Clementine Sultana Earl Grey Tea Sourdough

Clementine Sultana Earl Grey Tea Sourdough

Back in the first few days of last December I was craving for some sweet-but-not-too-rich bread so I searched around the Internet and found several sweet ideas with citrus & Earl Grey twist.

This bread is based principally on this recipe and inspired by citrus idea of this.  I skipped the spice all together because I don’t like cinnamon but would make the exception for freshly ground nutmeg in some baked goods.  However, no spice needs to be here for I want to see how the Bergamot fragrance of this King of Earl Grey perform even among more citrus juice, pulp and zest of Clementine.

For that time of the year I had a choice between glowing-hue Tangelo or Clementine and I chose the latter simply because it has less pith; but still thought about how that deep reddish orange-y color of  Tangelo would look in the bread.  I would try other citrus such as orange or blood orange when they are in season.

One more thing, I had a large bag of golden raisins with Stollen in mind but was glad to use it here first in rehearsing for more sweets in the coming holidays and to fulfill my yearning for sweet bread.  Not to limit myself there I also had Manuka honey to spread on the slices even before the bread was created.  Talk about intense desire or had I waited a bit too long?  I had all these flavors dancing in my head for a some time while mixing the dough and waiting for its two fermentations. 😉

I was aiming for a fairly wet dough so increased the water a little to get the 72% hydration for the overall dough –that accounted for just the flours, water and starter–.  All other liquid such as agave nectar and citrus juice were to moisten the raisins which no doubt would have absorbed some liquid in the dough to stay moist after being baked.  If you were to make this bread in your kitchen, you’ll need to adjust the liquid and be able to read, touch and feel the dough to get it to the desired state of medium gluten development.

The starter was vigorously strong because I had been religiously feeding it twice a day during the 8 weeks back then since its birth (not a small task because it was dully tedious after a while so it went into cold storage ever since), the hydration seemed okay, the dough was kneaded long enough to reach the required gluten development, the shaping went well, the steam & temperature were properly applied because the crust’s color proudly proved it so… and yet this bread did not have an open crumb, so read further to find out why.

Let’s make this bread and see how it turns out.

Clementine Sultana Earl Grey Tea Sourdough


  • 200 g  vigorous 100%- hydration white starter, refreshed at least 2 times.
  • 500 g unbleached wheat flour (50% bread flour, 50% all-purpose flour)
  • 330 g water
  • 20 g agave nectar
  • 9 g sea salt
  • 150 g Clementine,  blitzed up, skin and all,  in a food processor
  • 1 Tablespoon  Earl Grey Tea (loose leaves)
  • 200 g  sultana (40%) ; I used golden Thompson Seedless raisin

Over all dough hydration is, give or take, about 72%,

How I do it

1. Boil 125 g water,  pour over the tea and leave it to infuse.  Reserve the moistened tea leaves and cool off the [liquid] tea .

2. In a large mixing bowl mix the flours; then add the starter.  Loosen the clinging starter with the rest of the water.

3. Pour this water, the [cool] tea, and the  moistened tea leaves into the mixing bowl.  Mix until hydrated.  Let autolyse for 30 minutes.

4. Add the salt and agave nectar into the dough and knead well in a mixer, about 5 minutes.  Your mixer mileage might vary.

5. Add in the blitzed-up Clementine and continue mixing until the dough reaches medium-gluten development, another 3-5 minutes.

6. First fermentation – Cover the dough with saran wrap and let it proof at room temperature 72° – 75° F, about 3 hours.

7. At the end of the first proofing period, knead the fruit into the dough.

mature starter

mature starter

fold in the sultanas

fold in the sultanas

8. Shape dough into a batard and place it, seam side up, on a floured linen-lined basket or banneton and sprinkle some flour on it.

shaped loaf, seam-side up

shaped loaf, seam-side up

9. Cover it well with saran wrap, put the whole thing in a large plastic bag (white-colored trash bag works really well here) and place it in the fridge overnight.

Note: I wanted to bake the loaf on the same day so left it proof in the oven crack open with the appliance light turn on to get close to room temperature, about 4 hours.

10. The next morning, preheat oven and baking tiles to 475° F  for at least 30 minutes.  Prepare steam.

11. Take the loaf straight out of the fridge, turn it out on an inverted baking sheet lined with parchment paper.   Alternatively, turn it out on a lightly floured peel if you have one.

12. Slash a single cut from one end to the other, holding the blade at about 30 degrees to create a flap over the dough.  This will result in a beautifully open ‘grigne’ and nice ear.

13.  Load the loaf on parchment onto baking tiles; turn the oven down to 450° F, bake with steam for the first 15-18 minutes.

14. Turn down the oven  to 360 ° F, remove the parchment and bake, without steam, for a further 30 minutes.   Halfway through, turn the loaf 180 degrees.

15. Turn off the oven, crack the door open and leave the loaf in for a further 5 minutes.

16.  Cool off completely on rack.  Slice it.  Enjoy.

Clementine Sultana Earl Grey Tea Sourdough

Clementine Sultana Earl Grey Tea Sourdough 'Grigne'

Loaf, Crust & Crumb

Clementine Sultana Earl Grey Tea Sourdough Loaf, Crust & Crumb

This post is featured in this week’s Yeast Spotting.

Lesson Learned & Notes to Self:

I could not wait to bake it the next day so skipped the delayed fermentation in the fridge, and prepared the loaf to bake that evening even when it was still quite doughy –not quite expanded & filled with bubbles nor passed the finger test– [first] sigh!

To make the matter worse, when it came to slashing the dough my mind went totally blank as I recalled (that’s what happened when one did not practice bread making for a  period of 365 days or more) and so the utility blade not only went directly straight a perfect 90 degrees onto the dough’s surface but also with quite a deep, about a half-inch, cut –see picture below– [second] sigh!

What to do at this “point of no return” nor avail redemption but to quickly put the loaf in the oven, loaded the steam, shut the oven door closed and hoped for the best.

Start 2 End of 3-hour Proofing

from Start to End of 3-hour Proofing period: not much expansion

The loaf did turn out okay appearance-wise.  I am thankful that the hot steam definitely brought about some sort of oven spring to create that beautiful “grigne” and  deep mahogany color for the crust.

loaf turned out okay with "grigne" but no ear

loaf turned out okay with "grigne" but no ear

Things to remember for the next loaf.  Yes, I’ll make this bread again:

1. This is sourdough then allow the loaf to rise to its fullness no matter how long it would take, well, within reason.  You can wait to bake the next day if need be.  Light & filled with bubbles not doughy loaf before it goes into the oven.

2. Take the time to mentally go over how you’re going to slash the loaf.

3. Hold the blade at an angle 20-25 degrees &  give a determined cut to create a flap-over-the-dough slash;  and don’t be too emotional since it’s only bread!

The bread tastes awesome by the way with a dash of Manuka Honey.  Enjoy!

Manuka Honey on Stupendous Toast

Manuka Honey on Stupendous Toast


sourdough Pan Siciliano

sourdough Pan Siciliano

What is Pan Siciliano?  It’s a delicious bread from Sicily shaped in the form of an S and has both wheat and semolina flour.  Its light crust and crumb, slightly sweetened with just a tad of honey, a bit of olive oil which goes very well with semolina flour, and enriched with crunchy crusted sesame seeds, all together created a light bread that is so unexpectedly wonderful with a subtle hint of sourdough note.

Yes, this particular recipe from Mike’s Sourdough Home caught my attention because its bread is raised completely using sourdough starter so make sure your starter is vigor and strong.  I was pretty excited about making this bread the first time for I learned how to shape a baguette, then coil it into an S, painted the loaves with seeds and also learned to be patient waiting over 48 hours before I could bake and taste a completely new bread.  Many lessons learned and I thoroughly enjoy the process.

Some of you might not like this bread –Birgit, for instance did not appreciate this bread at all–  if you are crusty-sourdough-type of a person.   The S-shaped loaves look lovely and I think children would assuringly enjoy this soft bread.  I, myself, like to toast  this bread very lightly, to not over-dry it, for breakfast munching it over a cup of warm tea.

I converted the original recipe into metric measurement and adjusted it just a bit where I see fit .  Let’s make the bread.

sourdough Pan Siciliano

sourdough Pan Siciliano

Pane Siciliano

Recipe is from Sourdough Home, which is  modified from a recipe in “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

This recipe makes three 400-gram loaves and will take 3 days to finish.

Pate Fermente:

dough hydration is about 58%

240 g mature starter, at 100% hydration; prefer to refresh over 24 hours

45 g/3 Tablespoon water

30 g strong/bread flour

135 g all-purpose flour

2 g/¼ teaspoon salt


final dough hydration is about 81%

450 g pate fermente, all the above pate fermente

210 g  semolina flour, I use Giusto’s semolina flour and don’t remember whether it’s  fine or coarse grind

210 g strong/bread flour

360 g lukewarm water, I use water around 80 ° – 85° F

7 g/ 1 ¼ teaspoon salt

28 g/2 Tablespoons olive oil

20 g/1 Tablespoon honey


Raw sesame seeds (optional), highly recommended.


DAY 1:

In the afternoon or evening  start making the pate fermente by mixing all the ingredients together, knead it a bit to a smooth and firm dough.

Cover it well and allow to rise until almost double.  How long this would take depends on how strong your starter is.

Place it in a well-covered container and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The pate fermente can be stored cold for 3 days.

DAY 2:

When you are ready to make the final dough, remove the pate fermente from the refrigerator.

Cut it into small pieces, cover them and let warm up to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.

Mix the pate fermente pieces with the water and mix until smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the flour to well hydrated.

Place the dough on a cool surface and knead well until smooth.  This takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

Place the dough in a container, 2.5 times its size.  Cover, let it rise for several hours until is almost double.

Prepare a large (half-size) baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Gently handle the dough, cut it into 3  equal pieces.  I weigh the dough pieces.  Form the dough into thin baguette.

Coil both ends, with each end, in opposite directions  into the distinctive shape of this bread.

To do this, grab each end of the baguette with a hand and start coiling the dough from the outside to the center.

Place the shaped loaf on the prepared baking sheet.  Cover it with saran wrap.  Repeat the shaping for the other 2 loaves.

Mist the loaves with water.  I used a spray bottle with a light misty setting.

Sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds.  Loosely cover with saran wrap, put the sheet into a large [garbage] plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 3:

In the morning, take the loaves out of the refrigerator.  The loaves should have risen a bit during cold storage.

Place the loaves at a warm place and let warm up to room temperature.  The loaves will continue to rise.

It takes about 2 hours or until the loaves  are light & full of bubbles.  Finger test should leave a small dent on the loaves.

About an hour into the proof, carefully spray the loaves with water again and paint them with more sesame seeds.   Please do not disturb/deflate

the formed bubbles.  Cover again with saran wrap and leave the loaves alone undisturbed.

About an hour before the loaves are done, pre-heat the oven to 500° F.  Steam is needed so prepare for it now.

Place the loaves on baking sheet in the oven.  Turn the oven temperature down to 450° F.  Bake with steam for 15 minutes.

Turn the baking sheet 180 degrees so the loaves bake evenly, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes without steam.

When the loaves reach a nice shade of brown, pull it out of the oven.  Let it cool on rack  for 20 minutes.


== I am going to dig for more pictures of this bread, please come back to check out.

sourdough Pan Siciliano crumb
sourdough Pan Siciliano crumb

I am sending this bread to Yeast Spotting.  And I am going to go over there to see other bakers’ breads for the week which has always been a feast for the eyes (and drooling for sure); so please join me.

pecan chocolate merringue Babka

pecan chocolate meringue Babka

Having made this Chocolate Babka with almond paste & dark chocolate filling and these meringues I knew I wanted to  create a babka borrowing flavors from both goodies.  I used the original recipe combined with several different recipes found on the Internet to come up with  an almost working formula for this loaf:  Nutmeg Pecan Chocolate Meringue Goodness in lightly sweet rich bread (not brioche).  I also shape the dough into a ring because I’ve never done it before and because it looks so pretty with the slashes open showing the inside.

For The Dough:

300 g all-purpose flour

50 g finely ground pecan (toast the pecan if you like)

50 g/1/4 Cup of sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)

128 g water or a combination of water and milk (I use 38 g water and 90 g of milk)

4 Tablespoons of butter, at room temperature

60 g egg/1 large egg , plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/8 tsp instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Meringue :

2 medium-size egg white, at room temperature

50 g sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

For the Filling:

55 g / ½ Cup pecan, coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon of sugar

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

75 g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used 72 percent cocoa chocolate)

For the Egg wash:

1 egg yolk


method of making chocolate meringue babka

method of making chocolate meringue babka

Make dough:

Mix all the ingredients, except butter, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment at low-speed until combined.  Increase speed to medium and mix dough until it reaches well gluten development.  Lower the speed, beat in the butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes. (Dough will be very soft and sticky.)

Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Line a large baking sheet with a large piece of parchment paper.   Punch down dough with a lightly oiled rubber spatula. Roll out the piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling-pin into an 21- by 10-inch rectangle and arrange with a long side nearest you.

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl with an electric mixer at high-speed until they hold soft peaks. Add sugar a little at a time, beating, then continue to beat at high-speed until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, 1 to 3 minutes.

Beat the egg yolk.  Brush some of egg wash on long border nearest you.

Spread the meringue and sprinkle the filling evenly on the dough as shown in the above picture.  Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal.  Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet.  Make slashes one inch apart and a half-inch from the inner circle, as shown.

Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later.  Loosely cover the shaped dough with buttered plastic wrap (buttered side down) and let babka rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough well expand , 1 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in  refrigerator 8 to 12 hours; bring to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours, before baking.)

Put oven rack in middle place and preheat oven to 350°F.

Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Bake until tops are deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature.


Either the dough was soft and not strong enough to hold the filling or I put too much filling.   The filling spilled out when I rolled the dough sheet; it was an awful sticky mess.  Dough had a weak elasticity so when rolled out thin it could not hold the filling in.  It was a total panic wrestling it from the work surface to the prepared sheet pan and shaped into a ring!  The chocolate pieces, meringue, nut, & nutmeg spice kept spilling out clinging to my hands and from there back to the dough’s skin side as I was shaping it..staining the dough all over… Ahhgggrrr!  At some point I thought the loaf would end up on the floor.  I couldn’t even recall how I got it on the baking sheet with my two little hands for the loaf of that size.  And I even took some pictures?  How did it all happen?  I created this way back in November of last year.  Since then my mind had been altered, no wonder I could not remember anything that far back.  ;o)

shaped dough

rustic or messy looking?

Despite of the messy shaped dough, the baked babka turned out okay.  The widest part of the ring was way over 5 inches.  It’s all cooked.

rustic looking baked babka ring

rustic looking baked babka ring

How does it taste?  Well, the creaminess from the meringue, egg & butter together with the exotic blend of nutmeg & coarsely ground pecan nut swirled in melted dark chocolate layered between sheets of lightly sweet starch offer a heavenly sweetness come together in one bite.  This is quite addictive.



This is how I like to eat it, in bite-size morsels.  It can be served at breakfast, lunch or as a dessert.

chocolate pecan meringue babka morsels

chocolate pecan meringue babka morsels

Well, the flavor turned out as what I had hope for.  I like this sweet bread a lot.  In fact, I ate the whole thing over the course of a few days.  I’d like to share it but there wasn’t anybody around then.

I am sending this to this week’s Yeast Spotting.  Please go there to check out many other baked goods by yeast enthusiasts around the world.

sweet polenta currant bread

Sweet Polenta Currant Buttermilk Bread

I am still up in the mountains but have cooped up inside due to a very recent eye surgery.  How recent?  I got out of the surgical center around 10:30 am yesterday 17 March 2010.  I know, right on Saint Patrick’s Day.  It’s about 24 hours later and I still don’t know how I should feel about how I have felt for this is the very first time I was put under anesthesia that knocked me out for a good two and a half hours.  I can only now relate to how Alice must have felt when she went through a semi-serious surgery early 2009 when I happened to be there by her side helping her with whatever I could while watching how sedated she was without understanding a gist of it.

At 0700 I was chatting away with David, the anesthesiologist, who was pretty happy for a morning person –it’s a compliment!– asking him questions about my  past bad experience with local anesthetic (twice) while he explained to me some possible reasons but mainly talked about post-op when one might feel nauseated some hours later.

I did not remember anything afterward from the point when David injected the drug (opium?) into the IV thingy on my arm and said “enjoy the cocktail” into which I said to him I liked classic cocktails and right away maybe “oh I feel something now”; then I was ordered to lie down vaguely remembered my bed was wheeled away.  Then magically I woke up by Sheila the nurse who helped me to put my clothes on, moved to a wheel chair, and I asked for some liquid and lots of ice.  I felt nothing as if I just got there.  I don’t mind this at all as it seems so easy but what little if “nada/rien” I know about being drugged up and its consequences.

No bread for this week, again!  Instead I am going to , while feeling –is sedated the right word?– but still conscious,  write about my very first rich dough bread that I made a few times during the beginning period (Dec 2006 to Jan/Feb 2007)  of my bread adventure.

The recipe posted by Floyd at The Fresh Loaf where he wrote nicely and interestingly –a humorous read– about the origin of the recipe and his take on it.  I learned a lot from the site –thank you Floyd for hosting and maintaining the site– and had made a number of listed recipes.  I did not know then that I would fall over for and get deep into bread creating let alone started my blog in 2010 but here I am.  Those early recipes have a special meaning to me and this favorite bread is one of them.

I followed the recipe’s method to the tee but used ingredients I had on hands and substituted with what I thought might provide the taste that I imagined for I’ve found myself almost  always thinking tasting –yeah, in my head–  new flavor either bread or dessert or savory.   Anyway, here is the original recipe by Floyd’s interpretation and his converting from metric to imperial :

Sweet Corn Raisin Bread

Original Metric Measurements Imperial Approximation and Substitutions
150 grams corn flour
1 deciliter water
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup water
350 grams white flour
1/2 cube (approx. 20g yeast)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 deciliters milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pinch saffron
50 grams butter
2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
saffron I’m too cheap!
2 tablespoons butter
75 grams raisins 1 cup raisins
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 pinch salt
2 pinches sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 pinch salt
2 pinches sugar

I had made a few loaves of this bread using coarse polenta and buttermilk instead of milk and whatever dried fruits I found in the kitchen such as currant or/and mixed berry.   I knew nothing of corn flour so never used it; corn meal worked just fine.   I also picked out the amount of ingredients  from both columns that I liked best to experiment: less instant yeast, more liquid, more butter, more dried fruits and even used saffron in one loaf.  Here is another loaf that I created and loved that mahogany color of the soft crust:

sweet polenta currant bread

another loaf

and its crumb:


Floyd wrote the recipe in details guided by beautiful pictures; it’s very easy to follow so enjoy.  Some more photos for this particular loaf:

mixed berry sweet polenta bread

mixed berry loaf crumb

more crumb

I will make this bread again with corn flour to see how I’d like it but always keep the amount of coarse polenta because that is what gives the bread nice crunches.  I like to savor this bread with tea for breakfast, as afternoon snack or to replace dessert entirely.  I would also keep using buttermilk for the mildly yogurt taste in the final product.  Never froze it but imagine it would do well.  It’s a loose recipe so go have fun experimenting it.

I am going to sign off and  get some rest but this bread is going to join the party at Susan’s this week’s Yeast Spotting.

Happy baking!

Kabocha Brioche


kabocha brioche

Ready for the oven

This week has been really hectic as things have diverted oh just a few dozens times on me and as such I did not get to bake any bread.  Although at the beginning of the week I was super ambitious planning to bake the first GF bread for Alice, some sort of white sourdough to bring to the mountain for David and a crusty white loaf like Sesame Semolina Filone for my high school teacher –whom I am going to visit this evening– and none of these has taken place.  Oh well, one of such week!

As I am going to head out to the mountains tomorrow’ early morning and no bread baked for the week, I am going to post about this brioche that I created a while back.  The recipe is  Susan’s Wild Yeast’s Butternut Brioche with my substitution of roasted kabocha squash because that’s what I had in my kitchen.  I am a big fan of freshly ground nutmeg so used it as spice and am glad I did because the spice goes really well with kabocha.

You do need a mixer to mix the dough to reach well-gluten development stage before adding the fat –butter in this case–.  I used instant yeast and it worked fine.  This bread is so very easy to make and very tasty; the squash flavor is indeed very front and center as commented on Susan’s blog.  I mixed the dough in the evening, let it go through a cold fermentation in the fridge and shaped in the early morning.  The second rise was long enough to allow me back to bed for a quick nap then freshly return to the kitchen to beautiful risen loaf.  Within the next hour or so voilà warm rich brioche for breakfast.

The dough got its natural color from the squash and it’s such a superficially yellow color that I hesitated to bite into it.   But it’s beautiful, isn’t it?

The recipe is straight forward, the dough is fun to play with just a tad sticky but very silky soft.   So if you are equipped with a muscular mixer you are good to go.  Thank you Susan for a beautiful recipe.

kabocha squash

Apply second egg wash

I love rich brioche every now and then.    Breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day.  The bread freezes well –as long as you don’t put anything heavy on top of the frozen loaf–.

kabocha brioche

Baked Loaf

kabocha squash brioche

Crumb with specks of nutmeg spice

kabocha squash


Enjoy this brioche for the weekend.  I’ll be away but would not miss the party at Yeast Spotting to where I am sending this bread.