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hansjoakim's picture

This is Major Tom to Ground Control!

My local grocery store have just started to stock buckwheat flour, a flour I'm completely new to. To try to figure out what it's all about, I pulled Whitley's "Bread Matters" from my shelf - a great book by a passionate baker with a separate chapter on gluten-free baking. On buckwheat, Whitley says:

Good qualities: Traditionally used in Russia (in wholegrain form) to make kasha (porridge) and as flour to make blini (pancakes), usually in combination with wheat flour. In modern gluten-free baking, mainly used sparingly to provide some flavour and nutritional value in breads, cakes and savoury biscuits.

Problems: Disliked by some on account of its pungent flavour, which is an acquired taste.

Hmm. "Pungent flavour". Well... better start off easy on the buckwheat then, right?

So far, I've experimented with a buckwheat content between 5% - 25% of the total flour weight, and I can't say I notice any negative pungency. There's certainly a different flavour note to the breads; quite subtle and hard to describe, really. A subtle, piercing, nutty kind of flavour. Anyways.

Today I baked what I think is becoming one of my favourite multigrain sourdoughs: There's 20% buckwheat and 10% whole rye in this loaf, and the soaker is a combination of flax, sunflower, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.

Multigrain buckwheat

I do think the buckwheat makes the crust brown quicker than what I usually get. The loaf comes out with a crackling crust, almost like a baguette. And the crumb attains a slightly grey colour, also due to buckwheat, I would guess?

Multigrain buckwheat

It's fun to mix in different flours in tested recipes. Earlier last week, I used 30% whole rice flour in a pain au levain, and that gave the loaf a completely different flavour. Slightly bitter, I would say. Not something I'd like every day of the week, but certainly terrific together with an ageing brie I was having a love affair with.


For dinner, I went with a blind baked pâte brisée tart shell filled with scrambled eggs, a dab of Dijon mustard and freshly cooked crab. The recipe (and inspiration) came from Michel Roux' brilliant book on pastry.

Scrambled eggs and crab croustade


Cherries are also starting to pop up in grocery stores and markets around here, and this week I had the opportunity to make a cherry clafoutis (not photographed, recipe also from Roux' book) and a Gâteau Basque:

Gateau Basque

This is a very simple tea/coffee cake with a pastry cream and/or cherry filling. Since I had some left over cherries, I pureed a bunch in my mixer, and used that as the single filling in the cake. As I wrote, it's a very simple cake: Cream butter, sugar and eggs, and fold in flour, a speck of baking powder, some vanilla extract and load up your pastry bag. The batter resembles that of choux pastry, and it's deposited into the pan by first filling the bottom in a spiralling motion. Then pipe a border along the rim, top the interior with filling, before you pipe the top over the whole to seal it. Sprinkle on chopped almonds and bake in a low oven for just under an hour. Nothing too fancy, but goes well with a cup of coffee!

Gateau Basque

gothicgirl's picture

Posted on on 6/19/09

Is there anything more comforting than the smell of warm cinnamon rolls?  If there is, I can't think of it right now.

 Cinnamon Roll Bread 


While I love the traditional cinnamon roll, and believe me I do, I thought it would be fun to take my cinnamon roll dough and make it into a swirled loaf.  I tried that very thing with my regular recipe and it was a disaster.  The buttery filling left the bread wet and the eggs and fat in the dough left the center of the loaf gooey in the center.  Gooey in a bad way.  Not tasty.


Cinnamon Roll Bread 


So, I changed the recipe by reducing the amount of filling, the number of eggs and the fat in the dough.  The resulting bread was soft, fluffy, tender, and perfect for toasting and buttering for breakfast!


Cinnamon Roll Bread  


If you have any left that is past the freshness prime you can cube it up and use it in bread pudding.  I can't tell you how good that was! 

Cinnamon Roll Bread   Yield 1 10" loaf and 6 cinnamon rolls

1/3 cup water, (warmed, 110F)
2 teaspoons dry active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, warmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups white bread flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves


4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

Cinnamon Roll Bread 

Combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow to activate until frothy, about 10 minutes.

Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread In the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook, add the yeast mixture, buttermilk, egg, melted butter, flour and salt.  Mil on second speed for three minutes, then check the hydration.  The dough should be lightly sticky but not cling to the fingers.  Adjust as necessary adding additional white flour or water. 


Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread 

Mix on medium high speed for eight minutes, then remove from the bowl and round the dough, making it into a smooth round ball.   Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover.  Allow to rise until the dough doubles in volume, about 60 to 90 minutes.

Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread 

While the dough rises prepare the filling by mixing the butter, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.  Cover and set aside.

Cinnamon Roll BreadCinnamon Roll BreadCinnamon Roll Bread

Once risen, remove the dough from the bowl and, on a well floured board, press out the air with the palm of your hand.  Stretch the dough until it is the size of a half sheet pan (18″ x 15″).  Spread the filling evenly over the dough then, starting on the short side, carefully roll the dough into a log. 

 Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread 

Measure the dough to 9 1/2″ and cut it.  Place into a greased 10" loaf pan.  Slice the remaining dough into six pieces and pace into a greased 9″ cake pan.   

Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread

Cover with greased plastic and allow to rise for 40 minutes, or until the dough is doubled, about an hour. 

Preheat oven to 375F while bread rises.

Cinnamon Roll Bread Cinnamon Roll Bread 

Bake the loaf for 45 minutes or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.   The rolls bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and the bread is pulling away from the sides of the pan.


Cinnamon Roll Bread 

While the rolls cool prepare the icing by mixing the butter, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth.  Once the cinnamon rolls have cooled ten minutes cover them with as much icing as desired.  

Cinnamon Roll Bread

Eat warm.  

Cinnamon Roll Bread 

Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.  Wait at least an hour before slicing.

Cinnamon Roll Bread

davidg618's picture

"doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome."

Then the counterpoint must be, "Sanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and getting the same results." If so, I'm sane! Well, maybe that's going a little too far.

Nonetheless, I am delighted, so far, with my results. I repeated D. DiMuzio's pain au levain formula, and my processes, and techniques as nearly as possible on two renderings seperated by a week in time. "As nearly as possible" is the key; for example I used up all the bread flour I had on hand the first week, so the second go used a new bag, probably for a different lot, but the same brand (King Arthur).

A photo of the two bakings: The loaf in the upper left corner is week one (we ate the second, and bigger loaf). The two front loaves are this week's effort. There are slight differences in appearance--nothing significant--the biggest being the difference in crust color between the two same week loaves. After 10 minutes baking, with steam, at 480°F I turned the oven down to 450°F for the left hand loaf (the smaller one, by weight), and 440°F for the right hand loaf, which had to bake an additional 10 minutes. (I'd done the same the week before, but the crust color was more nearly the same.)

This is the crumb from the first week's loaf. We haven't cut either of this week's loaves, but by the feel of them we expect the same degree of openess. The flavor of the first week's loaves is excellent: good sour from slowly building the starter (30% of the flour weight) over 24 hours, and overnight retarded bulk proofing; the whole wheat flour lends a distinctive base note, surpirsing because it's only 10% of the flour weight; and the high initial heat, and steam, give the crust a delightful toasted nuttiness. The final test will be the taste of the second week's loaves, but we don't expect any significant difference.

We entertain a lot; additionally, we live in a community that frequently comes together for potluck dinners. It's reached the point that I'm expected to serve or contribute a loaf or two of my bread, and a bottle or two of my home vinted (if that's not a verb it should be) wine. I want to be consistent, or nearly so, that's why I'm focusing, at the moment on only two formulae: DiMuzio's pain au levain, and Hitz' baguette's.

Next week: Baguette's for the second time.

Shiao-Ping's picture

Colors excite me.  Often I buy a book because the cover page takes my fancy.   Eric Kayser's "Rund Ums Brot" is one such book.  When I bought it, I knew it was not in English; but all I want was to look at the pictures.   There is an expression in Chinese, your eyes want to eat ice cream too, very crude (or, in English, feast for the eyes?).   It was when I saw this page (below) that I went to google translator for help:



Eric Kayser's "Rund Ums Brot"                               page 108 (Pink Caramelised Almond Bread)


Google didn't seem to make sense, then I thought to myself how would it be possible that this book was in German but not in French or English?  My point was there should be an English or French version.  Then, it dawned on me, YES, this book is in English under a different title - "Beyond The Bread Basket."  This was not the first time that I bought same book twice, or same CD twice, or same clothes twice (or thrice, in different colors).   On page 130 of this latter book, it says the bread is a Pink Caramelized Almond Bread, using pink caramelized almonds (Oh, not pink pralines again!).  I cannot get my hands on these pink pralines because G. Detou has been politely avoiding my small order (more trouble than what it's worth to them). 


Eric Kayser's recipe has butter, sugar, milk, cream - the full Monty.  While the quantities are not large enough to qualify this bread as a brioche, I am not going to go that route again -  sourdough breads really don't need them.  The question remains - where would I get the red color?  Ahh, beetroot, my vegetable dye!  I once made a beetroot walnut chocolate cake that my son absolutely loved.  Think of a carrot cake that is full of walnut and chocolate pieces, then substitute beetroot for carrot!  You get an absolutely moist cake which guarantees you full degustation by the kids.  Beetroot is so good for them (and us). 


I thought it would be interesting incorporating this ingredient into a sourdough bread.  Walnut would normally be a good pairing except, hey, why not test out new choices (well, fine, almond is not new).  The white color of almond slivers is infinitely more attractive against the red of beetroot. 

So, here we go, we've got all our constituents lined up. 


My formula

200 g sourdough starter @ 75% hydration refreshed late afternoon

286 g Australian Laucke's Wallaby's bakers unbleached flour

134 g water

60 g sliver almond*

100 g beetroot (diced 0.5 - 1cm cubes)**

8 g salt

1.5 g instant yeast (or 1/2 tsp)


* I could easily get fresh beetroot and slow-roast it in oven to cook it, but it would be more work than challenge at this stage.  I need to work out the moisture content of these red darlings in order to get my dough hydration right.  I am shooting for 67.5% dough hydration, not very aggressive.  My technique is as yet not very good for high hydration dough.   I am working on 50% weight in beetroot as extra hydration for dough.

*  I am working on a combined almond & beetroot ratio of 40% flour, which may seem high for some.  Other than these, I have resisted the temptation of using any flavor improvers.  (But salt? No, I'd like to think it is there for the integrity of gluten development.)  As for the instant yeast, well, call me a chicken.


It's like a mission impossible at first trying to knead all this in....

Then, all of a sudden, after 6 - 7 min of kneading, it all came together.


I just went and had a peep.  At this very moment, the dough is peacefully going through its first-fermentation.  I shall return after a short night's cap myself to report on its further development.


Day Two  

It sang when it came out of the oven for over 3 min!  My son said, "Why is it crackling?"  

My daughter asked me what bread that is; I said, "Beetroot and Almond."  She goes, "Pee-Yew!"  So, there you go - one person's glorious bread is another person's pee-yew.   

The dough just before going into the oven (little did I know the color was to disappear in heat)                            


                                        Voila! Beetroot Almond Sourdough Bread


                                        The crumb


1.  Shape and color: I am happy with the boule shape and scoring but am disappointed that the pink disappeared.  (It was hot pink throughout, inside and out, before it was baked.)  Nontheless, the color of the crust is what I look for in a well-cooked loaf, warm, like harvest in autumn. 

2.  Aromas: The aromas from the crust, as well as from the crumb, are pleasant but faint even though the crust sang loudly as the bread came out of the oven.  In truth, beetroot is not one of those vegetables that gives off strong odors. 

3.  Crumb:  To my surprise, the crumb is distinctly creamy (or even golden) in color, despite the red dots of beetroot scattered about.  Its texture is elastic, typical of sourdough breads, and at the same time, moist and tender. 

4. Flavors:  Beetroot has a very faint sourness, as well as sweetness, taste.  Its color not withstanding, it does not have a domineering taste.  So as slivered almonds.  As a result, the flavors of this sourdough bread are those of a classic white sourdough bread with a bit of interesting features thrown in; ie, red dots for visual, and crunchiness (of almonds) for extra texture and mouthfeel.   

Well, it's not a bad sourdough (but no where near what the subject title of this post has announced!) .  My son has already told me, "Oh, I am not eating that!"  I am sure if the red dots in the bread are replaced by brownish chocolate bits, he'd be racing to have a piece.  My kids know their mother is someone who likes to have her imagination run free.  Their constant complaint is their mother ceases making them something once perfection is reached; she moves on to something else.  


Memory does not condition my choices.  I like to try new frontier.   


Try next time:  

Beetroot Salad Sourdough (another "pee-yew" idea?).  Shred raw beetroot and marinate it in lemon juice, salt, and a little bit olive oil; use the resulting red juice as part of the hydration for the dough, and mix in the raw beetroot in the dough.  The long fermentation will moderately cook the raw beetroot and hopefully still give some crunchiness to the soft crumb.   



xaipete's picture

I saw these luscious looking onion rings on YeastSpotting several weeks ago and just could not get them out of my head. After eating them only once, I'm more obsessed with them than ever!

sourdough onion rings

What a terrific way to use up your sourdough discard! Heck, these were so good that I'd make sourdough starter for the express purpose of turning out these tasty little rings.

Why were these onion rings so good? They weren't at all greasy (I recovered almost all the oil after cooking), they stayed crisp even when cool (not that many had the chance to get to that state but I had to save a few for the picture), and they had a wonderful flavor.

This was the best batter I have ever used. It would work great on fish (fish & chips) as well as vegetables (tempura). It is a total winner and many of us at TFL have an ample supply of SD starter in our kitchens at all times.

I made a few little changes to the original recipe.

The Batter:

130 g ripe sourdough starter (that was all I had; the original recipe called for 150 g)--my starter was firm, 67% hydration

Heaping 1/3 cup AP flour (original recipe called for 1/2 cup)

Heaping 1/3 cup water (original recipe called for 1/2 cup)

Mix together well and let sit on counter, covered, for about 3 hours then refrigerate until very cold (about another 3 hours).

(The original recipe just fed the starter and immediately refrigerated it, but I felt a little funny about that so I let it sit out for a while and start to grow.)

When you are ready to make the onion rings:

Heat 48 ounces of canola oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 375º. I used a pot that was about 3 1/2 inches x 9 inches; my oil was about 2 1/2 inches deep and that worked out just fine.

Cut one very large yellow onion in slices about 1/4 inch wide and separate them into rings (you can leave them in either two or one ring slices--I did both types).

Place one cup of AP flour into a pie plate and season it with 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (I don't like the taste of garlic powder so if you can't or don't want to obtain a superior product, I'd just skip it--I use Morton & Bassett granulated garlic with parsley).

Take your starter out of the refrigerator and whisk it with 1/4 cup cold seltzer (or soda) water. It will require some work to get the starter and water mixed up. The batter will be very thick.

Dip the onion rings in the flour, coat with the batter, and then drop them in the hot oil. Don't crowd the pan (one onion required two batches for me). Turn them over several times while they were cooking (about 6 minutes, I think, but you will know when they are done).

Remove to a lined platter and reserve in a 250º oven while you are getting the next batch done.

Sprinkle with kosher salt when they come out of the oil. A dap of your favorite hot sauce makes a nice accompaniment.

Serves 2.

sourdough onion rings

sourdough onion rings







Shiao-Ping's picture

I saw a picture in "20 Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, L'equipe de France De Boulangerie", page 169. 


                         the book                                                                            the page  

I can't read French and my google translator is not doing a good job in letting me know how it is made.  Suffice to say it involves brioche, potato, and some sort of cheese. 

I don't feel like a very sweet dough, so I thought a normal bread dough will do me fine.  I added leek as leek and potato are sort of a classic combination which you often see in quiches.   I used parmigiano and French goat cheese. 

Dough weight 600 g divided into two pieces; 1/2 to line the rectangular baking tin, measuring 12 cm x 36 cm; the other 1/2 for lace on top.  One big potato very thinly sliced and poached in milk.  One leek sliced and pan-fried very briefly in very, very hot pan for 1 & 1/2 min with a little olive oil.  Only the very high heat in contact with the vegitable brings out the lovely caramelized effect that keeps the dough from being soggy.  Slow cook is no good. 


1. first layer of cheese goes in

2. in goes leeks and goat cheese

3. roll out the second piece of dough, run a rolling lacer over it

4. place the laced dough on top, seal the edges and egg (yolk) wash it

5. Oops! I almost burned it.  Only 19 min in 230 C oven and it burned; well, nearly.

6. Let's have a slice!




A. Kids don't like it when it's too doughy.  Next time cut down the dough weight by 1/3 to 400 g for the size.  The thinner the dough, the heavier the filling, the better it is.

B. Incorporate freshly cooked salmon (with dill and lemon), or grilled boneless chicken thigh for a complete meal.







Shiao-Ping's picture

Many years ago I was in Hang-chow, China, 200 km south west of Shanghai, visiting their Tea Museum.  The museum is set in the beautiful West Lake where historically poets and artists gathered.  I bought a cookbook incorporating tea in dishes at the museum.  I thought at the time the idea was really clever, and why not, Oolong tea (a type of green tea) is so good for us.  Other than that, there's not much to speak of about the book, which is in its typical Chinese crude way of presenting cuisine.   

Scroll forward 9 years.  I've got a Tea Liqueur sitting in my pantry since my last trip in Japan.                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Black Tea Liqueur

As a Chinese, I used to look down on Japan - everything they've had culturally came from historical China anyway.  But I was very, very wrong.  Their samurai spirit is such that they might have initially learnt some things from China, but they have been doing it better.  Is there another country in the world where the old and the new co-exist so beautifully?  I had to go to Kyoto to see how historical China (we are talking about 900 AD) drank their tea.   

Anyway, I've been wanting to use this black tea liqueur.   I used to make Earl Grey Banana Bread to take to my kids' tuck shop morning tea, and the ladies there all loved it, saying how complementary and nice the fragrance from earl grey tea was with banana.  Speaking of earl grey tea, the Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, who used to apprentice with the now infamous UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (the only London three Michelin-starred chef), won the Great British Menu challenge for the desert category and his desert was served at the Queen's 80th birthday banquet.  His Earl Grey Tea Custard is something to die for.  

My subject here is bread.  I am not allowed to do deserts (self-imposed).   I thought I'd just do a simple, honest Black Tea Sourdough, and see what happened (but I'll have to get help from Tea Liqueur!).   So here it is. 


             Black Tea Sourdough Boule  

When I set out to make this bread, I did not have high expectations, because who would have known how sourdough culture would fare with black tea, let alone the liqueur!    

My formula

250 g starter @ 75% hydration refreshed in mid-morning (6 hours to double)

272 g unbleached white flour

125 g cool black tea (I used 2 English Breakfast tea bags)

18 g honey

16 g Tea Liqueur

7 g salt  


The dough was mixed after dinner, let to ferment for three hours, then shaped and let stand at room temp (15C) overnight to proof.  I baked it this morning at 7 am.   

Now, before I show my crumb picture (I know everybody at The Fresh Loaf is as crumb-obsessed as myself!), I have to quote Kaplan.  He said that he almost missed his son's birthday because he spend the whole afternoon with Pierre Poilane back in 1969.   "Master Poilane was then still making glorious golden-brown batards whose dense mie (crumb) exploded with aromas evocative of harvests and dried fruit." (page 1 of his "Good Bread Is Back").  

Hmmmm.... I tried to picture a dense crumb exploded with aromas....  



                                                  The crumb of the Black Tea Sourdough Boule  

It's in the spirit of a joke that I placed this picture with his quote.  But I wish I could EMS a slice of this sourdough to you all - to say it is aromatic is an understatement!  It is at once subtle and penetrating. 

Well, I am Chinese.  I love tea.  It may not be everybody's cup of tea.  




ArtisanGeek's picture

As promised, I have added another tool to my "Bread Baker's Toolbox" for anyone to use. I call this one "The Custom Batch Formula Tool". You use this one when you have a bread formula with the ingredient quantities already specified by weight and you want to create a custom batch size. The software does the math, calculating the Baker's Percentages and displaying the results for your custom batch in both grams and ounces (US). I chose these units because they are the most common used in bread formulas by the home baker. Some large batch formulas will use pound (lbs.) and fractions of pounds. This is simple enough to solve; If you want a custom batch for 5  pounds so you can have 5 one pound loaves, just multiply 5 x 16 to determine total ounces for your custom batch. Anyway, I've put this tool through the paces...its very fast and accurate. Sometimes the final dough weight will equal 699 ounces when you specified 700...this is because each ingredient is rounded to 1/100 of and ounce or 1/100 of a gram. (you don't want to work with numbers that look like this: 234.34453040304004). Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for improvements. Trust me, I can take the critical comments. As a software developer, I know that the product is never good enough for everybody and I can live with that....I just do my best:) Go to and follow the link. You can now choose between the Volume Conversion Formula  Tool and this new Custom Batch Formula Tool.

Custom Batch Formula Tool

xaipete's picture

California seems to have an abundance of fresh cherries in the markets right now. Since fresh cherry pie is one of my favorites, I just haven't been able to resist the urge to work on my recipe.

I assembled the pie dough first using the Vodka crust recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It was easy to work with. I thought the top crust came out very flakey and flavorful but was a little disappointed in the bottom which was a bit on the soggy side.

While the crust was chilling in the fridge, I pitted the cherries which took about 45 minutes.

I sprayed my working surface with pan-spray and then sprinkled it with flour. This proofed to be an excellent surface for rolling out pie dough. (I got this tip from Debbie Wink, who, I think, read about it in Shirley Corrihers' BakeWise.) 

The cherry mixture consisted of 6 1/2 cups pitted cherries, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons of tapioca, and the rind and juice of 1 small lemon.

I baked the pie at 400º for 25 minutes then turned the heat down to 350º and let it bake another 35 minutes.


naughtyprata's picture

My sourdough starter had been doing quite fine the past few days,as I had been paying closer attention to refreshing it lately. It was so lively yesterday morning I decided to make one of the recipes in Reinhart's BBA. 

I was driving like a mad-man to get home from office (as best a mad-man Singapore's traffic laws would allow) anticipating my bread-baking adventure. I had to make a quick stop-over at the grocery as I had wanted to get some sharp cheddar cheese.

My wife was wondering why I had gone into the kitchen and started to mise en place in my shirt and tie. I brought out my starter from the fridge to take off the chill before I changed clothes. After which, I dove into my baking.  And here is the result...

I was so pleased with the results, I nearly ate half as soon as they cooled. I brought one to the office today and  was quickly consumed by my team with a few gulps of coffee. Seeing how my staff enjoyed it was even far better than great taste of the bread itself.

Very satisfying indeed!


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