly it can be made. With starters and soakers ready, it's just a couple of hours of work.

What's better than a bowl of hot soup to go with that rye bread? I was gifted with a lot of leeks, so potatoe leek soup it is! Very roughly followed this recipe: http://www.greedygourmet.com/recipes-by-course/starters/easy-leek-potato-soup/

Also make a tart to showcase the last batch of colorful grape tomatoes -- waving goodbye to the summer season so to speak.

Very roughly followed this recipe: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/tomato-tart/ , but I used 20% spelt in the tart dough, which was a great idea. The crust was so tender and fragrant.

I used A LOT OF homemade pesto at the bottom, plenty of mixed herbs, parmesan, and feta. All of these worked well with the clean flavor of grape tomatoes.


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txfarmer

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I do bake non-bread stuff, really, here you go...

Pie crust obession continues. Filled it with banana cream, definition of all american comfort food.

Still way unhappy with how the fluted edge turned out (should be more crisp, more even), so expect this holiday season to be filled with pies.

Flourless chocolate cake with apples and hazelnuts. Straight from Valrhona: http://www.dongenova.com/print_2004_2b.html

Chocolate lovers MUST make this. And you'd better use best chocolate you can get your hands on. I am loyal to Valrhona myself.

Super sour lemon bar, from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. See recipe here: http://blueridgebaker.blogspot.com/2010/01/very-tangy-lemon-bars.html

It's indeed very tangy

Matcha Sesame Mousse Cake

It's a special occasion cake for our wedding anniversary

Home made corn tortilla

Simply a vehicle to make one of my favorite foods in the world: quesadilla

Peanut butter pound cake with chocolate glaze

That glaze is the key for this cake

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txfarmer

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Using my favorite sourdough sweet dough, I recreated a bread that's often seen at Asian bakeries. The key to make bread rolls like this is the same as the key for cake rolls: baking time is super important. Bread sheet must be baked through, yet not over, otherwise the surface will crack being rolled up. Shredded dried pork can be found at Asian markets. Savory yet a bit sweet, I love to eat it with congee. Of course they are great in baked goods too.

Note: total flour is 198g, fit my 28.5X28.5CM square pan.

- levain
rye starter (100%), 4g
water, 18g
rye flour, 26g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- Final Dough
bread flour, 140g
rye flour, 30g
egg, 50g
sugar, 14g
salt, 4g
heavy cream, 144g
levain, all

1. Mix everything until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details.
2. Rise at room temp for 4 hours until double
3. Round, rest, roll out to fit into the square pan
4. Rise at room temp for about 4-6 hours.
5. Brush with egg, spread chopped green onions or leeks
6. Bake at 375F for 10-12min.
7. Cool, flip the sheet of bread (so that the golden top is now at the bottom), spread mayo, then spread shredded dried pork. Roll up tightly, wrap with plastic, and put aside for 30min to keep shape.
8. Cut into sections, spread more mayo at both ends, and press shredded dried pork into mayo so they stick.

I kneaded more dough to make some buns as well. After the buns were baked and cooled, I spreaded mayo on top and pressed shredded dired pork into mayo.

This dough using rye starter and heavy cream was so much more flavorful and fragrant than the store bought version.

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There are three types of sourdough breads I practice often: laminated dough (danish, puff pastry, and of course croissants), baguettes, and Asian style  soft sandwich loaves. The appeal and punishment of them is that I can never get them prefect, which means I am forever trying to improve. In the case of soft sandwich loaves, the profile can always be taller (with the same amount of flour) & fluffier, the  crumb can always be tighter and more "shredable", the mouth feel could always be softer and "bouncier". It's especially challenging when using a pullman pan with lid, not only the dough needs to be developed and fermented to pefection, the dough expansion control also needs to be precise, otherwise it either doesn't reach to the top, or the lid can literally be blown off! Recently I make it harder for myself to purchase a mesh cylinder mold, and the following is what would happen if you are not careful - much worst than a blown off lid if you ever try to clean this thing.

Anyway, let's rewind and go back to what happened. I used the following recipe:

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain
Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

- levain
starter (100%), 13g
water, 22g
bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- Final Dough
bread flour, 203g
cocoa powder, 10g
butter, 25g (softened)
egg, 62g
sugar, 32g
salt, 3g
water, 110g
orange flavored chocolate chips, 50g
levain, all

1. Mix everything but chocolate chips until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details. Add chips, mix until even.
2. Rise at room temp for 4 hours until double
3. For pullman pan, takeout, divide into 3 portions, round, rest for 20 min. shape as instructed here for sandwich loaf. For the cyclinder mold, don't divide the dough, simply round and rest, then roll out to a rectangle with the same length as the mold, roll up like a jelly roll, put in mold.
4. rise at room temp for about 4-6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.
5. bake at 375F for 20min, then 350 for 25min.

Note that egg ratio was 25% and liquid ratio was also pretty high, as the result, the pullman pan loaf came out super tall and proud.

Crumb was super soft and even. Cocoa + butter + orange flavored chocolate chips, the flavor was nice and delicious too.

All good until I saw how the dough was oozing out of little holes in the cycliner mold. It was so bad that I couldn't even open the mold myself, my husband had to pry it open, and eat it as following. Still yummy, but what a sad sight. I guess bigger is not always better.

Being the obessesive type, I immediately tried again. This time, lowered egg & water ratio, everything else remained the same.

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain
Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan or my cyclinder mold. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

- levain
starter (100%), 13g
water, 22g
bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- Final Dough
bread flour, 203g
cocoa powder, 10g
butter, 25g (softened)
egg, 32g
sugar, 32g
salt, 3g
water, 100g
orange flavored chocolate chips, 50g
levain, all

1. Mix everything but chocolate chips until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details. Add chips, mix until even.
2. Rise at room temp for 4 hours until double
3. For pullman pan, takeout, divide into 3 portions, round, rest for 20 min. shape as instructed here for sandwich loaf. For the cyclinder mold, don't divide the dough, simply round and rest, then roll out to a rectangle with the same length as the mold, roll up like a jelly roll, put in mold.
4. rise at room temp for about 4-6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.
5. bake at 375F for 20min, then 350 for 25min. Phew, much better.

Used the lid for the pullman pan this time, also turned out well. No lid was blown off in the process.

I have always known in theory that eggs in dough would make the volume larger, but I guess I needed a show & tell to fully grasp the concept.

The flavor of these two versions were pretty close, but hey, the round pieces somehow tasted "more fun".

A word about those orange flavored chocolate chips, they were from http://www.worldwidechocolate.com/ . I got a "grab bag" and that's one of the items. Adds a little color and flavor to the loaves, even though a bit "artificial". :P

Also used those chips in a cream cheese pound cake:

Recipe can be found here, but I used chips instead of apples.

I really like this pound cake, very moist from cream cheese.

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txfarmer

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A couple weeks ago Phil's Fig & Anise bread caught my attention, sounds like a great flavor combo to try. Went out of my way to buy nice and moist organic figs just for this purpose, only to discover last minute that I ran out of anise. Oops, had to use fennel instead, which I think has a similar flavor to anise, but less intense? Also throw in some really delicious toasted hazelnuts since I love the nut&dried fruit combo in breads.

- Levain
rye starter (100% hydration), 9g
water, 68g
rye flour, 86g

mix and rise at room temp for 12 hours.

- Dough
bread flour, 510g
dried fig, 100g, chopped
fennel, 4tsp
hazelnuts, 100g, toasted
water, 350g
salt, 12g
levain, all

2. Mix flour, levain, water, together, autolyse for 20 to 30min. Add salt and fennel, mix @ medium speed for 3-4 min until gluten starts to develope. Mix in hazelnuts and dried figs by hand.
3. Bulk rise at room temp (~75F) for about 2.5hrs. S&F at 30, 60, 90, 120min.
4. Shape into batard, put in basketes smooth side down, put in fridge over night.
5. Next morning take the dough out to finish proofing, about 60min for me. Score.
6. Bake at 450F with steam(either put in preheated cast iron pot and cover with lid, or put dough on preheated baking stone and pour water in another cast iron pan to create steam) for the first 15min, take out the pan with water, keep baking for another 30-35min. Turn off oven and crack the door open a bit, and leave the breads inside for 10min before taking out.

Can you see the hazelnut peeking out from under the "ear"?

Fairly open crumb for so much add-ins

Fennel, hazelnuts, and figs play well together in this bread. However, this means I still haven't tried the "fig & anise" combo, soon...

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Everyone knows coffee and croissants go well together, in fact, they are even better if coffee is made INTO croissants. This formula is very similar to the matcha one I made earlier, filling is chocolate instead of red bean paste, and espresso powder instead of matcha powder.

Coffee Croissant with Sourdough Starter(Adapted from ABAP)
Note: for details and tips on making croissants, please see this post & this post.
Note: this recipe makes about 12 large danishes.

-levain
starter (100%), 35g
water, 59g
bread flour, 105g

1. mix and leave at room temp for 12 hours.

-final dough
bread flour, 422g
water, 148g
milk, 128g
sugar, 68g
salt, 10g
instant yeast, 7g
butter, 21g, softened
espresso powder, 12g
levain, all
roll-in butter, 287g

1. Mix everything but the rolling butter, knead until medium gluten developement. Then follow the steps here.

Coffee, buttery laminated dough, chocolate filling, the fragrance alone is unbelievable. Makes anyone a morning person.

I have been "criticized" for cutting a croissant. "They" say a croissant must be torn into with bare hands, so, here we go. Tearing or cutting, a well made honeycomb crumb and a shattering crispy shell are revealed euqually well.

The most important thing is that: it's insanely delicious.

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This formula was inspired from a bread in "Bread", however, it's been modified a lot. It's a whole grain heavy loaf with 25% rye flour (all in levain), 25% spelt flour, and 14% rye flakes. The rye flakes were recently "re-discovered" from bottom of the bin, after being soaked in hot water overnight, they added significant moisture to the crumb. Since the levain ratio was much higher than I usually do (25% of flour in levain, comparing to my usual ~15%) and my rye starter is ultra active to start with, bulk rise and proofing were much faster than I expected. I made it a couple times to arrive at the optimal hydration level and fermentation schedule. 

- Levain
rye starter (100% hydration), 6g
water, 94g
rye flour, 113g

mix and rise at room temp for 12 hours.

- Soaker
rye flakes, 65g
boiling water, 130g

mix and soak with cover for 12 hours

- Dough
bread flour, 227g
spelt flour, 113g
water, 170g
salt, 8g
levain, all
soaker, all

2. Mix everything together, autolyse for 20 to 30min,mix @ medium speed for 3-4 min until gluten starts to develope.
3. Bulk rise at room temp (~75F) for about 2.5hrs. S&F at 30, 60, 90, 120min.
4. Shape, put in basketes smooth side down, proof for about 1 hour at room temp (the kitchen got pretty warm, about 80F). Score.
5. Bake @ 450F for 15 min with steam, then @430F for 35min. Turn off oven and leave loaf inside for 10-20min with the oven door cracked open.

I tend to like a very bold bake, with cracking crust and nice ears

It's fairly tricky to adjust hydration for whole grain heavy loaves. Too much, the relatively weak dough won't hold shape, and crumb would be too wet and sticky; too little it would be dry and crumbly. Took a few tries, but worked out great for this one. Crumb is fairly open for such formulas.

Rye and spelt make a great flavor combo.

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Floyd and Breadsong have both written about their experience with Kneading Conference West. It was indeed a fun, delicious, and enduational experience. In addition to learning specific techniques, I was very impressed with fellow attendees' dedication and appreciation to local organic whole grains. Love for the land and nature reflects clearly in their baking, and our taste buds were greatly rewarded as the result. One of the highlights of the conference for me is to meet fellow TFLers, it's always fun to put faces to names!

This biscuit recipe was from one of the workshops I attended.
AP, 339g
sugar, 28g
baking powder, 21g
salt, 5g
butter, 112g, cut into 1/4inch cubes
egg, 27g
buttermilk, 186g
baking at 400F for 15min

The recipe itself is nothing special, it's the techique that I found helpful. Butter was cut into small chunks and lightly mixed with flour (not smeared in like pie dough), liquid is poured in, and the very rough dough was folded 2-3 times like an envelope, which creates minimal amount of gluten necessary to keep the biscuits together, yet keep the end product light and loose. The folding also creates nice layers in biscuits, similar to laminated doughs.

The instructor demonstrated a whole wheat version at the workshop and I made the formula with AP flour at home, both were incredibly flaky.

I have been wanting to learn how to make a good pie crust for a long time now. I have read enought tips, but it really takes looking and touching the "right dough" to finally "get it". At the pie workshop, I finally got to see what's the right consistency for a pie dough, what is "as dry as possible but not too dry", and how to rub butter chunks into flour without creating too much glutent developement. The instructors showed us pie crusts made with different flours and fats. At home, I tested out the all butter recipe with AP flour -- success! When the dough is of the right consistency, everything became so easy . No more tear and shrinking!
AP, 709g
sugar, 38g
salt, 1.5tsp
butter, 450g, cut into 1inch chunks
ice water, 240g (more or less)
lemon juice, 2TBSP

1. Mix AP, sugar, salt, rub/smear cold butter chunks into cold dry ingredients until butter becomes quarter sized pieces
2. Add lemon juice and 1/2 of ice water, mix roughly, pour onto counter, press dough together. If dough is too dry/crumbly, add the rest of ice water as needed.
3. Pat into one disk, cut into 4, pat each one into disk, rest in fridge before rolling out. The dough can be wrapped and frozen as well.

This is an Italian rice ricotta pie, typical for Easter, but good for anytime. Fillig recipe here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88470828 , pie crust recipe was from the conference, and I did reduce the amount and only made a 9inch pie.

Can't wait to try the WW pie crust, or one with lard. I see a lot of pie eating in my future.

On the last day I attended a cracker workshop. I never knew crackers were such great vehicle for whole grain flours. There's no worries about rising and fermentation, so one really can experiement with different kinds of flours and grains/seeds. Tasting some samples, I was floored how delicious the fresh organic flours taste. The recipes for these crackers are not complicated, which means flavors of ingredients really shine through. The following crackers were made from a oat cake formula from that workshop. Since my flours were not as fresh as what's used at the workshop, the flavors were not as great, so I immediately ordered myself some fresh whole grain flours.

Oat flake/spelt flake, 100g
Corn meal, 100g
WW flour, 200g
salt, 5g
butter, 136g, softened
sugar, 20g
code water, 80g
baking powder, 2g
baking soda, 2g

1. Mix everything, knead, pat into disk, rest in fridge for an hour.
2. Roll out to 1/4-1/2 thickness, cut into shape
3. Bake at 350F for about 10min

Here are some photos from the conference

Andrew Whitley, author of "Bread Matters", a book I have owned and loved for years.

My first encounter with Brick Oven, it's not easist equipment to use, but OMG, pizzas sure come out great from it!

Trying my hand on pizza stretching. Thought about tossing it around like a pro, but "wisely" decided against it.

We ran out of topping, so the rest of dough became pita breads!

Then I went to the cracker class, these crackers are the oak cakes I posted above, but these tasted so much better, becase the ingredients were better/fresher I suspect.

Hazelnut shortbread cookies. The thing about these crackers is that flavor of the ingredients really shine through. I immediately bought some local hazelnuts after tasting these cookies.

Some red wine spelt thin crackers. Oh, did I mention all the crackers were made in a brick oven?

Went to a sweet bread class on the last day. Made some pretzels. The one on the left were made with white flour, and tasted more traditional; the one on the right were made with ww flour and a bit of starter, tasted great but not traditional. I like both. Oh yeah, I shaped these two!

My first encounter with Mexican Conchas. A bit similar to Chinese Pineapple Buns but ... different.

And now I want to buy some Conchas presses.

These were the ww version of the biscuit formula I posted above. In comparison, I like ww ones better.

To make the conference even more perfect, we had great wether for all 3 days, and the setting was beatiful with fruit trees and herb gardens.

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Another incredibly soft and shreddy sandwich bread, this time with cream cheese as the enriching ingredient.

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain
Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

- levain
starter (100%), 13g
water, 22g
bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- Final Dough
bread flour, 203g
butter, 13g (softened)
egg, 50g
sugar, 25g
salt, 3g
cream cheese, 50g
water, 100g
levain, all

1. Mix everything until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details.
2. Rise at room temp for 4 hours until double
3. Takeout, divide into 3 portions, round, rest for 20 min. shape as instructed here for sandwich loaf.
4. rise at room temp for about 4-6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.
5. bake at 375F for 20min, then 350 for 25min.

Very very soft. With cream cheese in the ingredients, the dough is especially sticky. It's tricky to knead, one minute it's still sticking to everything, the next minute it's overkneaded. You really need to watch the dough for optimal developement. 

Comparing to other soft sandwich breads made with cream, or a lot of butter (this one has minimal amount of butter), this cream cheese loaf is as soft in texture (if not more), but with a cleaner taste. I have made it a few times, sometimes with egg whites only (leftover from pastry making), which yields to equally soft breads, but an even lighter/cleaner flavor.

I made Asian Pineapple buns with the exact same dough.

-Topping
butter, 80g, softened
sugar, 80g
egg, 80g
cake flour, 200g
baking powder, 2g

1. Beat softened butter hand soften until light and fluffy
2. Add egg little by little, mix until absorbed
3. Add shifted cake flour and baking powder, mix until blended
4. Put in fridge for 30min

To make the buns:
1. Divide and round the dough into 50g pieces
2. Divide the topping dough into 40-50g pieces (more or less according to how large your buns would grow, which is related to how well you knead the dough), flaten into large disks. It's easier to operate if the topping is cold.
3. Put topping disk on top of dough ball, push topping down until it "almost" completely wrap the dough, except for a small empty patch at the bottom. Use bench knife to cut patterns into topping, dip the top in sugar (or spread sugar on top)
4. Proof at room temp for about 4-6 hours.
5. Bake at 375F for about 20min.

The light taste of cream cheese dough matches well with the sweet topping. For those who are familiar with Mexican Conchas, this topping is similar but different. Less sweet than conchas, and fluffier and more crumbly.

Since we are talking about cream cheese, I highly recommend a Japanese Souffle cheesecake I make recently.

cream cheese, 300g, soften
butter, 45g, melted
egg yolk, 57g
sugar 20g
corn starch, 11g
milk, 150g
egg whites, 95g, put in freezer for a bit until a little ice forms around the edge
sugar, 55g

1. Mix cream cheese and butter until even
2. Mix yolk and 20g of sugar until even, mix in shifted corn starch until even
3. Heat milk until almost boiled, slowly add into 2, mixing at the same time. Put back onto stovestop, quickly mix by hand until thicken (<1min in my case, this is just like making custard sauce)
4. Pour 3 into 1, mix until even, cover and put aside
5. Beat egg whites until foamy, slowly add 55g of sugar, beat until soft peak (cold whites are harder to beat to peak, however, when soft peak is formed, the texture is smoother, and it's more stable)
6. Add 1/4 of beaten whites into 4, fold, add the rest of whites, fold until even.
7. Take a springform pan or a pan with removable bottom (mine is a 6inch round pan with removable bottom, 3inch tall), wrap the bottom with foil so that water wont' get in during baking (it needs a water bath). Oil and flour the pan.
8. Pour batter into pan, it should be "almost" even to the rim if your pan volume is the same as mine. Bake in wather bath at 325C for about 1hr.
9. Turn off oven and leave the cake inside for 1 hour. Take out and cool in pan, wrap, still in pan, and put in fridge over night. Unmold next day.

Therea are several tips for this cake:
1) Egg whites has to be beaten to soft peak. If it's beaten to hard peak, the cake would split during baking because it will expand too quickly/much. If it's not beaten enough, cake wont be light.
2) Folding with the correct technique is important. Minimal air should be lost during folding, but ingredients need to be blended evenly.
3) Cheesecake baking is all about even low temperature, which is why water bath is used. Put the cake pan in a larger pan, pour water to reach at least halfway (that's why it's important to wrap the bottom of the pan with foil especially if the pan bottom is removable). Keep the baking temp low so that the cake can grow evenly and slowly to avoid cracks. Observing this cake, it will grow to be almost 1 inch above the rim, then slowly go back to be slightly higher than the rim, which means you can't use a pan smaller than the one I am using. I like a tall cake, that's why I am using a smaller but very tall pan (3 inch sides, 6inch diameter).
4) Must bake the cake long enough. If it's underbaked, it WILL collapse and the crumb won't be light and even.
5) Original recipe says to put parchment paper around the pan for easy unmolding. However, I find oil/flour is enough, and that yields a much smoother sides.

 

The "magic" about this cake that it perfectly combines "light" and "rich". The beaten whites makes the texture light as air, yet, there's only 11g of corn starch in the formula, comparing to 300g of cream cheese, which means the flavor is full on cheesy rich.

Like most Asian style cakes, it's only slightly sweet, which means it goes well with a thick blueberry sauce.

I declare it the best cheesecake I have tasted. Since it "feels" so light, we almost alway eat too much of it, so consider youself warned.

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