The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

My Country Sourdough with Roasted Caraway Seeds

Shiao-Ping's picture

My Country Sourdough with Roasted Caraway Seeds

It’s a stunning morning with gentle early winter breeze. I could see the tips of my tall bamboo shrubs waving in the yard out of the window in my tea room. Years ago when I was working, racing to the airport on Friday afternoons to see family, rows and rows of bougainvillea that lined the expressway to the airport would dance as my taxi flew by. I used to count the waving bougainvillea, as do I now with the bamboos against the bright blue sky.

What do I bake on this early winter morning? I feel like something that would add some heat, some aroma.

Six months had gone by since my last post. My son is in the middle of his freshman year in University and loving it. My daughter is in her third year and her path is more and more clear to her. Such beautiful kids they are.

I had been busy with a project in Taiwan but now that project has come to a fine completion I will expect to stay in Australia more – and bake more? I hope. I missed my sourdough.

How the aroma of roasted caraway seeds crept into my senses I don’t know. The winter? The crackling wood in the fire at night?

It was as it had promised: The aroma that was in my head when I was in Taipei was singing to me this morning in my hands.




My formula:


  • 204 g white liquid starter (at 92% hydration)
  • 48 g rye flour (8% bakers percentage)
  • 74 g spelt flour (12% bakers percentage)
  • 386 g bakers flour
  • 362 g water (75% overall hydration)
  • 15 g roasted caraways seeds (2.4% bakers percentage)
  • 13 g sea salt

I promised my sisters to make Taiwanese pineapple tarts for them the next time I come back again. The sun coming through my bay windows in the kitchen cast beautiful shadows of trees growing on the side of the house; but I am scared to have to open the pineapples – the Queensland pineapples are so sour….


I would like to share some pictures of a tea garden restaurant that I went to with my sisters in Taipei this last trip back there. The pictures below are in a reverse order:






Drinking tea is for me as much a mental as a physical affair. Tea and sourdough are an unlikely combination I know but both I love. I have a book called “Listen to the Materials” and a book about the purity in (building) materials. I find similar qualities in the beauty of both building materials and raw food ingredients when they are treated with respect. One day I would like to write about it.



rossnroller's picture

What a crumb! And a lovely, lyrical piece of writing in your inimitable style.

Welcome back.


PS: I just have to ask about the starter - how did you arrive at 92% hydration?

Shiao-Ping's picture

Well, you know odd numbers are more often than not accident rather than because of careful planning!  With the temperature being low at this time of the year I was trying to avoid having to feed my starter sitting on my kitchen counter more than once a day, so I do a low innoculation ratio and also avoid doing a 100% hydration, but I hate having to break up the starter when the dough is mixed.  So, it's anywhere between 75% and 100% I was aiming when I poured that jar of water....

SallyBR's picture

I also love tea, drink it in huge amounts on a daily basis, mostly herbal.    Nothing wrong with sourdough and tea!



Mebake's picture

Welcom back to australia and to Tfl, Shiao-ping!
Truly, you do have a distinct style in how your crumb looks, i could distinguish your crumb picture from thousands...

Excellent bread!!

Shiao-Ping's picture

My husband often says to the kids that, if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.   Hello Mebake,  I guess that's what happens to my crumb.  The large holes come from very little handling of the dough in the first stage of the fermentation process.  While I strive to allow fermentation of every single grain of flour,  I do suffer in volume.  There are holes big and small, clear vestiges of fermentation, all over my bread, but there is definitely also room for improvement in my bread volume.   I think next time I should try more kneading at the beginning stage of the dough process.

dabrownman's picture

loaf of bread.  It is amazing what a little spelt and rye will do for a SD bread in looks, color but especially taste.  Love your posts and the bread isn't bad either :-)

Enjoy being in your other home.

ananda's picture

Hello Shiao-Ping,

It's lovely to read your posts on TFL once more.

The Country Sourdough with Roasted Caraway Seeds sounds and looks very lovely, of course.

On Sunday just past Alison and I went for a walk on the beautiful Northumberland Coast.   Despite the UK enjoying a lovely spell of hot and sunny weather, we drove into a sea fret just where we had planned to walk.   So we headed a few hundred metres inland to Howick Hall, the original home of Earl Grey.   After walking in gorgeous gardens and sunbathing on the lawn whilst I planned and wrote a bread course for Monday, we went inside and sat down to enjoy the ancestral home of the man who brought the world "Earl Grey Tea".   Not being a fan of drinking Bergamot, I ordered a subtly smoky Russian Caravan blend instead.   The choice was difficult as there was also a Japanese Green Tea which I was also really tempted by.   Your comments about drinking tea certainly strike a chord.

My very best wishes to you


Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Andy

Thank you for the lovely note. Earl Grey is my preferred choice of English tea. I often wondered what the difference was between gray and grey until someone suggested to me that in England grey is used and in America gray is used.  Is that true?

Best Wishes to you too


ananda's picture

Hello Shiao-Ping,

Yes, that is correct.   In the UK the colour is spelt "grey", but in the US it is "gray", so Alison informs me [English teacher, so she knows best!]   "Gray" is also used as a surname here, and it is, apparently, a unit of measurement for Radiation.

Best wishes


SylviaH's picture

What a beautiful crumb on your country sourdough!  Always refreshing to read your lovely posts and view your photos.  The children are growing up and doing so well...that's always good news.  Welcome back!


Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Slyvia,  I sometimes wonder if the bakers I know are still there baking and reading. It's nice to know that you are.  Thank you. Shiao-Ping

chouette22's picture

Yes, our kids are growing up! My son just graduated from HS last Thursday and will start university this fall. As a matter of fact, since my winter semester got over a few weeks ago, I have been baking up a storm because it is hitting me: Who will eat all of my bread once he is away? :) My daughter is not that much into bread and my husband and I are trying to keep the carbs under control. 

Lovely, lovely bread! You have obviously not lost your touch. Looking forward to more of your creative exploits!

Janetcook's picture


Finding your post here was like coming home because yours were the first ones I read when I joined TFL - they pulled me in.  

Your loaf today has grabbed me too.  I have fallen in love with baking with caraway this past winter - the aroma is intoxicating.  I have only used it when baking the Deli Rye loaves found in Stan and Norm's book ITJB which are wonderful.  Now I have a new formula to follow and I am sure my friends will love this new addition to the caraway loaves they have received.

Thanks for the post.  Very grounding to see the simplicty you always capture in your pictures.  I am glad to hear all in your family are doing well and that you are too.  

Take Care,



Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Janet, lovely to hear from you and thank you for your comment.  I feel such an honour but am not sure if I could live up to it, not for the last six months anyway.   I am feeling some energy and some inspiration coming back to me and maybe just maybe that I'll be able to bake and post more. Thank you. Shiao-Ping

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Shiao Ping,

When I read your post and see the pictures of your bread and the tea house, I amm somehow reminded that sourdough bread and tea might have a lot in common. To my knowledge, subtle differences in treating and fermenting the tea leaves make a huge difference in the appearance of he cup.

Best wishes from hot Southeast England,


Shiao-Ping's picture

Thank you for your comment.  The connection for me between tea and sourdough is that both are made from the pure-ness of the ingredients through a carefully thought-out fermentation process, that the best ones are made by hand, and that how good the work is depends on how good the craft is.    

Best Wishes


PiPs's picture

Hello Shiao-Ping,

This is a stunning time of the year in Australia ... and perfect for baking. Your bread looks as stunning as ever and you have not lost your touch with your absence from regular baking. I too hope you will get the chance to bake more :)

Are you back in Brisbane again?

I can imagine how the roasted caraway would have added wonderful savoury aromas and flavours. A winter bread for sure.

I love seeing bakers formulas scribbled down on paper ... I seem to have hundreds of them ... all in a shorthand that only I can possibly understand.


Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Phil

We were having internet problems and were not able to get connections. It always seems to happen when it is overcast. Strange.

I am in Brisbane for another three weeks and then the whole family goes to Taiwan for a break until just after mid July. I swear we were not going to be dictated by school holiday schedules for our family holidays but it appears we still are - the Uni holidays...

I love all sorts of crafts and so is my sister Orange in Taipei. She is a very handy person on top of being an oil painter. This last winter in Taiwan because of my extensive stays over there I finally showed her how to make sourdough. She is now very good at it. Her "oven" is not much bigger than a toaster.  It just goes to show that one doesn't need very good gadgets to make good sourdoughs.  Shiao-Ping

Syd's picture

 Beautiful post Shiao Ping.  What is the name of the tea garden/restaurant?  Are the pineapple tarts 鳳梨酥?  One of my students gave me a box of them yesterday!  Nice to see you baking again. 


Shiao-Ping's picture

Hello Syd

Sorry for the late reply.  We had internet connection problems the last few days.  The restaurant is called Shi-Yang ( ).  It is a beautiful venue but the food is not so good.    Yes the pineapple tarts are  鳳梨酥!! 


varda's picture

I was just thinking that I needed some inspiration, and here comes your post to supply it in plenty.   Lovely!  -Varda

breadsong's picture

How lovely to read of your singing loaf, a delight to your sense of hearing – as is it delightful for me to see.
The aroma and taste of your baked loaf must have completed your happiness in baking it!
:^) breadsong

Isand66's picture

Beautiful bread and post.

Welcome back!

What part of Taipei were you staying in?

I have been there a couple of times visiting some of my agents who live and work in Taipei.  I almost always go to mainland China for work, but once in a while I get to escape to Taiwan.  It is such a beautiful city and I am hoping I get a chance to visit again soon.



Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Ian,  My place is in Tien-Mu which is on the north side of Taipei, a quieter residential area than the rest of Taipei.  Regards, Shiao-Ping

SLKIRK's picture