Natural Starter Wolfberry Taro Loaf

Natural Starter Wolfberry Taro Loaf // Mono +Co

Ideas continued to flow as I rummaged through the fridge, looking for natural food additives for my next homemade bread recipe creation.  Then I saw a jar of wolfberries sitting next to my sesame seeds, and other items that I like to add to my vegetable stir fries.  It’s been quite some time since I last restock on this powerful anti-oxidant fruit, so I know I haven’t been eating my wolfberries as often as I should.  After all, it is a well-known ingredient that is said to improve vision.  Gosh, I wish I could make my kids eat more of this too.

So after putting aside a handful that I will be snacking on after dinner, I have about 20g of the berries to be added to my bread recipe.  I soak them till soft with 35g of filtered water, then I whizz them with a hand blender into a bright orange slurry mixture, which explains the color of the bread.

Now I have one bread recipe that is good for the eyes, naturally enriched, no less.

Natural Starter Wolfberry Taro Loaf // Mono +CoNatural Starter Wolfberry Taro Loaf // Mono +Co  Natural Starter Wolfberry Taro Loaf // Mono +Co


Wolfberry Taro Loaf

160g fed starter **
265g plain flour
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
100g mashed taro
20g wolfberries
65g water ***
20g cold butter, cubed

** I used a starter made from raisin yeast.

*** Use 35g of the water to soak the wolfberries till they are soft, then blend into mixture.  Remaining 30g to be used at the kneading stage.

In a mixer bowl, add the starter, plain flour, raw sugar, sea salt, mashed taro, and blended wolfberries.  Start mixer to knead on lowest speed with a dough hook.

Slowly add the remaining water until the ingredients come into a ball.  You might not use up all the water or you might need more, depending on the hydration level of the ingredients.  Once a dough ball is formed, stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid better.

Start the mixer again to knead for 1 minute before adding cubed butter one by one, and knead until the dough reaches window pane stage.  Stop mixer and leave the dough to bulk rise at room temperature for 120 – 150 minutes, until the dough expands and passes the poke test, a sure sign that the first fermentation is completed.

After the dough has risen to double its volume, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  Shape each portion like this.  Arrange them in a well greased Pullman bread tin, seam side downwards.  Leave this aside to proof for 120-150 minutes, covered.

Preheat oven to 160C, and bake the bread for 35 minutes.

When done, remove bread from tin immediately and place on a rack to cool completely.

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Natural Starter Country Loaf

Natural Starter Country Loaf // Mono + Co

If there is anything that I have too much of in the fridge right now, it will be my raisin yeast starter.  About 200g of it in 3 different glass containers, resting in deep slumber at the back of my chiller.  I am slowly cleaning out one of the bottles with a schedule that yield 160g of active starter in 2 days.

Natural Starter Country Loaf // Mono + CoNatural Starter Country Loaf // Mono + Co

My chilled starter, I reckoned to be pretty healthy, gets all ready by 2nd feeding.  The timetable goes roughly like this:

Day 1 / 7am
start with : 20g of dormant/chilled starter + a clean glass/ clear plastic jar with at least 300ml capacity
add : 20g filtered water and 20g plain flour
stir : with a clean wooden chopstick to mix well until no visible traces of white flour

set aside : at room temperature (28-30C) for 24 hours

Day 2/ 7am
add :  50g filtered water and 50g plain flour to the 60g overnight starter
stir : with a clean wooden to mix well until no visible traces of white flour
set aside : at room temperature, ready to use when the starter rise to double/triple its volume, mine took around 4-5 hours
** After emptying the bottle, I do not wash it.
Instead, I reuse it to start the steps all over again, hoping that the activated starter remains in the unwashed bottle helps to kickstart the next batch making them stronger and faster to rise.

Proceed to bake your favorite bread.  I used mine to bake a country loaf recipe from this book,  but lend a slow fermentation technique from this blog to bake the end product.

Natural Starter Country Loaf // Mono + Co


Natural Starter Country Loaf

adapted a recipe from this book
295g plain flour
160g fed starter
6g salt
183g cold water

In a mixer bowl, add plain flour, ripe starter and salt.  Start the mixer to knead the ingredients on its lowest speed. Pour cold water slowly into the mixer bowl with the mixer running.

Continue to knead for 5 minuted, until the dough looks smooth.  This dough will be sticky.  Transfer to a covered container, and leave this in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Return the dough to room temperature and let it rise to double its volume, this will take about 3-5 hours depending on room temperature.

Transfer the dough onto a generously floured worktop.  With flour hands and a bench scraper, stretch and fold the dough into a rectangle shape like this.  Stretch and fold the dough 2 times.  Cover the dough with an inverted large mixing bowl or large plastic container and let it rest for 1 hour on the worktop. Repeat the stretch and fold steps again after 1 hour, and let it rest for a further hour.

Shape the dough and transfer to a well floured baking tray.  Cover and let rise for 2-3 hours.  I divided my dough into 2 equal portions and shaped them into long loaves.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C.  Make a few slashes on the surface with a sharp knife just before sending the bread into a preheated oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.

Cool on rack completely before slicing to serve.

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Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread

Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread // Mono + Co

Something I tried out after noticing that my natural starter is getting stronger and more predictable.  Taro and passion fruit pulp are added to my usual taro bread recipe, skipping the butter.

Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread // Mono + Co Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread // Mono + Co

Sometimes things progress so slow that I can’t tell whether it has risen or not after 2 hours.  A photo taken before and after helped a lot.

Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread // Mono + Co

Stretch and fold is one of my favorite part of bread making.

Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread // Mono + Co

While slashing is the least….

Passion Fruit Walnut Taro Country Bread // Mono + Co

The result is a loaf with thin crackling crust and soft interior.

Have fun trying this recipe!


Passion Fruit + Walnut + Taro Country Loaf

160g natural starter
235g bread flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
85g mashed taro
pulps from 2 passion fruits
50g beaten egg
50g walnut, chopped roughly

In a mixer bowl, combine natural starter, bread flour, sea salt, mashed taro, passion fruit pulp and beaten egg.  Knead with a dough hook, the ingredients should come into a dough ball without any water added.  If it doesn’t, slowly add some water, spoon by spoon, till a ball is formed.  Stop the mixer and leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Knead with a dough hook until window pane stage.

After 15 minutes, start the mixer again and knead until window pane stage.  Remove bowl from mixer, and let the dough bulk rise for 2-3 hours, till the dough rise to double its volume.

Transfer the dough to a clean work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Pour in the chopped walnuts. Stretch and fold the dough to incorporate the walnut into the dough, and firming up the dough at the same time.  I refer to this video all the time, demonstrating the stretch and fold method. Then cover the dough to rest for 60 minutes.  Repeat the stretch and fold + 60-minute resting time one more time.

Shape the dough this way, and place it on a floured tray or banneton and let it rise for about 2 hours.

When ready to bake, make a slash in the center with a sharp knife before placing it in a preheated oven at 200C, and bake for 35 minutes.  I created “steam” by placing my smallest ramekin with some ice cubes in the oven.

When done, remove bread from oven and place on a rack to cool completely before slicing.

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Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf

Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + Co

I pick up the natural starter baking habit lately, feeding the yeast early in morning, have the bread proofed, shaped and ready to be baked by end of the day.  All completed within 12 hours in a 30C+ room temperature.

Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + Co

The natural yeast starter I made from raisins is very strong.  After almost 1 month of ignoring it, leaving it at the back of the fridge, it came back alive, bursting with bubbling activity, tripling its volume after just 2 feedings.  The conversion of this natural starter in my root vegetable bread recipes was also a breeze.  Here’s to more healthy homemade bread!

Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + CoNatural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + CoNatural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + Co

The few natural starter bread loaves I have baked so far, adapted from my taro bread recipes, took about 2.5 – 3 hours for the dough to rise above the bread pan.

Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + Co

The crumbs were tighter, denser but still soft.  Another difference between baking with commercial yeast and natural yeast is that the bread continues to rise dramatically during baking.

Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf // Mono + Co

So now that I have attempted the taro bread loaf with natural starter, I will try out my next few bakes with other vegetables to test out if starter ratio to flour is the same.


Natural Starter Raisin Taro Loaf

160g natural starter **
265g plain flour
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
100g mashed taro
65g cold milk
20g cold butter, cubed
55g raisins ***

** Raisin yeast starter.

*** Soak raisins in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze dry to remove excess liquid before use.

In a mixer bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together ( flour, sugar, sea salt) with a hand whisk.  Then add natural starter, cooled mashed taro and half of the milk.  Turn on the mixer to knead with a dough hook.  With the mixer running on its lowest speed (KA 1), pour the milk slowly in a trickle until the ingredients come into the ball.  You might not use up all the milk or you might need more, depending on the hydration level of the ingredients.  Once a dough ball is formed, stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid better.

Start the mixer again to knead for 1 minute before adding cubed butter one by one, and knead till the dough reach window pane stage.  Add raisins while mixer is running and knead for about 1 minute to incorporate the raisins into the dough.  Stop mixer and leave the dough to bulk rise at room temperature for 120 – 150 minutes, until the dough expands to double its volume.

After the dough has risen to double its volume, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions.  Flatten and shape each portion into a tight ball.  Arrange them in a well greased Pullman bread tin, seam side downwards.  Leave this aside to proof for 120-150 minutes, covered with a towel.

Preheat oven to 160C, and bake the bread for 35 minutes.

When done, remove bread from tin immediately and place on a rack to cool completely.

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