With the coronavirus COVID-19 situation still very much unfolding, my family (including our 2-year old toddler) have been working from home now for the last 8 weeks. With lockdown fatigue firmly setting in, I wanted to share this comfort-food bread recipe with all of you. This sourdough cinnamon raisin bread is the perfect treat to cheer you up for breakfast or as part of your (new) morning or afternoon snack time. At least in our house, we now have five mealtimes a day…!
Sourdough cinnamon raisin bread – an easy but delicious treat
This easy cinnamon raisin sourdough bread recipe doesn’t need yeast and you won’t need many ingredients; wheat and rye flour, rye flakes or oats, cinnamon, raisins, salt and water are all you need. I like to have my sourdough cinnamon raisin bread slices toasted with butter. My husband adds a little bit of honey. Whatever way you decide to serve it, I’m sure it’ll receive a ‘loud, resounding cheer’ (there’s been a dramatic increase in storytime reading during lockdown and I find myself using Julia Donaldson‘s language from her books more than can be considered normal!) from all who have gathered around the table.
Before I share the recipe, a couple of interesting points to note about…
Baking with cinnamon
Cinnamon is a strong spice and adding it to bread dough markedly changes the flavour of the loaf.
Adding cinnamon greatly impairs yeast activity. The chemical compound ‘cinnamic aldehyde’ is responsible for this. If you are using a significant amount of cinnamon in your bread (e.g. 1-2% of cinnamon when compared to the flour amount), you would need to increase the amount of yeast you use, or in the case of a sourdough recipe, the fermentation process will take a lot longer. In my recipe below, I’m only using 0.4% of cinnamon based on the flour content, so the impact is minimal.
This raisin and cinnamon loaf is rich and plump with fruit, without making the raisin content an overbearing ingredient. The raisins complement the rye-infused sourdough flavours of this bread nicely, while the cinnamon offers that irresistible fragrance.
For your starter
50gwholemeal rye flour
For the main dough
350gstrong white wheat flour
100gwholemeal rye flour
50grye flakes or oats
How to make sourdough cinnamon raisin bread
On day 1, prepare the sourdough by combining 50g sourdough starter, 50g water and 50g wholemeal rye flour in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and leave to rest at room temperature for 16-24 hours. Your refreshed starter will be full of bubbles and will rise considerably during that time.
On day 2, start by making a raisin mush. Combine 125g raisins and 375g warm water. Leave them to soak for at least 30 minutes. You can also soak them overnight if more convenient.
Next, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl: 350g strong white wheat flour, 100g wholemeal rye flour, 50g rye flakes or oats, 10g salt and 2g cinnamon. Use a balloon whisk to mix the ingredients together well.
Strain the raisins, but keep the raisin water.
Add 100g of your sourdough and raisin water to your dry ingredients to form an evenly combined dough.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 1 hour.
Add the raisins and fold in until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Lightly flour the work surface, then shape the dough into a rectangular loaf – lots of the raisins will pop out on the dough surface, but that’s ok and will make for a very nice look – dip it in flour all-round, so it doesn’t stick, then place on a baking tray lined with baking paper to proof.
Cover with a moist (but clean) dish towel and leave to proof for 2-4 hours depending on your room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 210°C.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the loaf is a good brown colour and the temperature is at least 93°C. I usually cover the top of the loaf with tin foil for the last 10-15 minutes to prevent the raisins from burning.
Cool on a wire rack.
If you like fruited breads, here are some other options for you to try:
In times like these, we are all looking for home comforts. For me, there are some recipes which always make me feel great, even preparing them brings joy. One particular favourite is Kaiserschmarrn – especially when I can have it with the traditional Zwetschkenröster (plum compote) on the side.
Kaiserschmarrn is a ski hut favourite, and if you are looking for some more ideas to take you back to the good old days of spending time on the slopes, you might also want to try my Germknödel recipe.
This recipe makes enough for 2-3 people, but you can easily double the recipe.
Please don’t look for a low calorie version of this recipe. It won’t be Kaiserschmarrn or taste anything like it if you don’t use plenty of butter! At the same time, don’t be tempted to add more sugar into the batter. Instead, you can increase the sweetness of the Kaiserschmarrn by adding icing sugar before serving. You probably won’t need much sugar at all if you are serving it with plum compote.
3tbsprumI use Stroh rum or water (if you are making this for kids)
Butterapprox. 20g per pan
How to make Kaiserschmarrn
Place the raisins in a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of rum (or cognac if you don’t have rum; or water if you are cooking for children or you don’t want to you alcohol).
In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, the vanilla paste, half a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.
Use a hand mixer to mix until creamy.
Add flour and milk, not everything at once, but bit by bit, mixing as you go along.
Continue until you have added in all the flour and milk.
Pour in the melted butter. Don’t worry if the batter is rather runny, that’s perfectly fine.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or lid and leave to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
After that time, use the hand mixer once more to briefly whisk the batter.In another medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks.
Slowly and carefully add the whisked egg whites to the main batter until fully incorporated.
Finally, add the strained raisins (i.e. without the liquid) to the batter.
Add the butter to the frying pan.
Once melted, pour in the batter – approximately 1cm high. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have enough for two pan fulls.
Over a medium heat, let that batter brown on one side without disturbing it.
Use a spatula to carefully check the browning process.
Once browned enough, quarter the batter with your spatula and turn the pieces.
Brown these pieces as well, then divide into bite-size pieces with the spatula while still in the pan.
Add a teaspoon of sugar, turn the pieces and briefly leave to caramelise briefly.
Serve with a dusting of icing sugar. If you want to keep it warm, use a baking tray lined with baking paper or a casserole dish and keep warm at 80°C (upper and lower heat is best here; don’t use a fan to avoid drying the Kaiserschmarrn out).
If you have enough batter for a second pan-load, give the batter a quick whisk to distribute the raisins which have sunk to the bottom of the bowl and make sure you add more butter to the pan before pouring in the batter.
I’ve only ever made this recipe with Austrian Hauszwetschken, grown on my family’s fruit trees, but I’m sure you can make an equally tasty compote with other types of plum or damsons. It’s a quick and simple recipe, makes enough for several portions of the plum sauce and can easily be frozen.
1small cinnamon stick
1kgplumsde-stoned and halved
How to make plum compote (Zwetschkenröster)
Place the water, cloves, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and sugar in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, simmer for a few minutes, then add the de-stoned and halved plums.
Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid.
Slowly simmer until the plums have softened sufficiently.
Once the skin is coming off and curls up and the plums dissolve, the compote is ready.
The current COVID-19 related lockdown, the social distancing and self isolation measures offer for many an opportunity to dabble in sourdough baking. And with a first foray into cultivating a sourdough starter comes the need for sourdough starter troubleshooting.
This post is aimed at answering your sourdough starter questions so you can overcome any issues and problems you may encounter along the way.
Sourdough Starter Problems – Your Questions Answered
Below, you will find a list of frequently asked sourdough starter questions. If you do have additional questions, please leave a comment at the end of this post and I’ll cover the answer by updating this list of FAQs.
The following trusted book companions have helped me resolve many of my own sourdough starter problems, and as such, I’ve included some helpful suggestions from the books in the below answers:
What ingredients do I need to make sourdough starter from scratch?
All that is needed to produce a sourdough starter from scratch is that flour and water are combined and left in a warm place. The magic will happen from there.
Natural yeasts and lactic acid bacteria are present in any sample of spelt, wheat or rye flour. Water and warmth provide the conditions for their growth. Flour contains everything necessary to sustain a sourdough.
Often suggested additional ingredients such as apple, grapes, milk, pineapple juice, vinegar, yoghurt, kefir, yeast or raisins which are meant to act as aids in developing the starter, are simply not required.
The shortest, simplest route to a sustainable sourdough is flour and water.
Sourdough starter consistency – What should it be like?
My sourdough starter has water/liquid on top, appears to have split, the solids separating. – If your starter hasn’t been refreshed for a while, it will look inactive (likely no bubbles) and some grey-brown liquid may have risen to the surface. This runny/watery/liquidy appearance is no cause for concern. The longer it is kept without refreshment (i.e. the process of adding flour and water after being stored in the fridge), the more likely it is to have a liquid layer.
Is my sourdough starter too wet or too thick? – Rye starters are almost always made very wet and sloppy while wheat starters are usually more like a normal dough.
My sourdough starter has formed a crust. – It’s likely that your sourdough starter has been left uncovered and exposed to air for too long. No harm done. Simply dispose of the crust and use the main part of the sourdough starter underneath for your refreshment i.e. add flour and water to the sourdough starter once the crust has been removed.
Is my sourdough starter ‘dead’? Has it gone bad?
A previously viable sourdough starter which has been stored in the fridge (which can be days, weeks or months) is almost certainly not ‘dead’, even if it looks totally inactive.
My sourdough starter is mouldy. – In the first day or two of a starter’s life, when the lactic acid bacteria are still developing and have not produced sufficient selective anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds to sterilise the mixture, it is possible for moulds to get a foothold. – In an older starter that is being kept in a tub (perhaps with an incomplete seal), moulds sometimes creep in where there is a lot of space above the starter, i.e. between its surface and the lid. This space contains enough oxygen for any moulds that may settle and multiply. The main part of the starter is usually sufficiently acid to inhibit any such growth. – If white mould has spread, skim off the majority of the mould, then refresh the mixture by adding some fresh flour and water. Repeat if required. – If black mould has spread over most of the starter’s surface, it is advisable to throw the starter away. If it’s just the odd spot, remove it carefully, and use some non-contaminated starter to refresh with flour and water. – A few rounds of refreshment should allow the starter to re-establish its balance.
What to do with sourdough discard?
Ideally, you should never have to throw away any sourdough starter. If you have any leftover sourdough starter, there are plenty of ways of using this as part of other recipes e.g. muffins, crumpets, pancakes. Read more on what to do with leftover sourdough starter over here.
I had heard of peasemeal before, but never had never tasted it in anything, so when I saw it on display in the Deli Ecosse cafe shop in Callander, I had to bag a pack. Peasemeal is produced by Golspie Mill and is made of yellow peas that have been roasted. It’s a fine dust of ground peas, yellowish-brown in colour and the smell is surprisingly chocolatey.
“Peasemeal is a highly versatile, healthy and nutritious food used since Roman times and growing again in popularity. This product is unique to Golspie Mill where it is made from roasted yellow field peas milled through three sets of mill stones to produce a fine yellow flour. Traditionally used for making peasemeal brose (adding meal to boiling milk or water with a knob of butter and seasoning to taste), it has many … innovative modern uses.”
It’s peasemeal’s high protein content that’s made me think about increasing the protein content of bread and baking a more protein-rich bread.
The protein content of bread is normally between 7.5% and 9.5%. (Source: fabflour) This is based on a bread baked with mainly white or brown wheat flour which contains about 10-14g of protein per 100g of overall weight. Glutenin and gliadin – which together form gluten – are components of wheat protein and there is therefore a strong correlation between protein quantity and loaf volume i.e. the higher the flour protein percentage, the greater the potential loaf volume.
In order to increase the protein content of bread, you can add flours which contain higher levels of protein than wheat. Peasemeal (also referred to as brose meal) is an ideal ingredient to add – high protein-content and a flavour which will not overpower the overall flavour. The peas are roasted before being ground and the roasting enables greater access to protein (and starch).
Here are some alternative ingredients which will help to increase the overall percentage of protein of your loaf.
Almond flour: 21g of protein
Sunflower seeds: 21g of protein
Gram flour: 22g of protein
Peasemeal: 23.5g of protein
Lupin flour: 43g of protein
Protein-rich peasemeal bread recipe
The above is only one option for baking a bread which is more protein-rich than standard wheat-based bread. You can experiment with many different higher protein flours and seeds to put together your own version.
Here is a recipe for protein-rich bread, made by adding ingredients with a higher protein content than wheat flour in order to increase the protein content of the loaf. You can experiment by using other protein-rich ingredients to make your own protein-rich bread version; this is just one way of doing this to show how this could be done. This loaf bakes beautifully and makes fantastic lunchtime slices which go very well with my hot smoked salmon and bean salad.
Refresh the sourdough by taking 30g of sourdough from the fridge (or freshly made), and combining it with 115g of wholewheat flour and 115g water. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for about 16 hours.
Toast the sunflower seeds and leave to cool.
in a large bowl, combine 230g of the sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bakwith the strong white flour, Kamut flour, peasemeal flour, lupin flour, salt and water.
Knead for 10 minutes, then place back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest at room temperature for one hour.
Knock the dough back, add the sunflower seeds and shape into a loaf to fit into your pre-oiled baking tin.
Place the dough into the tin, cover with a polythene bag to prevent the moisture from evaporating, and leave to rest for several hours until risen.
I put together a detailed guide to bannetons a while ago and I wanted to do the same also for bread baking tins. It’s often difficult to know what baking tools to get when starting out in bread baking and these guides to baking equipment are aimed to help along the journey.
My guide to choosing the right bread tins
I’ve tried to include answers to the various questions I’ve been asked about tins over the years, so here we go.
Advantages/disadvantages of bread tin baking
Bread tins give your bread loaf a predefined shape – so if you are looking to bake a loaf for making square sandwiches, then a bread baking tin is the way to achieve this.
Baking in tins is less fuss and more straight-forward than free-form or banneton-based baking and often, if I’m strapped for time, I will choose to bake in a tin rather than with a banneton or free-form.
If you are just starting out, it’s much easier to bake in tins and it’s also much easier to see how much your loaf has risen, so it would be my recommendation to bake in a tin before you bake using a banneton. If you want a bread that’s guaranteed to hold its shape, bake in a tin!
Your loaf may stick in the tin if you are using a low quality or damaged tin and you might damage its shape while trying to get it out. However, simply use a non-stick tin and grease your tin in order to get around this.
Types and materials of bread baking tins
The most basic thing to look out for is that you buy a bread and not a cake tin. The best baking tins for bread baking have steep, nearly straight sides, are relatively narrow and have folded ends. This will support the rise of your loaf well. Please note that cake tins usually have slanted sides, can be quite wide and are usually made from lighter material than bread tins. High-quality loaf pans cook your baked goods evenly, release them with little fuss, and are therefore made of heavy-duty materials.
There is no reason why robustly constructed, professional bread tins shouldn’t also be used by home bakers. The better the bread tin, the better the bake.
Non-stick metal bread tins – Metal bread tins made from aluminised steel are best for baking bread. I use the bread tin supplier brand USA Pan, which comes with an eco-friendly, PFOA- and PTFE-free silicone coating which has good non-stick properties.
Metal bread tins with lids – Using a slide-on lid for baking bread in tins is an excellent way for making square sandwich bread loaves. So-called ‘Pullman loaf tins’ (i.e. tins with slide-on lids) are also essential when baking Pumpernickel bread.
Glass bread tins – Glass bread tins unfortunately don’t make great metal bread tin substitutes. Glass conducts heat extremely well and sweeter breads which contain more sugar might therefore start to burn before being cooked all the way through. However, you can use a glass tin well for making bread pudding.
Silicone loaf tins – Bread will never stick in a silicone loaf tin such as the Lékué bread baker. However, it will also not brown very well as silicone is a poor heat conductor.
Ceramic loaf tins – Ceramic is like glass: it conducts heat very well, but can cause over-browning in sweet dishes. The biggest advantage of using a ceramic tin as a metal bread tin alternative is that your breads will look pretty e.g. if you are baking a bread gift!
“If you do experience any tendency for the dough to stick, use a very thin film of fat or oil just to be on the safe side. Although oils such as sunflower and olive work perfectly well, they inevitably run down the sides of the tin and can leave a bit of a puddle in the bottom which can ‘fry’ the base of the loaf. Fats such as butter or lard that are hard at room temperature avoid this problem in that they can be smeared evenly over the sides and bottom of the tin – and they will stay put until the dough is in the tin.
Never use a metal knife or other hard implement to help reluctant loaves out of the tin. If they don’t slide out easily, tap the side of the tin with your (oven-gloved) hand or on a pad (e.g. a folded tea towel) on the table. If this doesn’t work, leave the loaves for a few minutes to ‘sweat’: the residual steam coming out of the loaf will condense on the inside surfaces of the tin and often has the effect of dissolving any sticking points.” Expert from the most knowledgeable of bread gurus at Bread Matters
Bread tin sizes
There’s a large variety of loaf tin sizes and bread tin dimensions available and it’s best to check for dough volume on an individual tin basis. Bread tin measurements and related loaf tin capacity will typically be stated in the product description.
Bread tin cleaning
Don’t use washing up liquid on your non-stick metal bread tins. Instead, wipe up any residue of flour or dough left in the tin after baking with a damp cloth. For tougher dough bits stuck to the tin, soak the tin in warm water and it should come away easily. Never use anything that may damage the non-stick surface of the bread tin. Never use any metal tools to scrape dough bits off. I use a soft sponge if needed.
Loaf tin storage
Loaf tins are great for stacking. However, don’t be tempted to simply stack tins inside each other without putting some paper or cloth between them. I use thin muslin cloths in between the tins to prevent the non-stick glaze being scratched.
A look through some of the photos of our most recent trip to Brazil reminded me just how popular and prevalent cassava and tapioca flour products and dishes are across the country. Tapioca flour cheese puffs, farofa (toasted cassava) and tapioca pancakes – both sweet and savoury – were never far when hunger hit.
Having previously experimented with tapioca flour to make the uniquely textured tapioca cheese puffs at home, I collaborated with the team at Buy Whole Foods Online to specifically look at the versatility of tapioca flour in baking. The results are tremendous; an incredibly useful flour, particularly in gluten-free baking, tapioca flour packs a punch in the baker’s kitchen.
How to use tapioca flour for baking
Tapioca (also manioc or cassava) is made by heating the root of the cassava plant. It is then dried into granules (tapioca), flakes or ground into flour. Although not the most nutritious of flours, tapioca flour is useful as a base for breads, cakes and biscuits where a light texture is desired, and it has many other fantastic attributes useful in both sweet and savoury baking.
Over here on DrAxe.com you can find an excellent article on tapioca flour and its properties for baking, and I wanted to summarise the topline facts below:
Tapioca tastes mild and slightly sweet. It is however virtually undetectable in recipes, which is why it’s used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Tapioca is made up of almost all carbohydrates and is very low in all types of fats, sugar, fiber, protein, sodium, and essential vitamins or minerals.
It’s totally gluten-free, low in calories and free from sugar.
It has positive effects on the texture and “mouth-feel” of recipes — for example, by making baked goods more spongy, springy, promoting browning and helping crusts to crisp up.
Tapioca absorbs and retains a higher water content, which means it does a great job of binding, thickening and moistening recipes.
Tapioca flour yeast bread recipe
This is the best and most natural gluten-free bread I have been able to make at home, a recipe by Andrew Whitley from his book Bread Matters. I like it as it doesn’t contain heavily processed ingredients such as xanthum gum. Instead, the ingredient list contains nutritionally valuable flours from natural sources and yeast is used as raising agent rather than baking powder/bicarb of soda. Bread Matters also has excellent recipes for gluten-free pastry, gluten-free cake and gluten-free pizza base, all of which contain tapioca flour.
The flours used in this gluten-free bread recipe:
Tapioca: As mentioned above, tapioca itself is low in nutrients but the addition of other flours balances this out. As used moderately, it imparts a pleasant, chewy texture to this bread and adds a certain binding quality to help keep the dough together when baked.
Maizemeal: Whole maize seed ground into flour. A useful base flour with considerable binding properties.
Chestnut flour: Milled from dried and roasted sweet chestnuts. A nutritionally useful source of flavour and texture in gluten-free baking.
Chickpea flour: Milled from chickpeas. Very nutritious and flavoursome. High protein content gives it a firming and binding effect. Th addition of chickpea flour helps to stop the dough from falling to bits.
A simple recipe for gluten-free bread using tapioca flour and a variety of other gluten-free flours to produce a great-tasting loaf. The combination of ingredients aims to form a gluten-free loaf of reasonable nutritional value with a texture that is similar to soda bread.
Move the dough into the tin. Use a silicone spatula to make this an easy, clean and effective operation. Don't worry about smoothing it out as it will even itself out during the prove.
Cover the tin with a polythene bag to prevent the dough from drying out.
Prove for about an hour in a warm place, aiming for about a 50% increase in volume. Th dough will not hold as much gas as one made with gluten-containing flour.
Preheat the oven to 210°C.
Evenly sprinkle linseed on top of the dough surface.
Bake for 30 minutes until the loaf begins to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Cool on a wire rack.Best eaten fresh. Can be frozen in slices and defrosted as needed.
Gluten-free cheesy tapioca pancake recipe
I don’t think it’s really possible to make the real deal Brazilian tapioca pancakes in my home in Edinburgh, Scotland. They just wouldn’t taste quite right. The Brazilian air, the tropical climate, the open-air cooking – to me it all feels it’s important in preparing this delicious street food.
Combine all ingredients and - using a blender - mix well for about 3 minutes to make the tapioca flour batter.
Place a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Add half of the pancake batter to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, until light brown, turn to the other side and cook for another minute.
Serve immediately with a crisp side salad.
Tapioca flour biscuits recipe
I also wanted to feature a sweet tapioca flour recipe here, and luckily, I stumbled upon this delicious biscotti recipe on the Dolce Amaro blog. Crunchy, crumbly and amazingly flavoursome, these are superb tapioca flour biscuits – with white pepper and white chocolate added in as wildcard ingredients.
Ever since visiting Japan in 2016, I’ve been wanting to replicate the soft white bread loaf omnipresent across the country. It’s the fluffiest and most delicate bread I have ever eaten. It’s not like brioche, it doesn’t have the same richness. Japanese milk bread is white bread indulgence of the most feathery kind.
“Japan is generally regarded as being a rice-based food culture. However, bread — or pan in Japanese, derived from the Portuguese word pão — is eaten almost as widely. […] The most ubiquitous type of bread in Japan is the white and pillowy square-shaped bread called shokupan, which simply means “eating bread.” Made of white flour, yeast, milk or milk powder, butter, salt and sugar, shokupan is both loved and taken for granted by most. […] The ideal texture for the crumb of a shokupan is mochimochi — soft yet resilient and bouncy, rather like mochi (pounded-rice cakes).” Source: Japan’s secret love of a breakfast loaf
I’ve taken the last few weeks to research the method behind the Japanese milk bread loaf. Much like Felicity Cloake and her ‘How to cook the perfect…’ quest, I’ve been trying different recipes in my search for the perfect homemade Japanese milk bread recipe.
An additional reason for looking into Japanese milk bread just now is that I wanted to learn how to bake this lofty white loaf for my little baby daughter, to make eggy bread and baby pizza slices.
History of Japanese milk bread
Milk bread was developed in Japan in the 20th century, using Tangzhong, a warm flour-and-water paste traditionally used in China to make buns with a soft, springy texture and tiny air bubbles. According to this article in the Japan Times, people started to take bread seriously as a meal staple rather than a snack after the violent Rice Riots of 1918.
The Chopstick Chronicles mention that the Yudane method subsequently originated in Japan and became a widespread and popular way to bake bread after Yvonne Chen introduced Tangzhong roux as a secret ingredient in her book called “Bread Doctor”.
Japanese Milk Bread Recipe
I looked into both the Tangzhong and Yudane methods of baking, and want to briefly outline the difference between these methods (thank you to Lynn Lim for this informative Facebook thread). For my Shokupan recipe – after many experiments using both methods – I’ve settled on a combination of this version of Shokupan and the Yudane process.
Yudane Method vs Tangzhong Method
This method uses boiling water to scald the flour.
Ratio 1 part flour to 1 part water.
Use after at least 4 hours in the fridge.
Use 20% of the flour to make Yudane.
For this method, cold water and flour are combined and then heated to 65 degrees Celsius.
Ratio 1 part flour to 5 parts water.
Can be used once cooled.
Use 7% of the flour to make Tangzhong.
What does authentic Japanese milk bread taste like?
The texture is soft and airy, wonderfully tender. Having tasted milk bread while in Japan, it shouldn’t taste like a super enriched dough (e.g. like brioche). Instead, it should taste like a pure wheat and milk based bread and this is why I have not included eggs in my ingredient list and why I only use a minimal amount of butter in my recipe. It is however important to use whole milk (instead of low fat milk).
“The Yudane breads were very soft just after baking, and the staling (temporal changes in hardness) and starch retrogradation of the breads were somewhat reduced compared to the control. Further, the breads showed generally larger cohesiveness, i.e., the index of bread elasticity. Kinetic analysis indicated reduced bread staling and starch retrogradation rates compared to control. The data showed that the slow staling and unique texture of the Yudane breads were mainly due to the high moisture content, saccharide contents, and flour amylases-modification of swollen and gelatinized starch in the breads, which was related to the higher water absorption and starch swelling and gelatinization levels of the added Yudane dough.” Source: The Staling and Texture of Bread Made Using the Yudane Dough Method
How to eat Japanese milk bread?
It tastes great with most things, but I like to have it simply with salted butter.
I had it with panko*-breadcrumbed chicken (and mustard) while in Japan which was delicious, the two bread slices acting as wonderful pillows around the meat. *Panko breadcrumbs are made from Japanese milk bread 🙂
“You can enjoy shokupan in many ways, including some uniquely Japanese concoctions such as sandwiches filled with potato salad or fruit and cream. Do try thickly sliced Kinki-region style toast too. Crispy on the surface and mochimochi on the inside, it’s a great example of a food imported from the West that has been firmly adapted to suit Japanese tastes.” Source: Japan’s secret love of a breakfast loaf
Japanese milk bread recipe
A lot of recipes I tried and tested used sugar (up to 60g) but I have decided against the use of sugar in this recipe, especially since I wanted to mainly develop this for use for the whole family including our little baby.
The Yudane method works so remarkably well to make soft and fluffy bread and makes the bread last longer because the heated gelatinised starch in the flour keeps the moisture inside the bread and it will make the bread soft and last longer.
Japanese Yudane bread ingredients
Having experimented with both the Tangzhong and Yudane methods I feel that the Yudane method produces better results. I have also experimented with adding more butter and an egg, but prefer the egg-less version with less added butter. I’ve also omitted sugar from my recipe as I prefer a non-sweetened version, for taste and for health reasons.
For the Yudane
100g boiling water
100g white bread flour
For the main dough
400g white bread flour
7g dry yeast
300g full fat milk, plus extra for brushing on the unbaked loaf
20g dry milk powder (optional)
35g unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened at room temperature, plus extra for buttering the pan
How to make Japanese Yudane bread
In a small bowl, measure out the flour and pour over the boiling water. Mix until well combined. I use a silicone spatula to do that. Cover the bowl and let the the Yudane cool down to room temperature.
Refrigerate for 4 hours.
In a large bowl, combine the main dough ingredients and add the cooled Yudane. Knead for about 10 minutes until completely smooth and elastic. Don’t cut the kneading time short!
Cover the bowl and leave to rest at room temperature for about an hour. The dough should rise well during that time.
Butter a bread tin.
Deflate the dough and divide it into two equal parts to make loaf. Shape the two parts and place them into the pan, smooth side up.
Cover with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in and keep at room temperature until fully proofed, about 1.5 hours.
Brush the loaf with milk and bake at 180°C for about 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 93°C.
Remove the loaf from the oven, and cool it on a rack.
Just before Christmas, I received a beautifully presented package from Eezi-Slice, a company centered around its founder’s invention; the Eezi-Slice bread slicer. I agreed to review the bread board so here are my thoughts after having used the board for a month.
How does the Eezi-Slice bread board work?
The Eezi-Slice bread board is unique in what it does, the design is simple yet effective. The board has two sides which allows you to either cut a “thick” (19 mm) or a “thin” (12 mm) slice of bread (the maximum slice width is 127 mm). That’s the simple premise. If you follow the instructions (see image below), it works perfectly every single time. It’s easy to use and unexpectedly addictive!
Tip: To avoid the board from sliding while cutting just put a moist sponge cloth (or other non-slip material) underneath.
Having used the Pumpernickel), it absolutely delivers on all of its promises and is now the only way I cut bread.
Having uneven, sometimes broken-up slices of bread had not particularly bothered me in the past. After all, it was always predominantly about the taste for me. However, having the bread board in use has made me less anxious (who knew I was?!) about cutting up my homemade breads. The breakfast serving of bread is now completely predictable. My guests get to taste good bread which is now also impeccably presented.
It’s also great for getting those unstable and shaky ends of bread loaves sliced up without the usual hassle. Just watch your fingers and lay your hand flat on the top of the bread to slice safely.
The lack of crumb catching (a feature pointed out as a must-have in this previous post on bread cutting boards) is not a huge issue as the crumbs are mostly contained by the sides (cutting guides) of the board.
The sturdy wooden board is made from sustainable sources. The website states it’s made from woods ‘such as bamboo’, so I’m not sure if the whole board is bamboo or if other kinds of wood are used as well.
I also love the bread knife which can be acquired with the board. It’s absolutely perfect for the board and cuts superbly – even through very hard crusts and stale bread loaves.
In terms of alternative bread slicing tools, I can compare it only to the electric slicer my parents have in use. The electric bread slicer does win when it comes to versatility. The bread board offers a thick and a thin slice, but my ideal slice would perhaps be somewhere in between. However, the Eezi-Slice wins on style, it saves space and is obviously specifically designed with bread in mind (always a winner in my books).
So if you are considering buying a board, rest assured it’s a high-quality, well designed and highly useful utensil for the perfectionist baker, bread lover and/or host.
When it comes to feeding, my little baby daughter has never been a natural. And when I recently started to introduce solids, she steadfastly refused to be given anything from a spoon or my finger. No tasty purée could tempt her. She did however take the spoon if it was put in front of her on her tray and into her mouth it went. I started giving her chunky finger foods such as broccoli florets which she could hold herself and after a few weeks I decided it was time to introduce some baby breadsticks for more a baby-led weaning approach.
Looking into baby’s nutritional requirements, The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook advises: “Under-fives are littler power-houses of development and growth. They need lots of energy, so starchy, calorie-dense foods are important – plenty of bread, pasta, rice and cereals. For adults, consuming starches in a high-fibre, wholegrain form is highly recommended. For little children, that’s not the case. Too much fibre can be over-filling and stop them eating other, nutrient-rich foods. Very high-fibre foods, such as bran cereals, can be hard for them to digest and may stop them absorbing nutrients. You don’t have to ban all wholegrain foods, but try to combine white and wholemeal bread, pasta and rice, gradually shifting more to wholegrain foods as your child matures.”
Salt-free bread for babies and toddlers
Based on my research, these are the foundations of my baby breadstick recipe:
Using mainly white flour (a mix of white wheat and spelt flours)
Adding a little bit of wholewheat flour (20% of all the flour in the recipe)
Adding yoghurt for some dairy and including a few tablespoons of rapeseed oil to add some fat/oil (both dairy as well as fat/oil are important pillars of baby’s nutritional needs)
Optional addition of ground herbs or spices into the breadstick dough to introduce baby to new flavours
Pieces of toast and firm bread make good finger food and can be dipped into purees and sauces. Many baby rusks on the market contain as much sugar as a sweet biscuit. Opt to make your own sugar-free breadsticks instead. It's super easy and you can make a big batch, freeze them and defrost as needed. You can add some herbs or spices into the breadstick dough if you want to mix it up for your baby. I sometimes divide the dough into three parts, leaving one part plain (with no added herbs or spices) and adding different herbs such as finely chopped rosemary or spices such as garam masala to the other two parts.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to form a dough
Knead for 10 minutes on a work surface until you have a smooth, even dough
Place back into the bowl and cover
Keep to proof at room temperature for an hour or so until the dough has visibly increased in volume
Knock back the dough and split off walnut-sized pieces
Roll each piece into a 10 cm rod
Place on two lightly greased baking trays
Leave to rise for about 20 minutes
Bake at 200°C for 10 mins
Leave to cool on a wire rack
Cut the breadsticks into halves (lengthwise) and toast them before giving them to your baby. This helps to avoid them softening too quickly. Always watch your baby carefully when offering them breadsticks and break off any big soggy bits before they disappear into the baby’s mouth to avoid choking. Dip both sides of the bread stick into your baby’s food 🙂
For those worried about food allergies, Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner states: “There is no need to worry unduly about food allergies unless you have a family history of allergy or atopic disease. The incidence of food allergy in babies with no family history of allergy is very small (approximately 6%). (…) Don’t remove key foods such as milk or wheat from your child’s diet before consulting a doctor.
After a mini break from blogging due to the arrival of my sweet little baby daughter, I wanted to share my current go-to sourdough bread recipe with you. This multigrain sourdough bread has been the weekly staple loaf in our house over the last six months. It’s a super easy, yet wholesome and delicious recipe which I found easy to integrate into my new-baby-routine.
As with most sourdough recipes, it’s not difficult to fit the required steps into your day. A few small steps at a time, 5-10 minutes here or there, is easy to fit around even a newborn baby’s needs.
Since giving birth, I use my grain mill a lot more. I now just have bags of grains (wheat, spelt, rye, oat, barley) at home and mill to fine flour or more roughly chopped grain mixtures as I see fit. I still need to use white flours as all flours milled by the grain mill are naturally wholegrain.
Multigrain bread recipe
Don’t be put off by the amount of steps needed – you will only need a few minutes at a time to bake this delicious multigrain loaf. This is a solid loaf of bread full of delicious chopped whole grains and toasted seeds. It tastes delicious with both sweet and savoury toppings.
With my grain mill it's easy to make any combination of multigrain flour, three grain bread, four grain bread etc. This particular five-grain sourdough bread recipe uses a five-grain mix but you could easily use fewer grain varieties to the same effect, according to what you have at home or personal preference. The recipe for this bread is a modified version of the loaf '5-Korn-Kruste' from the book Rustikale Brote in Deutschen Landen.
Multigrain bread ingredients
If you are using a mill at home to prepare the flour and chopped grainsprepare the various portions as needed on the day.
150groughly chopped grainsa combination of wheat, spelt, rye, oat, barley grain - e.g. 30g each
For the main dough
220gwholemeal wheat flour
80gwholemeal rye flour
For the topping
Ahandful ofchopped grains
How to make multigrain bread
Combine the sourdough ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well and cover. Keep at room temperature for about 16-24 hours.
To prepare the toasted seed and grain soaker, toast the seeds in a frying pan (without oil i.e. dry) until they start to release their nutty smell. Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped grains and salt. Mix well, then cover with boiling water. Cover the pan and leave to rest at room temperature for 16 hours.
Combine 240g of the refreshed sourdough with the seed and grain soaker and the other main dough ingredients in a large bowl.
Knead for 10 minutes, then cover the bowl and leave to rest for about 45 minutes at room temperature.
Prepare a bread tin (approximately 23 x 11 x 9.5 cm) and brush with sunflower oil.
Knead the dough for another 5 minutes, then shape into an oval to fit into your bread tin.
Brush the surface of the bread oval with water before rolling it in roughly chopped grains.
Place in the bread tin, cover and proof at room temperature for several hours until it has risen to the top of the bread tin.
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Bake the loaf on the second lowest oven shelf for 15 minutes at 250C. Turn down the temperature to 180C and bake for a further 45 minutes.
For a nice crust take the bread out of the tin at the end and place it back in the oven for another 15 minutes at 180C.