Sunday 29 November 2015

Easy Kneaded Soft White Bread 易揉松软白吐司

Before I came into contact with natural yeast bread, this type of bread seems mysterious, complicated and confusing to me, not until I bought the recipe book which introduced me to "No-knead Natural Yeast Breads". The quest for a bottle of good natural yeast was a challenging experience. I failed thrice to cultivating natural yeast using flour and water. Frankly speaking, this method of cultivating natural yeast was horrible in terms of smell. Finally, I decided to use lemon as a medium. I successfully cultivated the yeast, but could not identify the right time to do the transfer to flour and water base starter. That's why I'm not sharing the yeast cultivating process for the time being.
Using autolyse and fold method of kneading is new and interesting to me. I didn't expect the first loaf of bread to have such a good, soft and moist texture. The steps are easy, but you must have the time for the pull and fold sessions in every 15-minute interval for about four to six sessions. In my opinion, this is not a totally no-knead method, it still involves some forms of light kneading, so I would prefer to call it easy-knead instead of no-knead bread :)

Bread weight: 667 g
Raw dough weight: 715g

Yield: one 20x10x10 cm loaf

Natural Yeast (100% hydration)
15g natural yeast
60g water
60g unbleached bread flour

Click the link for the method of cultivating natural yeast:

1. In a sterilized and dry glass container, pour in all the 3 ingredients and mix well.

2. Close the lid tight and allow to stand overnight, or till the content double in volume. This may take about 3 to 8 hours depending on the yeast strength.

12 hours later, the content has more than double in volume.

3. The next morning, in order to "wake up" the yeast, I added a small amount of water and flour to activate it.
Added 10g water + 10g flour, and waited 1 hour for the volume to double.

4. Collect 110g natural yeast for later use.

Bread dough
All ingredients in room temperature 
309g bread flour
24g full cream milk powder
28g raw sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast
30g unsalted butter, softened
28g beaten egg
110g natural yeast *
182g water

* natural yeast can be replaced by 55g water and 55g of bread flour, if you're not using natural yeast.

1. Pour all the ingredients into a mixing bowl.

2. Stir in one direction until the mixture forms into a lump and pulls away from the wall of the mixing bowl.

3. Cover with a lid and let the mixture autolyse for 15 minutes.

4. After the 1st 15-minute rest, grasp one corner of the dough, pull it up and fold it towards the centre.
Take care not to break the dough while you extend it.
1st pull & fold session.

Continue this pull & fold for about 6 times round the dough.

Picture showing dough after the 1st session last fold. 
Cover with a lid and wait for another 15 minutes.
Repeat the pull & fold session for about 4 to 6 sessions, or till the dough can be extended to form a membrane.

Picture showing 4th pull & fold season. The dough will become smoother and smoother.

15 minutes after the 5th pull & fold session, the dough can be stretched to form a thin membrane.

5. Pull down the side of the dough and tug at the bottom to shape the dough into a smooth ball.

Place the dough back to the mixing bowl, cover with a lid, and let it undergo the 1st proofing for about 45 minutes, or till it doubles in size.

6. Sprinkle flour over the dough as well as the work top. Invert out the dough and deflate it with your palm.

7. Divide the dough into 3 portions, about 238g each.

Roll up the doughs, and shape them into 3 balls. Cover with a lid and let them rest for about 10 minutes.

8. Flatten the dough with a rolling pin,

fold in the two wings,

Roll it out again

flip over the dough, so the smoother face with be facing out when roll up.

9. Place the roll-up dough into a greased 20x10x10 cm Pullman tin. Spray some water over the dough, and place in an oven to undergo 2nd proofing for about 45 minutes, or till the dough almost reaching 4/5 of the Pullman tin height.

10. Close the lid and bake in an preheated oven at 210 degree Celsius for about 40 to 50 minutes. Place the Pullman tin at the lowest rack.

11. The bread is ready when the crust turns golden. Remove the bread from the tin and cool down over a wire rack.

12. Slice the bread after cooling down :)

By keeping the bread in the fridge during the nights , the bread remained soft till the 4th day.

2nd day

4th day

Recipe adapted from page 27 to 29 of the following recipe book :)

Growing Natural Yeast (using grapes) 葡萄天然酵母

Bread baked with the addition of poolish dough using natural yeast has a nicer aroma, finer and more springy texture, as well as having a more moist crumb. The softness of the bread can last till the 4th day. 
This is a sharing of my more successful experience in cultivating natural yeast for baking use. I have failed thrice using just water and flour. My previous cultivation though successfully allowed me to bake a nice loaf of bread, I think I have over extended the cultivating period. Unless you have seen the entire phrase of the cultivation, you could not judge when is the right time to transfer or "harvest" the yeast. 
With the detailed documentation, hope it would helps new natural yeast "farmers" like me to have a better picture of the entire process. This is not a guide book, just an experience sharing.
Good luck 👍🏼🍀

Getting started...
Equipment & Ingredients
1 glass bottle with lid, about 600~800ml
200g fresh grapes
200g cool boiled water
50g raw/fine sugar

1. Rinse the bottle with boiling water to sterilize it. Allow to dry before use. 
I kept it in a warm oven.

2. Rinse and drain the grapes. Slice the grapes into halves.

3. Place all the ingredients into the cool sterilized bottle, and cover with a lid. 
Avoid over-tightening the lid, just loosely close, so pressure would not build up in the bottle.

4. Swirl the ingredients a few rounds to mix the ingredients.
Open the lid once every day and give the ingredients about 2 to 3 swirlings each day. So oxygen can circulate in the liquid.

5. Label date on the bottle for record purpose. Keep the bottle in a cool place. See you the next day 🌻

Day 2 (1.12.2015)
Temperature: 27 degree Celsius
Feeding: no
Observation: a little bubbles can be seen.

Day 3 (2.12.2015)
Temperature: 27 degree Celsius
Feeding: no
Observation: a lot more bubbles can be seen. A faint alcohol smell can be detected.

After swirling, more bubbles have been released.

Day 4 (3.12.2015)
Temperature: 27 degree Celsius
Feeding: no
Observation: Bubbles have reduced drastically. Time to transfer.

There are more bubbles after swirling. It looks and smell like beer 😄

Poolish Starter
100g natural yeast water
100g unbleached bread flour

1. Filter out the grapes and transfer the yeast water to a glass jug.

2. Pour 100g of yeast water to a cool sterilized bottle.

Pour 100g unbleached bread flour into the bottle.

Stir to mix.

3. Loosely cover with a lid. Mark the level of the poolish starter with a rubber band. Label the date and time for monitoring purpose. See you later.

Storage - yeast water
For the remaining natural yeast water, seal in a sterilized bottle, label with a date, and keep in refrigeration.

Label the natural yeast with a date sticker.

Refrigerate it. The references I have read indicated the yeast water can last about a week or more in refrigeration.

Poolish Pre-ferment 
Continue with the poolish starter from above.

Day 1  ( 3.12.2015)
Temperature: 27 degree Celsius
Feeding: no
Observation: the poolish dough raise to about 4 times the original height. The natural yeast is very active.


1 hour 20 minutes later, the volume has almost double.

2 hours 20 minutes later, the volume has increased more than double.

The poolish dough almost filled the bottle up to the rim by end of 3-hour fermentation period. The yeast is very active and is ready to join the baking ^^

4 hours later, the poolish dough starts to reduce in volume slightly.

As I would only bake in the next day, so 8 hours after the fermentation started, I kept the poolish dough in the fridge till 1am. I took out the poolish dough before I went to sleep, to let it return to room temperature. So I could activate the natural yeast when I woke up the next day.

Day 2  ( 4.12.2015)
Temperature: 28 degree Celsius
Feeding: 10g water & 10g bread flour
Observation: the poolish dough double after feeding within 2 hours. It is active and suitable for baking.

The poolish dough before feeding.

After the feeding, close the lid, mark the dough height with a rubber band, and label the time.

After 1 hour, the dough raise to about 1/2 the original height.

The dough raised to about double the original height after 2 hours.

110g of the poolish dough was harvested  and use in baking of soft white bread.

Click the link to the soft white bread recipe:

Storage - poolish dough
For the remaining poolish dough, if you want to bake in the next day, add an equal weight of water and flour to the poolish dough, to start another round of cultivation.

If you have no plan to bake in the next two day, you can keep in a clean and sterilized container. Mark the date and refrigerate it.

Restoring the natural yeast 
To re-activate the sleeping yeast from "hibernation".

1. Allow the cold poolish dough to return to room temperature.

2. Add an equal amount of water and bread flour to the poolish dough. For example, 20g poolish dough/natural yeast + 100g cool boiled water + 100g unbleached bread flour.

Below demostrstion only used a small amount of water and flour to reactivate the natural yeast, is for testing purpose only.

1 hour after feeding, the volume has double. Therefore, the natural yeast is healthy and active to be engaged in the baking *\(^o^)/*

Restoring long inactive natural yeast
If the natural yeast has been kept inactive in the fridge for over 2 weeks, a film of yellowish liquid will develop at the top layer.
You will have to discard the yellow liquid and only keep part of the old natural yeast, then start a new batch.

1. Allow the cold natural yeast to return to room temperature.

2. If the natural yeast has been inactive for too long, a layer of yellowish liquid will form at the top. Pour away this liquid before feeding your natural yeast.

3. Collect about 20g of the old natural yeast, and transfer to a new sterilized container.

4. Add an equal amount of water and bread flour to the natural yeast. For example, 20g natural yeast + 20g cool boiled water + 20g unbleached bread flour.

Stir, cover and mark by a rubber band. 

Label and wait for the natural yeast to double in volume....

After 2 hours, the natural yeast only climbed to about 1/4 of the expected height. The rate was slow at room temperature of 29 degree Celsius (ー ー;)  

After 4 hours of wait, the natural yeast finally reached the double volume mark

At this slower than usual fermentation rate, it is best not to use the natural yeast, but give it a few more days of feedings, till the rate returns to normal - double within an hour.

On my second feeding on the third day, the natural yeast has regained its strength and double within an hour 
The natural yeast is ready to work again :)

Topping up with yeast water

While feeding the natural yeast, you can use the yeast water you have stored in the fridge instead of using plain water. This helps to inject the nice flavour of the grape, which gradually diminished after a few feedings by water, back to the yeast.

Before adding the yeast water, swirl the bottle a few rounds. If the yeast water becomes foamy, it is a good sign that the yeast is healthy. If the yeast is lifeless, it's about time to let it go and keep a new batch.

I replace half of the feeding water by the yeast water.

For example,

Natural yeast poolish dough: 100g
Yeast water                         : 10g
Cool boiled water.               : 10g
Unbleached bread flour.      : 20g
Total                                  : 140g

Collect 100g of natural yeast,

add in 10g of yeast water, 10g of cool boiled water, and 20g of unbleached bread flour,

Stir to mix into a smooth paste.

Cover with food wrap and a lid. Mark the new natural yeast height with a rubber band. Wait for the natural yeast to raise to double this height. It only took 1 hour to reach the new height.

It's useful to keep a record of the feeding quantity, date and time in a small post-it-note. So you'll have an idea of the quantity of the content, as well as the "production date".

Keep the new lot of natural yeast in the fridge, if you want to stop baking for more than 2 days. 
Otherwise, you can keep it in room temperature, and do the daily feeding.

Renewing Natural Yeast

A bottle of natural yeast which has been fed several rounds may become increasingly sour. This will cause your bread to become sour too. When the sourness of the natural yeast is getting too high, the yeast will become less active despite your regular feeding.

To overcome this, you'll have to discard part of the natural yeast, and keep a small portion to re-cultivate it into a new batch.

For example, 
Keep 20g of the old batch of natural yeast and discard the rest.
Then add 10g each of water and bread flour to form a new batch of 40g of natural yeast.

Let the natural yeast to double itself to check the activeness of the new batch.

Keep the natural yeast in room temperature if you're going to bake in the next day to two. Or else, keep it in the fridge.

Happy farming :)

Reference :


with appreciation :)