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Sponge or Starters

It's just part flour, water and a tiny bit of yeast or none (if you're making a Sourdough starter). Mix using a wooden spoon, cover and leave for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hrs.

That's a sponge, a pre-ferment or patê fermenteè.  The formula could be anything from 2% to as high as 80% of your base flour depending on the kind of bread you are making, but it ultimately ends up on you as the baker deciding on how much sponge you really need or want. Martha Stewart sometimes uses a cup of flour where she adds a tsp of yeast, ferments it for half an  hour to 1 hour. That's here recipe. Mine varies too depending mostly on the type of bread I want to make and then the ingredients.
The length of fermentation also depends on your production demands and the kind of recipe you're making. Longer fermentation yields more flavor. That's a fact.  If you ask me, I prefer an overnight sponge, the kind I mix in less than 5 minutes then leave for the next day.
I suggest you experime…
Recent posts

Recycling Old Breads and Cakes

Question: What do i do with uneaten cakes and breads? 
Answer: for as long as they have no molds, you can shred hard and dry cakes or breads, cookies, crackers and biscuits and add them to any, I mean any baked goodies. 
The amount of old breads or cakes you can use is limited though, you can't just throw them in and expect the cake or bread to turn out the same. My rule is that I only use up to 15% if I'm baking a bread and 10 to 12 % if it's a cake because the extra flour in the recycled cake will dry up your cake. Not a lot but it's better than throwing away a failed cake, un risen bread because you forgot the yeast, someone gave you cookies and you didn't particularly like them etc...
You might ask, but what about the sugar content. Should I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe if I'm adding old cake crumbs that is already sweet? In principle, yes. But 15%, isn't exactly that much but if you feel like you don't want the added sweetness, you're g…

On Weights and Measures

On Day 1 of my hands on baking class I always ask my students if they already have a weighing scale. A digital one to be exact. If they don't have one, I give out a few basic rules on choosing and buying a better digital scale. Better because there are so many brands out there and this isn't a baking gadget that you pick up on a whim. After all, you will be weighing your precious ingredients on this thing. A 2 to 5 gram difference on the flour, sugar, water and milk will not be disastrous. But it will ruin the formula if it is salt. 
Salt should not be more than 1.8% if the fat you're using is salted butter or margarine. It would be fine if the fat is oil or shortening because both are bland in flavor. If the salt is lower than 1.6%, the flavor of the bread will not be balanced (although some people prefer reduced salt in their bread). Still, we're talking about a properly made bread and not a diet restricted formula. Although some breads in New York are really salty to…

Pandesal Crumb Texture

Filipinos who eat Pandesal are divided into two groups.  The ones who want their Pandesal "siksik" or dense and the ones who prefer theirs light and fluffy or "maalsa".  The dense type have less proofing so only you, the baker can create this. It will depend on the formula, humidity, temperature of both the dough and the proofing area and also whether your yeast is old or fresh off the store..   And so there goes the difficulty of running into problems of when to bake them. It is hard indeed unless your proof box is equipped with a thermostat, set it at a desired temperature, time and set the alarm.  Because of this, the baked breads are not the same for beginners. The only thing I can advise any aspiring baker is to just keep on practicing and record the proofing time and temperature in your kitchen and LOOK AT THE CRUMB STRUCTURE all the time, meaning evwrytume ypu bake to know if you're getting there. If at first the bread is too dense, add more proof time.
 If t…

Bake Malunggay Pandesal and Set Up A Bakery At Home

Two of my students for this month, Jenn Apares and Belle Nakpil. Having fun on our 3rd day of session making Monggo Breads.

Jenn was able to bake these Malunggay Pandesal as part of their assignment and things to do at home in between our session. This is why there are always a 2 day gap in my class, to give the students time to practice what they've learned and then bring some dough and bread for me to look at. Belle forgot her breads at home so i am very satisfied with Jenn's first time with Pandesal.

It needs at least 3% malunggay to be visible but the Pandesal is excellent. I am so happy for Jenn, she can now help her parents' bakery. Finally. This is only after our 2nd session, i admit i have to push my students but it was all worth the challenge. Plus, they had fun doing it!!!

after chopping the fresh leaves, just pulse them into the finished dough, lightly kneading to incorporate the veggies.

Now that obviously has Malunggay! My last advice is to reduce the amount …

Baking Cakes and Cake/Cupcake Decorating Class for December

December 1, 4 and 8
2 days baking cakes and cupcakes, then the last day is decorating 1 mini cake and cupcakes using buttercream.
Fee: 9000.00 inclusive of lunch Just bring your containers for the iced cake and cupcakes on the last day

Sifting the dry ingredients first. Set aside.

Double batch of a plain chiffon cake turned into a Mocha Chiffon cake and cupcake.
Mixing all the liquid and egg yolks.

Whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Time to fold the whipped whites into the mixed batter.

Baked at 325 F. 

Malunggay, Malunggay Pandesal

Malunggay is a winner, and this you won't believe. Why do kids love Malunggay Pandesal? I mean, they would take out the onions and tomatoes on top of pizzas, but would ask and gobble up the Malunggay Pandesal.

Seriously. It's mind boggling. My niece and sister love it, my students' kids also love it. Hmmm.

So how do you add the Malunggay in the Pandesal? I have tried every technque but the best one is using the freshly picked leaves, wash and then  mince them. I do not like the puree' version because the dough becomes too green, unless that's what you like. I also tried the powdered malunggay leaves, dried leaves, oven dried, sun dried, etc.,, and they taste like old stale something, smells funky and does not taste like you would go for a second bite.

Freshly minced malunggay leaves is the obvious winner and i usually start with 3 % then go as high at 5%. That's it. Beyond 5%, i find the malunggay flavor too strong but that it just me.

See the flecks of Malungg…

Favorite Meal Pizza and Gardening

If there is one single most favorite bread based meal request there is, nothing beats Pizza and its variations. And being a Pizza and flat bread lover that i am, i cannot wait for the morning to jump start my pizza making chores. Of course, with the assortments of toppings i can scavenge from the pantry and fridge.

If you think about it, Pizza and French dough is like a dough that cannot be described as hard and easy. I think both words can describe it because my pizza/french dough takes at least 3 days to make, day 1 for the sponge, day 2 first mix, day 3 final mix where you get to use the dough for your breads.

That makes it hard. Hard to understand why i have to spend 3 days to make it when you can buy a baguette and ready made pizza dough for 50 to 60 pesos right? Well you see, it's the flavor and aroma and texture and.... so on. I cannot tell you exactly, nor describe it to you point by point, to make it short, nothing beats freshly made slow rise baguette and pizza crust. No…