The Fresh Loaf

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Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS). 



While in Hong Kong, I sampled pineapple buns (called 'ball-law-bao' 菠蘿包 in Cantonese) from EVERY Chinese bakery I passed by. To my disappointment, they didn't live up to my childhood memories. Some lacked that satisfying bounce after a bite, and some had an odd taste in their pineapple crust. However, my disappointment quickly faded because I had found the perfect, authentic recipe to recreate the ball-law-bao of my youth. This recipe comes from the book Hong Kong Bread by Chef Yung Ling Yau. P.S. There's a newer edition of this book with a revised title and additional recipes, including two more of my childhood favorites: egg tarts and coconut tarts.

Since decent ball-law-bao is hard to come by, I feel compelled to share this recipe with those who long for the delectable taste of this classic treat. 


While working with Chef Yau's recipe, I noticed something interesting: no salt was used. Surprisingly, the absence of salt didn't result in any unusual taste, thanks to the sweetness of the bread that masked the blandness. However, it's worth noting that the blandness becomes quite apparent in other salt-free bread dough, like Montreal-style bagels. So, generally, it's not a good idea to skip the salt.


The format of today's CLAS version recipe differs from my usual ones, as I prepared the instructions for a friend who adores my ball-law-bao but lacks experience in bread baking.





Ingredients for the Pineapple Crust 

- enough for 16 buns; use half for one bake


- Pastry/cake flour: 168g

- Sugar: 112g

- Butter: 14g

- Milk powder: 14g

- Egg yolk: 1

- Lard: 66g

- Condensed milk: 28g

- Evaporated milk: 28g

- Ammonia carbonate: 2g (available at Michael’s or online)

- Baking soda: 1g

- Yields approximately 454g of crust




1. Mix the above ingredients until they are just homogeneous.


2. Use half of the batch for one bake. The crust per bun should be approximately 28g. Roll it into a ball, flatten it into a disc by hand, then gently roll it out once. Rotate the disc 90 degrees and roll it out again. Repeat this process until you've come full circle. The discs should be large enough to cover the proven dough balls' top. Refrigerate the discs while the buns are proving.


3. Refrigerate the remaining crust for the next bake.


Hong Kong Pineapple Buns


Ingredients (for 8 buns):



- All-purpose flour: 243g

- Whole egg: 1 (about 50-60g)

- Sugar: 38g



- Warm water: 84g (divided)



- Whole-wheat CLAS (flour + liquid): 19g

- Kosher salt: 3.8g (optional)

- GOLD yeast: 1.8g



- Butter: 23g (diced)



- Milk: 51g




1. Mix

  - Add ingredients from A. to the mixer with a paddle attachment.

  - Start the mixer.

  - Gradually add B. until a dough forms and all ingredients are moistened. Reserve any unused water for later use; you may not need all 84g, depending on how absorbent the flour is.


2. Rest

  - Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.


3. Mix (again)

  - Switch to the dough hook.

  - Add C. and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add a little water to moisten if needed.

  - Mix with the dough hook until the dough gains strength and starts pulling away from the mixing bowl's sides.

  - Gradually add D. until well incorporated.

  - Gradually drizzle E. while the mixer is running. Add more after each drizzle is well incorporated into the dough.

  - If, at any point, the machine sounds labored or heats up, stop mixing and put the mixing bowl into the fridge to cool for 10 minutes before resuming mixing.

  - If you feel that the dough can take in more water or it feels dry (though not likely), and you have water reserved from above, drizzle it into the dough while the mixer is running and mix until it’s well incorporated.


4. Bulk Ferment – 1st rise

  - Place the dough in a straight-sided container and let it rise in a warm place until the volume doubles.


5. Divide and Preheat Oven

  - Divide the dough into 8 portions, approximately 63g each, and shape them into dough balls.

  - Prepare the crust, dividing it into 8 portions, approximately 28g each. Flatten and roll them into discs large enough to cover the top of the dough balls.

  - Preheat the oven to 392°F (for a darker crust) or 375°F (for a golden crust).


6. Final Proof - 2nd rise

  - Cover the dough balls and let them rise in a warm place (around 30°C) for about 30 minutes or until the dough appears slightly puffy.


7. Bake

  - Place a crust disc on each dough ball.

  - Apply an egg wash (whole egg whisked) on top.

  - Bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until the top appears golden. Rotate halfway through.

















Here's a video that tells the story of pineapple buns:



Yippee's picture


Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS). 



With CLAS, making 100% whole-spelt bread with freshly milled flour is simple; anyone can do it. Without using fat, dairy, sugar, or vital wheat gluten, and without turning on the big oven, you can enjoy an aromatic and wholesome loaf in just a few hours through proper dough development and fermentation.





10% flour from whole-spelt CLAS👇👇👇

90% freshly ground whole-spelt flour

15% water from whole-spelt CLAS

50% water,  ~40-45°C

7% water

1.8% salt

0.7% dry yeast

Total dough weight 580g



x 20-30 mins

Dough temp ~31-32°C


Bulk ferment

38-40°C x 50 mins






35°C x 25 mins



400F x 19 mins, covered with a stainless steel dish

remove the stainless steel dish

400F x 20 mins


400F x 20 mins



400F x 5 mins browning the top





Grind the spelt berries in the Vitamix 



until silky-smooth.




Add whole-spelt CLAS to the Zo.




Mix the dough in the Zo. 

If you prefer to increase the dough's hydration, refer to this post for detailed mixing directions.  



Dough temp ~31-32°C



Witness the remarkable gluten development of this 100% whole-grain dough within 30 minutes!

CLAS rocks!💪💪💪



Ferment the dough in the Zo,using Zo's preset "Rise 3" feature.

~38-40°C x 50 mins



Shape the dough and transfer it to a cake pan, covering it with a pizza pan.





Prove the dough in the Instant Vortex using its dehydrating feature. 

35°C x 25 mins





Score the dough to maximize rise and bloom in the air fryer.




Bake in the Instant Vortex without preheating, covering the pans with an inverted stainless steel dish.



400F x 19 mins

remove the stainless steel dish

400F x 20 mins


400F x 20 mins



400F x 5 mins browning the top







I forgot to take pictures of the bottom. 🙄🙄🙄



The crumb.



That's it!




👉👉👉How to make whole-spelt CLAS


 ground wheat malt: 25g

 Whole grain spelt flour: 75g

 Water T. 45°C: 140 ml

 Vinegar (5% acidity): 10 ml

 Fermentation temperature: 38°C±2°C

 Fermentation time: 24-36h

 Hydration: 150%

 End pH: around 4


To refresh spelt CLAS

1:7 (spelt flour in CLAS: new spelt flour), no vinegar needed

150% hydration@38+-2 C x 12 hours

I usually make about 500g of CLAS at a time with 200g of grains. It stays in the fridge until I need it to bake, and I stir it thoroughly before use. I usually warm it up with one of Zo's fermentation features while I prepare the remaining ingredients. When I've used up most of the 500g of CLAS, I refresh it using the 1:7 ratio to make another 500g, give or take. 


I set up a water bath (~low 40s C) in the Instant Pot, support the container with a trivet, and use the Instant Pot's yogurt feature to make CLAS:    

Then cover it with the lid.


P.S. 20230722 🤔🤔🤔


I can also make CLAS in the Zo using its 'Rise 3' feature because it operates within the same temperature range as a yogurt maker. I can either take out the bread pan, place the container with CLAS in the bread machine, supporting it with a trivet, or ferment the CLAS directly in the bread pan.



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Remember when I said not to use stainless steel for baking bread in the air fryer? Well, on second thought, I decided to take advantage of its relatively lower thermal conductivity to improve my bakes. By adding a tiny step, the dough now has more time to rise and bloom in the air fryer. The result? Bread that develops a grigne similar to what you would get from a conventional oven!👏👏👏


As usual, mix the dough in the Zo 


bulk ferment in the Zo




shaped, put into the cake barrel, and covered with the pizza pan


Remove the rack from the air fryer, as the pans will be too tall to fit inside otherwise.

Prove in the air fryer, using the dehydrating feature.








Time to bake!



Here's the tiny extra step!


No preheat 

400F x 15-20 mins

then remove the stainless steel dish(18cm dia., often sold in the kitchenware section of an Asian supermarket), which I normally use to steam 🐠🐠🐠😄😄😄

400F x 25 mins


400F x 15 mins






the bottom



the crumb (click to enlarge)


Upon a close review of the crumb in the picture, it appears that the area immediately beneath the crust might benefit from a few more minutes of baking before flipping to bake the bottom.)

To compare apples to apples, this is the same bread I made in my previous air fryer bread post. It's a simple, yet delicious white bread with the following ingredients:


97% AP

3% whole rye CLAS

61% water

2% salt

0.7% dry yeast

Total dough weight ~ 1lb




Air-fried Hong Kong-style French Toast



- Two big, fat slices of bread (sliced on my meat slicer set at #20), with the crust removed and reserved👇👇👇

- Two eggs, whisked with some heavy cream and a tiny pinch of salt

- Butter for greasing parchment paper

- Peanut butter and condensed milk (mixed at a ratio of 2:1) 

- Cold butter for topping

 - Maple syrup or condensed milk for drizzling 


1. Whisk two eggs with some heavy cream and a tiny pinch of salt

2. Soak the bread in the egg-cream mixture until saturated

3. Preheat the air fryer @ 400°F x 1 min

4. Place the soaked slices on parchment paper greased with butter


4a. Brush with melted butter if desired.

5. Air fry at 350°F x 6 mins, until slightly golden brown

6. Flip the slices


6a. Brush with melted butter if desired.

7. Air fry at 350°F x 4 mins, until golden brown

8. In the meantime, mix peanut butter with condensed milk at a ratio of 2:1 by weight

9. Slather the toast with the peanut butter mixture.



If the peanut butter-condensed milk mixture is too thick, thin it with some water and stir. If it's not homogeneous, microwave it in 10-second increments, stirring in between, until the desired consistency is achieved.

This consistency is more like it:

10. Fold one slice on top of the other.

11. Halve the slices

12. Top with cold butter. Drizzle with maple syrup or condensed milk if desired.

13. Enjoy!




Air-fried Garlic Croutons


It's actually easier to trim the crust with a pair of scissors than with a bread knife. 


Spread the trimmed crust, ~ 75g, onto a pan in a single layer. 

Drizzle 15g or ~1.5 TBS of olive oil over the crust. 

Mince 2 garlic cloves. 

Sprinkle ~1/8 teaspoon of salt. 

Cover the pan with an inverted pan. 

Shake, shake, shake.


Air Fried

350F x 15mins

check, shake

350F x 10mins

check, shake

350F x 5mins


Let cool before serving (click to enlarge)





Serve with Kabocha soup.


I rarely cook without fat or sugar, but using either in this soup would ruin its natural sweetness and creaminess. Therefore, the only seasonings I use are fresh herbs from my garden to complement the natural flavors.




- 1 kabocha

- 6 large Roma tomatoes

- 2 medium sweet onions (with skin on)

- Fresh rosemary and oregano


Place the ingredients in the inner pot of the Instant Pot, like so👇👇👇

+ 200 ml water


Cook under high pressure x 60 mins.





Once cooled, set the kabocha aside and remove the stem stub. 




Remove the stems from the herbs and squeeze the onions from their skin. Discard the onion skins. Transfer all the remaining ingredients from the Instant Pot into the Vitamix. Blend the mixture until it becomes homogeneous.




Set the tomato-onion mixture aside.



+500g of kabocha (including skin and seeds) to the Vitamix

+500g of the tomato-onion mixture

+200-300g of water (add more if needed to run the Vitamix, but do not exceed 400g to avoid straining the motor).

Blend until the mixture is homogenous. 

Pour the blended mixture into a large container.




Repeat 4. until all ingredients are blended. Mix everything well.


Makes about 4 quarts. Serve cold or warm; either way, it is delicious.




Yippee's picture



Lately, I haven't been in the mood to update my blog, as all my energy and spare time are being consumed by gardening. Nevertheless, I wanted to create a quick post to show you something that might interest you: me using my electric sieve shaker... to sift soil. 

The primary function of the sieve shaker is to shake and sift, and it performs this task as expected. By default, it sifts using a single 30cm-diameter, 10cm-high sieve. However, I "hacked" it by stacking two such sieves and anchoring them with a 6.5-inch throttled return spring I purchased from ACE Hardware. Hacking the shaker with two sieves produces a clanking noise when it shakes, which could suggest that the spring isn't tight enough. 

I couldn't find a throttled return spring long enough to secure three sieves. It would be cool if I could run three sieves simultaneously.

While fully automating the sifting process with triple sieves is impossible until I find the right spring, I did figure out a "semi-automatic" way to sift with three sieves - by rocking them with a 14-inch stainless steel Ikea serving bowl.

P.S. 20230420

After using and comparing the two methods multiple times, I find that the semi-automatic method is less of a hassle because there's no need to hook up to electricity outdoors and the sieves can withstand a heavier load without straining the motor of the sieve shaker. Since I'm referring to sifting dirt/soil, home-milled flour probably wouldn't put as much strain on the motor.





I lugged these three custom-made sieves back from Hong Kong!



6.5-inch throttled return spring





the "semi-automatic" shaker


Yippee's picture


Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS).





85% fresh whole durum flour

15% whole durum flour from durum CLAS

22.5% water from durum CLAS

10% butter

6% olive oil

22% tomato sauce

1% coarse black pepper

2% salt


Total dough weight ~500g

divided into 50g dough balls







Rosemary and oregano from my garden





Blend the herbs with fresh durum flour in Vitamix




Mix a stiff dough 








Divide and freeze, similar to handling durum noodle dough




Roll the dough thinner to make crisps - pasta roller #5




Halve the dough to fit in the air fryer




Use a trivet to prevent the dough from flying




285F x 2mins


285F x 2mins





whole-durum crisps!





Yippee's picture


Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS).



I need to find a way to speed up using the fifty-pound durum berries I bought from Central Milling when their shipping costs were still reasonable. So I use them to make 100% whole-durum noodles with CLAS. Surprisingly, the durum noodles have some sweet aroma that others don't, although the recipe is similar to spelt noodles. Of all the noodles I've made, my family likes durum noodles the best. Through practice, I am getting better at making stiff dough for the noodles. 







P.S. 20230213 Stress-free "mass production"


How can I make large batches of durum noodles, i.e., use more durum berries at a time, without overwhelming myself with the extra work? 🤔🤔🤔                   💡💡💡 Freeze the dough!  This is the stiffest dough I've ever made! 13% whole durum flour, from whole-durum CLAS87% fresh whole durum flour, ground by Vitamix19% water, from whole-durum CLAS40% extra large egg4% seasonings Total dough weight ~1040gdurum berries used ~640g                            Divide the dough into 50g portions and freeze.            Thaw out the portions needed at room temperature.            roll out            pasta roller#1 x 1 😰😰😰            Lightly mist the dough before each subsequent fold and pass, until 👉👉👉            pasta roller#1 x 1, fold; repeat a few times until the dough is smooth                                                                  pasta roller #2 x 2        pasta roller #3 x 2         pasta roller #4 x 2                                                               fettuccine cutter x 1                                                                              Whole-durum noodles with pork belly and homemade cracklins - this time, I made sure I didn't leave out the cracklins!                           



Yippee's picture


Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS).



This one is for fun. See my spelt noodle and soba posts for more details. 





4% whole durum flour from whole durum CLAS 

8% whole rye flour from whole rye CLAS 

68% fresh whole wheat flour

20% fresh whole durum flour


6% water from whole durum CLAS 

15% water from whole rye CLAS 

28% whole egg (1)


1.5% salt 









Use lye water in half of the dough but find little difference in texture, maybe because the dough has sourdough.



Yippee's picture


Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS). 




This whole-spelt noodle requires a little more work than soba, but not too bad.





13% whole spelt flour from whole spelt CLAS

81% fresh whole spelt flour 

19% water from whole spelt CLAS 

33% whole egg (1)

season the dough to taste




6% extra whole spelt flour  


Dough consistency when done mixing. Total dough weight ~250g. Rest 1-2 hours 


divide into 5 x 50g dough balls


pasta roller#1 x 1, fold; repeat 3-4 times until the dough is smooth.

pasta roller#2 x 2-3

pasta roller#3 x 2

pasta roller#4 x 1

place the dough sheets between parchment paper



fettuccine cutter x 1



What a scene (to a newbie)!


See my soba noodle post for cooking setup. 


Thinner noodles have a more delicate texture.







P.S. 20230205 whole-spelt noodles with homemade cracklins


Use a much stiffer dough so that I don't have to hang the noodles.


Trying a new technique









A whole-grain version of an old-time Hong Kong street food - noodles with cracklins,(🐷)油渣麵 but I forgot to add the cracklins to the broth!






Yippee's picture


Please see here and here to learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS). 




Inspired by Jo_en's post, I've started making 100% wholegrain noodles with CLAS and various grains. Buckwheat (soba) noodles are the easiest to make - the dough has no gluten, so running it back and forth in the pasta maker is unnecessary. The key is to make it fast - the longer it takes to run the dough through the pasta maker, the more likely it is to crack.

My noodle-making experience is limited to making spaghetti twice. If I can make 100% whole buckwheat noodles with CLAS in less than 30 minutes, so can you. The entire process is indeed as simple as 1-2-3! Let me show you the magic of CLAS again! 

I've made buckwheat noodles with water or a whole egg as the liquid. Both work just as well with CLAS, but more flour is usually needed when using whole eggs because it determines how much flour I must add to mix the dough to the right consistency. If I don't use egg as the liquid, I can use less flour and add water accordingly.

Ideally, I would substitute hulled buckwheat groats for a smoother texture, but the whole buckwheat is all I have.




Soba noodles with water





13% whole buckwheat flour from whole buckwheat CLAS 👇👇👇

25% water from whole buckwheat CLAS 

87% fresh whole buckwheat flour, ground by Vitamix

season the dough to taste

I use

3% shaved bonito, ground with the whole buckwheat

2% Kirkland no-salt spice mix, ground with the whole buckwheat




24% water







This is probably the easiest dough I've ever mixed! As you drizzle the water into the dough, keep feeling the dough and imagining how well it will pass through the pasta maker. 



dough texture when done mixing






not sticky at all



Total dough weight ~ 200g



Divide into 4 x 50g dough balls 







No rest; start rolling immediately after mixing.





pasta roller #1 x 1


halve the dough






pasta roller #2 x 2

pasta roller #3 x 1

                                      fettuccine cutter x 1             You see, all done within 30 minutes by a newbie! It certainly doesn't take ten years of training to master making 100% soba noodles as some people have claimed! 


Place the noodles between parchment paper before boiling them.

                   CookHave three pots ready: #1. with water, oil, and seasoning (to taste) to boil the noodles for 2 minutes
   #2. place a strainer inside and pour the contents of pot #1 here. Use this pot alternately with pot #1 to cook the noodles.  #3. with ice water. Take the strainer out of pot #2 and put it here to cool the noodles. 
 soba noodles made with flour and water
  soba noodles made with flour and egg  Soba noodles with bonito kombu broth
  A simple dinner. 

👉👉👉How to make whole-buckwheat CLAS


 ground barley malt: 25g

 Whole grain buckwheat flour: 75g

 Water T. 45°C: 180 ml

 Vinegar (5% acidity): 10 ml

 Fermentation temperature: 40°C±2°C

 Fermentation time: 24-36h

 Hydration: 190%

 End pH: around 4


To refresh buckwheat CLAS

1:9 (buckwheat flour in CLAS: new buckwheat flour), no vinegar needed

190% hydration @ 40°C±2°C x 12 hours


I set up a water bath (~low 40s C) in the Instant Pot, support the container with a trivet, and use the Instant Pot's yogurt feature to make CLAS:   



Then cover it with the lid.



Bye-bye, pH meter!



Yippee's picture



I own all five books written by Chef Grégoire Michaud, the owner and founder of Bakehouse in Hong Kong, but I didn't have his autograph. So when travel restrictions in Hong Kong are relaxed, I return to Hong Kong around Thanksgiving to visit family and ask Chef Michaud to sign my book.


I made several types of bread from his books, and they all turned out great.  I am so excited to finally meet him (and his wife, Vianna)! We have a pleasant conversation about his family, his bakeries, how he connects his business to the local communities to sustain them, and his plans to expand it to Mainland. His dedication to maintaining high-quality baked goods and his enthusiasm for developing new products is admirable. He is such a nice guy that he invites us to the central bakehouse, his "playground" in Chai Wan, where his team prepares the dough and his pet starter, Roger, is kept.  It is an eye-opening experience to see the entire production workflow - how the dough is prepared, fermented, baked, and dispatched.  How I wish I could have some of the high-tech toys there! Did you know that some of the mega walk-in freezers there can freeze a human being to the core in under 30 minutes? "Horrifying" deep freezers like these enable his team to flash-freeze shaped and proved croissant dough and deliver it to his bakeries, where bakers thaw and bake it fresh multiple times during business hours. As a result, customers can enjoy fresh croissants throughout the day. 


In addition to Chef Michaud's central bakehouse, we visit his bakeries at various locations and have a romantic lunch "date" at the Wanchai location. Our visit to Chef Michaud's bakeries in Hong Kong is inspiring and much more enjoyable than the upsetting experience at a local Bay Area bakery I told you about last year. The fond memories of meeting Chef Michaud, one of my favorite bakers, will last a lifetime!


I look forward to having another date at Chef Michaud's bakery next time in Hong Kong!



















The first course of a meal - desserts!!!



FROZEN EGG TART CUSTARD SUNDAEMara Strawberries, Caramelised Pecans

Bakehouse's best-selling items - SOURDOUGH EGG TART and CROISSANT






It's that time of the year again - panettone time!





Stunning night view of Victoria Harbour


Best time to visit Hong Kong: around Thanksgiving


My must-visit authentic Hong Kong eateries: 


Sheng Kee Porridge & Noodles - famous for its wonton noodles

on the Kowloon side

G/F, 11 Parkes Street, Jordan

MTR Jordan Station, C2 exit, ~ 2-minute walk

Tel: 23513018


Master Low-key Food Shop - famous for its bubble egg waffles

on the Hong Kong side

Shop B3, G/F, 76A Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan

MTR Shau Kei Wan Station, B1 exit, ~ 2-minute walk

Tel: 69868500


When I'm not in Hong Kong and craving authentic Hong Kong desserts and cafe-style fare, I usually follow Jerry and Maggie's recipes to make my own. 





The following channels have done a much better job introducing Chef Michaud than I do:



Bakehouse Wanchai, where we have our lunch date, and the central bakehouse, where we meet Roger, the starter


Bakehouse Soho


Bakehouse Causeway Bay, where we try the November special - Tiramisu danish


Bakehouse Tsim Sha Tsui


Bakehouse Stanley


Bakehouse outreach 1 - making bread in an old-fashioned Hong Kong bakery


Bakehouse outreach 2 - making moon cake



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