The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

happycat's blog

happycat's picture


I was away from my Toronto place for 7 months, living alone, working on projects and losing 55 pounds. When I came back, I was ready to get back into baking!

Last weekend we made onion soup and I made baguettes to hold up the broiled gruyere cheese on top. We roasted then pressure-cooked beef neck to make the broth which left us with lots of tasty beef bits. The beef seemed like a great filling for a steamed bun. I remember eating bao at a Toronto place... they were delicious but horribly expensive. As usual, that inspired me to make my own.

Beef filling needed some pickled vegetables, so I pulled out my mandolin and ripple blade earlier this week and sliced up carrots, cucumbers, red onion, celery, red cabbage and pickled them in vinegar, garlic and spices for a few days. I managed to use the mandolin extensively without a single injury :)  My wife mixed some pickled ginger in mayo to provide a spread. She also seasoned the beef with black bean sauce and other stuff and I sneaked in some lime juice to bring it alive.

Today, I made the bao.


I used the steamed bao recipe from another TFL member. It worked perfectly. This is an enriched dough with milk, oil and sugar and it uses two rising agents: yeast and baking powder. Fun!


A lovely enriched dough, hand kneaded and proofed.

Divided into 20 pieces of 30g each. The dough was somewhat firm. Not tacky at all.

Rolled a little thinner than 1/4 inch. These were springy fellas so I rolled some a few times because they shrank back a bit. That's an iPad 2 on a stand. Makes a wonderful timer and recipe display with the text enlarged.

Here I've smeared half with canola oil to prevent sticking after they're folded, then used a chopstick to fold them. The chopstick isn't really needed.

Here's 20 of them after proofing inside a giant ziploc bag for about an hour. Each dough is on a piece of parchment paper.

Here they are in a steamer basket before steaming. I had two rice cookers for steamers and cranked through several batches. The waiting bao didn't overproof at all.

Here they are after 9 mins of steaming, Fluffy!

Will they open up? Yes! Yay!


Making these was very simple and cheap. We agreed that these were the best bao we'd ever had by far. At the bao place we"d been to, our 20 bao would probably run $180... with filling of course, My cost? A tiny fraction?

We enjoyed these way more than tacos or fajitas I've made in the past (scratch, not kits!). The bao is so soft and tasty. I suppose I should add a crumb / shred shot. Maybe tomorrow if I remember.

I froze the bao we didn't eat to have later. Portion control is the secret to getting and staying skinny. This cat is no longer fat!

Next Steps

I'd be tempted to mess around with malts and flour. For instance, adding some of my homemade rye malt for flavour, or using some cake flour to fluff them more. I'm also tempted to use the recipe to make a closed bun with stuffing inside. These were so tasty they are worth more experimentation.

EDIT: These reheat well out of the freezer with resteaming.





happycat's picture

Blogs are my favourite part of The Fresh Loaf. I'm delighted to participate in a community of knowledgeable bakers who inspire me. However, writing blogs is challenging because I need to think about "usability" from the readers' perspective. "Usability" means how easily an intended audience can process information to achieve their desired purpose. That purpose might be entertainment, education, or completing a procedure such as a recipe. We run into usability issues all the time when we're confused, lost, or frustrated by writing (or interfaces, or diagrams, etc.). For the interest of our bloggers, I've provided a few brief tips I've learned about to improve usability by tweaking content, style and formatting.

Four Content Tips 

When you're thinking about your bakes, you rely on your own knowledge, experience, nose, tastebuds, and eyes. However, your readers have only your words and images. Consider providing more information to help readers catch up to you and follow along with your baking adventure.

  1. Provide a brief intro. A brief statement of your inspiration, challenge, problem, etc. helps situate the reader immediately and hooks them into the purpose of your post. 
  2. Define terms and sources. Don't assume your readers understand the terms or concepts you are relying on. Define key terms and short forms (ADY, IDY, YW, CY etc.) and link to your sources and inspirations the first time you refer to them so we can quickly get up to speed.
  3. Provide key images. A final result image helps the reader quickly see the point of your post. In the baking world, final result includes the outside and a cross-section of the inside.
  4. Describe aroma, taste and texture. If you're baking, you're making food. Help your readers experience that food virtually by providing a few notes for each of the senses.

Three Style Tips

Some disciplines encourage the use of a passive, disembodied "God Voice" to provide the illusion of authoritative and objective prose. However, you can improve the clarity and liveliness of writing by using small paragraphs written in a more active, targetted style.

  1. Try small paragraphs. Small paragraphs are less intimidating and easier to skim, and help your readers using a tablet or phone with a small screen. Generally speaking, use a brief paragraph for each idea. 
  2. Try "active voice."  Brief statements in the active voice make it clear who is doing the action, and provide a more energetic prose. For instance "I folded the dough" is clear and active, compared to "the dough was folded," which is more vague and passive. 
  3. Try to choose perspective based on your goals. Perspective means the viewpoint of the writing, which may be yourself (first person), your reader (second person), or some other party (third person). For instance, "I folded the dough" is first person and makes sense when you are describing anything that you did. "Fold the dough" is second person, and makes sense when you are telling your reader what to do, such as steps in a recipe. "The dough was folded" is third person and it's not clear who is doing it or whether you are providing instructions. 

Three Formatting Tips

The blog interface includes a tool bar at the top of the text entry window. Consider using some of the formatting functions to produce more usable text, particularly for small, mobile devices. Ask yourself how easily a reader could follow your recipe when they're tired and under pressure in the kitchen.

  1. Try bolded headings. Headings help you organize your work more logically. Headings orient readers to the point of each paragraph, and allow readers to come back later and find the point they want to see again. 
  2. Try bullets. Bullets make lists (such as ingredients) more skimmable and usable in the moment -- for instance when someone is trying to use your recipe. Provide only one point per bullet so readers don't miss anything.
  3. Try numbered lists. Numbered lists make following a procedure (such as a recipe) much easier. Provide only one step per numbered item. Many recipes fail to do that-- which makes it more likely that readers will miss or misinterpret one of the steps clumped together.


happycat's picture


Lance (albacore) recently made some Chelsea buns that finally pushed me into making a cinnamon-style bun. My mother used to buy cinnamon buns at the supermarket and they were pretty bad and slathered in icing. She'd heat them up in the toaster oven as a treat. The thing I remember most was their bread part was flavourless and then you'd get a bit of cinnamon and an overly-sweet icing.

For this bake my vision was to make every part of the roll contribute to flavour. Additionally, I wanted to make the rolls as fluffy and soft as possible and capable of lasting more than a day.

I looked at a few recipes. I decided to use one as a base and then make a lot of tweaks to it.

Recipe Source


Changes I made:

  • soaked currants in orange and lemon juice over night for flavour
  • included orange and lemon zest in the main dough for flavour
  • used milk instead of water for softness
  • added a tangzhong / milk roux for softness and shelf life (ha ha ha)
  • added an egg (a tangzhong lets you increase hydration) for softness
  • did a 2 stage inclusion: folded in currants, then added filling and rolled it up
  • filling used molasses with sugar for flavour
  • proofed using 45 min timing due to enriched dough
  • used a honey glaze (not just sugar) for flavour

My Recipe


Presoak Fruit

  • 125g currants
  • 105g fresh juice (juice from a small orange plus a lemon)

Flying sponge

  • 175g white flour
  • 7g instant dry yeast  (SAF red)
  • 1 egg
  • 145g milk warmed a bit


  • 25g white flour
  • 125g milk (roux allows increase of total moisture ie egg)

Main dough

  • 75g sugar (processed with all zest)
  • 3g lemon zest
  • 5g small orange zest
  • 300g white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 75g soft unsalted butter


  • 62.5g sugar
  • 13g molasses
  • 2g each cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
  • 1.3g each allspice, coriander, fresh ginger
  • 75g soft unsalted butter

Honey glaze

  • 50g honey
  • 25g water


Prepare fruit

  1. night before, combine currants with fresh fruit juice 
  2. cover overnight

Prepare Tangzhong

  1. heat milk
  2. stir in flour until paste
  3. let cool

Prepare flying sponge

  1. warm milk
  2. beat egg into milk
  3. Mix in flying sponge ingredients
  4. cover and proof until puffy and bubbly (45 mins-1h)

Prepare dough

  1. food process sugar with citrus zest
  2. Add tangzhong and dough ingredients (except butter) to flying sponge
  3. knead 6 minutes.
  4. knead in bits of butter until smooth.
  5. Proof 45 minutes
  6. Fold dough
  7. Proof 45 minutes

Prepare inclusions and filling

  1. Roll out dough thin
  2. drain liquid from fruit (save liquid to add to pancakes or something)
  3. top left half with fruit
  4. fold right half over fruit
  5. mix filling ingredients into paste
  6. spread filling paste over top of dough
  7. roll up dough 
  8. put in fridge to make slicing easier!

Prepare for baking

  1. slice rolled dough into 6 pieces
  2. fit pieces into a baking pan and cover
  3. Proof 30 minutes.
  4. preheat oven 350f (adding another 15 on the proof)
  5. Bake until golden brown (30 mins)
  6. mix honey with water to make glaze
  7. Brush hot buns with honey glaze
  8. let cool


Here are the pieces of the puzzle for the main dough. From top left: flour and salt, tangzhong. From bottom left: flying sponge, butter, citrus zest processed into sugar (thanks Naturaleigh for that tip!)

After the proofing, here's a lovely puffy dough that is rich in colour from the egg and citrus zest. The egg, milk and zest in the dough ensures it contributes to flavour.

I wanted the plump currants to contribute flavour on their own without getting mixed into the filling. I wanted as much flavour distribution as possible.

I folded the dough over the fruit then smeared on the filling. This creates multiple flavour layers.

Then I rolled it up, stretching here and there to even it out,

Here are the rolls after proofing... they looked sloppy immediately after slicing so I think cooling the rolled dough in the fridge before slicing might have helped.

They baked up nicely! The original recipe seemed to mention using convection but no adjustment was needed for timing on these.


I was thrilled with the results. It was well baked and super soft! The bread part had a mellow citrus flavour. The currants inside the dough were plump and had a citrus zing, and where they were on the outside they had a bit of a chew. The filling and glaze were a lovely contribution. Everything was working together and delivering a complete flavour experience throughout the bake.

Lots of wow's from the couch beside me which is the real measure of success. Don't always get those. We split a single roll between us because they are quite large.

Since Benny christened his baguettes "Yorkville" after his neighbourhood, I decided to christen these buns "Regent" after mine.

happycat's picture


Lava cakes seem to be trendy for Valentine's day. This is more of a little chocolate cake with a slightly crisp shell and molten (but not flowing) orange citrus chocolate ganache centre. 

These cakes are mostly chocolate... so I wouldn't rely on chips for the cake or Lindor fillings to replace the ganache as suggested in the original. Blech! Give me deep chocolate, real vanilla and real orange!

The recipe was inspired from

With the following differences:

  • I used unsweetened chocolate and added 40% sugar (she used chips with a lower cocoa % to help with flow of the centre)
  • I used the stovetop to make ganache, not a microwave and choc chips
  • I added orange zest and vanilla bean to the ganache
  • I used cake flour



  • 60g unsweetened chocolate chopped into bits
  • 40g sugar for chocolate
  • 60g heavy cream (eg. 35% whipping cream)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • zest 1 small orange

NOTE: I should mention that you won't use all this ganache. The original recipe made too much and so does this. The amount you put in each cake is up to your judgment but I had plenty (half?) left over.


  • 120g unsweetened chocolate chopped into bits
  • 80g sugar for chocolate
  • 100g unsalted butter 1cm cubes
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar for cake (or just food process regular sugar)
  • 16g cake flour



  • in a saucepan, add cream, sugar, vanilla and zest and mix thoroughly
  • NOTE: consider food processing zest into sugar to enhance flavour
  • warm on stove medium, stirring regularly, until just starts to bubble
  • remove from heat and add small amount of chopped chocolate and stir until melted in
  • alternate warming, adding bits of chocolate, stirring until all smoothly integrated
  • Cool 10 minutes
  • refrigerate until firm enough to scoop


  • Preheat oven 390°F
  • Grease & dust moulds with cocoa, tapping out excess
  • in a saucepan, add butter, chocolate's sugar, stirring until integrated
  • warm on stove medium, stirring regularly, until just starts to bubble
  • remove from heat and add vanilla
  • add small amount of chopped chocolate and stir until melted in
  • alternate warming, adding bits of chocolate, stirring until all smoothly integrated
  • put aside to cool
  • In a bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks and the cake sugar (I food processed it with old vanilla pods then sifted them out)
  • Add portion of melted chocolate into the eggs, mixing until combined, repeating until all integrated
  • Sift flour over batter and fold until just combined
  • Fill 7-8 muffin moulds ⅓ with batter
  • Place blob ganache into middle of each batter
  • Cover each with more batter until 1 cm from top
  • Bake 17 minutes 
    • I baked mine in a floppy silicone mould on a thin aluminum sheet and after 17 minutes I added another 3 without the sheet. This may be why I got the slightly crispy shells, which I liked

Some Photos

Chocolate chips are not a good substitute for baking chocolate. This is a mostly chocolate dessert... so start with real all-cocoa / cocoa butter chocolate without the extra sugar, wax, stabilizers, flavourings and whatnot of chips...

Here I've plopped a blob of glorious ganache into a pool of batter in 8 muffin cups. Then I topped it off with more batter and baked.

Look at how dark that chocolate is....

 And they baked up nicely...


The cakes had a wonderful chocolate aroma, deep chocolate flavour, a slightly crispy shell and a molten chocolate interior with a lovely and nuanced natural orange essence from zest. The whole thing is mostly chocolate so it was pretty great because I took the time to make it with quality ingredients.

To serve, we microwave the cakes to melt the ganache. Yes, the shell stays a bit crispy.

I froze my cakes to portion them out over time. These are small but very satisfying.


Crummy photo... 

happycat's picture


Altus... old rye bread... sometimes from a baking fail. Well, I had a bunch of altus from a whole grain pumpernickel I made that got dried out during baking. I was curious about incorporating it into a fluffier loaf... using something very dense and chewy to create something fluffy and creamy. 

Please... don't bin your "fails"!


I worked from Floyd's daily bread recipe

but made some changes:

  • used altus for half of poolish
  • significantly reduced yeast in poolish
  • incorporated tangzhong
  • reduced ferment/proofing time




  • 34g flour (5% total flour)
  • 170g water (5x tangzhong flour weight)


  • 420g flour AP
  • 170g water (room temp, filtered)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. Night before, make poolish, cover overnight
  2. Next day, mix tangzhong in saucepan over heat until a paste 
  3. Let tangzhong cool and turn out into bowl
  4. add water to tangzhong and mix to break it up
  5. add flour, yeast, salt, poolish
  6. Mix 8-10 mins
  7. Cover and bulk ferment (fold after 40mins then wait 40 more)
  8. turn out dough and divide into 2 loaves
  9. shape loaves and place in loaf pans
  10. cover and proof ~75 mins
  11. preheat oven 450f (while another 15 mins proofing)
  12. spray/baste loaves with water
  13. bake 20 mins 


First, I dumped the chunks of altus in a food processor with water to make a chunky paste. Without water, the food processor mostly spins the altus around making a lot of useless noise.

I then combined the altus with atta flour, water and yeast for an overnight levain. I used a lot less yeast than specified (0.45g vs .78g for original tsp)

Next morning pieces of the puzzle: AP flour, tangzhong, and levain. 

I mixed the tangzhong with remaining water to break up the paste. (still some white bits got through to the end)

Then I added the rest of the ingredients and levain (I skipped the autolyse)

Mixed the dough for around 15 mins. Still didn't mix it well enough... in the final loaf you see bits of white.

After 40 min fermentation, I folded it down and gave it another 40 mins.

I cut the dough into two, did some somewhat lousy shaping (letter fold then roll up) and put the dough into loaf pans to bake. 


The resulting loaves were very fluffy, crisp thin outer crust, and decent flavour for IDY bread.

The loaf is so fluffy I can hardly cut it with sharp or serated knife.

Aroma has a teasing essence of pumpernickel.

Texture and flavour is creamy with light teases of rye.


happycat's picture


I made a cranberry lemon kugelhopf two weeks in a row. I was very pleased with it so obviously I needed to blow it up with something crazy. I wondered whether I could make a kugelhopf with a citrus frangipane rolled inside it. And while I was at it, why not make it chocolate with hand-pulled espresso from my home-roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans? And why not use lots of little currants instead of large cranberries?


The recipe comprises two major parts: making the kugelhopf and making the citrus frangipane.

adapted from:


  • 130g espresso (I used 4 shots x 11g beans pulled long, 33g each)
  • 160g dried currants
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 200g milk, lukewarm
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 500g flour
  • 10g salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 Tahitian vanilla bean seeds
  • 50g high-fat (20-24%) cocoa (10% flour weight)
  • 10g instant dried yeast
  • 50g almonds
  • tube mould for baking

/// Night Before ///


  1. Soak currants in espresso overnight
  2. Set out eggs, milk, butter to come to room temp
  3. Food process vanilla and sugar until caster fine (I added old vanilla pods as well then sifted the bits out at the end)
  4. In separate bowl, mix the processed vanilla sugar, salt, 100g milk, then beat in 2 eggs 
  5. mix in 400g flour 
  6. mix dough low speed 10 mins
  7. Incorporate bits of soft butter while mixing until it's well blended
  8. sift in cocoa in stages while mixing until well blended in a dark rich colour
  9. Place dough in fridge overnight

/// Next Day ///


  • 100g sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of orange
  • 100g almond flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature


  1. food process sugar, salt and orange zest to maximize flavour
  2. add almond flour and process mixture
  3. turn out mixture into a bowl 
  4. incorporate butter
  5. Stir in eggs one at a time
  6. refrigerate to firm up


  1. Allow dough to come to room temperature
  2. Mix yeast into 100g of warm milk
  3. Mix in 100g of flour and let double or triple to form levain
  4. Mix levain into dough until cleans bowl
  5. Cover and let rise (about 1.5 hours with cocoa)
  6. take out frangipane to warm up
  7. Stretch dough into rectangle on work surface
  8. Spread frangipane over dough
  9. Sprinkle frangipane-coated dough evenly with fruit
  10. Roll up dough into long cylinder
  11. Roll cylinder in sliced almonds
  12. Butter mould
  13. Fit cylinder into mould and pinch ends together
  14. Let dough rise second time, until above edge of mould (about 1.5 hours with cocoa less preheat time, e.g. 15 mins)
  15. Preheat oven 180°C (350f) 
  16. Bake 35 minutes (until top is dark brown) [NOTE: change this to foil on top, baking sheet below, and baking until knife comes out clean... guessing ~52mins?]
  17. Remove from mould to cool (keep crust solid so loaf doesn't shrink)


Night Before

The night before, I poured four lungo espresso shots over a bowl of currants. Lungo means "long." Normally I would pull a 33g shot using 16g of coffee but here I pulled four 33g shots using 11g each. Fresh pulled espresso means a rich coffee flavour with coffee oils included.

Also the night before, I made the enriched dough. I started by food processing sugar with old vanilla bean pods that I had previously scraped the seeds out of in other recipes. This produces a vanilla infused sugar and reduces waste.

After processing, I sifted out the pod bits and discarded them.

Next, I incorporated the vanilla sugar into the other dough ingredients to make the enriched dough, and then I added the softened butter in chunks and continued mixing until incorporated.

Then I sifted high fat cocoa over the dough and continued mixing until it was well integrated. I added cocoa last to avoid it taking up moisture from the dough during gluten formation. I put the dough in the fridge overnignt.

Next Day

Next morning I took the dough out to warm up and I made the frangipane. Here are the pieces of the puzzle: almond flour, eggs, butter, sugar and orange zest.

To maximize orange zest flavour (thanks Naturaleigh) I food processed the zest with sugar.

I then added nutmeg, vanilla seeds, and then incorporated almond flour and lastly the eggs. I put the frangipane mix in the fridge to firm up.

When the dough had warmed up, I made the instant dry yeast-flour-milk levain. After the levain expanded 2-3x, I then used the mixer to incorporate it thoroughly into the enriched dough.

Here it is after mixing slowly for ten mins or so.

Here it is puffed after 90 mins fermentation. Note that it took an extra 30mins vs a kugelhopf without cocoa,

The next part was assembly. Here are the pieces of the puzzle: dough, espresso-soaked currants, and citrus frangipane.

I rolled out the dough (using a rolling pin) to make a large rectangle.

I spread the frangipane evenly over the dough.

I sprinkled the espresso currants evenly over the frangipane.

I then rolled the dough up into a tube. NOTE: there was a lot of extra moisture in there vs previous kugelhopfs. Moisture came from the frangipane and espresso.

I rolled the dough tube in sliced almonds and fit it into a buttered silicone mold. Note that it was juicy at the ends where I pinched it together. The espresso juice currants had bunched up in the core. Below you can see the dough proofed after 90mins which is again 30 mins more than the previous kugelhopfs without cocoa and frangipane.

I baked for 37 mins. That was NOT enough and it needed further baking. I suggest covering its top in foil and setting it on a cookie sheet or foil sheet so it can be baked longer without burning or drying out, The sharp fins bake on the bottom so they need protection.

Here is a slice that was individually rebaked after wrapped in foil.

You can see that although the kugelhopf did puff up during proofing, it collapsed as it cooled. Longer foil-wrapped baking might offset that.


I knew this was risky and I expected it might turn into a dense lump. However, it turned out to be quite tasty. I got a soft chocolate flavour with orange from the frangipane, and the currants were nicely plump with espresso. It all went together nicely in the rebaked slices which were moist and delicious. It was still definitely a dessert bread and not a cake based on its texture.

I don't have a recommendation for baking time. Perhaps a shielded (sheet below, foil on top) bake should be extended from 37 to 52 mins or so. That might produce a more even bake throughout. Another option would be to drain the currants or firm up the frangipane.





happycat's picture


Version 2.0

Last week I made a lemon cranberry kugelhof and quite enjoyed it. However, Naturaleigh mentioned getting more out of my lemon zest by mashing it with the sugar. I started wondering what other innovations I could try to amplify flavour, loft and richness.



I modified last week's recipe as follows:

  • doubled cranberries from 80->160g
  • quadrupled lemon zest and juice from 1 to 4 small lemons
  • quadrupled nutmeg from 1.4->5.4
  • doubled vanilla
  • prepared enriched dough the night before
  • food processed the zest, spices, sugar and butter to make a flavour paste
  • incorporated the flavour paste into the basic enriched dough
  • let the enriched dough sit overnight in the fridge
  • reduced bake time 5 mins 40->35

Original Inspiration

adapted from:

Modified Recipe


  • 500g flour
  • 10g instant dried yeast
  • 200g milk, lukewarm
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 Tahitian vanilla bean seeds
  • zest 4 small lemons (10g)
  • juice 4 small lemons (132g)
  • 5.3g fresh ground nutmeg
  • 160g dried cranberries (soak in the lemon's juice)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 50g almonds
  • 10g salt
  • tube mould for baking


Night Before

  1. Soak fruit in lemon juice or rum overnight
  2. Set out eggs, milk, butter to come to room temp
  3. Food process lemon zest, vanilla, nutmeg and sugar until caster fine paste
  4. Food process softened butter into sugar mix to make smooth paste
  5. In separate bowl, beat eggs into 100g milk, then stir in salt, then 400g flour and mix into dough low speed
    1. did for 10 minutes but was probably way too long
  6. Incorporate sugar butter mix into dough (may turn into a paste, but ensure it's well blended)
  7. Place dough in fridge overnight

Next Day

  1. Allow dough to come to room temperature
  2. Add yeast to 100g of warm milk, add 100g of flour and mix and let rise
  3. Mix doubled levain into dough (high speed, 10 mins until cleans bowl)
  4. Cover and let rise (about 1 hour)
  5. Stretch dough into rectangle on work surface
  6. Sprinkle dough evenly with fruit
  7. Roll up dough into long cylinder
  8. Roll cylinder in sliced almonds
  9. Butter mould
  10. Fit cylinder into mould and pinch ends together
  11. Let dough rise second time, until above edge of mould (about 1 hour less preheat time, e.g. 15 mins)
  12. Preheat oven 180°C (350f) 
  13. Bake 35 minutes (until top is dark brown)


This was the major innovation: while the cranberries soaked in lemon juice, I made up the spice mix with the sugar with fresh vanilla and fresh nutmeg and lots of lemon zest.

I then blended the sugar spice mix into a paste

I added the butter and creamed everything together. This was a major change: instead of making the basic enriched dough with sugar and then gradually adding butter to it, I would have to combine this entire paste with the sugarless and tighter dough.

The basic enriched dough now lacked any sugar. It was quite tight. I might have kneaded it too much.

I blended the butter sugar flavour paste into the dough.

I don't have a picture for what happened... it turned into a paste and wouldn't come together. I was quite concerned and tried manual folding of the paste. It had some strength but not much. I put it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I let the dough warm up. I made the levain from instant yeast, flour and warm milk. It quickly doubled and tripled and I combined it with the paste and put my mixer on high speed.

Hurrah! Within 10 mins it all came together in a dough ball.

More good news... it rose nicely within the same 1 hr as before.

I spread out the dough thinking it was more extensible and less elastic. Made sense if I damaged the gluten network with my altered process. I added the 2x cranberries and rolled it up, rolled the roll in almonds, then fit the roll into my silicone tube mould and pinched the ends together. I tried to move the dough around to make it more even than last time.

This time I buttered the mould but did not add any almonds to it directly.

Hurray again... the dough lifted without problems.

I reduced bake time by 5 mins from 40 to 35. Still got a nice lift and browning,

I waited until the following afternoon to cut in. It's a moister and more flavourful version. Plenty of fresh, natural lemon power in the fruit and bread. Lovely crumb. More yellow colour.

I'm quite happy with these improvements.

 One issue is I left the bread in its mould after it bake. This may have resulted in keeping the outside moist and allowing the bread to shrink a bit. It's possible that if I had removed it right away that the crust would have remained rigid and kept the loaf a bit more lofty.



happycat's picture

What can you do with brioche breads? Transform them into amazing desserts.

Last month I shared a bostock (brioche with an orange zest frangipane)

This month I share a dessert my wife remembered enjoying many times in her younger days with her sister in Japan. It's simple but the process transforms the brioche into something completely different. She had no name for this. If anyone does, let me know.



  • generous slices of brioche (especially good with fruit in it - I used my kugelhopf)
  • dollop of ice cream (I used Kawartha, which uses real cream and sugar)
  • salted butter (I used Emma grassfed butter imported from New Zealand)
  • honey (I used real honey packaged by Bee Maid cooperative)


  1. spread butter generously on one side of brioche
  2. toast brioche in oven (400f) until browned
  3. plate the brioche
  4. scoop ice cream onto the brioche
  5. drizzle honey across brioche / ice cream
  6. serve and enjoy with a fork
happycat's picture


My wife saw Yippee's stunning kouglof and she asked me to bake one.

Having no experience with this kind of bread, I chose a simpler instant-yeast-based version to see if I could pull it off.


I modifed the recipe as follows

  • used dried cranberries instead of raisins
  • soaked cranberries in fresh lemon juice instead of liquor
  • added fresh nutmeg and vanilla bean seeds
  • used instant yeast (SAF red) instead of cake yeast, and adapted amount
  • incorporared fruit using a spread and roll up method
  • used silicone tube mould instead of a proper kugelhopf "flowerpot"


adapted from:



  • 500g flour
  • 10g instant dried yeast
  • 200g milk, lukewarm
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g sugar (I food-processed to caster fine)
  • 1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean seeds
  • zest 1 small lemon (I would use a lot more)
  • juice 1 small lemon (24g)
  • 1.4g fresh ground nutmeg
  • 80g dried Sultanas or cranberries (soak in the lemon's juice)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 50g almonds
  • 10g salt
  • tube pan (silicone worked fine)



  1. Set out eggs, milk, butter to come to room temp
  2. Soak fruit in lemon juice or rum  
  3. Add yeast to 100g of warm milk, add 100g of flour and mix and let rise
  4. In separate bowl, mix 400g flour, eggs, 100g milk, sugar and salt for 10 minutes until doesn’t stick
  5. Add butter, lemon zest, vanilla, nutmeg, doubled levain 
  6. Cover and let rise one hour
  7. Stretch dough into recranglemon work surface
  8. Sprinkle dough evenly with fruit
  9. Roll up dough into long cylinder
  10. Roll cylinder in sliced almonds
  11. Butter mould, coat with sliced almonds
  12. Fit cylinder into mould and pinch ends together
  13. Let dough rise second time, until above edge of mould.
  14. Preheat oven 180°C (350f) 
  15. Bake 40 minutes (note: for a tube pan, might want to reduce by 5 mins?)


Here are the main parts of the recipe (except butter which was softening a bit in the microwave and missed the photoshoot... maybe the non-name butter was a little annoyed that I keep praising that butter I tasted once in Limerick...)

Here's the dough after incorporating the above ingredients

I stretched the dough out like you would with pizza and sprinkled the soaked cranberries over it.

I rolled up the dough, then rolled it in sliced almonds

I fit the dough into my silicone mould. I wasn't expecting the dough to fill all those soft grooves. I had no idea what it would look like.

Surprise! The dough filled all those whirls and sharp edges just fine. Wow, I was surprised and delighted. The bread came out pretty easily... just used two hands to stretch the silicone here and there to free it up.

Decent crumb on this one. It was WAY easier to slice next day with a smooth knife after spending overnight in a plastic bag. And it had more flavour.

I'm a convert to brioche breads with inclusions. I can't really handle high fat croissants and kouign amman anymore. This bread was moist, light tasting, had a freshness from the lemon. And I love the lemon juice-soaked cranberries. Really wonderful flavour.

The vanilla and nutmeg and lemon zest didn't come through strongly so I would use a lot more in the future.

I would also put in more fruit... delicious and not cloying... fresh lemon juice plus dried cranberry is surprisingly balanced. And the juices left over would have made an amazing glaze or spread with the fruit.


happycat's picture

German Pumpernickel HALF-SIZE

Adapted from:


SPOILER: didn't work for me


NOTE: consider sprouting rye kernels

NOTE: for all mentions of cracked rye, use your judgement about using medium to fine milling based on the consistency you desire




  • 25g rye sour starter
  • 175g cracked rye
  • 175g water 

Scalded Rye Berry Soaker

  • 100g rye berries 
  • 100g boiling water

Cracked Rye Soaker

  • 75g cracked rye 
  • 75g water

Additional Ingredients

  • 275g cracked rye
  • 75g water
  • 11g salt
  • 60g maple syrup 
  • butter to grease pan


Day 1 Noon/early afternoon

  • Prepare preferment and cover 16-24 hours
  • Prepare scalded rye and cover overnight
  • Prepare rye soaker and cover overnight

Day 2 Morning

  • 11.30am - 
    • Add 500g water to scalded rye berry soaker
    • bring to a boil and simmer ~1 hour until soft
  • 12.30pm - 
    • Strain scalded rye berry soaker, discarding water (or save the water for another bake!)
    • Set aside to cool
  • 1pm - 
    • In a large bowl combine 
      • 350g of preferment
      • boiled scalded rye berry soaker (cooled)
      • cracked rye soaker
      • additional cracked rye (275g)
      • water (75g)
      • salt (11g)
      • maple syrup (60g) 
    • mix by hand until dough sticks together well, comes away from bowl easily 
  • 1.45pm - 
    • grease pan
    • place dough into pan and flatten so half full
    • cover pan
  • 2pm - 
    • proof 3 hours or until dough visibly rises near top of pan
  • 4.30pm - 
    • Preheat oven 150°C (300F)
  • 5pm - 
    • Brush dough with water
    • wrap pan in foil or oven bag to keep steam inside
    • place pan on bottom oven rack
    • bake ~14 hours subject to next step
  • 6pm - 
    • Reduce oven to 120°C (250F)

Day 3  morning

  • 7am - 
    • After baking, turn off oven 
    • leave bread in oven for 1 hour
  • 8am - 
    • remove loaf from pan
    • wrap loaf in kitchen towel 
    • let loaf rest 24 hours


Subscribe to RSS - happycat's blog