The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

PalwithnoovenP's blog

PalwithnoovenP's picture

My first bake for 2021!

Inspired by the Asian bakery pork floss roll and the food that can be considered as the symbol of 2020 and quarantine in the Philippines, "Baked Sushi."  Asian style breads are not as popular here; for bread purists, it is bread butchery at its finest but to us it is comfort and nostalgia. Many of you might be familiar with the pork floss roll but unfamiliar with the latter; it is essentially a baked rice casserole topped "Japanese" / Maki (notably California roll) ingredients. Most commonly it is prepared with sushi (seasoned, vinegared, short grain) rice topped with kani salad made creamy with mayonnaise and/or cream cheese then baked together until heated through and the top is barely crisp. Scoop a portion, wrap in crispy seaweed (the Korean snack is the best), then eat! Delicious! 

So inauthentic but so delicious! Whoever invented it was a genius, I heard it has origins in Hawaii and was popular there even years ago. It was popular here during quarantine as many people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic made a living and thrived by selling it. Later, I will show you some of my interpretations of it.

The dough was that of a soft sandwich loaf. I built my levain with milk, then added an egg, salt, sugar, and bread flour. I added milk bit by bit until it felt right. I kneaded it until a bit developed then added a knob of butter then kneaded it to full development. 4 hours bulk rise then into the fridge overnight.

I rolled the dough flat then proofed it for 3 hours. I brushed it with sushi vinegar before baking at 250C for 5 minutes. I took it out then spread my kani salad which is a mixture of Japanese mayonnaise, salt, sugar, vinegar with kani and peachers (I didn't have mangoes so I used canned peaches). Baked at 180C for 10 minutes then 250C top heat for the last five minutes. Immediately after taking out, I made shallow scores kani-side up the topped with nori then rolled into its parchment paper. As with Swiss rolls, it should be rolled while warm. I cooled it then sliced it like maki sushi.

The main difference with pork floss roll is those are baked fully the covered with mayonnaise and pork floss the rolles; this one is baked with the filling like a pizza then rolled, it is done to improve the taste of the filling. I wanted photography each stage but I was too busy with school so I just took pictures of the final roll.

Tastes like a California roll (but I don't like Avocado in savory dishes) but in a completely different form. The bread was buttery and fragrant and the ingredients inside balance each other; and the nori! It added a distinct "Japanese" umami taste that is not so common in breads sold here. It was devoured quickly!

If you want to make this, be careful not to overbake it. I baked this longer than normal because I want the toppings to caramelize a bit more so it was harder to roll but with a bit of power I coerced it into rolling smoothly.

I will definitely repeat this with other "maki variations" in the filling! Nice snack when the workload is insane!

2020 Baked Sushi - the inspiration for this bread. I hope you enjoyed this post! God Bless!

Same flavor but topped with tobiko.

I'm thinking of doing this flavor next.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

These cakes were made and raised purely with sourdough. In recent years, I have this knack for seizing every opportunity to showcase the versatility of sourdough. Inspired by our native cakes, I researched ancient and vintage recipes and this is what I came up with along with a fair share of failures. Using relative measurements and knowing when and how to adjust, now I can say that I already got the "feel" for making this cakes. I have posted similar stuff which you can find on my blog if you are interested but there are no exact recipes. :)

A new variation that I came up with. I had lots of leftover egg whites from ensaymada making so I made this financier inspired cake. A bit of almond meal next time will be excellent!

Look at those domed tops created by my starter. One might be skeptical that sourdough slows down or might even stop when faced with sugar (especially a high amount) but sourdough still have not failed me.

The texture is unlike any cake. It was bouncy, chewy, dense; very difficult to describe. The flavor is wonderful, that special sourdough flavor and aromatic compounds which can be detected by the nose but cannot be described by the mouth brimming with the aroma of butter with a nutty flavor. The crumb was moist but became moister the next day. These cakes really do improve as the day goes by.

Here is the crumb. The leavening action of the sourdough leaves distinct holes not dissimilar to some chemically-leavened South East Asian cakes.

My olive oil cake with I discovered and perfected in 2020, another variation, this time flavored with lemon. They are meant to have a very rustic look, though I find the looks of the previous ones I made more beautiful. It is different from all of my other cakes, even on the first day it is exceptionally moist with an almost custardy texture. It is almost a cross between a cake and a pudding! If you want to see the crumb, as I have posted sparingly the past year, the original post can still be easily found on the bottom or on the right side of this page depending on the device as of this writing; and you can see it there. In fear of overbaking, I pulled them out of the oven early. I should have baked this longer to get the crispy top crust; it is almost impossible to dry a cake as moist as this.

I hope you enjoyed this post and again I wish all of us a happier and healthier 2021!

Happy New Year!!!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

It's gonna be 2021 here in a few minutes and this is my mandatory yearend post. It has been a difficult time we have all been through. It changed our lives and left us in uncertainty but there is still that glimmer of hope. I wish all of us a better and blessed 2021.

Here is what I made today. 

I've come to terms with some spices this year. Before, at least with my own cooking, I really really hate the strong and pungent smell of some spices; especially cumin, I really abhor cumin! I can say it stinks! Really, it was just me not really knowing how to use and combine spices. When applied properly, it really elevates the taste of food. This year, I've tasted authentic Pakistani/Indian food and it was amazing. I want to taste it again but due to the lockdown, that restaurant closed. As usual, the only way for me to taste it is to make it. Later, I'll show you my first ventures in spices.

A really good shawarma is a childhood memory for me. But it turns out, the shawarma that I have loved as a kid is very far from the real deal in the Middle East, as told by a college friend who grew up in Saudi Arabia. (She was also the one who pointed me to the right direction for that authentic Pakistani/Indian restaurant) After some research, I found a good recipe online; and fortunately too, the city next to my town where I work is becoming more and more cosmopolitan, I found some "rare" spices (at least for me) in one of its large malls.

Shawarma here is always served with a flatbread more akin to a flour tortilla than the ones they use in the Middle East. As a personal twist, I made it with sourdough. It was a simple 70% hydration dough enriched with a little olive oil. I originally intended to make pitas but the bread did not puff up. I think It was too wet, almost impossible to roll thinly and evenly. As a result it did not have the correct texture; it was soft and chewy, just a bit stretchy, and with a custardy crumb. However, the flavor was so good, you could eat it plain.

I can't believe the smell when the chicken was being cooked, even just on the pan, it was insane! I could just imagine how it would smell when grilled properly! Shawarma is served differently depending on the country and meat. As I do not have time to make pickles and fries or to others chips; I chose to go with red onions, tomatoes, and cucumber as accompaniments since it is what I grew up with. I also did not go with toum or garlic sauce since I do not have the equipment to make it. The sauce I used was still garlic-flavored but yogurt-based similar to tzatziki.

Since the bread was too thin to be sliced in half but too thick to be rolled it ended up as a deconstructed shawarma plate later.


Though 2020 was not really good, it is the year in which I first ventured into South Asian Food on my own. It started when I first tasted a legit biryani recommended by my friend. I really liked the taste, then I got to taste their samosa, then many more. I met the owner and found out he is Pakistani. Wanting to know more about biryani and his one especially, I put my "language skills" if you can really call them skills to use. ;) I spoke to him a bit of Urdu (well Hindi is what I really studied a bit but they are just different registers of the Hindustani language) and we became friends immediately. I told him how I like his biryani and I told him the spices that I saw and then he proceeded to enumerate the spices he uses and their relative amounts. All of this in Urdu with just a little bit of English. Sometimes, even just the slight knowledge of various things is of great help. :)

Punjabi aloo samosa - I reconstructed the taste from memory from his samosas, it was sour with a hint of garam masala. One recipe I found was too flaky, similar to pie crust and/or empanadas, it was not similar and I do not prefer it. One time the crust was perfect; crispy, slightly chewy and stretchy but the spices were not right, it had onion and garlic too. Found some coriander the other day and it was much closer, as I did not have amchur, I substituted lemon juice and it almost tasted the same. I upped the ginger and green chilies too. I served it with some lemon chai, if there is such a thing. I really wish I had some imli ki chatni that day!

Last minute onion samosa - different wrapper and filling. I think it was closer to the middle eastern sambusa.

My first Biryani back in August. Some key spices were missing like cardamom, coriander and cloves but the taste was good but not close enough to the one I like. I saw a Kolkata-style biryani and thought potato might be good so I added it even though I still haven't tasted it in biryani before, so this actually is an amalgam of styles of biryani from the different regions in the Indian subcontinent. No aromatics too like rose water and kewra.

My second biryani, Lamb Biryani - Saw some lamb shank and shoulder in the supermarket for the first time and I was excited to try it. I thought it will be perfect for biryani; not knowing that mutton actually refers to goat in India. I made it closer to Hyderabadi style but still missing key spices and aromatics; the natural coloring I used also did not show up that well. Though, I made sure to get some mint as mint is classic accompaniment to lamb. Now comes the coriander (cilantro), I really don't like its taste and thought it will not come through due to all the strong flavors in the dish, Oh how wrong I was! It was so strong that I feel nauseated whenever the pot of the biryani was opened and no one in the family likes to try the lamb as it was too gamey for them so I was forced to eat it all by myself. 

The lamb was great! I love it! The shank was tender and sticky and infused the rice with its wonderful fat. Had it not been for the coriander I would have devoured it really quickly!

My third biryani- really eyeing for a Kolkata biryani with that potato. Still missing some key spices but I added those that I found to the spice mix. I also found a better natural colorant for that vivid streaks in the rice.

My final attempt this year. Finally found those spices; the cardamom, the coriander and I even found authentic saffron, how expensive it was! Especially cardamom and saffron, they really have those special aromas that are hard to describe. The yellow color of the rice came mainly from saffron. Really getting closer and closer to a Kolkata-style biryani, just made spicy with green chilies and with 1-3 aromatic distillates missing.

The Middle Eastern food that I prepared today is just the first, more will come God willing in 2021 and I hope to share it with you. Still tons of food that I learned to make in 2020. I will share them all hopefully in a more fitting post.

This really proves that there is really much to be thankful for, and us being able to witness another year is more than enough for us to consider ourselves truly blessed.

Happy New Year!

2020, you may not be the best year I still want to thank you for the things you have done to me. You allowed me to appreciate and value what I have more than ever, you allowed me to eat less and move more, you allowed me to discover and rediscover wonderful things; but most importantly, you brought me closer to God.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hi folks! This pandemic is still here but I'm still thankful that none of my family is sick, we still have food on our table and maybe the only major problem is an absence of a stable internet connection for four months already; it is only a problem because it compromises my performance for distance learning and other work from home arrangements from time to time. I hope you all are doing well amidst this crisis, let us pray this will end soon.

I still bake but mostly non-bread (cookies-maybe I'll do a separate post on those) and I try to cook food from different  parts of the globe. As I was browsing my photos I found photos of this bread that I made last year. I still remember the taste. It was a raisin bread inspired by pain aux raisins, instead of a laminated dough I used brioche dough which is closer to how raisin breads are and I spread a rich vanilla pastry cream then sprinkled a good helping rehydrated dark and golden raisins; a different route from cinnamon sugar, the folded it and baked it in a brioche suisse manner, It really reminded me of those "a-bit-better" days.

I'll keep it short and just tell the story through the photos. I did not expect this bread to be so huge. I expected its size to be only a third of it; should have divided it into three for more convenient slices.

Brioche dough

Rehydrated Raisins

Pastry Cream - 4 egg yolks for under a cup of milk.

Ready to be folded. I really love this look.


A rasin-candied mandarin biscotti. Got a bit sidetracked. :)

Eggwashed and ready to be baked.

Shiny and boldly baked. It deflated slightly when cooled.

A third of the whole loaf. The could have been perfect size. Looks like a ciabatta in
the last two shots.


The inside. Crust was thin and soft, crumb was soft with the slightest bit of chew; buttery and slightly tangy. The sweet pastry cream and raisins are perfect for this rich bread. So delicious! I cut it while warm and the cream gushed out, after cooling completely, slices were much cleaner and better. Delicious either warm or at room temperature.

Slices so neat, could have easily passed as cake in these last two shots! :)

I hoped you enjoyed this post. Hope to see you again soon!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I've tasted so many breads and pastries with peanuts but they're all sweet. Peanuts are wonderful savory too so I decided to make a savory peanut bread. Braised peanuts are our favorite which is not so common in where we live. Using the fresh peanuts that my mom bought before quarantine, I made these squares (well, they are not so square-shaped but I will stick with the name. :P) to pass time and have something delicious to eat. These are inspired by the guo kui and other Chinese breads.

Five spice braised peanuts. So good! You can snack on them on their own or eat them with rice.

 Fried garlic makes almost everything better. 

Braised Peanuts on dough with a bit of fried garlic and freshly snipped chives.

Basic dough with a bit of sugar and oil though lard would certainly be a welcome addition here. Rolled flat, sprinkled with all things delicious rolled into a cylinder then cut into squares. No proofing, pan fried for 3 minutes on each side then baked at 180C for 20 minutes. Crispy on the outside; stretchy, soft and chewy on the inside with that great peanut flavor and fragrant from the garlic and chives.





When I posted my homemade sausages months ago, I said that my first venture into meat preservation are Chinese ones and I save them for a more fitting post. Here is this post.

Sweet Chinese Sausage - made with ground meat and soy sauce. Different from the more commonly seen pinkish Chinese sausages which I think does not use soy sauce. It also differs in taste a bit but the quality is much better.


Steamed and ready to be eaten.

Chinese Liver Sausage - Made the traditional way with sliced meat and liver. I did not find any resource for this type of sausage, it seems it is not as common as the meat sausages. I don't if this will be a success since liver is different from meat, it much softer and more delicate with a higher water and blood content. I think it was a success! Sweet with a good meaty flavor but with that slightly gamy bitter bite from the liver. The sliced meat and liver offer contrasting textures which is really better compared to the sausage made with ground meat.



 Salted Chicken Leg - Traditionally will be duck but I can't find duck legs where I live so I substituted chicken legs. Very good! Tastes very different from fresh chicken, not very salty and deeply savory. I deboned one to see if it makes a difference and yes it did, the deboned was chewier and tougher. Best to cook it with rice and with sweet sausages. The salty chicken and sweet sausage complements each other really well.



Chinese Bacon - Air-dried pork belly with spices. Our favorite. My parents always requests that I make these so we have a steady supply.

Cooked with rice so the rice absorbs all the flavorful fat.

Hanging outside just like in the countryside. 

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I think I've just made my favorite cake! My first bake for 2020!

This was inspired by my torta, a modern cake on a cake traditionally made with lard, and a Spanish magdalena. I've been wanting to bake a magdalena ever since I saw it but it's only this time that I had the courage to try it, knowing how expensive olive oil can be and how I do not like it when I first tried it. The use of olive oil in it was so intriguing and interesting.

Knowing that most of the flavor will come from the olive oil, I made sure to use a high quality extra virgin Spanish olive oil. An arbequina was the choice for most magdalenas because of its sweet, fruity, and delicate flavor. I used something stronger so the flavor will shine through the cakes.

I used an olive oil made from a blend of picual (bitter and spicy) and hojiblanca (grassy and bitter). I tasted the oil straight up and it has a fruity smell reminiscent of banana.  It enters the palate smooth and sweet, followed by peppery notes, then a slight bitterness on the sides of the tongue and a spicy finish at the back of the throat.

In addition to flour, milk, eggs, salt, sugar, and olive oil, I flavored it with a local orange. What pairing is more classic than olive oil and citrus, most magdalenas are flavored with lemon zest. Our local orange has an intense unique fragrance not even close to lime, lemon, or classic orange. Compared to orange, the aroma is more mabagsik (sorry, I can't think of direct translation, intense? fierce?); I once candied it and the peels were still extremely bitter after three times of blanching. Even just the green rind, without the pit, it is already bitter. The skin was also very thin that it is difficult to get only the green zest without the bitter white pith. With its intensity, I only needed a small amount to perfume the cake, just a quarter teaspoon.

I never thought that sourdough would make a cake like this. I had a couple of more torta experiments (that I still have second thoughts of posting) before this and this is by far the best in terms of texture and flavor. This cake was purely raised by sourdough, no chemical or mechanical leavening. In my honest opinion, it was lighter, fluffier and more delicate that a traditional pound cake (that is, the one that is raised purely by air trapped in the batter during creaming).

Sorry for the weird angle! I just love how smooth and fine the sides of the cake are.

The cake had a very lovely flavor. The olive oil added an interesting savory note, if I did not know that there was olive oil, or if I were not familiar with it; I will be hard pressed to pinpoint were that flavor comes from. It tastes buttery despite the cake being made  solely with olive oil. It has nutty note too that if I also didn't know, I would think that there were almonds in it, probably due to the hojiblanca.

Like a classic olive oil cake, it has a thin crispy shell at the top and an interior so moist  almost to the point of being custardy. After a day, the crust turned shiny and soft and the crumb became moister and the flavor also developed to becoming more balanced and harmonious. This is a cake that really benefits with age.

If there is one word this cake is all about, it is subtlety. Subtly tangy, subtly sweet, subtly savory, subtly buttery, subtly nutty, subtly citrusy. This would go great with tea rather than coffee due to the delicate flavors.Earl grey if you want a tie of flavors; black tea for a classic palate cleanse between bites; or if you want something herby, tarragon tea will be nice.

I just love those sunlit photos! They have a more organic and mysterious feel. It feels as if I was really in the Mediterranean!


You can see in this photo the delicate and crispy top crust.

In a made-up history, during Spanish times it was a celebrated dish found only on the tables of the wealthy as only the upper class can afford excellent olive oil from the Mediterranean.

I became a litttle bit generous with the olive oil in the two molds and the oil floated on top of the batter. What a lovely pattern it created! Looks like a sunflower enhanced by the sunlight.

 I have never tasted a cake as sophisticated as this! 

I hope you enjoyed this olive oil cake. Until next time, thanks!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Same as last year's, the only differences are I used the best butter I found and I already got hold of the traditional Edam Cheese (Queso de Bola) used for a Filipino Ensaymada. Of course, I served it with traditional Filipino hot chocolate.

My colleague makes the best cooked ham so I made a version with ham, similar to our province's style of making ensaymada—the only thing missing is salted egg. Queso de bola is also saltier and more pungent/flavorful than most cheeses so a sprinkling is all that is needed for both versions.

It is already just a few more minutes before 2020 here! I wish all of us a happier, healthier, and more blessed 2020!

Happy New Year!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

When I was a little kid, when parents want to show off how good their kids were in spelling (it's a double-edged sword actually for it is also often used when you want to give someone a hard time :D), they will make them spell "Czechoslovakia." Being so foreign sounding and with a peculiar arrangement of consonants for our eyes and ears, it was really difficult for kids in this side of the world to spell and really shows how good they were in actually "memorizing" letters for the correct spelling.

We only know the word but we really don't know what Czechoslovakia actually was. It was only in high school during geography class I finally knew that it was a country that has peacefully became two independent countries. While browsing bread videos, I randomly saw this cute little buns called buchty and was surprised that it came from those countries The memories just came rushing back. If you want to know more about it, here is an excellent information and recipe. It is also popular in neighboring countries and goes by many other names.

Here is my sourdough version. (Pardon for the rushed photos and lumpy icing sugar, I did not have my little sifter with me...)

I did not have plum butter so I filled them with a dark raisin jam. I did not have the chance to cut one bun in half (because they were demolished so quickly) but you can see the filling peeking in the lower right corner of the next photo.

I served the way it is served in Austria, with vanilla sauce. So delicious!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Hello TFLers! I haven't posted for a long time because I was very busy. I just made it through my first year of practicing the noble profession of teaching so to celebrate it, I made a sourdough brioche. 100% sourdough, made with whole eggs and about 70% butter then baked in ensaymada style in ensaymada tins. I wish I have made a brioche à tête shape too given shape of the tins.Though simpler to make, it was still a labor of love; it took 36 hours from start to finish! The dough was wetter and richer in butter; I only kneaded by hand and it feels like baba dough which is usually made in a stand mixer. It was really worth it, so rich yet so light!

Crust was crisp and flaky and the crumb was so soft and light.The crumb was very shreddy and difficult to cut. I was lazy to get my serrated knife that's why crumb appears to be rough and non-uniform. I also used store-bought eggs (would you believe it? Our hens seldom lay eggs these days.) so it didn't have the nice color that I'm used to.

Fragrant and so buttery with a pronounced tang. It's less rich than my ensaymada but if you top this with butter, sugar and cheese; it will be a good ensaymada too. Not too sweet too because of less sugar and the absence of it in the topping. I chose to leave it plain and just eat with jam instead.

Served it with traditional hot chocolate just like the traditional ensaymada pairing. Perfect for this rainy day!

I hoped you enjoyed this post! See you next time!

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I was so busy the past week that I wanted to make something quick to celebrate Father's Day. Instead of making bread, I decided to make cookies. This is just my second time to bake cookies; I am slowly exploring quick breads in my oven. It was quick but not that easy because of a few components which was inspired by the cookie principle of Monsieur Albouze. I made 3 giant single serving cookies, though roughly the same but with a variation for each. To French speakers out there, sorry if I made a mistake with the name; it just came to my mind while thinking of a name for this cookie, je suis désolé !

Mangoes are our favorite fruit and it's mango season now so I thought of flavors that would go well with mangoes and make it into cookie form.

It starts with a rich, lightly salty, chewy cookie dough loaded with dried Philippine mangoes, roasted cashews and white chocolate disks. 

It was then stuffed with salted caramel in the middle then baked for 10 minutes at 180C. After 10 minutes, it was topped with more dried mangoes, white chocolate, homemade mango jam from slightly sour mangoes, and homemade caramelized cashews then baked again. After a further 10 minutes still at 180C, what you get is this fabulous cookie with intense but balanced flavors.

Here are the variations:

1. Exactly as the description above, stuffed with homemade soft and chewy salted caramel.

2. Yema, a Filipino candy made from reduced condensed milk replaces the salted caramel as filling.

3. Filled with Yema, topped with a slice of fresh mango in addition to the mango jam then finished with a sprinkling of dark chocolate. Our favorite!

It was so fragrant from all the add-ins in addition the butter and sugar. The nutty aroma can even be smelt outside the house while they were baking and when they were cooling. The chewy dried mango, crunchy nuts, gooey chocolate, sticky caramel, chunky jam, and soft and smooth mangoes make for a party of textures in the mouth; and the balance of flavors from the caramel, salt, tang from the fresh mango, sweetness form the dried mangoes and chocolate and the nuttiness from the cashews. So enjoyable to eat!

Look closely and you will see the caramel evenly distributed in the cookie.

Sorry if this was out of focus, I was in a hurry to eat it.

I had some beverages to pair with it but I found a glass of cold milk is the best! It really complements all of the flavors well. One more thing, how I wish I have filled all of them with my salted caramel, it really tastes way better with the mangoes than with the store bought candy (which I tried to see if making homemade is critical or just a waste of effort; if you can have an equal or better outcome using something store bought without effort, clearly the effort is worth it) and how I wish that it was the third variation that I have filled with the good stuff!

Happy Father's Day!


Subscribe to RSS - PalwithnoovenP's blog