baking

Miracle loaf & bread starters

Miracle loaf recipe

My bread baking journey started off, by collecting bread recipes on the internet for the baking machine as well as traditional oven baked artisan loaves. One thing led to another stocking of different types of flour began for the preparation of various loaves of bread.

Tips of fellow bakers to use pre-mix flour jars (e.g. cheaper than buying pre-mix brands) for pancakes batters, waffles, muffins as well as bread to keep at hand.

Searching for premix recipes, I stumbled upon the famed low-calorie, high protein bread flour recipe; “Cornell bread white and whole wheat flour bread” a.k.a Dr McCay’s miracle loaf, a nutrition professor at Cornell University.

The bread with extra protein in the form of soy flour, dry milk, and wheat germ turned into a staple bread flour mix replacing white bread. View a tested white bread version recipe here for bread machine here and a Low Carb version.

I stumbled upon this bread during an internet search for our bread baking machine. The miracle loaf is a fantastic recipe, it topped my favourite for weekly loaves of bread feeding our family.

Starters: Biga, poolish, sponge

Alternating between wholemeal, whole wheat or rye flour bread I moved on with healthy seed bread or sweet bread to keep everyone happy. The next step was making bread with pre-ferment, which is a fermentation starter an indirect method in bread making also called as ‘mother dough’.

Big fans of focaccia and ciabatta, both loaves of bread have a distinct flavour and texture with lots of airy holes. You must start with making a starter called biga (poolish and sponge are more or less the same being more watery compared to biga which is drier).

For Ciabatta you have to prepare the biga one day earlier to become active and for the dough to rise after mixing and kneading. When it has bulked up it is a soft wet dough quite sticky to handle and creates a sloppy shape in the form of a slipper, giving the Italian name for this type of bread. The French have their baguette, the Italians have Ciabatta, both great breads.

Sourdough starters

Progressing on, attempting to start a wild yeast sourdough starter which became a challenge, my earlier attempts failed due to surroundings and circumstances resulting in high acidity, mould or not active.

The quote is “As long as the starter is properly fed and cared for, it can be kept active for years to provide predictable results over and over again.” I started preparing two sourdough starters, one made of 100% Rye and the other entirely based on wholemeal.

Used the tried and tested recipes of Weekend Bakery Rye sourdough starter in easy steps and Sourdough home Mike’s old way sourdough starter with wholemeal flour.

Rye sourdough starter

Feeding Rye sourdough starter

After the first day nothing much happened but after the next 12 hrs, the wholemeal starter became active with small bubbles appearing on the surface. For the Rye starter, it took a bit longer 24 hrs to show activity, now both starters after each feeding and rest are doubling in volume with nice airy holes and bubbles.

Repeating the feeding cycle, from the images it appears as if the wholemeal starter doubled more. From the beginning, I have maintained the rye starter thicker but when stirring it feels like a light paste, after the third day discarded 2/3 before feeding and should have doubled the flour and water from 30 gramme to 60 gramme but I totally forgot about it. So I couldn’t take a cup of starter without almost cleaning out the jar.

Wholemeal sourdough starter

Wholemeal sourdough starter

Now five days have passed, both starters doubled consistently with loads of air bubbles. What might have been a factor aiding the progress is the weather temperature rising as well. Most likely making it a better environment for the wild yeast to latch on I suppose. The wholemeal starter I fed today with all-purpose flour according to Mike’s instructions to stop further development of micro-organisms in the starter.

Sourdough starters Wholemeal & Rye

Sourdough starters after one week (l) Wholemeal flour (r) Rye flour

Tomorrow both starters will be a week old and should by now become stable, one thing is for sure they both have developed a nice fruit, lightly vinegary smell. Will give it a day or two more to start preparing the first sourdough bread and most likely I can even use the discard for other purposes as well. I’ve found a very nice recipe for sourdough pancakes with discarded starter to try out soon.

Sourdough hydration level

Having viewed a lot of recipes, you can not miss the remark on the hydration level of the sourdough starter or the reference to the percentage. In the beginning that sounded like abracadabra to me, to help you some of the websites even include a calculator. Looking at the charts it only confused more, in fact, what it means is the percentage of water compared to the amount of flour, bakers refer for this reason to the flour weight as 100%.

I’ve found this reply helpful and explanatory on Sourdough.com forums:

For example, 100% hydration starter means a starter that has equal weight flour and water, 50% hydration would be half the weight of water compared to flour.  eg 50g flour and 50g water  = 100%, 100g flour and 50g water = 50% hydration starters.

Always take the flour weight as 100%, so if your dough recipe uses 500g flour and you want to make a wet ciabatta like dough, your hydration will be approx 80%, this means 80% of the flour weight (500g) will be how much water you add.  In this case, it will be 400g water.

The higher the % hydration the wetter the dough or more liquid the starter will be. Generally speaking, wetter doughs will also have nice big holes in the crumb, and drier/firmer doughs with lower hydration will have a closer more dense crumb.

If you are curious to learn more about this, here’s a list of resources and communities which I found very helpful on information, recipes and support;

Bread baking journey & starters continued

Next will be keeping the sourdough alive for an ongoing period of time.  Watch out for my next sourdough bread update, but have a look at my Ciabatta bread and recipe coming next.

Kitchenaid 5 Quart Plus Series Bowl-lift Stand Mixer

Becoming or being a gadget fan starts with having a hobby or a passion for finding better ways to prepare or achieve a better result. Where else than the kitchen to start with, my family knows I just can not pass a kitchen store, shop or department without browsing around. Same counts for a bookstore, digital electronics and mobile apps. The tools prerequisites; -functional; -practical; -affordable (not always attainable). Handy is The magic word.

I am not sure where the line draws or fades between household appliances and professional equipment. Or what defines an amateur from a professional, while both being passionate in what they design, prepare for the desired outcome. A great dish starts with fine ingredients, a good recipe with the right proportions and the cook bringing it all together.

Does equipment, having the right tools make a difference? Is it about the end result creating divine taste and presentation? The responses to these questions will evoke more than a straightforward answer. The one thing I know is that the tools of the trade and gadgets really can lighten up my day.

Kitchenaid 5 Quart Plus Series

As a teenager I started whipping cream and cakes by hand with an egg beater, slowly advancing to use electrical tools for speed and better results. One thing leads to another by searching for better vessels, improving technique, handy or specific gadgets followed by investing in equipment.

I purchased a KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series 5 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer more than a decade ago. I fell for the patented PowerKnead Spiral Dough Hook and quantity (size), making batter and bread for a large family with guests.

As a bonus, the promotion at the time included extras;  a second stainless steel bowl; 2 plastic bowl covers. The pouring shield with wide chute was bought separately, even still the bonus was a real bargain. If you have to buy these items separately now the total sum now will be around $70-$80 (click on the bowl link for the frequently bought together overview at the bottom).

If you have to buy these items separately it easily adds up $70-$80 (click on the bowl link for the frequently bought together overview at the bottom). KitchenAid discontinued the 5 Plus Series model and launched a whole new Artisan and Professional range.

My 5-quart stand mixer model still works without fail together with the stainless wire whip, the hook and paddle as standard attachments. The only con would be when using the flat beater you still had to scrape the sides as with other likewise counter top machines.

Four years ago I stumbled upon two fantastic gadgets for the Kitchenaid which I ordered online since the products were not available in The Netherlands at that time. I use these attachments constantly and can absolutely recommend these two favourite items;

    BeaterBlade

Whisk-A-Bowl

 

Beater Blade with a patented silicon wing for KitchenAid which beats, scrapes and folds ingredients beautifully from the sides cleanly no separate scraping needed, the New Metro design Beater Blade an accessory I use as a standard for mixing batters.

Whisk-A-Bowl by Pourfect, a KitchenAid exclusive tool. This attachment outperforms the standard large balloon whisk in beating egg whites, it cuts down on time and improves the volume of beating egg whites.

I also came across the Pourfect Mixing Bowls and Measuring Spoons sets. The measured mixing bowls are easy for prepping ingredients with a little lip at the pout making it easier and sturdier while pouring.

KitchenAid Sideswipe blade is its own improved design as an extra attachment which has soft swipe fins with gaps for better mixing with nuts without crushing them, according to America’s Test Kitchen it outperforms the Beaterblade in better results.

Another tool is the use of silicon mats, they come in various sizes but a silicon pastry mat with measures makes it easier while rolling the dough. The one displayed in the carousel is a Norpro product, by luck in our neighbourhood the local Lidl supermarket store than had an offer just as good and almost in the same price range.

 

Tip: 02/10/2014 On Amazon.com website I just found out that they sell The KitchenAid 5 Plus Serie KV25GOXER, the same model I own and based this post on. The original list price was $419,00 and now on sale for $287,00 FREE shipping. It was the smallest professional model now being discontinued, but the accessories are still available on the market.

Huat Kueh 发糕 or Prosperity Cake by Louisiana van Menxel

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A Guest recipe contribution from my Indonesian-Chinese friend and fantastic home Chef Lousiana van Menxel. Both our family moved around the same time to India and she has single-handedly rocked New Delhi with her famous Sate’s and left a lingering Indonesian food impression behind. They were sad to see her leave and I am very happy to enjoy her up close again, a more than welcome opportunity to sample even more of her dishes.

Louisiana shared her recipe of making Huat Kueh 发糕 (Fa Gao aka Fa kueh) or Prosperity Cake. Kue’s are a popular snack in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, (even Vietnamese and Thai dessert versions) as a former colony it is also popular in The Netherlands. What makes it so special is that besides local native specialities you can distinguish many different cultural influences as Chinese and European pastry making methods.

Another indication is language in Chinese-Indonesian culinary culture, mainly through loanwords derived from the Hokkien, Hakka and Cantonese dialects for many snacks and dishes. For example kue is derived from the Hokkien pronunciation ‘kueh’.

Huat Kueh or easier pronounced Prosperity cake, the name originates due to leavening process when the cake produces a bloom that bursts, opening up the top like a flower symbolizing a burst of prosperity.  The prosperity cakes were often used as props in many Lion dances during Chinese New Year’s celebrations or business openings to bring prosperity and good luck.

If not by friends or family food talk, a simple search on the internet will provide an impressive overload on recipes and making methods for Huat Kueh, which also proves how popular this scrumptious little cake is in south-east Asia and in Chinese diaspora’s across the globe.

'Huat Kueh' 发糕  Prosperity Cake

‘Huat Kueh’ 发糕 Prosperity Cake

 

The earliest method of making these cakes comes from the tradition of making Chinese rice wine as was customary in the old days in many farm households, a sustainable life was a survival necessity. Nothing was spoiled and everything has it purpose or re-used, so were the wine lees (sediment after wine is filtered). Wine lees* as well as soy pulp (okara) were fed to the pigs on the farm or the lees were used to be mixed with rice flour into fermentation in making these prosperity cakes, hence the wait for a couple days but it is absolutely worth it.

Fermented rice has many purposes and I have seen the product in plastic containers at the Oriental Supermarket in The Hague on display directly in front when you pass through the entry gates. Worth to note is that in south-east Asia you will often notice the use of Eno* as a substitute for baking powder.

Can’t wait to try my hand with Louisiana’s Huat Kueh, have devoured these on many occasions and now they hopefully will burst as prosperous out of my steam pan soon and yours too 🙂 However if you rather like to just east them, she is happy to make them for you, send me an e-mail request to connect with Louisiana HomeChef.

Terima kasih banyak, Lousiana! ♥ 非常感谢!

Huat Kueh 发糕

Louisiana’s resep asli in Indonesian for English recipe box below;

Bahan:
Mix A:
250 beras
2 sendok air
2 sendok teh ragi/ tape
2 sendok teh gula
Campur semua diamkan 2 hari

Mix B:
300 gr gula
4 gelas air
Di masak dan diamkan dingin

Menggabungkan:
A+ B di mixer di halusin semua baru campur 600 gr tepung beras dan diamkan 9 jam dan baking powder 2 sendok teh.

sebagai langkah terakhir:
Panaskan royang 20 menit
Taruhkan mangkok ke dlm kukus
Taruh ENO 2 sendok
Baru tuangkan kedalam mangkok kukus 20 menit.

Dingin dan Selamat makan

 

Prosperous tray of Huat Kueh

Prosperous tray of Huat Kueh

Note:

  • The Japanese sake rice lees makes a perfect marinade base for meat, vegetable or fish, read this food & wine article by Makiko Itoh. Digesting of brown lees is also good for health especially lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease according to a PubMed (US National Center for Biotechnology Information) article click to read for more information.
  • Eno (a fast-acting effervescent fruit salts, used as an antacid for upset stomach and reliever of bloating) contains; sodium bicarbonate, citric acid with anhydrous sodium bicarbonate, when it gets mixed with water the bubbles of CO₂ gets produced which relieves gases. The soda neutralizes the acids in the stomach. Hence their tag-line; “Gets to work in 6 seconds”. Available in little 150 gr. jars or 5 gr. sachets  at most Asian shops and supermarkets in The Netherlands and other European countries, however since 2013 it is withdrawn from the UK market. While Eno can be taken  by diabetics, their competitors with alternative fruit salts use sucrose making it unsuitable for diabetics.

Share a bread recipe and tips

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I’ve tried making soda bread before but couldn’t get a nice end result, so I browsed around on the internet and the best tip I read with recipe was shared on a sub group befittingly named Soda bread – The Art of Bread Google+ communities. The recipe is shared from Food52 here is the link to Peggy’s authentic Irish Soda bread with raisins, the only thing I changed was adding 1 cup of raisins instead of 1½ cup but that’s per every baker’s taste.

Without a doubt this recipe is a keeper, although I had to adjust the baking time due to my oven. The secret is simple, used the members advice from the soda bread group “do not over knead” to heart. I slightly stirred and gently round shaped it in glass baking dish. It worked;-)! Had guests coming over, served it fresh from the oven with real butter but everyone enjoyed the smell and texture as it was served. Make my day (morning!)!! Assembling and just bringing it together 15 min, in a pre-heated oven 45min, my older combi-oven took a bit longer 55-60min, all-in-all you’ll have fresh baked bread within a hour 😉