Sourdough Starter Troubleshooting


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.

Rye sourdough starter recipe
Rye sourdough starter recipe

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.

Protein-Rich Peasemeal Bread Recipe


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 from Golspie Mill

“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.”

Golspie Mill

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.

Where to buy peasemeal flour

Peasemeal flour is made by Golspie Mill in Sutherland, Scotland, UK and can be bought from the stockists listed here: .

What’s the typical protein content of 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
Lupin Flour

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.

Protein-rich bread, lupin flour, peasemeal
Protein-rich bread, lupin flour, peasemeal
Protein rich sourdough bread
Protein rich sourdough bread
Protein rich sourdough bread
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Protein-Rich Bread Recipe with Peasemeal

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.
Author Pam



  • 30 g sourdough starter
  • 115 g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 115 g water

Main Dough

  • 325 g strong white flour
  • 90 g Kamut flour
  • 65 g peasemeal flour
  • 30 g lupin flour
  • 85 g sunflower seeds
  • 10 g salt
  • 345 g water


How to make protein-rich bread

  • 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.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  • Bake for 50 minutes.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Bread baking tins


Danish malted rye bread
Danish malted rye bread

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!

Problem shooting

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.

Tapioca flour baking recipes


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.

Farofa toasted cassava
Farofa (toasted cassava) in the island paradise of Boipeba

Pao de queijo tapioca cheese puffs
Pao de queijo (tapioca cheese puffs)

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 you can find an excellent article on tapioca flour and its properties for baking, and I wanted to summarise the topline facts below:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. It’s totally gluten-freelow in calories and free from sugar.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Tapioca flour bread
Tapioca flour bread

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.

Tapioca flour bread gluten free
Tapioca flour bread gluten free

Tapioca flour bread
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Yeasted gluten-free tapioca bread

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. 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Proofing time 1 hour
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 people


Gluten-free maize & tapioca bread ingredients


How to make gluten-free maize & tapioca bread

  • Combine all the dry ingredients (maize, tapioca, chestnut, chickpea flours, dried yeast and salt) in a bowl and mix with a whisk.
  • Add the water and cider vinegar and whisk until you have a dough with the consistency of smooth, wet cement.
  • Grease a small bread tin (I used a 20 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm tin).
  • 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.

Tapioca flour based bread
Tapioca flour based bread

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.

I’ve opted to make a more traditional pancake with tapioca flour although these recipes – Brazilian tapioca pancakes, shrimp tapioca pancakes –  look like great Brazilian options to try if you fancy some tapioca at home.

My tapioca pancake recipe is a based on this three-cheese pancake recipe on Great British Chefs with the cheesy filling mixed into the batter.

Makes 2 large pancakes

Cheesy tapioca pancake
Cheesy tapioca pancake

Cheesy tapioca pancake
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Gluten-free cheesy tapioca flour pancakes recipe


Tapioca flour pancakes ingredients

  • 60 g tapioca starch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 60 g ricotta
  • 10 g Parmesan
  • 30 g cheddar
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste


How to make tapioca flour pancakes

  • 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.

Tapioca flour biscuits
Tapioca flour biscuits

Please note this recipe isn’t gluten-free.

Tapioca biscuits
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Tapioca flour biscuits recipe

Simply beautiful biscuits with an exceptional bite and superb flavour.


Tapioca flour biscuits ingredients


How to make tapioca flour biscuits

  • Start by whisking the egg yolks and oil in a medium bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff.
  • Fold in the pepper and finely chopped chocolate.
  • Add the tapioca flour, yeast and yolk-oil.
  • Add kamut flour and salt.
  • Combine well, then place back in the bowl and rest in the fridge for 40 mins.
  • On a well-floured surface, with a well-floured rolling pin, and using more flour on the surface of the dough, roll to 1/2 cm high.
  • Cut out biscuits and carefully transfer them onto two baking trays lined with baking paper.
  • Bake at 200 °C for about 15 minutes.

Tapioca biscuits
Tapioca biscuits

Homemade Japanese milk bread loaf recipe (Shokupan)


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.

Japanese milk bread shokupan
Japanese milk bread: shokupan

“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

Japanese Milk Bread in Tokyo
Japanese Milk Bread in Tokyo

The City Bakery Tokyo
The City Bakery Tokyo

Lotus Baguette Tokyo
Lotus Baguette Tokyo

Mini plastic bread in Japan
Mini plastic bread in Japan – wonderful!

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

Yudane 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.

Tangzhong Method

  • 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 🙂

Japanese milk bread sandwich with Panko breadcrumb chicken
Japanese milk bread sandwich with Panko breadcrumb chicken

“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 milk bread crumb shokupan
Japanese milk bread crumb

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
  • 9g salt
  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
  3. 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!
  4. Cover the bowl and leave to rest at room temperature for about an hour. The dough should rise well during that time.
  5. Butter a bread tin.
  6. 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.
  7. Cover with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in and keep at room temperature until fully proofed, about 1.5 hours.
  8. 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.
  9. Remove the loaf from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

Eezi-Slice Bread Slicer Board Review


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.

Eezi-Slice Bread Board

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! 

Eezi-Slice Bread Board Instructions

Tip: To avoid the board from sliding while cutting just put a moist sponge cloth (or other non-slip material) underneath.

See a demonstration video (by the inventor!) over on the Eezi-Slice website.

How has it performed in my test kitchen?

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.

Eezi-Slice Bread Board and Knife

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.

Homemade baby breadsticks recipe


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.”

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)
  • No salt
  • 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

5 from 2 votes

Homemade baby breadsticks recipe

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.



  • 200 g strong white wheat flour
  • 100 g white spelt flour
  • 75 g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 150 g yoghurt plain, full fat
  • 100 g water
  • 4 g dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Optional: 1 tbsp finely ground herbs e.g. rosemary, thyme... or spices (e.g. garam masala, mild curry powder...)


How to make baby breadsticks

  • 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.

Multigrain bread with home-milled multigrain flour


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.

Multigrain bread
Multigrain bread

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.

Multigrain sourdough bread
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5 from 1 vote

Multigrain bread recipe

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 grains prepare the various portions as needed on the day.

For the sourdough

For the toasted seed and grain soaker

  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • 50 g pumpkin seeds
  • 150 g roughly chopped grains a combination of wheat, spelt, rye, oat, barley grain - e.g. 30g each
  • 3 g salt
  • 210 g boiling water

For the main dough

  • 220 g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 80 g wholemeal rye flour
  • 160 g water
  • 13 g salt
  • 1 tbsp malt extract

For the topping

  • A handful of chopped grains


How to make multigrain bread

    Day 1

    • 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.

    Day 2

    • 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.
    • Cool on a wire rack.

    Sesame semolina sourdough bread recipe


    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with a new flour – semolina. Its characteristics make it the perfect bread ingredient for a coarser, more textured bread. Semolina bread is a robust accompaniment for soups and salads – just in time for the spring greens entering my kitchen. My semolina bread recipe uses  small amounts of wholegrain flour to enhance the flavour profile as well as toasted sesame seeds.

    Semolina bread

    What is semolina flour?

    • Semolina is a type of flour made from durum wheat (triticum turgidum l. var. durum) i.e. it’s the ground endosperm of durum wheat. Durum wheat’s particular quality is that the floury material in the middle of the grain does not immediately reduce to a powder when milled; it holds together in granular lumps of sandy coarseness. This can be further milled to a fine flour, but is often used as it comes. 
    • It is pale yellow in colour.
    • Semolina is grainier than standard wheat flour. Semolina is available as coarse, medium or fine flour, based on the size of the grains.
    • Semolina flour is a high-gluten / high-protein flour as durum wheat has more protein than any other kind of wheat. “Protein is important because of its relationship to gluten. The more protein there is in a wheat, the more gluten there will be in a dough made from it.” Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters
    • Fine semolina flour is used to make pasta. Noodles made from semolina hold their shape well, and have a firm texture. Dough made with semolina is coherent but not very stretchy. 
    • Coarse semolina is also used to make couscous.
    • In South India, semolina is used to make foods like dosa and upma.
    • In Germany and Austria semolina is known as Grieß.
    • Semolina and polenta – though similar in texture – are quite different. The former is derived from the wheat berry, and the latter from cornmeal.

    Semolina flour

    Semolina For Bread Making

    • As a rule of thumb, fine semolina flour is preferred over coarse semolina for bread making. The coarse grains in semolina have a puncturing effect on the dough, adversely affecting dough strength and bread volume. However, it can produce a surprisingly smooth and extensible dough.
    • A high percentage of semolina flour gives bread a soft golden colour.
    • Semolina (farina di semola rimacinata) is an essential ingredient in Italian-Sicilian bread baking and also used frequently in Moroccan bread baking e.g. for khobz dyal smida or pan-fried harcha bread.

    Where to buy semolina

    You will find semolina in most well-stocked supermarkets or health food stores. My online store of choice here in the UK is

    Semolina bread recipe

    How to make semolina bread

    • My semolina bread recipe below uses my existing sourdough starter to raise the bread.
    • I’ve combined fine semolina flour with portions of wholegrain wheat and wholegrain rye flour to enhance the overall flavour profile.
    • Fennel seeds are often used in semolina bread baking, as are sesame seeds and I’ve decided to add sesame seeds into my recipe. A light toasting of the seeds adds even more flavour.

    Semolina bread recipe

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    0 from 0 votes

    Sesame Semolina Sourdough Bread Recipe

    Bake this delicious sesame semolina bread as a perfect side for spring and summer salads.




      • 100 g sourdough starter
      • 50 g wholemeal flour
      • 50 g rye flour
      • 100 g water

      Main Dough

      • 700 g semolina flour
      • 150 g wholemeal flour
      • 150 g rye flour
      • 100 g sesame seeds
      • 20 g salt
      • 750 g water


      • On day 1, refresh your sourdough starter by combining 50g wholemeal flour, 50g wholegrain rye flour and 100g water with your sourdough starter.
      • On day 2, lightly toast the sesame seeds, then combine 200g of the refreshed sourdough starter from day 1 with the main dough ingredients in a large bowl.
      • Combine well to form a dough and knead for 10 minutes on a clean work surface.
      • Place the dough back into the bowl to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
      • Give the dough another thorough knead, then shape and place into a large, lightly oiled loaf tin.
      • Leave to rest and rise until fully proven.
      • Preheat the oven to 220°C in time for baking, then bake for 10 minutes at 220°C before turning down the temperature to 180°C for another 50 minutes.
      • Cool on a wire rack.

      Vegetable Strudel Recipe (Gemüsestrudel)


      Although vegetarian and vegan dishes have become much more common on Austrian restaurant menus, the Gemüsestrudel (vegetable strudel) has traditionally been one of the token veggie dish on many Gasthaus menus. Quite remarkably for Austrian Gemüsestrudel recipes however, these typically come with ham (!). Dairy products (curd cheese, crème fraiche, milk, cheese) are also heavily used in Austrian vegetable strudel recipes.  I left the ham out of this version of my mum’s vegetable strudel recipe, but you will see, it is still a far cry from a vegan recipe. It’s delicious though, and all the hard work that goes into the preparation is definitely worth it!

      Vegetable Strudel
      Vegetable Strudel

      Austrian Vegetable Strudel Recipe

      This vegetable strudel recipe can perhaps be more accurately described as vegetable-cheese strudel as cheese and other dairy products including curd cheese feature heavily in the filling.

      Vegetable Strudel Recipe
      Vegetable Strudel with a lovely golden brown colour, sprinkled with sesame seeds

      As the strudel dough needs to be rolled out quite thinly, it’s advisable to use a very large soft linen cloth (Strudeltuch e.g. 120 x 100 cm) or otherwise a large cotton kitchen towel to roll out the dough and assemble the strudel. This makes it much easier to transfer the dough to the baking tray.

      The vegetable strudel recipe below is made with homemade Strudel-dough, but if you are short in time, you can use shop-bought puff pastry or filo pastry.

      Any leftovers can easily be frozen.

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      Savoury vegetable strudel recipe

      A deliciously cheesy vegetable strudel, as per an Austrian recipe from my mum. Put together your own vegetable mix based on your preferred veggies or based on seasons. Spring Strudel (Kohlrabi, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, wild garlic, leeks), Summer Strudel (mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, peppers, aubergines, peas, sweet corn), Autumn Strudel (pumpkin, cabbage, root vegetables, potatoes), Winter Strudel (carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, shallots). 
      Course Main Course
      Cuisine Austrian
      Servings 6 people


      Strudel Dough Ingredients

      • 250 g plain flour
      • 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
      • 125 g water lukewarm - this will help with dough elasticity
      • 1/2 tsp salt

      Béchamel Sauce Ingredients

      • 40 g butter
      • 1 onion finely chopped
      • 40 g plain flour
      • 250 g milk
      • 1/2 tsp nutmeg ground


      • 200 g curd cheese full fat
      • 125 g crème fraîche
      • 2 egg yolks
      • 250 g mature cheddar or other flavoursome hard cheese (in Austria I would use Bergkäse) grated
      • 4 tbsp fresh herbs mix of parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, basil, dill, fennel etc. whatever you fancy or you have to hand
      • 100 g oats
      • 2 egg whites
      • 1 tsp corn starch or potato starch
      • 300 g potatoes
      • 1 green or red pepper
      • 2 garlic cloves
      • 1 carrot
      • 1 small leek
      • 50 g frozen peas
      • 50 g frozen sweet corn kernels
      • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


      • 25 g butter melted
      • Sesame seeds


      Prepare the vegetables for the filling

      • Boil 300g potatoes and mash them. If you prefer a finer texture, you can also use a potato ricer to process the boiled potatoes.
      • Cut the pepper and the carrot into small cubes, mince the garlic and thinly slice the leek. Using a knob of butter, fry these vegetables for around 10 minutes. Briefly simmer the frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn kernels, then strain well and add to the fried vegetable mix. The vegetables should retain 'bite' and not be overcooked. Altogether, you should use about 500g of vegetables (fresh and frozen). Make sure there is no excess liquid left in the vegetable mixture by the time you set it aside to cool.

      Prepare the Béchamel Sauce

      • Start by placing the butter in a pot to heat up, then add the diced onions. 
      • Fry for a few minutes - don't let the onions brown.
      • Add the flour and stir thoroughly for a minute.
      • Add the milk and nutmeg and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened.
      • Take away from the heat and leave to cool.

      Prepare the dough

      • Combine the dough ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. I do this with my hands.
      • Knead well until you have a formed a smooth dough. Don't be tempted to add any more water to the dough. It will come together well, just give it some time.
      • Shape dough into a ball, brush with a little oil, place back in the bowl and cover the bowl.
      • Leave to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. This helps the dough structure to relax and makes it easier to roll/shape later on.

      Prepare the filling

      • In a large bowl, combine the cooled Béchamel Sauce, curd cheese, crème fraîche, egg yolks, grated cheese, herbs and oats. Mix well.
      • Add the vegetable mixture and mashed potatoes and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
      • In a smaller bowl, combine the egg whites and starch and whip until stiff.
      • Carefully fold the stiff egg whites into the remaining filling. The filling should not be wet so it doesn't soak through the dough while you assemble the strudel.

      Shape the dough

      • Preheat the oven to 175℃.
      • Flour your work surface (ideally a large linen or cotton kitchen towel) and use your hands to form the dough ball into an even rectangle.
      • Flour the dough rectangle to prevent it from sticking and - using a rolling pin - take care to roll out the dough into a bigger rectangle.
      • Line a suitably big baking tray with baking paper.

      Assemble the Strudel

      • Distribute the filling across two thirds of the strudel dough, leaving at least 1 cm around the edges free.
      • Brush the final third with butter.
      • Fold in the sides of the dough slightly over the filling to seal the sides.
      • Roll into a strudel and carefully seal all the ends. If you are using the linen or cotton towel, the rolling can be done just by lifting the towel to roll the dough.
      • Place seam-side down onto the baking tray. Again, this process is easier if you are using the cloth, as you can lift the strudel much more easily like this and carefully roll it onto the baking tray.
      • Brush with the egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

      Bake & serve

      • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
      • Serve warm with a side salad.


      Add variety to your vegetable strudel by adding ground spices such as caraway, paprika, cayenne pepper or chili flakes. You can also add seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds or boiled grains (e.g. rye grains or millet) into the strudel filling if you like. Make sure the grains are no longer wet before you add them.a
      Serve with a crisp side salad.