The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Sourdough from Taipei

Shiao-Ping's picture

Sourdough from Taipei


Background:       Stormy Queensland rain, a cyclone passing through

                            Vivid greenery against thick dark clouds

                            Cozy tearoom


The world out there is wet and blowy:



Inside my tearoom the air is sweet.  A bird came to visit me and rest on the railing outside:



My baking has not stopped. Such a delight to be able to create:



This bread was my very first sourdough baked in Taiwan. My family and I spend a lovely Christmas and New Year holiday in Taipei. My oven is Bosch there. I used no steaming mechanism. Spray can did the trick for me on this bread. I did not aim to make a perfect bread, just a bread.



We thoroughly enjoyed this bread, but I had no hesitation to put my starter away. On holidays these days I prefer not to spend too much time in the kitchen. Maison Kayser and Frédèric Lalos Bakery are both in Taipei and their breads are very good.

During this last trip to Taiwan, I made an effort to go to A-Li-Shan Mountain to see the ancient red cypress trees there. The oldest alive in Taiwan is estimated to be 2,700 years old! Look at the picture and the stats below:


Age: approx. 2,700 years old

Height: 43 meters

Circumference: 20 meters

Altitude: 2,350 meters


There are about 20 of these ancient giant red cypresses in Taiwan, ages ranging from 1000 to 2700 years old.  The Japanese left them untouched at the turn of the last century because back then these trees were already hollow in the middle and were considered to have no economic values.  The Japanese ran a massive logging industry in Taiwan during their 50 years of occupation before the end of the Second World War.  The red cypresses were shipped back to Japan for use in their temples and their Emperor’s residences.  

It was not possible to take a good shot at the giant tree with my poor camera.  It was very early morning and the sky was still dark blue.  But as the morning progressed, I was able to take beautiful shots of the mountains and the sea of clouds:






The holiday is now over and everything is back in full swing.  My daughter is in San Francisco on an exchange program for the first half of the year, and my son is busy preparing for a medicine exam in March.  Christmas tree was folded away for another year; more time now to enjoy my tea:



Happy baking everyone!



Isand66's picture

Hi Shiao-Ping, I was just thinking to myself that I have not seen any posts from you in a while and this morning  I was pleasantly surprised!  Thank you for sharing your visit and your beautiful photography.

I just came back last week from a 2 week business trip to China.  No time to visit your beautiful country this time around, but hopefully sometime this year.

Happy Year of the Snake to you and your family.


lumos's picture

Long time no see, lovely to have you back, Shiao-Ping! 

And you say it's 'just a bread'? Not perfect? It looks pretty perfect to me. :) Amazing you archived such a really open, beautiful grigne with just a spray can. Do you think the humidity and warm temperature in Taipei helped the success? 

arlo's picture

You always craft the best loaves and equally great posts Shiao-Ping!

The view of the mountains makes me wish I didn't live in such a place. But sooner or later I will get out and see those awesome sights.

Nicely done, as always -and great to hear from you!

Janetcook's picture

Hi Shiao-Ping,

What a treat to find your post this morning.  You were one of the first bloggers whose loaves I began to give a try in my kitchen so your posts are always special for me :-)  (Your chocolate sourdough was the first and still a favorite for people I bake for.)

I love following the threads of your life's journey too.  Amazing that your son is so far along in his education. I think he was still at  home when I first started reading your posts....Can't recall much about your daughter thought.  Must be hard for you having her so far away.  Mine just went off for her freshman year but she is only in Kansas - we live in Colorado so it is only an 8  hour drive or a 1 hour flight.  Delighted in having her home for the holidays.  I turned her room into my baking room so it isn't as hollow and empty when she is gone.  All can be taken out when she returns - very portable and she approves :-)

Anyway, I love your loaf.  Good honest loaf of bread and thanks for the info about the beautiful trees.  I grew up in San Francisco and we were very conscious there of the giant redwoods that grow just north of the city.  Huge and ancient trees that loggers were eager to cut down.  Public awareness was able to save many of the groves.  Amazing to walk among those giants - breath taking knowing how long they have stood their ground too. 

Thanks for the post and welcome :-)

Take Care,


Floydm's picture

As the others have said, good to hear from you, Shiao-Ping.  Thanks for sharing photos from your trip.


dabrownman's picture

Christmas tree!   Interesting how traditions easily move from continent to continent much easier than people do ;-)  I have to admit to being completely hooked on oolong teas from Taiwan.   One of the joys of life is tea.  Now I need a tea room to enjoy them in.  My daughter says some of them smell like dirty socks but what does she know about tea?  Glad to see your post and that your bread skills are as finely honed as ever.

Happy baking

dmsnyder's picture

Thanks for the beautiful photos and family update.


chouette22's picture

So nice to hear things are going well! Yes, our kids are growing up. I remember your son in high school and now he is in college already? Is he the same age as my son then? Mine is 18, a Freshman, and doing pre-med as well. He had Organic Chemistry in his first semester and despite it being a tough course, he enjoyed it. I am like you, still baking, still following TFL, but not posting much. However, I just pulled 4 Alpine Baguettes (Dan Leader: Local Breads) from the oven, our bread for the work lunches this coming week. 

rossnroller's picture

Great to see a post from you - thoughtful, lyrical and quietly wistful, and as always, accompanied by lovely pics. Beautiful crumb on your bread, too.

Cheers and all the best for the New Year!

txfarmer's picture

<Clink> Raising my tea cup to yours. :-)

Good to hear authentic sourdough hearth breads are easily found in Taiwan, wish they would be more popular in China too. 

Shiao-Ping's picture

Thank you everyone for your comments.  It is very warming to have friends at TFL.  I wish I could find more time baking and posting.  It’s amazing to think that my membership at TFL is now over 3 and 3/4 years.  What a journey it has been!  A while ago I heard noises about how wheat has contributed to modern obesity and how bad it is and so on.  No doubt to an extent it is true but why must bread be responsible for all modern evils.  People talk about what to eat and what not to eat, but I think eating habits are more the issue.  Anyway, I am still baking, but not as crazy as before.  I am leaning not to be wasteful.  It used to be, if I had made a bread not to my standard, I would chuck it and not give it a second thought. But now, I keep it, refrain from making another one straight away, as if to prove something.  I slice the bread for the freezer; I eat my one slice slowly in the morning, and I find my bread really delicious.  I am the only one in the family that still eat bread!

Janetcook's picture

Hi Shiao-Ping,

I still bake even though I can't eat what I bake.  I just love doing it - creating something out of simple ingredients.  It adds a rhythm to my day and somehow ties me into something ageless....I have turned into a daily baker.  My son and husband are the only ones here now.  My daughter has gone off to college and my oldest is living in another state.  My son likes mini loaves so he can make mini sandwiches that are less filling and my husband likes rolls/small knots.  I bake for them but their needs don't require daily baking so I have gotten in the habit of giving bread away.  

My son works at a local hardware store....I send him off once a week with a bag full of fresh rolls for all of the employees - many of whom don't have enough to eat when the end of the month comes and bills aren't all paid.  I give rolls to the men who pick up my trash and to the man who delivers our mail.  I can always find someone who welcomes the sight of a fresh loaf of bread....One of the women at the store where I do my weekly shopping just lost her son in a tragic incident....nothing I can do to take that heartache away but I can give her a loaf of bread....I even mail bread to my sister's  son every few months - her Christmas gift to him since he lives in another state and is one who doesn't want 'stuff'.... 

I know you are busy and have many interests....I just mention this in the event you find yourself wanting to bake yet not knowing what to do with it once it is baked and no one in your house will eat it...the freezer can only hold so much :-)

Take Care,


Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Janet, thank you for your comment. I worked in the backyard yesterday cleaning the debris from the storm until my back hurt. This morning the sun was out so I went out to my neighborhood French patisserie for a cup of flat white and daydreaming. If only the young barista had not burned the milk my coffee would have been just the way I wanted. There is an attractive large tree in front of me and there is ample space between us for my thoughts to roam. You are very conscientious. Thank you for sharing. Shiao-Ping

Janetcook's picture

Me again.  I was thinking of some of the breads of yours that I tried when I first started baking and I remembered that you made a loaf for MC (Farine ) and that you loved her expose on G. Rubaud.  Not sure if you check her blog anymore but thought you might like to know about the tragic event that hit her family in case you don't already know.  If you don't know about it - check out what she has written so eloquently on her blog.  A truly amazing woman and a remarkable family...such a horrible, senseless act...


Shiao-Ping's picture

Janet, I was shock to learn about the news. Life is so fragile. I really didn't know what to say. Thank you for letting me know. I do check her blog every now and then but not for a while lately. I sometimes wonder how I would take it if it had happened to me. Hard, really hard.