Flour for Bread Baking

What is the best flour to be used for bread?

Wheat Flour.

We are talking about the quality of wheat flour.  The good flour is always expensive.  Is the expensive flour is a better quality compared to the cheap one?  It is a mystery to me.

A cheap Australian wheat flour, a plain brand of a supermarket for baking home bread is it good enough?  Let’s see, I am trying here, and only the end result will tell.

Baking Two Country Loaves based on Tartine’s Book

35g sourdough starter
75g water
75g flour


The Dough

900g white plain Australian Flour from a supermarket
100g whole wheat Australian Flour from a supermarket
700g water, 50g water mixed with 20g salt

The Dough Ingredients

In a large bowl, place the water and add in the leaven, and mix together

Add the flour, mix thoroughly by hand until you do not see any bits of dry flour.

Mixing the flour and water
Flour and water mixture

Lets the dough rest for 25 to 40 minutes.  Do not skip the resting period.  Working with the nature of the dough, the resting period allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb the water, swell and then relax into a cohesive mass.

After the resting period, add the 20 grams salt and the 50g water warm water to the dough.  Incorporate the salt by sneezing the dough by your fingers.  The dough first will break apart and then will re-form as you turn it in the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a clear plastic container, it is easy to clean and you could see the

aeration of the dough as it develops.

*The dough has now begun its first rise, called the bulk fermentation.  This crucial step should not be rushed, as its primary purpose is to develop flavor and strength in the dough.  The speed of fermentation greatly depends on the ambient temperature of your kitchen.  The ideal temperature would be 78-82 degrees to accomplish the full bulk fermentation in 3 to four hours.

Keep in the clear plastic box for the bulk fermentation.  The dough is given a few Turns in every thirty minutes rest.

*The dough is never kneaded on a work surface.  The dough development that bakers usually achieve by kneading is accomplished here by giving the dough a series of ‘turns’ in the bowl during the bulk fermentation.

* To do a turn, dip one hand in the water to prevent the dough from sticking to you and then grab the underside of the dough, stretch it up, and fold it back over the rest of the dough. Repeat this action two or three times so that all the dough gets evenly developed.  This is considered one turn.

During the first 2 hours of the bulk fermentation, give the dough one turn every half hour.  During the third hour notice how the dough stars to get billowy soft, and aerated with gas.  At this later stage, you should turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough.

*Proper development during the bulk fermentation enables the wet dough to hold its shape as a loaf, and the baker must watch for signs of development and determine when the dough is ready.  During the first hour of the bulk fermentation, the dough will feel dense and heavy.  Watch how the surface become smooth, soon after you turn the dough.  By the end of the third hour, the dough will feel aerated and softer.  A well-developed dough is more cohesive and releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns.  The ridges left by the turn will hold their shape for a few minutes.  You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume.  More air bubbles will form along the sides of the container.  these are all signs that the dough is ready to be divided and shaped into loaves.

The dough after the completed the bulk fermentation

* If the dough seems to be developing slowly, extend the bulk fermentation time.  Watch your dough and be flexible.

After the two hours bulk fermentation, the dough lets be resting for one hour, undisturbed.

Now it is ready for the first shaping.

*Use the dough spatula to pull all the dough out of the container onto an un-floured work surface.  Lightly flour the surface of the dough and use a bench knife to cut the dough into two equal pieces-this recipe makes enough bread for two loaves).  As you cut the first piece use the bench knife to flip it to that the floured side rests on the work surface.  Do the same with the second piece of the dough.

At this point, you want to incorporate as little flour as possible into the dough.  Fold the cut side of each piece of dough onto itself so that the flour on the surface of the dough is sealed on the outside of the loaf.  The outer surface of the dough will become the crust so you may use more flour on your hands to avoid sticking.

The first shaping has done, two rounds dough, cover with bowls, and rest for 22 minutes (the bench rest)

After completed the bench rest, time for the final shaping. One is a Batard and the other one is Boule.

The final shaping for a Boule, rest for 2 minutes before putting it on to the basket for proofing.

The Boule is on the floured basket ready for proofing for 3 to four hours, before the baking.  However, if you want to bake in the morning, retard the dough by putting the dough in the refrigerator overnight.  Cover the baskets with a plastic bag.

The Boule on a proofing basket

In the morning, place the Dutch oven with the cover in the oven, set it to 250 degrees C, it takes 45 minutes to reach the ultimate heat.  When the oven has reached the heat, take the basket out.  Place the dough on a pizza peel lined with baking paper, score the dough.  Take the pot (Dutch oven) out from the oven, open the lid and put the dough which is sitting on the pizza peel, transfer and place in the hot pot.  Replace the lid, now put the covered pot in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

After twenty-five minutes just gone, open the oven, and take the lid out and put it away safe as it is very hot.  You could see the dough with oven spring, golden and shiny .  Close the oven, and continue baking without the lid for 25 minutes, until the dough looks dark chestnut brown.

Golden colour, oven spring beautifully
Beautiful dark brown colour at the finished baking

Remember, that a recipe makes two loaves.  One is for the Boule and the other one is for the Batard.

Freshly Baked Batard

How good is that two beautiful loaves come out of my oven, a successful baking indeed, time was well spent.


Freshly Baked  “Boule”


It’s beautifully sliced, it has open crumb and a good crust, still slightly hard though.  But it’s Delicious.

It has the open crumb, but it’s not fluffy enough. The crust is hard.

Happy to bake again, today baking is good and in next time is only gets better.  Almost official now that I will be a monthly baker.  One loaf is plenty as the family is not very keen to have it.  During the baking day, the kitchen smells so delicious, so inviting like a true home, a happy home and the family loves it.

Did the cheap flour make the bread?  I am not sure.  In this case, the baked bread was not perfect but good enough, I think it’s due to lots of things, one of them is I have not mastered the art of the baking.
The flour that I have been using is home brand of any supermarket, good strong flour from white wings products, special bread flour which is specifically for bread making.

To make it worthwhile, the long process and all the procedures of the making – baking sourdough bread, I have decided that bread flour is the one I am going to use.  Stay with it!


Until Next Post



Sourdough Bread – Tabatier.

Tabatier-A Pretty Loaf

Baked the big T – Tabatier bread, and this time was no disappointment, the loaf was good. Using wild yeast sourdough starter which I caught and cultivate myself, and using the method of country loaf sourdough bread baking, based on Tartine.  Leaven was prepared well so the ingredients for the dough.

I do love baking this bread, as I love the shape and it looks pretty, or even rustic and dark.

The Process of Baking the sourdough bread, Tabatier.

Freshly Baked Tabatiere – Cooling on a Tray

The Leaven

I prepared the leaven 8-9 hours before.

7.30 am

40 ml sourdough starter

50ml water

50g plain flour

The leaven was tested at 4.50 pm, and it was ready.

Started mixing the ingredients at 5.00 pm and autolyse for about one hour

Bulk Fermentation started at 6.05pm

Kneading/pulling within 30 minutes, four times.

The Ingredients for the dough

500 g good quality plain flour

260 ml water

140 g leaven

10 g salt

Raye flour for dusting

After autolyse added the salt and mix thoroughly, and followed by the bulk fermentation.

The Bulk Fermentation is very important to be done correctly and accurately.

The first rising of the dough is called the bulk fermentation or the bulk rise, This is when the strength, flavour, and structure of the dough are set.  (Based on the Tartine Bread Book)

The look of the dough at the first half hour of bulk fermentation, it’s soft and relaxed

The first half hour of bulk fermentation

It takes about 2 or 3 hours,  pulling/kneading at every 30 minutes. After the bulk fermentation, followed by a bench rest.

The last hour-two hours bulk fermentation

From the bench rest, divide the dough for the first shaping, very gently action has to take place here and let the dough rest for twenty-two minutes before the final shaping.

The first shaping, making two loaves of  Tabatier, this dough is risen beautifully, showing the pocket bubble, ready for the shaping.

Covering the two balls with bowls to rest for 25minutes before final shaping

The look of the dough after resting for 22 minutes

they ‘re larger as they spread a little, and become slightly flat.

Turn the balls, so the seams are on top.

Bring the edges to the centre and press them down gently.

Turn the dough over again and roll on the work surface,

pressing gently to for smooth, even-shaped balls. Dust with Rye flour.

The final shaping, to make a good looking Tabatier

Dust lightly with rye flour,

then bring the flap back over the top of the dough.

Use a rolling pin to flatten

and roll a third of dough out and away,

creating a flap, around  15 cm

The final shaping, the shape of Tabatier

Place the loaves on a well-floured cloth, flaps underneath.

Cover with the damp cloth to proof for 3-4 hours and bake in a hot oven for 52-55minutes.  Or retard proving in the refrigerator, and bake in the next morning.

My plan was baking the bread on the following day, I placed the dough in the fridge and covered them with plastic bags.


Using two small La Creuset Pot

Early in the morning, place two pots with the lids in the oven, and put on the very high temperature at 225 degrees C.  It took almost one hour to reach it.  Organised one dough at the time.

Ten minutes before baking I took one dough from the fridge, transfer to a lined pizza peel with baking paper, the right side on top, and the seam down.  The dough had to be scored before putting in the oven, to help them fully expand in the oven.  And I did the other one just the same.

My mittens were ready, wearing these mittens, I took the hot pots out of the oven, and I opened the lid of the pot, and put my dough on and covered the pot with the lid immediately, I did the same with other one too.  I put them back in the oven very carefully to bake for 22 minutes fu

After the twenty-two minutes was over, I opened the oven, took both the lids from the pots and I saw beautiful light golden loaves with oven spring.  I was so pleased and proud, the baking was looking very good.  I put the lid away and close the oven, continue baking without the lids for 30 minutes.  I wanted to have golden, dark brown loaves and that was exactly what I got.

The loaves had to cool down, and they sat on a cooling tray, in three or four hours can be cut to taste.  I held and lifted the loaf, and it’s so light, all the water was cooked away, and I believe I had baked two good loaves of bread.  At last!

Beautiful looking Tabatier-Bread

A sliced of the Tabatier Bread looks amazingly good.

The best crumb so far I had

To Cut the Loaf.  The Time of Truth.  Cutting freshly baked bread is a very emotional, exciting and precious time.  

I was so ready to cut, and I found out all the beauties that I wished to have.

When I cut it, the crust sang the song of bread, Beautiful. The crumb was soft, fluffy and the crust was crusty and chewy.

The exterior colour of the loaf was dramatically rustic dark brown as you can see from the pictures above.

The baking was successful, two beautiful loaves of bread  Tabatier. The flavour with a touch of sourness was delighted me just the way I like it. Beautiful crispy crust and not too hard, that’s excellent,  the fluffy interior – with beautiful open crumb, all that made me so happy.   I did it!

I am so proud to tell you that my baking sourdough has improved,  By far I have to learn more to get even better.

Pictures of The Crumb

Until the Next Post


Happy Chinese New Year.

Tomorrow is a special time for Chinese people,  it is a New Year.
The Year of  The Dog, it is, and  They celebrate it with traditions and style.  Happy New Year!
We have a large Chinese community here in Australia, and  I am sure they will have a big celebration and parties with beautiful food, and a grand feast.

On that note, I cooked one of the Chinese cooking for my family. It is steamed buns, but I give a little twist, instead of the traditional small buns I cooked a large bun that is cut into wedges to serve.

Beautiful Bun.

The Big Bun

The bun we love for breakfast is steamed buns, it was a large size

bun, a bundle of goodies.  The filling was so delicious and the bread bun was puffed up beautifully.


The Leaven

Flour, leaven and water

Mix the 155g leaven, with a cup of water to the dry ingredients-420g plain flour, a teaspoon yeast, 5gsalt and 5gsugar together, gather to make a rough ball. Knead it for 7 minutes until becomes soft.  Rub the softball with a little oil and place in a container and let it proof for two hours.

The Dough for the Bun

After Two Hours

Punch the dough down, knead lightly. put in a bowl and keep refrigerated.  When you are ready to use the dough take it out and continue cooking.

The filling:  braised pork, egg and lettuce and sweet thick sauce.

When the dough is ready, start to prepare the filling.  Poach four eggs, shred the iceberg lettuce, and get the braised pork which is done a day before.

You could make small round steamed buns which is very traditional, but today I will make one a large bun to share with the family for our breakfast.

The Pork, and Filling the bun.

Roll the dough into a large thin and round.  As a large as a dinner plate.

Put the round dough on a tray/plate lined with baking paper.  Put the filling on it, first scatter the shredded lettuce, followed by placing the pork, and put the eggs on top.  Spoon the sauce over the filling and bring the edge of the dough to the centre to enclose the filling.

Place the large bun at a room temperature to proof for one hour before steaming.

Let the buns rest at room temperature for one hour before steaming


Steam the bun with a steamer, I use what I got, but if you have a bamboo steamer is good.  Cook over high heat to steam for 25 minutes.

Serving the bun, cut into wedges and dress it in hot sauce or soya sauce.

Thanking the Chinese people who share delicious and amazing food to us all.  I do cook their dishes and my family loves them.  The bun in a part of the famous Yam Ca, and it is one of my favourites.


Until Next Post


Bread, Bread, Sourdough Bread!!!

Baked for Daily Bread.

How proud have I been, for baking sourdough bread from scratch? Now I am tired as all the baking are not always has been successful. Bake the perfect loaf I thought, the dough made from flour, water, homemade sourdough starter, and salt. So simple, the preparation is fun and can be addictive. The baking is the challenge, dealing with a hot pot in a hot oven and the whole process taking two hours to bake a loaf, from the heating the stove, the pot with the lids takes one hour.  Taking out the hot pot from the oven and loading the dough is always make nervy.
Pulling out the loaf from the oven is so good but with mixed feeling, is it good, light, is the scoring spat well during baking and having open crumb?
Cutting and Tasting: this is an exciting time,  does it cut well, is the crumb soft and airy, is the crust crisps, does it sing.?  Every baking is not the same, the loaf, the crust, the crumb are different, but the similarity is there.
I have been baking sourdough bread for a while now, but since 2017 I have become very serious about it, I learnt a lot more, and still need lots of improvement.  I went through a bad day with the terrible baking result,  a very dense and dark bread, and of course, it ended up in the rubbish bin.  Or too dark, to dry and the crumb to tight and so forth.  But I kept on going, I am thirst to succeed, I wanted to have the perfect loaf.  I have learnt from mistakes, and indeed my latest baking was better but still not the best.  That was an encouragement to me.
These pictures of the fresh loaves look so beautiful, as what sourdough bread should be.   Not all of them were good, either too hard, and not having good texture.  My hope is to create the loaf with a light- crisp crust and not hard but chewy.  If only I could get a loaf of sourdough bread of the Tartine Bread in San Francisco I would be blessed to compare.  No Chance!!!

Bread Baking in 2017

Other bread I baked was this brioche using the sourdough starter, I am not sure that I like it very much, indeed we ate it, I found the texter of my brioche was not bad but it was not fluffy enough.

More Bread

Bread and Bread

All the bread baking were based on two recipes: one using liquid sourdough starter based on Eric Kaysar’s recipe and his technique (brioche, turmeric bread, tabatiere, muslin bread and courone)
The other one was using a pure wild yeast sourdough starter and I followed the recipe from the Tartine Bread, and the Perfect Loaf.

The Journey Continue, Keep on Learning and Baking, that’s my mission.


Bread and Bread, 2018

B    The best baked was two loaves of  Batard; one plain and the other one with nuts and fruits.


Second Baked -Plain Batard.
One of bad baking day, the bread was burnt and dense.

Following recipes well, learning from the mistakes and listening to experts that’s what I have to do.

My plan to be a monthly baker and just see!
It would be great if I could have freshly baked bread daily.  It is impossible for me.


More Post


Stay In


Cool and Calm.
It was hot outside, stay in the house was the answer for me. It is good to be an elderly person, the job is looking after oneself, a luxury that I could easily afford.

Looking at the outside was very sunny, the heat was so intense and dry, all the flowers were hearting and looking sad. Before the hot heat got worst I decided to save some roses. They are so beautiful for cut flowers to fill my vase.  I could not help it to cut fresh parsley as well,  they are plenty in the garden now.  It is a good time to be busy in the kitchen to make herb butter to keep for winter time.  They freeze well, and on the cold days cooking with sauces are always a treat and the herb butter will make the dish.

The freshly cut roses and the green herb-parsley

The making and preparation of the herb-butter.

It is wrapped individually in a plastic glad wrap, place all of them in a container and freeze.  They are ready for me to make any sauces or add in cooked vegetables for a delicious garnish to meat or fish dishes.

It was a rather productive day and enjoyed to stay in the house away from the harsh heat.
What would you do if the day is too hot and not wanting to be away from home?
A lot of things we could do, say: light reading, learning and research what you may like to know.  Catching up with letter writing which is very seldom to do these days as  Email takes over the classic job.  Just sent notes/letters to my grandkids and hope they get there soon.  Since last year I have been learning about the sourdough bread baking, that is occupied my days but loving it.  So far is so good in term of answering my curiosity, my new book about it helps me to understand better about what it is and how to make the starter, the leaven, the baking and so forth.

Today was hot but not a wasted day, I loved to be inside and busy in the kitchen, also sitting, resting in a room enjoyed these beautiful cut roses from my garden.

Summer can be very hot in this part of the world, but we could make the best of it simply doing good things whatever it suits us all.  Today was hot and the choice was to Stay In.


Until Next Post


New Year In The Garden.

It is time to visit the backyard, I am sure a lot of happening out there. Indeed there are, but not all are good. Old flowering plants need to be pulled out, another plant needs to be replaced and a couple of potted plants are ready to be repotted.  That means I have to go to the shop to get a potting mix, new seedlings and a new plant for the replacement which is I am not sure that I need to get one after all.
You know what I am ready to work in the garden this time, and I shall be wearing my new hat the give of my Secret Santa, and the new apron was the belated birthday gift from Jane

Bunnings we went and was lucky enough to get beautiful potted plants and vegetable seedling as well. As the potting mix was overlooked, I had to go to another

Ready to work, to plants these fellows, and hoping they will grow well and flowering soon.| Two red Mandevilla Sanderi are potted and now they are sitting among other plants.  It was a busy day, preparation for the flower bed took enough time, but it’s all good.  All the plants are at their own places, the right area, I am sure they will be happy and growing fast.

Not far from what I have been working, Rayner decided to cut the grass, indeed it is needed.  We are both working in the same place, but seldom talking to one another,  to engross for what we are doing.  It is a good thing, we got the job done in time.
I am so pleased that the Espalier Fuji apple has been repotted as well as the standard Dipladenia Sanderii.

Long enough we were gardening, practically I spent the whole morning and afternoon there and finished around two.

So good, after a shower, feeling fresh and clean,  looking out and checking to what I did was very satisfying.  Resting on my favourite chair was good and I could not help myself thinking what I have to do next.   Gardening is endless as you know.

It has been a good start for the New Year, I am sure it will be more good thing coming to us.  I am so ready what 2018 brings.


Enjoy the first month of the New Year