The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

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icarrillo89's picture

I am new to this forum and am excited. I have many questions.

Starter: I used T85 flour for my starter and maintain it using a 1:1:1 ratio. Now, I have not been tracking the rises nor quantifying it. I have just been feeding the starter everyday at the same time for the past month. Starting out, how much should my starter rise before replenishing it? Is consistency key here or handled day to day? My environment doesn't change too often. 


Bake: my bakes have been frustrating because they come out looking dense. I'm not sure how to fix this issue. 

I mix 1000g of T85 flour with 750g of water. Then I add 150g of my starter (waiting at least 4 hours after feeding it). I mix the dough and let it sit for half an hour. Then I fold the dough 4 to 5 times and let it sit 30 minutes. I repeat this process 2 more times. Then I let it bulk ferment for 3 hours. It doesn't rise as much as id like. Why is that? I take the dough and shape it and let it sit for another 30 minutes. Then, after my dutch over has been in the oven for 30 minutes at 500F, I place my dough inside cooking for about 25 minutes with the lid on and another 10 to 15 with the lid off. 

I'm not sure why my dough is dense. Is it perhaps my starter or the recipe I'm using? How do you get that nice airated look?

I've attached photos of my starter and bake. The starter was fed about 4 hours ago.

Yippee's picture


To learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS), please see here and here



Traditionally, to make paper-thin bread (khobz marquq), Lebanese bakers thinly stretch the dough on a bread pillow and cook it on a heated convex metal disc (saj). I have neither device, so I rolled the dough out as thin as possible and baked it in the oven.

I converted Ms. Barbara Abdeni Massaad's formula in her book "Man'oushé, Inside the Lebanese Street Corner Bakery" to include CLAS and quinoa (bulgar used in the original recipe).

There are two ingredients in the recipe that I rarely use: anise seeds (whole and ground) and ground mahlab.  I did not know what to expect in taste, but it was surprisingly mellow.  The licorice-sweet aftertaste and the overall savory, rounded flavor kept me coming back for more. 

This time, only the pie's edge turned out crisp, and the middle was still soft and slightly chewy. I will adjust the oven temperature and baking time, and maybe the hydration, in my next bake to make it more crispy overall.




10% whole rye CLAS

90% fresh white whole wheat, ground by Vitamix

68% water



0.3% dry yeast

2.7% salt

4% vegetable oil

1.9% whole anise seeds

0.7% ground anise seeds

0.9% ground mahlab

40% cooked quinoa (Zojirushi rice cooker programmed semi-brown function)



12% water


DT 31C/87.8F –ish



By Zojirushi bread machine

A. above x 10 mins

B. and C. in the next 10-ish mins



DT 33C/91.4F –ish x 150 mins



160g @



See pictures



Room temp ~ DT 28C/82.4F –ish x 60 mins



Pre-heat 550F

No steam 

550F x 2.5 mins, middle rack


The mahlab was quite expensive - $5 for 1.5 oz!




Precooked quinoa using a rice cooker.




 Mixed in Zo.




 ~160g each.




Improvised a bread pillow...😃




but ended up just rolling the dough out as this way is much easier. 




I don't think I can roll it any thinner than this. 





I like to make my own Za'tar mix to include more sesame and tart sumac.





Then mix with lots of olive oil.




A Za'tar pie is a must in addition to the plain one. 





I've started growing thyme, but I wonder if it's the same type that they use in making the Za'tar. 




I kept eating 😋...








and eating...😋





and eating...😋.  My usual main course became the dessert today for a change. 















pmccool's picture

Although, really, I think it would be better named “Apple Chopped Bread”.  One could almost treat it as a pull-apart bread but it toasts up so nicely that I prefer to slice it.  As its appearance suggests, flavor matters more than beauty for this bread. 

I find myself wanting to make this bread at least once each Fall when apples are in abundance.  Although there is no added sugar in the dough, the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the filling provide enough sweetness without becoming cloying.  And, though the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I like to add a bit of mace to round out the flavor. 

The recipe in Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads makes two 4x8 loaves.  My tweaked version is scaled down to one 4x8 loaf:


Warm water.        1.25 cups / 285g

Active dry yeast   1.5 teaspoons / 3g

Bread flour.          3-3.5 cups / 430g

Salt.                     1.5 teaspoons / 10g

Butter, softened   2 tablespoons / 28g

Measure the water into a medium mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on the water.  When the yeast has hydrated (most of it will sink to the bottom of the bowl), add the remaining ingredients.  Mix to form a shaggy dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes.  The dough will smooth out and become elastic.  

Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it to prevent drying.  Allow the dough to ferment until it doubles in volume, which will take approximately an hour.  Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and roll or press it into a 16-inch square that is approximately half an inch thick.  

While the dough rises, thoroughly butter or grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan. 


Apple, diced         1 cup / 110g

Egg, beaten          1 large./ 55g

Walnuts or pecans, chopped   0.25 cup / 28g

Brown sugar, packed   0.25 cup / 50g

Cinnamon             1.5 teaspoon / 4g

Mace                     0.25 teaspoon / -

Peel, core and dice the apple(s) and scatter them on the rolled-out dough.  Pour the beaten egg over the diced apple.  Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and mace and sprinkle over the apple/egg mixture.  Fold the dough so that the filling is completely enclosed.  Use a bench scraper or chef's knife to roughly chop the package into chunks approximately 1-inch square.  (No, it won't be pretty!). 

Scoop the chopped up dough and filling into the prepared loaf pan.  Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the bread rise until it is slightly above the edge of the pan.  Depending on room temperature, this may take 45-60 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 190-195F.  Alternatively, a skewer or cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf should come out clean when the bread is ready. 

Remove the baked loaf from the oven and use a butter knife or similar tool to gently loosen the loaf in the pan.  Carefully remove the loaf from the pan (it will be fragile and the filling will still be molten) and place it on a cooling rack. Cover loosely with a towel while the loaf cools to room temperature. 

This bread is good as is or with a smear of butter.   It makes fabulous toast.  I suspect it would make marvelous French toast, too, but haven’t tried that yet.  



technically_bread's picture


I’ve got a backlog of breads I’ve been making, so I’m going to start from the most recent and maybe work my way back a bit.

I love baguettes / French bread but I’ve never made them consistently – I just have times when I obsess about them for a week or two, not get them quite how I want them, and decide it’s not worth the effort.

Obviously there’s a lot of subtlety to making them well – the shaping and baking especially – that they benefit from the really consistent routine and environment of a bakery.

Anyway, I got my hands on some French T65 flour and had another push at them. Not that French flour is essential, but it just gave me a little extra motivation to figure out this bread.

So here’s a look at the three recent bakes I made and what I’ve learned doing so.

Bake 1

The particular recipe I used was Hamelman’s baguettes with poolish, at 66% hydration. Technically they’re more like batards, since I can’t make them very long in my oven.

The main lesson I took from these is that it is very much possible to overbake a yeasted baguette.

In the past I had made sourdough batards which I baked dark and turned out well, staying moist and chewy inside while having a strong, flavourful, slightly chewy crust.

Also, from past experience I knew that underbaking baguettes can result in a crust that quickly softens while cooling, even if it feels solid coming out of the oven, and becomes slightly leathery, which I was trying to avoid.

But baking too thoroughly here resulted in loaves that, while quite visually appealing (and crackling beautifully while cooling), were quite disappointing in terms of texture and flavour.

The crust was too hard, thick, and strongly flavoured, detracting from the subtle flavours of the crumb. And too much moisture was baked out of the interior, leaving a slightly dry crumb, taking away some of the softness of a good baguette.








Bake 2

This time I went back to basics and just made the straight dough version of Hamelman’s baguettes. For some reason these are at 70% hydration compared to the 66% poolish version (which I did find to be a little on the stiffer side).

I wasn’t too concerned with making a ‘perfect’ baguette, I just wanted to play around with a few variables and see what happened.

The dough roughly doubled during the bulk, rising a bit faster than I expected (probably kickstarted by being fairly warm after mixing, about 26c, before cooling to room temp), so I only did 1 fold instead of the recipe’s 2.

I also decided to give the loaves quite a full proof, and then also got a bit distracted, so that I felt they were ready for the oven before I had even started preheating it.

As a result they were verging on overproofed by the time I loaded them – very light and well expanded, a little fragile, but not quite ready to collapse.

I baked these loaves for a shorter time than before. The loaves had a nice golden brown colour and felt solid and light. They softened quite a bit while cooling, but not completely – there was still a little crunchiness.

They only had a tiny amount of oven spring, but held their shape and did not collapse.


As a result, they were not particularly visually impressive, but I was really surprised by how good the flavour and texture tuned out to be.

The flavour was subtle, buttery and wheaty, and far superior to the poolish baguettes above. Presumably this was developed by the full proof and active bulk ferment, and brought out by the milder, chewier crust and soft, moist interior.


Being less dry, this bread also kept much better and was still very tasty the next day, lightly toasted.





Bake 3

I felt more confident now, because I no longer feared a slightly softened crust as much, nor was I too worried about getting the proof and oven spring exactly right – I knew I could get great results even if the loaves weren’t super pretty.

I returned to the poolish recipe, but kept the hydration at 70%.

I only mixed to incorporate the ingredients into a shaggy mass, and just used stretch and folds (roughly 3x in the first hour or so) to develop the dough. Followed by a letter fold a little later on.

During bulk the dough rose by roughly 60-70%.

When dividing and preshaping, the dough felt very nice – clearly active and airy and light, while still feeling strong, extensible, and not too gassy or over risen.

It proofed for a couple of hours at around 21-22c, by which time it was light and expanded and delicate, without being too fragile or weak.

My baking method, honed from the previous attempts, was as follows (note these loaves weigh about 390g each):

  • Preheated to 260c, baking stone in lower middle, with a cast iron dish underneath.

  • Loaded the bread, poured in about 450ml of boiling water, and lowered the temp to 240c (top and bottom element, no fan).

  • After 15 min, rotated the loaves and reduced to 220c.

  • Rotated again a few minutes before the end, noting that the crust colours faster when facing the left and right sides of the oven.

  • Baked 30min in total.

Next time, I think I need to extend the slashes right to the ends to avoid bulging towards the centre.

The crust and colour on these loaves was pretty much perfect. A good balance of crisp and chewy, complementing a moist, chewy crumb with lots of subtle flavour. They were quite popular.

Very happy with these, and now I feel confident I can recreate them without too much trouble on a consistent basis.













Here's a video of the crust crackling:



And how dough felt before baking: (I promise I was being more gentle than it looks!)



Benito's picture

I baked this loaf as a present to thank neighbors of ours who will be taking care of our plants while we are away on our first vacation of almost two years.  It was a last minute decision to make a country sourdough and there was a weird issue with the aliquot jar measuring rise.  I have rarely had this happen but the aliquot jar never rose past 15% increase in volume.  It is really odd that this should happen, the dough for the aliquot jar was removed from the main dough after a very thorough mixing.  In fact, for the first time I used my stand mixer to knead this dough so you’d think that the levain would have been well incorporated in the dough.  Anyhow, since I’ve been following pH I used that along with the expansion of the main dough to decide when to call bulk quits.  The pH of the white flour levain at time of addition was 3.87.  At the end of mixing in the stand mixer the pH of the dough was 5.45.  End of bulk was pH 4.45 when the dough was shaped.  End of warm proof was pH 4.02.  Cold retard at 3ºC overnight and at the time of baking the next day the pH was 3.9.  

This dough is 80% hydration, 15% stoneground whole wheat, 5% whole rye, 50% bread flour and 30% all purpose flour.

Not a bad bake, but it certainly had a bit more spread than I would have liked, I suspect that the hydration may have been a bit too high for these flours. 

Danni3ll3's picture


Olives are something that I would never eat although with time, I will now have the occasional one. That being said, it’s odd that I quite like the Sardo Olive Bruschetta mix. I’ve used this in other breads but this time, decided to pair with shredded Parmesan cheese. No crumb shot as they all sold, even the loaf I usually reserve for us. 




Makes 3 loaves


Add ins:

175 g Sardo Olive Bruschetta, undrained 

100 g Parmesan 


Main dough:

800 g Strong Bakers Flour

200 g freshly milled Selkirk flour 

100 g freshly milled Spelt flour 

700 g filtered water + 25 g

20 g pink Himalayan salt

250 g levain (procedure in recipe)

Extra wholegrain and unbleached flour for feeding the levain


The night before:

  1. Mill the grains and place in a tub. Add the unbleached flour to the tub as well. Cover and set aside.
  2. Take 10 g of refrigerated starter and feed it 20 g of water and 20 g of wholegrain flour. Let that rise at cool room temperature for the night. 


Dough Making day:

1. Early in the morning, feed the levain 100 g of filtered water and 50 g of strong baker’s flour and 50 g wholegrain flour. Let rise until doubled (About 5 hours). 

2. About two hours before the levain is ready, put 700 g of water in a stand mixer’s bowl and add the flours from the tub.  Mix on the lowest speed until all the flour has been hydrated. This takes a couple of minutes.

3. Autolyse for a couple of hours at room temperature. 

4. Once the autolyse is done and the levain has doubled, add the salt, the olive bruschetta, the Parmesan, and the levain to the bowl. Add the extra water if needed. Mix on the lowest speed for a minute to integrate everything, then mix on the next speed for 9 minutes. 

5. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled covered tub. Let rest 45 minutes in a warm spot (oven with light on). 

6. Do 2 sets of coil folds at 45 minute intervals and then 2 more sets after 30 minute intervals. Let rise about 30%. 

7. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~800 g. Round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest 30 minutes on the counter. 

8. Do a final shape by flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and cross over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough away from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make a nice tight boule.

9. Sprinkle a  mix of rice flour and all purpose flour in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons. Let rest for a few minutes on the counter and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge overnight.


Baking Day

1. The next morning, about 11-12 hours later, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully but quickly place the dough seam side up inside. 

2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 20 minutes at 425 F. Internal temperature should be 205 F or more.


I’ve noticed that whenever I use this particular olive mix that I don’t get a lot of natural scoring like I do with some of my other recipes. This batch is probably the best I’ve had. That’s not to say these were flat loaves though. There was very decent oven spring. 

Kistida's picture

As the weather gets cooler, I find comfort in having hot rice porridge with savory sides. One of these sides is caramelized kimchi. I made it from the last quarter tub I had and reserved the juice/liquid, and the left over from the meal, I figured I should try caramelized kimchi and its juice in a test bake - having read about this on TFL (can't find the thread now). For a burst of umami, I used a little bit of fermented tofu liquid. :)

This loaf was devoured in less than a day! Now, I've run out of kimchi for another bake!

Sourdough with caramelized kimchi and scallions
90g water
70g kimchi water
5g fermented tofu liquid
100g starter ww:ap (100% hydration)
190g all purpose flour
60g Kamut flour
30g spelt flour
10g vital wheat gluten
3g salt (reduced here - kimchi, kimchi water & tofu liquid are salty)
5g light olive oil

*caramelized kimchi with sesame seeds
20g scallions, thinly sliced

*Caramelized kimchi with sesame seeds
100g kimchi, chopped fine
25g sugar
25g rice wine vinegar
20g sesame seeds

Make the caramelized kimchi: Drain kimchi and then chop them into smaller pieces. Doing this will release more kimchi juices. Squeeze the juices out further (set kimchi juice/water aside). Weigh the chopped and drained pieces for the next step.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.

Mix 2/3 of the kimchi with sugar, sesame seeds and rice wine vinegar in a bowl. Then, add these to the hot pan.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture reduces and the kimchi is sticky and browned in spots, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plate and let it cool slightly.  

Add the 1/3 uncooked chopped kimchi, and mix until combined. Set aside to cool.

These are notes I jotted while making this loaf, I didn't have time to bake the same night but the loaf's tanginess from the starter & kimchi was totally worth waiting the next day for. Also, my starter had passed its peak (no thanks to using atta flour!), so my timing could be completely different for the next attempt at this:

Mix flours, water, kimchi water and fermented tofu liquid. Cover and rest 60 minutes.
Add starter. Cover and rest 30 minutes.  
Mix in salt, half the c.kimchi and scallions. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Mix in oil, half the c.kimchi and scallions. Then stretch and fold, transfer to a lightly greased container. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Stretch and fold - in the container or on wet (lightly) counter. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Lamination. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Coil fold. Cover and rest 30 minutes. Dough temp: 23.6°C
Coil fold. Cover and rest 30 minutes. Dough temp: 24°C
Check the dough for windowpane. Cover and let it continue bulk ferment for 1 1/2 to 3 hours until at least 50% increase in volume, bubbles on the sides of the container and the dough jiggles when the container is shaken gently. Dough temperature: 25.5°C
Preshape into a boule. Leave it seamside down on the counter, rest 30 minutes.
Final shaping. Shape into a batard (or boule). Transfer to rice-floured banneton, cover and place in a sealed bag.
Final proof: Room temperature 45 minutes (oven 23°C). 16 hours chilling in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 230°C 30 minutes before bake time.
Score the dough and bake at 230°C 25 minutes with steam/lid.
Remove the steam source/lid, reduce the oven temperature to 220°C and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 97°C/208°F.

Remove the loaf from the oven and turn off the oven. Remove from baking sheet (or Dutch oven) and transfer the loaf back onto middle rack as the oven cools. Let the baked loaf cool for at least 3 hours (or overnight) before slicing.

Look at the ridges at the bottom, that's me peeling fluffy shreds off the loaf :)

After the kimchi loaf, I was making AP+Kamut bread. With starter discard from the previous bake, I thought let's see if the 6-day chilled discard mix would make me sour milk bread. Not a hint of sour on the first one, probably because the instant yeast was doing all the work. Next, I tried using an 8-hour stiff starter that contained 50% atta flour with the same amount of sugar as the first loaf. This loaf turned out a little sour, not as white probably due to atta in the starter and more Kamut flour in the dough. The last loaf I tried, I sweetened the stiff starter and used only AP for it, it came out with a barely-there hint of sour and a lovely sweet crumb. :D

AP & Kamut milk bread with SD discard V1

20g all purpose flour
100g milk

All of the Tangzhong
30g cream (MF35%)
45g milk
1 large egg
120g starter discard (100% hydration)
235g all purpose flour
5g vital wheat gluten
80g Kamut flour
2g instant yeast
20g sugar
6g salt
40g unsalted butter
10g olive oil

AP & Kamut milk bread V2
30g starter (50% hydration ap:atta)
70g water
100g all purpose flour
40g Kamut flour

20g all purpose flour
100g milk

All of the Tangzhong
25g milk
30g cream
1 large egg
155g all purpose flour
5g vital wheat gluten
60g Kamut flour
20g sugar
All of the starter
6g salt
40g unsalted butter
10g light olive oil

AP & Kamut milk bread V3
12g stiff starter (50% hydration AP)
80g water
160g all purpose flour
20g sugar

20g all purpose flour
100g milk

All of the Tangzhong
20g milk
30g cream
1 large egg
All of the starter
127g all purpose flour
5g vital wheat gluten
80g Kamut flour
30g sugar
6g salt
40g unsalted butter
10g olive oil

Moving away from bread, here's a very tasty gluten-free treat.

Of all the goodies from home, I miss bingka ubi (cassava/yuca cake) the most. It's very similar to cassava bibingka from the Philippines except, we don't include condensed milk in the recipe. We normally get this cake in markets, or cafes selling Nyonya or Malay cakes across Malaysia and Singapore. For my recipe, I chopped the cassava coarsely in a processor for extra bite together with the shredded coconut, you can see lil fibrous strands in the cross section. But, if you prefer a smoother cake, just grate the root with coconut to finer texture.

Bingka ubi (Malay cassava cake)
400g fresh yuca / cassava, grated
120g sugar
20g coconut oil
50g unsweetened shredded coconut
20g tapioca / cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
200g coconut milk
1/4 tsp coconut extract, optional

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 9x5” loaf pan or 1/8th sheet pan with oil and line with parchment paper with an overhang.
Process 5cm/2” cubes of yuca/cassava with 3-4 tbsp coconut milk (from the total 200g). Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the rest of the coconut milk, and all the ingredients and mix until evenly combined.
Pour the batter into prepared pan and gently tap the pan on the counter to release air bubbles.
Use a spatula to even out the surface of the batter.
Bake the cake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the surface lightly with coconut oil.
Continue baking for another 15 minutes until the centre is set and the top is golden brown. To test, a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out almost-clean (it's starchy, it will only appear almost-set at this point).
Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack before slicing. Lift it out with the overhang.

Like tapioca/boba pearls, this cake's chewy texture will change if it's kept in the fridge, hence the small batch enough to 2-3 days :D

Usually only about 2/3 of a bag of cranberries gets used in our orange-cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. So, the extras get into cakes. This year, I let these cranberries mingle with some blueberries and lemon zest. After making a semi-compote with half of the mixture, I made a small batch of pie dough (this same dough I use in tourtière, bakes up nice and flaky). Since the berries would not fill an 8" pie, they were turned into small galettes.

Mini fruit galette/pie
Pie dough with AP & spelt
- chill at least 45 minutes before use.
(Enough for 2x 1/8 sheet, 4x mini galettes)

130g unsalted butter, cold 2cm/1” pieces
170g all-purpose flour
20g spelt flour
10g cornstarch
16g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 to 8 tbsp iced water with apple cider vinegar (120g water + 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar; I used 6)

Cranberry & blueberry
- mix everything except tapioca flour and butter. Reduce 2/3 of the mixture until it's soft and thickened. Then, fold in the uncooked 1/3 of the mixture and tapioca flour.
Zest of 1/2 lemon
100g fresh cranberries
200g fresh blueberries
60g sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp tapioca flour
1/2 tsp butter, small cubes or slivers

Cinnamon apple
- mix everything except butter.
1 apple, sliced thinly (unpeeled)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
30g sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tsp tapioca flour
1 tsp butter, small cubes or slivers
Strained apricot jam glaze (optional, post-bake)

Cream wash with 1/2 tsp sugar for the exposed dough.

Divide the dough. Roll into any shape (free-form pie after all), about 2mm for these. Dock the area in the middle of the dough meant for filling with a fork. Chill for 15 minutes.
Fill the dough with filling, fold the edges over the filling. Scatter butter over the filling and brush the exposed dough with cream. Sprinkle with sugar - this melts and forms a crunchy, sweet edge. Chill or freeze the assembled galette for 10-15 minutes while the oven preheats to 200°C.
Bake for 25 minutes. Then, tent the galette with foil and continue baking for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and filling appears bubbly. Let the pies

Here's a steamed cake (not a bake) that I enjoy from home as well:

This year I chose these small steamed cakes for our birthdays. They're normally prepared for Chinese New Year but, why not have Fortune cakes for other joyous occasions? :) I've made these with coconut milk and evaporated milk. Using palm sugar or Gula Melaka takes this simple cake into a whole other level (for the next CNY).

Fortune cakes/Huat kueh/Fatt gao
Adapted from

Makes about 4 regular muffin-sized cakes
50g all purpose flour
40g water
10g brown sugar (for white cake, use sugar)
1/4 tsp instant yeast

Sugar syrup
20g brown sugar (for white cake, use sugar)
20g sugar
30g water
1 x pandan leaf, cut into 2" pieces

Flour mixture   
70g all purpose/cake flour
6g baking powder
50g coconut milk or evaporated milk
1/4 tsp coconut extract
A pinch of salt

Coconut oil (optional, brush on tops of steamed cake)

Matcha marble
80g of batter
Matcha paste (1/4 tsp sifted matcha + 1 tsp coconut milk)

Preferment: In a large mixing bowl, mix all-purpose flour, instant yeast and sugar. Then, add in water and mix until evenly combined. Cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm and let the mixture ferment at until bubbly and almost tripled in size, about 4 to 5 hours at 23-25°C.

Sugar syrup: In a medium sauce pan, bring water, sugar, pandan leaf to a gentle boil over medium heat. Stir the mixture and reduce heat to medium low until all the sugars have dissolved. Let the mixture simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the syrup, discarding pandan pieces. Set aside to cool to about 30-35°C.

Flour mixture: Bring water to a gentle boil in a steamer while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together sifted all purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in coconut milk until a thick paste forms.

Make the batter: Add warm sugar syrup and flour mixture into the fermented flour mixture.
Whisk to mix well, till a thick smooth batter forms.
Strain batter into a large measuring jug (this removes lumps in the batter). Use a piping bag or the measuring jug to pour batter into muffin molds until nearly full, about 2 mm from the rim of the mold. Doing this allows the cakes to rise higher and burst into it's characteristic bloom (hence its name "huat" or "fatt" for prosperity)

- To make matcha marbling, mix in matcha paste to 80g of batter. Then, spoon, pour or pipe matcha batter between dollops of plain batter.

Increase heat of the boiling water to high. Place the rack with filled molds over the boiling water in the steamer.
Cover and steam over high heat, for 15 to 18 minutes. Do not remove the steamer’s cover during the first 12 minutes. The steamed muffins are done when a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
Turn off heat and leave the steamed cakes in the steamer for a further 3 minutes. Then, remove the muffins to cool on a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cakes with a little coconut oil while the cakes are hot (optional).

Alright, until next time, happy weekend!

- Christi

happycat's picture

Toasted Buckwheat Yudane Sourdough Baguette

Last weekend I made a sourdough baguette using the yudane method (20% flour from the recipe + equal weight of boiling water, left overnight). The yudane is added to the dough before bulk fermentation. I used fresh milled hard wheat for my first one.

Find that blog here

A yudane gelatinizes flour and traps moisture, creating a moist crumb. It also compensates for low gluten flours through gelatinization. To compensate for the water trapped in the gelatinization you can also increase hydration by adding more water as I did with this loaf. The gelatinization helps keep a high hydration dough manageable even when it is very slack.

This weekend I made a toasted buckwheat version because I have a lot on hand. I have toasted buckwheat for pancakes because I like the flavour, especially when maple syrup is added.

Once again this is a variation of Maurizio Leo's sourdough baguette recipe with low aesthetics!


Toasting Buckwheat

My dough recipe is 80% AP and 20% buckwheat. I measured the buckwheat out and toasted it in a skillet on high heat, mixing regularly until it was browned a bit. Here you can see before and after.

 After toasting....


Making Yudane

After toasting I made the yudane by adding an equal weight (200g) of boiling filtered water. Note that I should have let the flour cool first. I got flash boiling of the flour in the mixing bowl because everything was too hot. This resulted in losing water to steam, which I had to replace by weighing it all out again. 

I let it sit overnight. Next day I autolyzed the AP flour and filtered water for 30 mins with the yudane folded in. This was because this yudane was a bit dry (compared to the fluffy porridge I had with a milled wheat version with no flash boiling).


Mixing Dough

After autolyse I added salt and rye levain and mixed 5mins + 15 mins rest x 3.

This yudane had some bits that didn't fully integrate into the dough unlike last time.

Then overnight in fridge.

Next morning

Next morning dough had risen a lot in fridge. I scooped it out, shaped and baked.

A very slack dough. I bookfolded and coiled each portion, then did baguette shaping.

Loaves baked

Loaves were not as puffy as wheat ones. May be overfermenting / proofing. Slashing didn't work too well with slack dough. I was a little impatient and abusive in my dough handling which shows :p

Crumb shot and taste

Here is the crumb shot. Moist texture, sourdough tangy and buckwheat flavour. I'll taste again tomorrow as toast.

EDIT: Next day, the tangyness had calmed down. It had a soft chew I liked, a light sweetness, and a pervasive mellow toasted buckwheat I really enjoyed. To me it was like eating some kind of slightly sweet, spiced breakfast bread. Liked it a lot!

EDIT: By lunch next day, amazing aroma in the bread. Toasted slices were great. Had as open faced sandwiches with homemade chicken salad. I am so pleased with the tastes and textures coming out of this process.

EDIT 2: Given the huge ballooning of the dough in retarded bulk, I think I would have a more controllable dough if I reduced its temperature before the retarded bulk. Cold water to make the dough, or ice packs around the mixer bowl. The dough gets warm from the vigorous mixing. A more controllable dough would make it easier to shape and slash for less ugly loaves. I might also have too much water in these. I think it was 87% including levain, yudane, autolyse, and added water duing mixing.

Next steps

I bought some farro (emmer probably) and sprouted spelt kernels so I will try some more milling and yudane over the next few weeks.


Benito's picture

Slowly working my way up in the percent whole wheat in my Hokkaido sourdough milk breads.  75% is the highest so far and I think it was quite successful.  I’m not sure how much higher I can go and still get the result that I’d like.  I did change things this time to add an autolyse because a majority of the flour is stoneground whole wheat.

For one loaf 9x4x4” Pullman pan




Sweet Stiff Starter 

• 53g bread flour 

• 24g water 

• 18g light brown sugar 

• 18g sourdough starter ~100% hydration 

1:1.33:2.9:1  starter:water:flour:sugar

@ 76ºF 10 hour not at peak


Tangzhong classic 1:5 ratio

• 89g milk (adjusted down to 1:5 ratio from original)

• 18g Whole Wheat flour   


Dough Dry Ingredients 

• 55 bread flour 

      · 305 g whole wheat        

• 54g sugar 12.5%

• 7g salt  1.6%


Dough Wet Ingredients 

• 169g milk 36.8%

• 50g egg beaten (about 1 lg egg)

• 60g butter 13.9% softened but do not melt, unless you are mixing with the mixer then melt.  Combine with 30 g of flour to make easier to add to dough if hand mixing.


Pre-bake Wash 

• 1 egg beaten


• 1 Tbsp milk



Mix the starter ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 50% growth. (See gallery where 150ml grows to approximately 225ml.)

Press down with your knuckles to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At room temperature, it typically takes 7-9 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.



In a sauce pan set on med-low heat, whisk the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.


For my first bake, in the morning mixed the wet ingredients including the tangzhong with all the whole wheat flour to allow the bran to hydrate for 1.5 hours.  Added levain next and mixed to incorporate.


Next added sugar, salt and bread flour and mixed to incorporate, rest 10 mins.  Mixed until very good gluten development and windowpane.  

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, form it into a ball, flip it smooth side up, cover and let rise for 6-12 hours depending on room temperature. Bulk lasted 5 hours at 82ºF.  You can place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier.  I didn’t do that this time.

Prepare your pans by greasing them or line with parchment paper.

Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top. Lightly flour the bench. Press the dough into a rectangle and divide it into four. Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins. Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then letterfold. Turn 90* and using a rolling pin roll each out to at least 8”. Roll each into a tight roll with some tension. Arrange the rolls of dough inside your lined pan alternating the direction of the swirls. This should allow a greater rise during proof and in the oven.

Cover and let proof for 4-6 hours (more if you put the dough in the refrigerator). I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.



Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190F. Shield your loaf if it gets brown early in the baking process. After 50 mins remove the bread from the pan and bake a further 10 mins by placing the loaf directly in the oven on the rack with the oven turned down to 325ºF. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the bread is still hot.


I’m quite pleased with the oven spring this dough was able to achieve with this much whole wheat.  I think going higher than 75% I’ll probably need to add some vital wheat gluten in order to attain a shreddable crumb which is a characteristic of this style of bread.


 Alternate the direction of the swirls for better rise.

alfanso's picture

happycat posted about his Yudane bake mere days ago.  I'd never heard of Yudane before but he mentioned that  it is another Tangzhong type of scald - typically for enriched breads, I would guess.  On the back burner for quite some time I still hadn't gotten around to baking with Tangzhong yet.  And then happycat posted his Yudane bake.  Time to give it a whirl. 

With the exception of his posting that 20% of the flour should be from the Yudane, I was flying blind on the formula.  So I decided to just construct something that seemed to be about "right", with 20% rye to go along with the remainder as AP flour.  20% pre-fermented flour from my AP levain as well.  Whole bunch of "20" going on here!

I've dealt with preferments that were a bit difficult to incorporate, and assuming this would meet that criterion, I added the Yudane to the water first and then broke it up best I could by squishing it between my fingers.  That seemed to do the trick and from then on it was smooth sailing.   The first 50 French Folds were stiff, but after the 5 minute covered rest, the final 50 were delightful.  By the first Letter Fold at minute 50 of the ~2 hr. BF before retard, the dough was completely pliable and extensible.  By the second LF my hands could feel the way the dough was developing further, this time with a loft much more present than at the first LF.

Not knowing what to expect, I'm pleased with what emerged from the oven.  The bread has a nice crunch to the dark-baked crust.  However, the crumb is surprisingly tight considering the significant oven spring - anything to do with the Yudane or just with me?  It was also too moist by the time I cut into it, an indication that the Yudane had perhaps corralled moisture that it wasn't ready to let go of by the time the crust had darkened.  My remedy for a next time would be to bake at a lower temperature for a longer bake allowing the crumb to dry out more. 

I am tasting something "different" from this bread, but unsure of what it is yet.  I don't know if the Yudane is taking responsibility.  As of this moment it doesn't seem to add such a significant flavor factor, however pleasing the overall taste is.

Far from a negative, for the first time out of the chute, I'm happy with the results.  And as usual, I've hopefully learned a thing or two about a thing or two for the next time.


 I have an ironclad rule to not peek in the oven door window during the steaming half of the bake, and it was only after that when I released the steam did I have my first peek at the bread.

410g x 3 baguettes/long batards.


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